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It’s been one year….

20130318-121902-AM.jpgIt’s been a year since the shit hit the fan…. so it seems only fitting that I write a post.

I feel I owe it to myself to revisit this blog -to face my demons- but also to anyone still out there wondering ‘what ever happened to Beth?’ so…here I am…and this is what happened

In July we had our first wedding anniversary…I had been anxious about it but we celebrated by burning some bad memories – those in the form of diary entries, letters which held dark confessions and even photos or ‘happy book’ pages which made me feel sick looking back on. Not because the times themselves were bad…but once you find out that most of your relationship has been a lie things kind of take a sour turn.

We took our burn-iversary as a fresh start; a chance to put as many of those bad feelings as we could behind us and instead focus on moving forward…on how to make things better and how to make new…REAL…memories. At the time I was still feeling uneasy, emotions were up and down constantly; some days all I could think about was what he had done whereas others it didn’t even cross my mind.

It was during one of these ‘up’ streaks that we had news from his work that we would have to leave for America….in September! As you can imagine my heart was in my stomach. I had given our marriage one year from THAT day to figure out whether I stayed or we went our separate ways…now I had a matter of weeks to make up my mind!?

One thing that kept nagging me was this gut-wrenching feeling whenever I considered NOT going with him. By this time I was past any “what would people think?” “what would I tell my mother?” crap and had learnt to focus on what I wanted and not what society would find alarming. I wanted to be with him, I wanted to try…but there was so much to do, so much upheaval… this was an international move…I would need a visa…I had loose ends to tie up…I would have to quit the job I loved….

Shit Happens - By ComfortablyNumb

Shit Happens – By ComfortablyNumb

I chewed it over and over -AND OVER…I spoke to my best friend – the only person (offline) who knows EVERYTHING about our situation- and she reminded me that I could always come home if shit went wrong again. Eventually I told my dad and my step-dad about my doubts, hinting that things weren’t peachy between us; I spoke to a good friend from the blogging world…they all said the same… “you can always come home” and “you would regret NOT giving it a go”

So…I went.

Through a series of events with work, visa applications and an unrelated court case the moving date was postponed for a month here and another month there -It was stressful to say the least but we got here in the end and so far I am NOT regretting it.

HOWEVER…(did you see that one coming?) with everything going on with the move the therapy, counseling and everything that goes with it has been put on the back burner. It’s not that we are ignoring the fact that we need to carry on working on things – believe me he made sure I knew that he WILL keep seeing someone and I made sure HE knew that if he didn’t I would have his balls in a vice-it’s just that with any move its stressful and expensive so we have to wait until it’s more feasible to go (and keep going) to sessions in order to make them count.

That being said… I’m bloody dreading it. Its been so nice NOT having to think about shit for a few months. The move has pushed us together and grounded my feelings for him; the stresses of everything have taught us to work together and communicate more than we ever did – I mean yeah there’s still that mars/Venus divide but as far as US as a couple we are much stronger – at least as far as I’m concerned. I suppose I’m finding the idea of going from pretend-ignorant-bliss back to shock-horror-here’s-another-bombshell rather unsettling…but who wouldn’t? As for ‘deeper’ progress there have been a few small victories for us…though reading this back they’re actually rather big.

yeah right lol

yeah right lol

Before we left England he had started feeling more physically (in the bedroom) but it was still rare. Now, however it’s probably 90% of the time. The sensation doesn’t last long but the fact that the frequency has increased massively means we must be doing something right (yay us!) This is a massive confidence boost for me, I don’t feel as rushed to ‘get it over with before he starts yawning’ and I can sometimes tell when it’s happening for him. We did have a type of code but that always reminded us of the ‘issue’ so now we just roll with it and see what happens.

We are a little more spontaneous with it, definitely more passionate/romantic and generally more relaxed…more loving. It’s like we are both actually present…we make eye contact…more kissing…I don’t feel like a hooker! Of course some days it all hits me again that this isn’t a ‘normal’ sex life and that for most couples it’s a lot ‘easier’ for them…but then I remind myself that it’s OURS, it’s working for us…and at least I don’t have a problem with a partner who is done in a few minutes ha ha (sorry but I have to laugh)

Out of the bedroom he is more caring too; he now has a phone and actually texts me during the daytime which has made such a big difference. He leaves notes for me sometimes when he heads off to work and he picks up a little something now and again if he stops off to get petrol or whatever on his way home. He told me a few months ago during a heart to heart that he now genuinely likes cuddles and missed the ones I used to give him; he had started feeling ‘less loved’ by me than before and cared enough -or felt enough- to actually say something about it (I had started blocking myself without realising.) He was honest enough to tell me things that he knew I wouldn’t like hearing -rather than lying to keep me happy) and said openly that he still needed to work some things out with a professional..

