Posts Tagged ‘PTSD’

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

One of my friends picked me up last night and took me out for some beers and wii bowling. It helped get my mind off things for a few hours.

Yesterday afternoon, I got out my Bible and began writing out every verse I could find about love and marriage. Then I just started saying them out loud. I also realize that evil is working in this situation and that I need to fight for Ceecee. She probably doesn’t even realize what’s happening, but she is in spiritual darkness and is blind to the fact that she’s being led astray.

I can’t let the things she said yesterday affect me. I have to stick to the plan, which is to love her and show her how much I care. I’ve realized that I can’t change her. I can only change myself and pray to set her free from the things that are holding her back.

This morning I was at the gym and listening to worship music while I was on the treadmill. I was thinking about how much I wished I could go to another church that had really dynamic music where I could just get lost in worship and not worry about people looking at me and knowing what was going on. It was crazy, but my friend Adam called me up out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to go to North Point with him this Sunday. I told him that I did. That was God answering a prayer before I even prayed it!

Today, I emailed Ceecee a comic from “Love is…” that showed a guy playing a guitar for the girl and the caption said, “When he changes his tune.” Then I went to the pharmacy and bought her a care package of vitamins, sports creams (she has some shin splints and muscle soreness that’s affecting her running), a new heating pad and things like that.

She likes receiving gifts. That’s her love language from the book, “The Five Love Languages.” My selfishness has been part of the problem in our marriage, so I want to show her that things are going to be different.

I told her I wanted to stop by and bring her something and she said I could, so I just came to her loft, gave her the care package and told her it was just because I just wanted her to have it. I didn’t try to talk about the other morning or ask her for anything. I just gave it to her, told her I cared about her, and went on my way. I think it surprised her.

In the past, it wouldn’t have been like that. I would have obsessed over what she said and made it into a huge deal that just would have ended up making her feel guilty. I wanted her to see that I wasn’t there to get anything, but to give her something. It was really hard to just leave, but I felt like it was what I had to do.

Afterward, I met Angie at a deli in Republic to talk about what’s going on. She’s having a really hard time with all this because her real Dad abandoned her when she was little and I’ve been as much of a “real” Dad to her as a step-dad could probably be. I just wanted to bring her up to speed on things and also she if she had any insight.

Anyway, it turns it she was the one who signed me up for Mort Fertel’s emails. Apparently, after I called her crying that day and we both realized that this was really as serious as it is, she found a brochure with his website on it and signed me up. She and her husband had their premarital counseling through him and she still had a video series or something that they had bought. I told her how much it was helping and how it seemed like God Himself must have been the one sending them.

I also called a behavioral health center and talked to them about me going in for some counseling. I told them that my marriage was failing, but I think I may be experiencing some PTSD symptoms going back to the tornado of March 12, 2006. Our house outside of Republic was destroyed by a tornado that went through the house while we were in it. It was a Sunday night and we had already gone to bed when I woke up and immediately knew that a tornado was about to hit our house. We didn’t have a basement, so we called the kids and crawled into the hallway, where we laid on the floor while the house was pretty much ripped apart.

I never understood it, but things were never the same after that. I was never the same. Some friends of ours thought we might have PTSD and recommended that we go for counseling, but we never did. Now, I can’t help but wonder how much that event changed me and if that’s really when I started my losing my dear wife. Anyway, I made an appointment for myself and we’ll see what happens.

My spiritual decline had begun in Dodge City, where I had become so disillusioned with church leaders and so disappointed in the way things had gone that I was angry at God and the church.  Not that I had ever been that great spiritually, but there had been a time when my faith was real and vibrant and I was really trying to serve God.  My heart had never been completely right, but by the time we left Dodge City for the Missouri Ozarks, I just didn’t have it in me anymore.

The changes to my demeanor and personality that happened after the tornado were more difficult to put a finger on.  I quit being interested in any of my hobbies.  I worked too much and withdrew from friends and family.  I carried an anger that smoldered just below the surface.  It rarely broke through, and when it did, it was almost exclusively aimed at the one person I loved the most and who deserved it the least.  In those moments, I did terrible damage to my wife, who had no way of understanding why I would treat her that way. 

For some people, therapy is a way to relieve their guilt and say they tried.  Many people don’t really want to change, and no amount of therapy can change a heart that doesn’t want to.  In my case, I was willing to do whatever it took to fix what was wrong inside and become, once again, the man that my wife could love.  I had already allowed God to change my heart.  Now I needed to fix my mind and my emotions.  The next logical step was to find a therapist.

