Day 29 of National PTSD Awareness Month
When Bob got home from Vietnam in August 1966, he weighed 119lbs. He's
5'11". The first night he was home, a loud smack woke me. Bob was a few
feet up in the air. I could see between him and the bed. He made way
less noise when he landed. I was impressed, but I had no idea what it
He flicked cigarette butts everywhere, too, in the house. He'd look shocked and say, "Sorry! I've been living in a tent." I thought it was pretty funny.
One day a big palmetto bug was inside and I started shreiking "Kill it!
Kill it!" Bob picked it up and put it outside, and said to me,
"Patience, I've seen enough things killed." It really made me think.
I still had no idea what he had endured. He mostly told funny stories
about Vietnam, Mo'fuck the mongoose biting him when he wouldn't share
his coffee and flying on missions with them. Stealing things from the
R&U compound so the his unit had stuff to trade, the ambulance full
of ladies of the night, his buddy, Jerry, getting stuck overnight in a
It wasn't till he was writing Chickenhawk that I
learned details of what he had lived through. That was why I decided to
write my book, Recovering, so other women could give their vets some
slack if they knew what they had been through.
My plan was to help
women understand and fix their vets, but luckily I found out about 12
step programs by accident. One nurse I interviewed who was running a Vet
Center said the Alanon pattern of detaching with love would help.
Then I saw a Hazelden daily meditation book for Adult Children of
Alcoholics, Days of Healing, Days of Joy, by Earnie Larsen and Carol
Hegarty Larsen. Wow! I thought. I have got to check this out. So many
vets are drunks. This will help their kids. So I looked into more ACoA
There was a list of ACoA characteristics which started with
"Adult Children of Alcoholics do not know what normal is." I almost fell
over because adult wives of vets with PTSD do not know what normal is
either. I can't tell you how many times I wondered if it was normal to
want your husband to say I love you. Was it normal to want hugs? I
really couldn't tell anymore. That is what got me going to an
independent ACoA meeting.
That was in 1987.
At the time I could
not go 100 yards in the car with Bob without telling him how to drive. I
believed that he drove the way he did to intentionally piss me off.
Everything was about me. I personalized everything and I misunderstood
everything. I was always pissed off or depressed. If something good
happened it was about f-ing time and it wasn't going to last so why be
I know I was hard to live with, but I thought I was fine
(haha) and Bob was f*cked up, so I often told him so, because I thought
he's want to know! I found help in the 12 steps. Other women have found
other kinds of help, but I think one of the most important parts of
recovery for the family and veteran is to focus on yourself. If you're
the vet, get help, work on you. That's your job and your duty. If you're
the spouse find help and support, so he can be in pain without you
trying to fix it, and work on yourself. That's your job and your duty.
Sometimes it does not work out, but often if you work at it, your
marriage can turn from a battleground into a sanctuary, not a quiet cold
sanctuary, either, but one that is also filled with laughter and hope,
like ours is.
Tomorrow will be my last post of the month. I will try
to post once a week from now on. If you go to patiencemason dot
blogspot dot com you will be able to follow my posts by email, since I
finally found out how to add that to my blog.