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To the Person Whose Partner Has Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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He is venturing to put together the puzzle of me without a photo on the box to help with this navigation.

• What is PTSD?

I am missing six pieces today, 10 pieces tomorrow. Last week I was whole for a while.
Cramming a piece into the right spot but it is turned the wrong way.

So it just will not fit. Not today.

He pushes on through. Unfaltering. Unfailing. Unconditional.

Thank you for not walking away when I told you I was broken.

Thank you for leaning in, eyes connected and heart open.

Thank you for not defining me as broken but for consistently recognizing and revealing all the positive and loving qualities you see in me every day.

You see my worth.

You see the potential of my now and my future.

You see my loveliness.

You see my raw, unfiltered beauty.

You see my strength.

Why is it so complicated for me to see these things?

Why is it sometimes so hard for me to believe his word?

Why do I challenge it?

Why do I doubt it? But believe it at the same time.

Why do I not trust it? Even though, deep down I completely do.

Why do I feel certain he will leave? Even though I know he is here to stay.

Why is this all such a fearful paradox for me?

When will the demons inside my head let me sleep?

Let me breathe?

Let me be fully loved?

Why must their opinions always continue to matter?

Why must they carry so much weight?

Why do I see and fundamentally understand all of these things, then still, in a small voice, asking the question, “But do you still love me?” — fully knowing the answer is “Yes. Always and forever yes.”

The emotional need to ask this anyway is magnetic. It is drawn out of me, for fear that he wants a take-back.

I think to myself, he deserves an “out,” just one last time…

It is always just one last time.

Where does this end? When will the reassurance need to stop? When will I just simply believe him? His beautiful truthful word that never hurts, rarely angers and is so patiently consistent.

Trauma burns. Trauma steals. Trauma interferes. Trauma cuts deep.

but that it is one that you would choose again, over and over again.

To you my love, I thank you.

I thank you for choosing to love me, a broken girl when I see so many unbroken people out there.

I thank you for loving all of me and choosing to understand the brokenness.

Thank you for giving the brokenness space. Allowing it to be there. Allowing it time to quiet.

When you feel frustration, thank you for expressing it but also for telling me again, in another way, just how much I mean to you.

I want you to know I see you. I see you in your triumphs, I see you in your struggles, when my face is dirty and I am being unknowingly difficult to love.

I see that instead of turning your back to me, you open your arms.

The way your love me wears down my rough edges, like waves on the shore.

It untangles the bits and pieces of brokenness.

You do not fix me because you believe I am perfect just as is. But you provide me with a chance to learn, to grow and to love.

The way you love me has allowed me to let some of the brokenness go.

It lets me set it aside, even for brief moments on hard days and see a life beyond trauma.

It allows me to see that brokenness can be beautiful and that not everyone just sees the broken. Especially you.

Thank you for loving me when loving myself feels impossible and for showing me that it is possible for love to be healthy, warm and giving.

Thank you for giving me time to grieve but being close enough that I feel your support.

Thank you winking at me from across the room — our own private conversation, when you cannot be by my side but you want me to know you are there, holding my hand with your heart.

What a step for me not end this piece with an, “I am deeply sorry”.

I know now that an apology is simply not required.

The only thing required is my continued commitment towards my health and healing and my ongoing commitment to building my abilities to love you and to be loved by you.

Love strengthens. Love builds. Love heals. Love brings back life.

Thinkstock photo by Ivash photography

Originally published: January 18, 2017
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