To My Husband, From Your Wife With PTSD
We have been married more than seven years, we have two beautiful, differently-abled children, and we just got a dog. Life has been a whirlwind — a beautiful whirlwind of joy and pain since the day I met you. But it wasn’t always beautiful, and because of that I will always be a little bit broken.
My love, my birthday was months ago, but I am just now getting the chance to tell you. I saw what you said to your mother that day. The text.
“Is it always going to be like this? It was years ago. I don’t understand why it still makes her anxious. How can a whole third of a year make anyone anxious? Is she ever going to get better?”
No, my love. I am not.
My post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a shadow. It follows me everywhere. The pain I endured in my childhood will always be real. The very worst thing he ever did to me, an innocent little girl he should have loved unconditionally, he did on my birthday. Every year until the year he left, the abuse and neglect got worse starting in February and culminated on my birthday. It sent a very clear message, aside from the usual messages of abuse — a message of “I despise your existence and I don’t want you here.” Going through things like I did can change the way your brain perceives reality and danger. And thus, I will probably always be scared. I will always see his face lording over me in my dreams. I will always feel the air escape me. I will always relive the abandonment. I just wanted him to love me.
Yes. It will always be real. It will always hurt. But it hurts less than before. I functioned better last year than the year before. I am sorry your wife is flawed and broken. I am sorry there are times when my PTSD worsens so much that you can’t touch me, that the kids can’t touch me. But I believe in its own way, my brokenness — my vulnerability, my raw insecurity — makes me beautiful. I wouldn’t be me without it. We wouldn’t have been without it. I love you so, and I know you love me, my love. So please, hold me when I need it, and remind me when I don’t how much you love me. Be sensitive. Feel free to ask my friends to take over when you can’t anymore. My birthday is painful every single year, but you and those two boys make my life beautiful.
I used to think I had “overcome” my PTSD, but time has shown me it’s still part of me. It’s in quick overreactions, like getting defensive about why I am cooking what I am cooking. It’s in nightmares that never go away. It’s me in tears because our awesome kids won’t stop screaming. It’s a part of me. But it’s also in my great empathy. It’s in my passion. It’s in my dreams. It is the ugly that I choose to make beautiful, and you and our boys are a part of that choice.
I need you to know I didn’t read your text out of mistrust. I read it because I knew in my heart my pain was hurting you, and that you couldn’t completely understand it. If I could, I would protect you from my pain, but I cannot. I promise you, however, that even if I don’t understand a pain you endure in the future, I will be empathetic. If I could get better I would, but I would never change my past. I would never do that, because then we might never have met. And much like the lyrics from that old song go, “God blessed the broken road that lead me straight… to you.”
Thank you for loving me broken.
If you or a loved one are affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-0656-4673.
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