Sunday, April 29, 2012

Walking through landmines

We recently took a little family trip to Sunriver, OR. The drive was a little more than 3 hours with a man who is hurt by every bump in the road. He gets generally aggravated by being in the car. I can't be 100% sure whether its because he's not in his "comfort zone" at home, or the pain he experiences in the car is just too much, or that he's trapped in a small space with noises and movement that is too fast to keep track of, or a combination of all of them? I can't be sure...but those are all general complaints that I've compiled from him over the last year and a half. It's especially difficult to have little Dean in the car because he makes sudden and random and sometimes constant noises. It all puts Dean over the edge.

During our 3+ hour drive, we tried to have conversations. We put on a movie in the backseat for little Dean to hopefully keep him in a sub-catatonic stare so us adults could talk. We had mostly good conversation which is very decieving as you are trolling through it because you get relaxed and a little happy and then all of a sudden you step the wrong way and BAM! I don't know where the wrong step happened. The conversation didn't shift onto a new subject, it didn't recently include a new topic, just all of a sudden it went from pleasant/happy to he's pissed! Of course that sends me into backpeddaling mode where I try to clear up whatever was misunderstood. I try to help him understand what was being said because I'm sure if he understood he would surely not be angry. It doesn't matter because nothing can work now. I am shrunk down into a puddle of hurt and fear. I don't fear for my safety, I don't really know what I am scared of, but it shuts me down and I usually cry. Then because I'm kind of a crazy extremist, I start down the path of "this whole trip is stupid" and "what an idiot I am for believing I can have a HAPPY conversation with him". I know that thinking is not helpful but it's what happens to me automatically. (It is a goal of mine to become in control of those thoughts one day).

Now that I'm crying and have my energy all sucked in and he can feel that I'm different, he feels horrible! He never meant to make me cry or upset me in any way, he doesn't even know why he got all pissed. I know his apology is sincere, I know that he couldn't help his reaction because he doesn't even see it coming, I know that he feels horrible but it's an odd predicament to be put in. My feelings are hurt, I am sad, I am defeated and shut down but it was all an accident. This is not the first time it has happened. The first time it was easy to forgive, forget, and move biggie. But they happen routinely and out of the blue. It is so difficult to shift from hurt feelings and sadness to forgiveness in 5 minutes. It is hard to just move on as if nothing happened but it is so hard on him to think he hurt me and wish he could take it all back.

I've come to realize and try to just accept as part of our "new normal" that conversations with him are like walking through a landmine. I try to realize that I still have it so much easier than lots of other wives whose husband do a lot more than "flip out" momentarily. I also am so thankful that God gave me the ability to forget the bad things in my life and move on pretty quickly. I mean it takes me about 30 to 60 minutes to completely forget it happens, though I wish I could forget in 5 minutes. It's good to just see the blessings and be thankful and not wish for more. It is what it is.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What you cannot see

Dean and I used to be inseperable! We talked about everything, we talked or texted probably 20 times a day while he was at work. We were best friends! We talked like friends talk..."i just saw this super rare car" he'd share, "i saw the coolest kitchen in a magazine that looks like something we could do" I'd say, "i heard a song that reminded me of you" he'd say, "ooooh i know what i'm making you for dinner tonight" I'd say. Just the little things...the little everyday, throughout the day things we'd share because we were best friends. I miss that.

I've had to learn, and still need a lot of practice to perfect it, how to NOT share those little things with him. I have to hold inside of myself all my thoughts and feelings which for 8 years I shared with him because now he can't handle it. Now when I tell him a little tidbit, the effort it takes him to hear my words, attribute their meaning, and then give a response is so great that he can't handle hearing them. It used to be that when I'd share a tidbit it was some random piece of information that didn't fit into anywhere and he loved that about me. I have not changed, I am still random and love to share, but he is not the same man. When I used to share I could feel the bond it created with him and now most days feels like there is no bond at all. I have to learn how to be connected to a man who can't connect the way we used to. I still don't know how to do that one. Those days when I feel his love and I can love him back are so wonderful....but they are rare now. I used to move through my day feeling his love every minute. I swear I could feel him thinking about me when he was 100 miles away from me! Now I have to ask him just to hear the words because he forgets to show me or tell me. I don't mind asking, but it is different....and sad.

