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Guest Post – The Other Side of the Glass: The Cave

The next Instalment from our mystery blogger:

cave troll

cave troll (Photo credit: matthewb)

This is the fourth post in the series The Other Side of the Glass, where I explain in detail what it feels like to live with PTSD. I’m writing this series to give Beth, and anyone else that has a loved one with PTSD, an understanding of what it is like to live without emotions or to be emotionally numb. Each person suffering from PTSD has their own trauma, their own symptoms, and their own circumstances, but I’m just trying to give you a glimpse of what it is like to live with this horrible disorder.

What does it feel like? is the first in the series. If you have not already read that post, it would be best to start at the beginning.

In our first three posts we examined what if physically feels like to lose your emotions, how that alters your daily life, and how damaging it is to your relationships.

So what does a person with PTSD do next? For a man, we go to our caves.

As I mentioned in one of the other posts, men do not like to talk about our problems. We like to go to a nice quiet place and think and come up with solutions. We want to fix what is broken.

Personally, I could see my world was crumbling down around me. My relationship with my ex was obviously destroyed, and I could no longer relate to friends and family around me. Due to the abuse, I was too humiliated and embarrassed to speak about it with anyone. For the two or three people that I did reveal what was happening, I started to avoid them as I could see the pity in their eyes. I quickly grew tired of the, “How are you?” questions. I just wanted to be normal again and since I couldn’t figure out how to be normal, I became more and more secluded.

Even in a group I would isolate myself. I would stand off to the side and not get involved with the conversations that were going on around me. I didn’t want to reveal too much about what was happening behind closed doors. I didn’t want to explain how I missed Monday Night Football because I was being punched in the face by a woman.

There was also a certain level of envy that would creep in. I didn’t want to see all the other couples that were in love. I didn’t want to see all the laughter and happiness. I didn’t want to pretend to laugh, force myself to smile, or feign joy.

Along the way, I discovered that my PTSD had triggers. “Triggers” were certain situations that would cause me to become more “blank” or they would cause The Void to increase within me.

For example, I made the mistake of going to a romantic comedy at one point. As I watched the characters on screen fall in love, I could feel my insides become more and more vacant. Watching them kiss made The Void take over to such an extreme that it physically hurt. To explain what it felt like, I can only liken it to extreme grief. My soul was empty and in pain. I realized I could not watch another love story until I was stronger. The trigger was just too painful.

Stressful situations were also a trigger for me. Beth’s husband may have other triggers, but I would assume a stressful situation would be common among all PTSD sufferers.

Beth may already know that blank stare when her husband shuts down completely. Hopefully she can take notice of what caused it and help him to avoid those triggers.

Because I didn’t want to feel worse, I withdrew into my cave more and more. Because my options of entertainment were limited, I was drawn more and more to gaming and porn.

Xbox 360 buttons

Xbox 360 buttons (Photo credit: Alfred Hermida)

The ex complained to the therapist about my gaming. The therapist simply explained that I was playing so I didn’t have to think or feel. That made complete sense to me. When I played, I could get lost in my fake world and I didn’t have to think so much. I just acted on what was happening on the screen.

I started to play more and more. I played before work, during work, and after work. I was pleased when I could out-think the other players and I could beat them. It was also a great way to get get out some of my frustrations. My online cave was comfortable to me. I was a good player and others respected me.

There was one other thing in my cave. Masturbation, because it was a physiological level, felt good, so I kept it in my cave.

Let’s face it, men masturbate. It’s what we do. I’ve read that 91% of men masturbate, and the other 9% are pathological liars. We think nothing of it. Depending on our sex drive, we’ll rub our penises wherever and whenever we are inclined. Great sex doesn’t prevent masturbation, it just makes us masturbate more as we think about the great sex we are having!

Masturbation became part of my daily routine. I did it so that for those 15-30 seconds, I could feel GOOD. It was the only time I felt something good. It was the only time I felt ANYTHING. It was the only time I felt pleasure. Of course, it wasn’t emotional, but at the time I didn’t care. I only felt something that was pleasurable and enjoyable and that was a good thing.

The porn watching was just a means to an end. Quite often the porn was boring or gross or was so ridiculous that I hardly found it stimulating. I was just looking for something that would help me achieve the pleasurable part. It was like a needle for a heroin addict. I didn’t care about the needle (porn), I only wanted the high (orgasm).

