Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Changed Man

When I started dating my husband,there were several things about him that attracted me to him. First,he was tall- 6 foot,broad shoulders,and I found him very handsome. He was very self assured. It may have come across as cocky or arrogant to some, but to me he was self confident. I felt very safe with him,he could handle himself in any situation,and protect me. He was very outgoing and had a great sense of humor. While he was very much a man's man,he was also very romantic and loving,and treated me like a queen. I don't think we even had an argument for the first 5 years of our marriage! We not only loved each other,we truly liked each other. We had both been divorced,and finding a relationship like this was incredible. I didn't think that there were men like that any more, and for the longest time, I kept waiting for something to go wrong. It was too good to be true! We went to the beach,for dinner,for drinks,for drives,window shopping. We like to be out and about,even after Zach was born.
So when he came off the plane in Manchester, I knew something was amiss.
Zach and I flew in to his arms,and of course, I started crying, because I was so happy to see him and I was glad that he was OK. The old Rick would have let me cry as long as I needed to,and would've held me, saying how much he missed me,and loved me. What he said was, "OK,that's enough,"with a pat on the back. That was the first thing that struck me as odd. He almost felt like a stranger to me,and was acting like he had been gone just a couple of hours to the store.
Brian, his brother, drove on the way home. I sat in the front,and Rick and Zach were in the back. Brian kept telling him things like,"There's construction coming up on the right with concrete barriers." I was wondering why he kept doing that. Then,all of a sudden, Rick started crying,out of the blue. "What's wrong?" I asked,concerned. "I didn't see the blown out tire in the median," Brian said. " Sorry about that,"Rick said,"It brought back something I saw." Apparently,there was a truck that hit an IED that he had seen. He never elaborated,but that is my guess.
It was great to have him home,but he was different. He would get mad,very quickly and out of the blue,for no reason whatsoever. Once it was the size of the house-the house he loved before he left-now it was "too f---ing small." Our routine was too boring. I told him it was the same as before he left,and he didn't seem to mind then. He hated the woods across the street,there were too many trees around;he loved them before. He drove, but it made him nervous-he thought people on bikes with backpacks had bombs in them,he would scan bridges for explosives. When I slowed down to go through the toll booth, he yelled,"Don't stop,don't stop,for Christ sakes, keep going!." When he was over there, if they slowed down in the Bradley,they could get attacked. He woke up from nightmares,sometimes crying,sometimes yelling, if he could sleep well at all. If he asked me a question,he wanted a yes or no,and any explanation was "too long." He would literally cut me off and end the conversation. I was not used to that. You couldn't touch him to wake him up,he took a defensive stance. You couldn't come up behind him,he would get startled and yell and get mad. He started snapping at Zach and I. The deck where he used to love to sit he could no longer use because it made him "an open target because of the woods across the street."
I had read about the symptoms of PTSD,so I knew that a good portion of what was going on was in relation to that,but it was mighty hard to hold my tongue when he would yell at me or Zach for no reason. Especially when that was something he had never done in his life.I found myself responding with anger back.
He was home for a week,and then he went back to Fort Gordon. I was hoping that someone down there could help him get back to the man I had married.

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