After the heartbreak of the other day… I have a sense of renewed hope (which I know is part of the ups and downs of living with someone with PTSD). I’m not sure how or when the change happened.
He had to work again and sometime after he got out of work we decided to go grab some food at a local pizza place. The night went really smoothly and we got home and he decided he needed to go to the library. After time at the library and then time where he rode around on his bicycle I had texted asking where he was. “Right down the street” he said, so assuming he would be home any minute I let our daughter wait up for him… 30 minutes later he still wasn’t home. I sent panicked texts and called many times with no response. Finally, I put our daughter to bed and sat on the couch waiting for an excuse or some reason he wasn’t home yet. When he called after about an hour of waiting he was crying saying he was just down the road and had a panic attack. I talked him home and made him chamomile tea. He told me that night that he knew he was hurting me and it killed him but he didn’t know how to make things better because he felt so numb.
Now is where I remember how his therapy works and what the healing process looks like. He is doing the “Prolonged Exposure Therapy”, in short, this therapy uses a contolled enviroment to reintroduce the trauma and help them face and process it correctly. The reintroduction is called “imaginal” … they work together and he recreates the trauma (s) in great detail and when he starts to panic or avoid he uses specific techniques to stay present in that moment and process the event. This is obviously very exhausting and trigger inducing and our minds will fight the anxiety and pain in various ways. So when someone is going through this therapy they often will feel very panicky, confused, irritable, and distant (among other things). This is all normal and slowly these feelings will subside until eventually they experience clarity and freedom.
So knowing this I remind him how this is part of the process and everything will be ok. I kept the evening as quiet and stress free as possible.
Today he was gentle and kind and very open and not distant at all. This was the reminder that the part of him that wants to run from our marriage is the part that is deeply wounded and scared. This part of him will not always be there and that light at the end of the tunnel is not elusive. We can make it through this and he will wake up one day and be able to breathe, think, and dream with out any walls or demons. He will see the beauty in things instead of the preceived harm.
I just need to remember not to neglect myself in this process so that I can stay strong and rooted in the reality that healing and change is possible.
*** I am obviously NOT a doctor so any and all info is my own paraphrasing based on information I gathered from various sources. If you would like more information on Prolonged Exposure Therapy or PE I will have links posted! and as always feel free to reach out :)***PE information