PTSD stress in marriage

I think Hubby resents me and doesn’t know he does. Or if not me, he resents our situation. I don’t know how to help him when I can barely help myself right now. I feel overwhelmed with responsibilities and staying on top of my depression and PTSD symptoms right now.

I have been telling Hubby for a few weeks that I don’t feel well, and possibly criticizing him too much for not recognizing that I need more help. I see my tired eyes in the mirror, my one friend saw them too and keeps asking if I am ok. She has MS and understands when your body craps out on you. I keep telling her I am fine, just busy and tired, because I have not shared my PTSD/depression troubles with my new friends. I’m too afraid to lose them or burden them. But strangely it felt good to be validated by her, for her to see that I am struggling.

Hubby has not been feeling great either, he works hard and has a lingering injury from a shoulder surgery that never really got better yet. I know he does not sleep well. He’s always had a hard time acknowledging my dips, possibly because he is too afraid of how far I may dip and he needs space from all that worry. I feel distance between us growing, and I’m not sure if he feels me pushing him away, not sure if I am unknowingly pushing him away, or he is staying away to protect himself. I just know he is away.

I also know that I trust him more than I ever thought possible, which makes his yelling/impatience/distance much more painful. I thought he understood how difficult simply attending the play over last weekend would be for me. He’s been great about giving me time alone whenever possible. He’s been helping me with dinner and carting kids around town. I appreciate everything he has done with theatre this year, he’s really turned out to be a wonderful artist himself and a great scenery screw member. He actually did more painting than I did this time, allowing me to stay home a few evenings.

But Saturday morning was terrible and I still don’t understand where it came from.

We made it through Friday quite well. He had Friday off work, and I thought he had a fairly relaxing day. He got an early dinner ready for everyone after school so we could rush off to theatre for costumes and makeup. We made it on time, and he seemed calm. I was a hurricane hiding under a calm facade. I made it through face painting a dozen or so young thespians by ignoring the other parents and focusing on happy kids. I was aware my mom arrived, I introduced her, and went back to painting. I saw next to my mom during the play, and was so pleased she was there to support my kids. My kids lit up when they saw her in the audience. I drifted away many times during the slow parts of the play, but actually enjoyed a few moments here and there. The play was over, I remember feeling panic, wanting to go home immediately, and standing there like a frozen tree, hugging my arms in tight to myself, just waiting to leave. I think I smiled when others came over, I think I said the right things to people, but I can’t remember. I wasn’t really in myself at that moment. I remember the relief when everyone was at home in bed and I was safe in my own blanket.

Saturday morning arrived way too quickly, and we needed to get back to the theatre by noon for the afternoon performance. We had a leisurely morning snuggling in bed until about 10 am. I asked Hubby if he could handle breakfast so I could get a shower. The shower helped relax me, and reduce my headache and tension in my neck and back. I saw a cute blouse I bought and never wore all year, because it needed ironed and I was always too busy. I guess I should have asked, but I thought everything was fine downstairs so I took my time and ironed that blouse and did my hair and makeup all alone at a relaxed pace. About 11 am I come downstairs expecting everyone to be fed. Breakfast wasn’t even ready yet because Hubby decided to make the fancy bagels into french toast instead of just toasting them. He was struggling because neither of us had done dishes the day before. He burned it a bit and it was still soggy from being such a thick bagel, so he put them in the oven. I turned on my calendar and saw it was a new pay period and I needed to submit my timesheet by noon. I would have forgotten if my calendar didn’t remind me. I was grateful he was handling breakfast and started to take care of that that, but again, I didn’t ask him.

I heard him ask for help setting the table. I didn’t turn around because I was focused on my timesheet, but I knew the kids were all watching TV. I called out “Kiddoes, come help daddy set the table”. I was aware the table was being set behind me, but again didn’t look and kept entering my numbers. I guess they set the table and went back to watching TV, for the response Hubby had made me nearly jump out of my skin.

In his biggest booming voice he yelled something like this from the kitchen, “Why in the world is no one eating? I’ve been working all morning to make this and no one can help or even come to eat? You all just sit there and ignore me? I don’t understand why I bother. The food’s on the table, eat or don’t eat I don’t even care. I had to wash all the dishes and cook everything myself and set the table too. No one listens or helps. I have to do everything.”

My boys instantly came out to the table and put food on their plates. My girl started crying. I started shaking, nearly crying, and helped the kids cut up the food. I cut off the burnt parts silently, no one would dare complain though.  Sadly they would have been so happy to have the plain bagel, he didn’t have to go to all that work, especially if he wasn’t enjoying it. Everyone was so tired. His efforts were entirely lost on them, they had a long hard week too. I was thinking no one asked him to go out of his way, he made his own decisions to do that. I was thinking I manage to serve breakfasts every other morning all by myself.

He saw my girl crying and started to yell at her to stop, but I had to intervene and tell him to stop. Enough. We get it. This was uncalled for and way too much, none of us deserved it.

I got the kids situated and eating, grabbed my lovely sandwich he made me special with steak and egg, and went back to the computer to finish my timesheet. Everyone ate quickly and silently, and then I gave Hubby a hug and said “sorry he felt abandoned”. He said ” sorry he blew up, but no one was listening to him and he couldn’t believe that I didn’t help either, just passed the buck to the kids”. Then we left for the theatre, mostly calmed down, but all of us hurting somewhat, and I still don’t really know why.  His blowup had to be about more than just having a quiet, lazy morning. Everyone was so relaxed and doing their own thing, and from my point of view it was lovely until the big blowup. All he had to do was go into the living room and ask for help. I bet no one actually heard him ask for help since they were engrossed in the TV show.

So I had to enter the den of anxiety with a fresh dose of panic and pain instead of the relaxation I had been trying so hard to instill. My heart and mind were racing. I struggled to stay present and smile at the kids as I did makeup. I kept thinking about everything I did wrong that morning and how I should have been helping Hubby. And then it spirals from there to how I should have been doing more all week to help him, that if I had done the dishes yesterday his morning would have been easier, or if I had remembered to do my timesheet earlier or gotten out of bed earlier, or checked with him before taking so much time upstairs . . .

But these are the things that happen when I feel that distance, we aren’t connected so little things become huge misunderstandings. Sadly the distance is bigger now, and for my girl too. I hate this part. I have to explain that daddy shouldn’t yell like that, but also have her respect him, but also make her see it wasn’t her fault, she didn’t deserve it, but that she should listen to him the first time he asks her to do something.. . Ugh

Just stop yelling and talk to us. I think we both feel we have been wrong and wronged.

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5 thoughts on “PTSD stress in marriage

  1. *hugs you* It’s so hard to deal with extra stress delivered from the ones you love when you are already struggling to stay above water. I truly don’t get the yelling….It doesn’t make anyone feel good, including the yeller, and it brings such anger to the situation.

    Try to be gentle with yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong and though I know he is struggling too, anger is not the way to express it. xo

  2. it can be hard to figure out how to respond, especially when confronted by anger

    sorry your otherwise-relaxing and calm Saturday had to end up being blemished by the misunderstanding, and sorry that you are feeling distant from him right now

    hang in there … every day is another chance to have a better day

  3. Pingback: Getting worked up over nothing? It’s never ‘nothing’ | Roots to Blossom

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