When I made the appointment, my plan was to talk about the tornado and see if I was, in fact, suffering from PTSD.  The doctor had his own agenda, and that was to get to know what made me tick and look at the whole picture.  On the first visit, he asked me a series of questions that seemed unrelated to anything and I found myself thinking, “This is a complete waste of my time.”  I figured that I would finish the session, pay my bill, and never come back. 

So, how do you feel today?

What a shock it was when, after about 45 minutes, those seemingly unrelated questions all connected up like a dot-to-dot puzzle and I was looking at a picture of myself that was very telling and undeniably accurate.  Things that I had never realized meshed with things I knew, but didn’t understand about myself.  I didn’t find my answers that day and we didn’t even get to the subject of the tornado, but there was enough that made a whole lot of sense to make me realize that we were onto something.  Now, I found myself thinking, “Either this guy is really lucky or really good, or else God just directed the whole conversation.”  He gave me a homework assignment and I agreed to continue. 

Over the next few weeks and months, I came to understand that there had been a pattern throughout my life that now was at the root of my marriage problems.  When I experienced something traumatic or very stressful, I would shut myself off emotionally, and withdraw inside myself.  I shut others out and pushed everything down instead of dealing with it.  That would manifest itself as depression and mood swings, a bi-polar disorder.  It also showed up as some dissociation, where I would almost become a spectator in my own life.  It was as if these things weren’t a part of me, but rather I was seeing them happen to someone else.

When I shared some of this with my wife, she listened, but said nothing.  She was going to need time.  She told me that she was going to be watching me.  She needed to see changes in me, not hear about them.  I was ok with that.  I knew that she deserved much better than I had been giving her and I knew that nothing was going to stop me from getting to the place I needed to be.

It’s amazingly ironic and completely coincidental that as I am writing this, Joplin, Missouri is attempting to clean up from a horrific tornado that claimed many lives and wreaked unimaginable devastation. 

I helped my wife move into her new apartment, which was a gut wrenching experience that I didn’t truly grasp while it was happening.  I only knew that I was driving the truck that was moving the dearest person on earth out of my home and into a place where I may or may not ever get to live.  I had to keep my emotions in check, both for the sake of the family and friends who were also helping her move, and for my wife, who was billing this as a celebration and a chance to find a new start. 

We did, in fact, celebrate that night with Champagne and strawberries. My wife was very sweet and encouraged me that the plan was for it all to work out in time.  I ended up staying the night and through the weekend, and although we weren’t close like we used to be, it convinced me that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.  Then, suddenly,  the weekend was over, and I was in no way prepared for the good-bye or the devastating words that came out of her mouth.

She told me that she didn’t know when we would see each other again and that she no longer felt about me the way she once had.  She said that she used to be proud of me and look at me and think, “That’s my guy,” but that she couldn’t feel that way anymore.  I told her I didn’t think she had felt that way about me for a very long time and that was one of the reasons I had gone astray, but she told me that she had felt that way even while we had been living in Republic. 

That knowledge crushed me.  I left the loft in utter devastation, not comprehending how I could have been so blind or lost that I hadn’t realized that even recently, she had still been trying to get me to love her the way she needed, while I had viewed her as detached and uninterested.  Furiously, I racked my brain for the answer to one question.  When had I  gone wrong and turned down the path that had led us here? I could only come up with one answer. 

On March 12, 2006, we survived a tornado that went through our house while were inside.  We laid on top of our kids in the hallway while the house exploded around us.  We both expected to die in those moments, before we found ourselves homeless in the middle of the night, but alive.  About a year later, we had replaced our things and were living in a different house and outwardly, everything seemed back to normal.  Inside, it was a different story.

We had lost a lot more than a house and some possessions in that tornado.  Things weren’t the same.  Life no longer seemed to have any special moments, and almost all of the things we used to enjoy were no longer part of our lives.  Something was missing and I couldn’t even identify what it was, much less figure out how to get it back.

About this time, some friends were visiting and I shared what I was going through. They suspected that I was experiencing PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder.  They recommended talking to a counselor to get through whatever lingering effects there might be.  As was my typical way of operating, I did nothing. 

I could only find one possible event that altered not only our lives, but our relationship, and that was the tornado.  I still wasn’t sure how or why I had become a different person after that, but I had.  Somehow, that experience had changed me, and not for the better.  The next step for me would be to do what I should have done years before.  Face the problem and deal with it.