Twisted Thoughts

Twisted Thoughts

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.

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28 thoughts on “Twisted Thoughts

  1. I think there is nothing worse than seeing your loved ones suffer. I know how hard it is, how much you would like to take over their pain for a day, but all you can do is to stand next to them and just be there when they need you. I wish you and him all the strength in the world!

    Rebel xox

    1. Thank you very much Rebel. You understand this on so many levels. This was really hard to write. It’s a glimpse into real life imperfections and all. ?

  2. This is a really important post. We can’t make the nightmares and the anxieties go away, but we can listen and give those we love a safe space in which to express their feelings, rather than keep them bottled up and festering inside. ?

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this insight into the way that things can be. It must be heartbreaking to watch and frightening and horrible to deal with but what came over to me in this post was the love and the strength that you both have. I found this a very moving piece to read ❤️ missy x

  4. This was such a compelling read and so well written – the snippets told me so much about what you both go through without you needing to over emphasis – it is PTSD and both of you suffer because of it. Thank you for sharing this and wishing you well…

    1. Thank you very much May! My goal was to keep it simple, sometimes we overcomplicate what we are trying to convey when we write. These were glimpses into what we see and do daily.

  5. Each small vignette clearly conveys each element of recognising the other person is struggling. It’s beautifully written which doesn’t mask the inherent harshness of living with PTSD, sufferer and carer.

    The point that sticks with me is simply being there and listening. My former mistress has PTSD and when she’s able to talk, she needs to be heard.

    It’s a long path you’re on, I wish you both all the best.

    melody x

    1. Thank you for the kind words Melody! We have been together a long time and neither of us are always on cue, but at the end of the day we try our best to be sure we are both heard.

  6. The little snapshots you provide here show the realities of PTSD so well. It’s so hard to witness suffering in the ones you love, and you are so strong just for listening and not trying to fix.???

    1. Thank you blue! One thing I’ve always held myself to was that I chose to be with him just as he is. If I felt he needed fixing we wouldn’t have made it this long. The changes that he has gone through have been ones that he wanted. The changes out of our control (PTSD) shouldn’t determine if/how you love someone.

  7. Such a thoughtful representation of one of the presentations of PTSD. Patience, kindness, love and acceptance are written through this piece x

  8. I like when you said how he just wants to be heard and not looking for answer and you listen quietly. That’s beautiful. Sometimes that’s all it is, just wanting to be heard, to get that stuff out of your head. That means so much so to those of us who suffer from PTSD. You are doing a wonderful job listening, he might not ever tell you but im sure he appreciates and loves you for that.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

  9. Thank you for sharing this! I know that my own trauma issues very much affect my partner as well, and he is always on guard to not trigger me and is ready to soothe me when things are out of hand. I have major sleeping issues. Sharing a bed with someone for sleep is a major trigger for me, yet. that is what we are trying. I need to feel safe to go to bed, and that can sometimes take up to 3 AM during the night. I can’t remember the last time I slept more than 3 or 4 hours a night, I always wake up hypervigilant or screaming from nightmares. Insomnia is such a huge issue for those suffering from trauma issues, and I am sorry to hear that your SO is struggling with it as well! From what you describe, you are being really great for him, giving him space, listening without trying to fix things. He is very lucky to have you!

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