Since I am so far from perfect I mess up all the time and a random piece of information or excitement will jump out of my mouth. I instantly want to pull it all back inside of me because I can see the confusion on his face because it's like he walked into a surprise party when it wasn't his birthday and he thinks he is forgetting something. I can see the panic that he feels because he can't pause the current thought he's having in his mind to hear my words and this makes him feel awful.  He worries about making me happy all the time and fears that his misfunctioning brain will cause me to not love him anymore. Of course he is so wrong, but that is the man he's always that worries about being a good husband to me. I reassure him all the time that he's still the same intelligent man he was when I met is just trapped inside there underneath a bunch of uncomfortable stuff. So when I mess up and a thought or feeling leaps out of me, I endure the pain of having hurt him pretty immediately. At that point all I can do is apologize and tell him wasn't important.

It gets lonely for me not have my old husband. It is difficult to try to redefine us. I try to be thankful that for him this process is not difficult at all. He knows he loves me, he is reassured of my love all throughout the day, and he just can't do things the same now. He does get frustrated...but doesn't really see the full effect it has on us compared to who we used to be. This is more of what you cannot see.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Med Board Process

We have very mixed feelings about the Med-board process that is currently ongoing. Maybe it's that I am so connected to him that I feel what he feels? The Army is in a process by where they determine whether he is fit to stay in the Army (which they will find that he's not...we know this is ineivatable). So there is this pending sad day that is inching closer and closer while at the same time we can't wait for it.

It is sad because putting on that uniform every month makes him feel like he did something important and is a part of something that is so awesome and badass! It puts a smile on his soul to be a part of it.

We can't wait for that day to come because then he won't have these weekends each month and the 2 weeks a year to have so much stress of "performing" that it exhausts him and puts him in bed with a migraine. We plug along with life and then when drill comes it's this mad rush to raise our standards to come close to the Army's and by the end of the weekend he's crashed and burned and laid up in bed for a couple days.

Another stressful part of the Med-board process is that it has been explained to me that by the end of it all, the Army will give him a "rating" that will go hand in hand with the VA rating. Their findings will be final. So this is a fight where they want to see his best days and make light of his injuries while still showing he is unfit for duty....that way they won't have to pay him when they kick him out....and we have to make sure they see his worst days and show how debilitating his injuries are to his daily life and our future so that when they kick him out, they will compensate him for his actual service and sacrifice!

Today he is supposed to be at his make-up AT (that's what they call the 2 week drill that occurs once a year). They had him do a 2 week make-up because due to his injuries he is unable to go out in the field and perform the activities the other soldiers will be doing for AT. So his make-up time is spent showing up at the Armory in Salem, in uniform, at 8 am and then sitting there and doing what little activity he can do until 4 pm. I say he is supposed to be there because he is actually laying in bed with another migraine. This is his 3rd one in 6 days. He attended make-up drill all last week and then Saturday and Sunday he had his regular monthly drill so that's a lot of stress for him to perform day after day.

They will never understand how hard it is for him to just get up and be there by 8 am (he could not do it without my extensive help) and then when I pick him up at 4 he is exhausted and tired as if he took the bar exam all day after getting no sleep. If he had lost a limb, they would all see his sacrifice and would imagine how hard life will be....but because they can't see his brain injury and how its lasting effects take a toll on him they can easily dismiss him as lazy or faking it. Most of his fellow soldiers have been blown up multiple times and they are "just fine" (or so they think they are) what's wrong with Harris? I just hate that uninformed ignorant thinking.