I still have issues with porn…like I said…who wouldn’t after everything? I have some filters set up on his phone and on the computer (with his permission – nothing sneaky) but we both agree that neither of us are ready for them to be removed – again not something I LIKED hearing but at least he was honest about it. I don’t like the fact that I haven’t deleted this blog, I don’t like that I WILL be posting on here more frequently once the therapy starts…but its the truth and I have to face it. I still have days where I remember that we do have a lot of work to do (and he agrees) and it hurts like hell but at least we realize this and aren’t just sweeping it under the carpet for good.

Yes there is a LOT of work to be done but we both know that and WILL get back into the swing of it once we are settled with everything else. For now…I am happy that we are making progress on our own. The bottom line in all of this? I’m glad I came with him, I’m glad I gave it a shot and I’m certain I want to keep working on it.

I am so sorry for dropping off the face of the…blogging-world. I have missed you guys, but I can’t lie I’m not looking forward to being back…I will be back though, just not yet.

xBx

 
19 Comments

Posted by on February 25, 2014 in The Present -How things are

 

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#13 As sick as your secrets

**Continuing on from my last post (here) ***

Number 9 Sign

Number 9 Sign (Photo credit: tedeytan)

In order for this to make as much sense as possible, its probably a good idea to read back (if you haven’t already) about our rating scale technique – posted here.

After telling me how he knows he can trust me and explaining that its hard to tell me the things he WANTS to tell me let alone the things he’s not ready to talk about yet…he then said something which made my heart stop.

“I’m really tempted to tell you my 10…but I don’t feel like it’s right yet…

so are you ready for a 9?”

Of course I wont go into detail of it here but that 9 of his was shocking…and not in the way you would assume. what took me by surprise was how NORMAL his 9 was…this massive secret which he was too scared to say to anyone for his entire life…this 9 out of 10 on the scale of difficulty…was something so…common that had I not known it was a ‘9’ for him i probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if he told me.

I’ll give you what I think would be a (fictional of course) comparison of this ‘9’ of his…

  • ‘I wet the bed till I was 11’
  • ‘I still cry at Disney films’
  • ‘I’m afraid of the dark’

Of course the content was a relief…you would assume something as hard to disclose as that would automatically mean it’s something bad but -like she said before- it’s not always the content that is hard to tell…it’s just that its something of his. What has blown my mind repeatedly in all of this is how little he has ‘Googled’ about this stuff…because if he had then he may have worked out by now that he is not weird…or that other people go through this stuff too. Regardless, because I knew how hard it was to tell me- BEFORE he told me, I was able to react in an encouraging way. Instead of shrugging it off i thanked him for letting me in, instead of giggling or making an inappropriate joke i was able to take it seriously and actually listen to what he was telling me but most importantly i was able to reassure him that he is not a freak…that he shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed and that this thing is more common than he realises…I was able to put his mind at ease -so in that sense the rating scale saved the day as without it i probably wouldn’t have reacted – or appreciated it – the same way.

His therapist had explained to me how he should be telling himself ‘its ok…nothing bad happened’ at any times when he does something which he sees as a ‘fuck up’ – for example spilling a drink like I explained in the post about the oxygen mask…OR when he tells me something of his. So again I was able to remind him of that once he told me his 9- literally by telling him ‘see…nothing bad has happened…its ok’ and then physically by keeping my body language the same, by kissing him etc -My health and social care teacher would be proud lol…those A levels are really paying off now ha ha.

He allowed me to ask questions so I started slow and eventually (a handful of questions later) we got to a point where he didn’t want to talk about it anymore so I let it go and we carried on as normal (see…nothing happened!) I thought it only fair to share one of my higher numbers with him to even the score but again, seeing as I’m probably a bit too open all i could find was a 5/6…that being a poem I had written on the Community Storyboard about cuddling him in bed (here) The reason that was a 5/6 was because its my true feelings about us and its MY blog but I shared that with him (whilst hiding behind a pillow) and he liked it so I think we both felt a little lighter after that- and closer to each other too.