I read Beth’s posts on her husbands porn watching and masturbation. On the one hand, I have to commend him for being honest with her. For years, I lied and hid all of my porn and masturbation. I denied it up and down when I was questioned about it. I learned to work “the system” and I knew when I could and couldn’t masturbate. I became increasingly adept at hiding the porn. In the end, no one ever found out about it. Ever.

On the other hand, I feel bad for her husband. She is trying to make him stop the one thing that feels good to him. She puts up blocks and barriers and chastises him as a mother would do to her child. She asks him who and what he thinks about when he masturbates! I cannot imagine how emasculating and embarrassing that would be.

Beth, let the man have his time alone in his cave. Let him have his thoughts. Let him have his fifteen seconds. I swear to you that there is no emotional connection to it. He just wants to feel SOMETHING.

I’m sorry that he is broken and he craves those those fifteen seconds of bliss out of the other 86,385 seconds of the day. I’m sorry some of your friends have great breasts or a nice butt, because it is just a means to an end and it means nothing to him. I’m sorry that he looks at porn because it really does nothing to his soul. It is only something for his eyes to focus on so he doesn’t have to think. I’m sorry that it hurts your feelings to know that he wants to do those things alone, and in private.

Maybe you can’t. Maybe there is a reason for your hatred of porn. Maybe your feelings about it are completely justified, I don’t know. All I can tell you is that if you continue to make this a big issue, he will continue to do it, but he will start to hide. Porn is everywhere. If he wants it bad enough, there are a million and one places to find it between your home and the office.

He is a good man. He is just broken. He is in his cave.

But my message is one of hope. I’m here to tell you that he won’t be in his cave forever. I was able to crack the glass case and escape. I will discuss that in my next post and hopefully you can take what I’ve learned and help your husband escape as well.

*****A note from Beth: I know many of you are going to ask about the porn and my opinions of it, I know most will more than likely agree that I should cut him some slack with regards to masturbation and porn and while I would agree- in a situation which wasn’t so messed up as mine- I do not agree in this case but I do apreciate the opinions and I do understand it. Let me first direct you to this post about our porn in our past (here), this one about progress after the revelations (here) and finally my outright opinion of porn in general (here). Now I will share what I replied to our mystery blogger when he emailed me and gave me the heads up that I probably wouldn’t like what I was about to read:

‘I’ve read it and I don’t mind – it’s another opinion And therefore I
welcome it – and thank you again for doing this. It will be posted as
is.
What I will say though is… No lol I’m sorry but I am not
going to encourage him to take the easy way out. I would enjoy sex alot
more with someone whom actually enjoyed it with me, I would prefer a
relationship which wasn’t so one sided but I don’t opt for those, I
stick it out and sacrifice a lot of my own happiness for him – for US
and this is the one thing that not only pushes us further away sexually
but also encourages lying and secrecy. I put up with that for the past
year and I am not going to do it again.

I encourage him to pleasure himself WITH me – the way a loving, committed marriage should be in my eyes and so far that seems to be itching that scratch. He gets to do it himself, I get to be part of that, he gets his release and I get another
day of not worrying about the lies. Does that make any sense? Again, I
get it, I understand it more from his (your) point of view but from our
history it’s crossed the line into borderline addiction and it’s
destroying us… I’m just not prepared to let that happen.’

xBx

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2013 in Guest Post

 

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Guest Post – The Other Side of the Glass: What are relationships like without emotions?

The next instalment from our mystery blogger:

PTSD Nation

PTSD Nation (Photo credit: Truthout.org)

This is the third posts in the series The Other Side of the Glass, where I explain in detail what it feels like to live with PTSD. I’m writing this series to give Beth, and anyone else that has a loved one with PTSD, an understanding of what it is like to live without emotions or to be emotionally numb. Each person suffering from PTSD has their own trauma, their own symptoms, and their own circumstances, but I’m just trying to give you a glimpse of what it is like to live with this horrible disorder.

What does it feel like? is the first in the series. If you have not already read that post, it would be best to start at the beginning.

Now that you can see what daily life is like without emotions, now we will examine what it like to try and have relationships without emotions.

What are relationships like without emotions?

Naturally,the relationships with your family and friends no longer make sense.Why do you want to be around anyone if you cannot feel the love or bond of friendship that you feel for them?

I lost contact with a lot of my friends during this period in my life. I started to isolate myself more as I had little in common with anyone. I didn’t want to discuss my situation and I knew no one would be able to relate anyway. After all, none of my other friends talked about waking up a zombie. No one else was telling me how they felt The Void. No one had that blank stare in their eyes.

