Trigger warning: addressed is PTSD, mental health and insomnia.
I’m startled awake by a noise. I turn over to wake him for the 2nd time that night. He wakes confused. I rub his back, he turns onto his stomach, moans and is back asleep.
Later that week, it’s 11pm. He is still awake reading. “Are you going to sleep soon?” He shakes his head no. I gather my pillow and blanket and go to sleep in the other room. The weeks of insomnia begin.
Three weeks later, he is happy. He’s planned several things for the weekend. He wants to just be outside and enjoy family time. It’s a holiday weekend. The earplugs are in the outside pocket of my purse. They will be needed in a few hours when all the fireworks begin. I know he is doing this for our son.
It’s a Sunday evening, we are sitting at the kitchen table writing all of our events, doctor appointments, weekend plans, etc on the calendar. I remind him this coming Tuesday I’m filling in at ladies game night. He stiffens. It wasn’t on the calendar. I didn’t think it was a big deal as he is usually gone with our son to karate. It’s a big deal to him though. I try to calm him and let him know that I forgot about it until my calendar went off in my phone.
He is back to exhaustion again and heads off to bed at 8:30pm. I go into the room as quiet as I can when I’m ready for bed. He bolts upright as I’m getting my pajamas on. I reassure him it is just me and he lays back down. He’s grumpy the next morning mumbling about not sleeping well.
A few days pass, it feels like weeks since we last had sex. He is getting into bed and I slip under the covers with him. I lay my head on his chest and he strokes my hair. My hand wanders down to get him aroused. It works and he rolls with me so I’m on my back. He is rough and marks me in many places. I really get into it and he gets off. We go back to cuddling. The next morning he sees the marks and the bruises forming. I like them, he does not. He’s worried someone is going to think he is abusing me. He doesn’t initiate sex until they are gone.
He comes home early from work one day in the middle of the week. I’m surprised to see him. He says he just had a really bad day and wants to decompress. I leave him alone because prying won’t help. I tell him I’m here if he wants to talk. He says ok and walks out of the room to go find something to do. He isn’t good at being idle. His thoughts get the best of him.
I’m sitting on the couch listening to the TV and typing away on my phone. He comes in and sits down. I put down the phone and ask him what’s going on. He tells me about his work day. Mentions something about a previous soldier. He tells me that sometimes he doesn’t know which way is up anymore. He continues to talk and I sit there quietly just listening. He isn’t looking for answers. He just wants to be heard and know that he isn’t going crazy. I reassure him he is not crazy. The military does a spectacular job at breaking people, mentally and physically. He sighs and says I know.
The dreams begin again. Sometimes he wakes up chest heaving. Sometimes he just talks in his sleep. Either way it’s not restful and soon we will begin the insomnia….again.
*Author’s Note- PTSD affects many service members who have served in combat. Some are more severe and some are manageable without medical intervention. My SO does have appointments at the local VA every six months to follow-up on his mental and physical health. I don’t pry because I couldn’t begin to understand how he processes things. I do show him my love and support and remind him I’m here for him. Some days are really good, some are not. It is ok to not have good days, as long as he remembers that we love him.