To My Future Husband: The PTSD Vows I Can’t Say Out Loud
If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
To my future husband,
As the days begin to count down, far too quickly in my opinion, and we rush to finish last-minute wedding plans, making sure all our affairs are in order – gifts bought, cake topper selected, heckling people for late RSVPs – I can’t help but take a moment to reflect back on how far we have come, of all we have been through and to be hopeful in all we have yet to see.
And even though we have our ceremony planned and songs picked to walk down the aisle to, there are still some vows that I won’t get the chance to say to you on our wedding day. There are some promises I don’t have the courage to say out loud to you, in front of all our friends and family. For these vows are too hard, and too deep, for me to recite to you.
But even though I don’t have the strength to say them to you out loud, I still want you to hear them because I mean every single word; these vows are as precious to me as the ring you placed on my finger.
With everything that I am, I make these silent vows to you:
I can’t promise every day will be a good day. When it comes to battling my mental illness, I know there are bumpy roads still ahead. I know there will be days, weeks, maybe even years where I could relapse into another post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) episode, another depressive spell, another anxiety-ridden haze. While I can’t guarantee if or when this will happen, I vow to fight like hell to remember the good days, to do my damnedest to make sure I try to get through it, even if it means weeks without showering or days of endless tears.
I promise, if my suicidal thoughts and intentions resurface through the dark days, I will lean on you, even though I know it will break both your heart and mine. I vow to try to find the strength to keep pushing forward, even in the times I am in the “grey” area. Rather than let those demons push you away, I will reach out my hand and confide in you because I know the cost is too high a price to pay.
And if the day ever comes when I have to admit, “I don’t want to live anymore,” I want you to promise me you will not blame yourself. You will never be at fault for the pain my mental illness causes me. I was sick long before we met, so the demons of my past should never eclipse the happiness and light you bring into my life. And if on the really bad days my illness makes you feel defeated, please remember that short-haired, slightly intoxicated girl at The Backlot who screamed, “You’re an idiot!” to your face at least five times. She is the girl you would fall in love with, and she’s still the girl who continues to love you; she’s just struggling right now, and you’ll never be blamed for that.
I vow to always let you hold me, even if it means many sleepless nights for you waking up to me screaming in my sleep, fighting the memories of my past, only to quietly whisper me back to sleep, or gently sing me “Little Moments” when I start to cry after snapping back to my senses. While I can’t guarantee your caffeine consumption will decrease, I promise to always thank you for dragging me out of those night terrors.
I promise I’ll always be the good guy, even on the days my PTSD makes me out to be the villain. I promise you are all I think about, even in the moments my illness forces me to snap, when I’m temporarily blinded by vicious anger and painful memories. I vow to never let the burden of my pain ever leave scars on you. I know there will be days when I can’t control my illness, or be 100 percent accountable for my actions, but I promise to work through those moments, to apologize and make it up to you. Just please promise to wrap me in your arms during these times when I’m left feeling embarrassed, ashamed and anxious.
I promise to always try harder, even during the times my anxiety is raising all sorts of red flags and setting off warning bells. Despite my social anxiety, I vow to keep working on trying to work through my irrational fear of the telephone and answering phone calls from numbers I don’t recognize. I promise to let you keep embarrassing me in large public places so you can distract me from the little army man inside my head who is plotting every escape route and running disaster drills, over and over. And even when it makes me crooked as sin, I give you permission to keep pushing me to try things out of my comfort zone. It may have taken some time, but I know now you would never let me do anything that would cause more harm, so please keep pushing me, even when my anxiety says, “no.”
I vow to always have open arms for you to run into, and a shoulder to lie your weary head on after a hard day, even when my illness is screaming at me to build up walls. While the scars of my past have forced me to be weary of human touch, I promise to always kiss you, and hug you, and cuddle you; to always offer you love and affection even if sometimes it has to be on my terms. Sometimes these things are harder for me to express, but know I mean them, even if I offer it in a silent way.
I promise to “bring it back down to a level five” on the days my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tendencies are reeking havoc both on you and our home. There will be times when the urges will be unforgiving, and there will times when they set me into blind panics or ruthless anger spells. Know I will vow to try my best to be understanding, even when the chemicals in my brain don’t quite agree. Just please promise to stop making fun of me when I start freaking out over things in the fridge being put back in the wrong spot or having to get up and put garbage in the trash can cause you missed with your less-than-perfect Shaquille O’Neil throws.
I vow to give you every piece of my heart because I never want you to experience the unforgiving darkness I live with on a daily basis. I will give you everything I am so you never feel the intense loneliness I have felt, or have to bear the burden of carrying around the insurmountable pain of having invisible wounds. And if you ever face a time in your life when you too come face-to-face with these vicious demons, I vow I will always be by your side. I will take up arms for you, just as you have done so many times for me. It’s a queen’s duty to protect her king, and I will always protect you, even though you’re a “tough guy” and say you don’t need it.
And above all else, I vow to love you endlessly, for all the time we are granted. Through the good and the bad, through the pain and the tears, I will always love you, because you are my everything. And I will cherish you forever because you brought me back to life. Despite my illness, you reminded me I could be that spunky 19-year-old who could call you an “idiot” to your face without remorse, but then also demand a piggyback ride home ’cause she drank one too many Pink Popsicles. Despite my invisible pain, you have reminded me, and continue to remind me, that I am unstoppable; I can raise my sword and keep fighting because I know you are stood right beside me, ready to be my shield.
All I am and all I have accomplished over these last six years is because you reminded me that my illness does not define me, and while there are times I know my illness has affected our relationship – because how can my pain not affect you, too? – I know we can get through it, because you believe in me. Because you’ve shown me I don’t need to go through this alone. You’ll always be my Tuxedo Mask, my Jake Peralta, my Han Solo.
So handsome, while I don’t have the courage to say these words out loud on our wedding day, I still make these vows to you, because I want you to know I mean them, every single word, even on the days my illness makes me hesitate to say those three most precious words.
I love you, handsome. I’ll see you at the end of the aisle.
With endless love,
Your future wife.
A version of this article was originally published on the author’s blog.
Image via contributor.