That reminds me, I once met a man who had just come back from Iraq. The same emptiness he had in his eyes is the emptiness that I had in mine when I looked in the mirror.

The eyes truly are the periscope to the heart. When a person’s heart is in the glass box, the eyes go blank. They are empty and cold. I wonder if Beth knows that look.

Since Beth is dealing with her husband, I will try to focus on that type of relationship.

Here enters the cycle of insanity – You should love the person you are with,but you do not have the ability to love, or feel anything for that matter. The person you are with desperately wants you to feel something
so they do not feel so hurt and alone, but your heart is in that glass box on the shelf.

I think this dynamic becomes more intense when the husband is the one with PTSD. A man thinks things through, but a woman is more prone to her feelings.

Since Beth’s husband cannot feel, Beth is hurt by it. Beth wants the security that her husband loves her and that their relationship is solid. Her husband is a blank man, a zombie, bringing insecurity and fear into the
relationship. Beth then gets angry because her feeling have been hurt by his lack of love. Beth’s husband can see the hurt he is causing and he logically reasons that he wants to fix it so that his wife will not be hurt as he know this causing tension in the home. Unfortunately, the one thing that Beth wants more than anything, his love, he cannot give even though he desperately wants to.

Welcome to hell on earth…

As one that was in the glass box, this is the most frustrating situation to be in. You see the cycle happening but you feel as if there is nothing you can do to stop it. My purgatory was waking up each day
knowing it was going to be like the last. It was going to be a fight from morning until night to make sense of the world and everything in it. It was going to be a struggle to find myself and to feel anything. I
would have to dodge the demon and try my best to not to fight her every night.

Thankfully,Beth’s husband has a wife that loves him and wants to help him in any way possible. This will definitely help in his recovery.

But what about all the things that he is doing to upset her? The porn and the masturbation. The sneaking around to masturbate?

When I read what her husband was doing, my only thought was, ”Well…that sounds familiar.”

Have you ever watched a man try to fix something around the house? We ste back and stare at it. We aren’t stupid or dumbfounded, we are thinking.We are running solution after solution through our minds to see what
will fix the problem.

When we have relationship or emotional problems, we do not discuss it with our guy friends, our parents, or our coworkers, we go into our man caves and we do our best to process it all, seeking out solutions to fix the
problem. We seek out isolation and try to work it out in our heads.

The only problem is that a person with PTSD cannot stop thinking.

I wanted to stop thinking and I wanted to feel something..anything. I did the only things that helped me to escape and feel. I watched porn. I played video games. I lied.

Sound familiar?

My next post will deal with The Cave.

 
15 Comments

Posted by on June 13, 2013 in Guest Post

 

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Fork in the road

This evenings contribution to the Community Storyboard xBx

The Community Storyboard

I find myself
Standing
Breathless
At a fork in the road
Staring at the routes ahead
Both taking me forward
Both in different directions
Both leading to the unknown…
But which path should I take?
How do I choose?

The path to my left
Is straight
The surface is smooth…
Flat

Sheltered by thick trees
Protecting me from the elements
It looks  safe
It looks Easy
So tempting

The path to my right
Looks daunting
It’s rough
Bumpy
Like no one has ventured that way before
The view is obstructed
By the steep incline
Of the hills ahead
It would be a tough journey
The uphill struggle would take all my energy
I couldn’t foresee what lay ahead
What I would find on the other side

I look back to the left
That would be easier
The straight
Smooth path
But it’s so plain
Perhaps even boring
It stays the…

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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Guest Post, Poetry, Reblogs

 

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Guest Post – The Other Side of the Glass: What is Daily life like without Emotions

Thinking

Thinking (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

The second installment from our mystery blogger

This is the second posts in the series The Other Side of the Glass, where I explain in detail what it feels like to live with PTSD. I’m writing this series to give Beth, and anyone else that has a loved one with PTSD, an understanding of what it is like to live without emotions or to be emotionally numb. Each person suffering from PTSD has their own trauma, their own symptoms, and their own circumstances, but I’m just trying to give you a glimpse of what it is like to live with this horrible disorder.

What does it feel like? is the first in the series. If you have not already read that post, it would be best to start at the beginning. (Read here)

So now that you have an idea of what it feels like, we will explore what it is like to exist on a daily basis when you cannot feel any emotion.

