Dear wife of a veteran with PTSD

Dear wife of a veteran with PTSD,

I see you. I feel you. I am you.
I feel tight and constrained.
I feel restricted and cornered.
I feel trapped and suffocated.

This must be what constant anxiety feels like but this isn’t my anxiety…it is his.

I feel stale, put upon, worthless, used up and invisible.
I feel stuck and unable to escape my thoughts.
I feel like shooting things.

This must be what constant anxiety feels like but this isn’t my anxiety…it is his.

I feel completely incapable of performing like I should.
I feel tender and at the mercy of everyone else.

This must be what if feels like to constantly feel fear, anxiety and depression but it isn’t my fear…it is his.

Sometimes I want to say to my husband, “I have taken on your shit but your shit ain’t mine. I raise your kids, cook your food, wash your clothes, give of my body and I do it all willingly because I love you more than life itself and I committed to this marriage.”

But then I realize that he knows this. It isn’t him that I need to talk to, it is you.

The woman like me who is tired of having an affair with her husband’s anxiety. I don’t know about you but I feel like my husband’s anxiety is a crappy lover with rotting teeth and lice in her hair. She is there like a lurker, waiting for you to take a deep breath. You know her. She leads you to think, “Oh we must be over the hump, the therapy must be working, a life of passion and joy can now resume.” And then BAM, just like that, the choke hold of anxiety rises again…but it isn’t mine or yours…it is his.

The woman like me who is tired of making excuses about the way I am being treated because my husband has PTSD and that is why the anger just comes.

I am talking to you, the woman who wants to shout from the rooftops, “I am not the enemy you are looking for. I am not the battleground you have fought on. I am not the war zone in your head.”

I am talking to you, the woman who wants to scream into the heavens, “I am your partner, your wife, a gift that was given to you by divine intervention at the exact moment when you were ready to receive me.”

I was recently asked to think about to whom or what impossible standard are you comparing yourself. What am I supposed to do with the knowledge that the “what” is my husband’s anxiety, the “whom” are the players in the virtual war in his head?

I recently said to a friend, “Marriage is super hard when you are actually committed to making it work. It is even harder when you are sharing your bed with an uninvited third party named PTSD.”

To all the women who never know when she will come.
To all the women who never know what she will say.
To all the women who never know why she decides to rise.

I see you. I feel you. I am you. And we are going to be OK.

As a writer, professor and fiery public speaker, Dr. Melissa Bird creates the genesis for a new brand of leadership. Her words awaken revolutionaries, trailblazers and powerful innovators in the quest for justice. When she’s not building her public speaking Empire, she can be found reading trashy novels, drinking fine whiskey, playing mom to three delicious humans, and loving her punk rock scientist James Thomas Kelly. Connect with Missy at birdgirlindustries.com and on Twitter and Instagram.

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