What is daily life like without emotions?

“You don’t know what you have until it is gone.”

That statement really hit home when I started to deal with daily life without emotions. I never realized before how much of one’s life centers around how we feel. Even as a young man, I had a clear understanding that men think, while women feel. That idea made sense to me, but even as a man, I had no idea how much I relied on feelings for basics of life.

After The Void arrived, the first time someone asked me, “How are you feeling?” (A common greeting where I grew up.) I stood there dumbfounded. My reply was, “I don’t know.” I wasn’t being sarcastic of flippant. I really had no idea how I felt because I couldn’t feel my emotions anymore. With my heart in the glass box, even simple questions were now a challenge. That simple question had totally thrown me for a loop and I didn’t know how to respond. It was that very moment when I realized how badly damaged I was.

Soon afterward, I realized I could no longer listen to music. All the lyrics were talking about love, happiness, and all that other bullshit that no longer made any sense. I could only listen to jazz with no lyrics, and even then it really depended on the melody. If an emotional piece came on, the radio was changed to talk radio.

TV and Movies were completely out of the question. Most TV programs and movies try to invoke emotions out of their viewers, which means absolutely nothing to a person without emotions. TV and movies became bland and boring. There was no entertainment in anything anymore. I actually found little enjoyment in anything. There were a few things I enjoyed doing, but we will discuss that in another post.

When one loses one of their physical senses, the body compensates by heightening all of your other senses. If you lose your vision, your hearing improves, etc. When you lose your emotions, there is only one thing left to help you compensate.

You think. Constantly.

Once I could feel no emotions, it was as if I was thinking twice as fast, all day long. My brain tried to compensate to help me get through situations were my emotions would have normally handled the situation.
As I mentioned above, a simple question like, “How are you feeling?” was no longer an instinctive reaction of, “I’m fine,” or “I feel great!” Instead, I had to think about the answer and reply.

You don’t know this answer, just say you are fine.

Imagine how much you actually feel every day. When you walk out of your home and the sun warms your skin and the soft breeze caresses you, it makes you feel happy and comforted. It’s natural and seamless…until you can no longer feel your emotions. All of those feelings become thoughts.

The sun is bright today. There is a nice breeze. I think I like it.

There is no longer any rest. Your brain goes into overdrive and you think and think and THINK. Unfortunately, that has its own set of problems. When you cannot quiet the mind,  insomnia, and dull headaches are the main issues you must also battle.Sleep deprivation is evil, and it only adds to The Void.

All of that thinking leads to exhaustion. Your brain becomes mentally fatigued. There was one day I could not remember how to get home from work. I just kept driving as the things around me looked familiar, but I could not remember anything past my line of sight.

I remember another time when I looked into the mirror and I no longer recognized myself. I literally did not know who the person was that was looking back at me in the mirror. I would have been scared…had I had the ability to feel fear.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Guest Post

 

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Guest Post – The other side of the glass: What does it feel like?

memory void

memory void (Photo credit: esmtll)

As promised, here is the first Guest Post from our mystery blogger

The other side of the glass: How does it feel?

I happened to come across the Comfortably Numb blog and I immediately contacted Beth. I wanted to give her some hope. You see, I have a unique perspective on all of this.

I was the one with PTSD. I was the one feeling numb.

Over the next few posts, I hope to give you some insights into what Beth’s husband is going through. I’ve also privately offered some suggestions to Beth, as my only hope is for her husband to feel once again.

I am by no means an expert, I’m just a survivor. If you are going through this yourself, talk to someone. Anyone. You can overcome the symptoms of PTSD and live a very normal and productive life just like I have. The treatments available today are much more advanced than when I had to deal with PTSD nearly ten years ago.

If you have a friend or loved one experiencing any of the symptoms, please encourage them to get help. Be there to listen and try to be as understanding as possible.

Without giving too much information, I dealt with female on male domestic abuse. An ex-wife abused me mentally, emotionally, and even physically over the course of our marriage. After dealing with this for many years, I was worn out emotionally. The marriage was loveless and arguments occurred daily. (This is a very simplified explanation of a very complicated situation. I’m just attempting to give a little back-story on how the PTSD came about.)

After an exceptionally difficult verbal fight that lasted twelve hours, I went to bed.

After sleeping a short three hours, I woke up the next morning in a fog. It was as if I was awake, but I was still dreaming. I had tunnel vision and nothing felt real. I could barely feel even physical touching, and when it occurred, it didn’t make sense to me.

I will never forget the look a young girl gave me when I went into a restaurant to eat. It was as if she could see the emptiness of my soul. She looked into my eyes and gave me the most…touching look. It was as if she was reaching out to me, through her eyes, to comfort me, because she immediately noticed the pain I was in.

I assumed I was experiencing all of this due to the lack of sleep. I assumed it was just a bad day and the evil feeling would be gone the next day. I was wrong.

Waking up the next day was stranger than the first. The fog had lifted from my brain, but The Void* was definitely there. I was emotionless.

What is The Void? The Void is what I call that feeling you have when you suffer with PTSD.

This is how I’ve tried to explain it over the years. Imagine that your beating heart is confined to a glass box that is in the same room you are in. You can see it. You know it is there, but you cannot touch it and you cannot feel anything from it. It functions physically but everything else is disconnected from it.

Imagine waking up and not being able to “feel” anything. No happiness, no sadness, no frustration, no sorrow, no joy, no elation, no anything. In my situation, the one emotion I could feel was anger, and quite often rage. Other than that, I felt absolutely nothing. You could have told me that my mother had just passed away and I would not have shed a tear.

The Void is pure emptiness in your soul. It is a suffocating nothingness. I used to talk long walks at night, because it was one of the few places I now felt comfortable. It was the one place the dark, cold, emptiness inside of me matched the dark, cold, emptiness on the outside.

The Void had moved in and it would take several years for it to move out. Thankfully, I made many changes and once I left that abusive relationship I started to heal. Other PTSD sufferers have a much more difficult road ahead of them. Their trauma is deeper or more hidden and their wounds more severe. However, my message is one of hope, and when The Void takes over your soul, you will grasp onto any hope that you can.

The feeling is wicked and evil. You don’t want to feel blank. You don’t want to feel empty. You don’t want to be nothing. You want to laugh and smile and cry and giggle…but it is gone. It is a very unnatural feeling and even though you know you are broken, you can’t just snap your fingers and fix it. So you learn to live with it.

What is it like to live without emotions?

That topic will be discussed in my next blog post. Until then, hug your PTSD sufferers. Hold their hands and kiss their cheeks. You will not get much, if anything, in return, but the person…the real person that is stuck behind The Void will appreciate it more than you will ever know.

* Every PTSD sufferer may not have the same level of emotion that they personally “feel”. Each trauma, person, and situation is unique. I’m just trying to give you my perspective to help you relate.

 
 

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Crystal: Bartender and Thomas

My character post on the MisAdventures of Vanilla 🙂

The MisAdventures of Vanilla

‘AGAIN!’ the drunk, overweight businessman demanded as he leaned across the bar and stuffed a few notes down my top.

‘Larry honey I think you’ve had enough…want me to call you a cab?’

He swayed sleepily, raised his eyebrows and tried his best to keep his eyes from rolling.  ‘Look Crystal,’ he slurred and waved some more bills in my face; ‘If THIS wont get me just one more drink….what exactly WILL it get me? You do that stuff don’t you? Going that extra mile…customer satisfaction and all that…?’

I flushed and tried not to stiffen but even Larry – as drunk as he was- noticed my change in demeanor.  A smirk crossed his lips and he slowly nodded,  ‘Oh, so you do, eh?’ he leaned towards me once more, the sickly sweet smell of Jack Daniels and cigarettes clouding the air and sticking in my lungs.

‘I’ll call you…

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Posted by on June 2, 2013 in Guest Post, Reblogs

 

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Kisses goodbye

My latest Post in the Community Storyboard xBx

The Community Storyboard

She squeezed her eyes shut tight, swallowing the lump in her throat and fighting back the tears; willing herself to keep it together.

He wrapped his arms around her neck and held her close, breathing softly in her ear.

“I love you” she whispered as she stroked the nape of his neck, gently tugging at the loose strands of hair and wishing she didn’t have to let him go.

“Love you more” he smiled at her, his deep brown eyes filled with wonder… excitement but holding a flicker of worry too.

She smiled back through the ache she felt in her heart and cupped his face in her hands. She sighed,  recording every detail of his face.

With one last peck on the cheek he turned and walked away, his dirty blonde hair flopping with every step.

“Not possible” she said to herself, Allowing tears to roll freely down her…

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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Guest Post, Reblogs

 

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