For me to find a 5/6 is pretty rare…there’s not a lot that i wouldn’t tell him or share with him…or not much that i would find difficult anyway… but there was ONE other 5 that I let him into and that was meeting BeetleyPete a few weeks ago. For me meeting Pete (and Mrs Pete) was important to ME. It involved going somewhere I usually go by myself…one of my happy places I suppose (which I don’t have many of now I live here) and introducing my husband to THE blogging legend himself. It was something I was looking forward to and I was almost a little bit protective of…something I didn’t want to be tainted by anything or anyone…something for me…which I allowed him into…something I shared with him. THAT was hard for me to do…but I did it…and nothing bad happened 🙂

Another thing his therapist had explained during that session was what he would feel like after divulging something of his; and so with this information and knowing how big this secret was for him I was prepared for what happened next. I knew how shit he would be feeling…and it was obvious that he was; He said he felt physically sick and that night he asked me NOT to cuddle him in bed (and apologised for asking lol) But i understood why he was being that way so did whatever I could to make him see that no matter what I was still here for him and that this secret had not and would not change anything. For the next few days he was a little bit ‘off’ but I was able to let him ride the wave without giving him too much shit for being in a mood and keep reassuring him without actually making a big deal out of it.

Its been a while since his 9…and he’s back to normal as far as the aftermath of it goes but he’s still not ready for his 10…and I am not pushing for it. Its good to know he felt safe enough to open up to me – and that I knew how to handle it once he did; I think – for us- this was a major breakthrough, I feel closer to him – almost smug actually lol- and I hope he feels closer to me too…but most importantly I hope I have shown him that it IS ok to let me in…because nothing bad happens when he does 🙂

xBx

 

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#12 Here’s looking at YOU

Cut Eye

Cut Eye (Photo credit: lindes)

One of the big highs over the last month I suppose was when we made some progress in the bedroom. I’m not sure how many of you would consider what I am about to tell you a ‘high point’. What we do is by no means ‘normal’ but its what works for us in our situation and has progressed and evolved to suit us over time. Of course its still not ideal but you work with what you’ve got don’t you?

Usually we would have intercourse and then I would straddle him and ‘give him a hand’ to him help him finish. It worked but the lack of eye contact made me feel shit. Over time we had removed barriers and things got better but every now and then the insecurities and embarrassment crept back in. – I posted about that here

Well for a while its been difficult, both going through stages of awkwardness, emotions making it either amazing or non existent… Triggers preventing me from wanting to do what we usually do so for a while we had “normal” sex and after he would “do himself” while I lay with him kissing him (and him kissing back) for us that worked. (Again I posted here about it) We both had fun and we both got the release which usually comes from sex. For us – with our history considered it was a mini breakthrough… Knowing he would still climax with me kissing him and touching him… Being there with him in a loving way and not just another hand helping him out.

Well at some point I was laying next to him and just kept thinking how wrong all of this was, THIS was not what I pictured my sex life to be like… my marriage to be like…I felt so irrelevant… So unnecessary… So useless. I could feel my stomach turning and my eyes watering and realised this wasn’t the first time I had felt like this…THIS was turning into a trigger for me. It was at that point that I thought…NO! This needs to stop now. I am NOT going to let myself feel like this, I am NOT going to do this more often than I want to just to stop myself worrying about him sneaking off for a wank if I say no! I will NOT lay here and feel like shit to -in essence- cock block my own husband – I shouldn’t fucking have to! At the end of the day if he WANTS to sneak off for some DIY then he will regardless of whether we went through this 2 days before or 2 hours before…there is nothing I can do about it and really what good is it doing? its not, its giving him a release and every time its making ME feel worse…its letting him have it his way while my confidence slams lower and lower every time he squeezes his eyes shut to block ME out! that is not taking care of myself. I either need to take control of this and protect myself or get the hell out before I get dragged down any further, I can not live this way forever.

I said nothing about it to him and instead vowed to say no more often, to say no unless i was actually in the mood for it, unless i felt confident enough for it…WANTED enough. no kind of game playing involved here by the way, this wasn’t some kind of ‘turn him down to make him want me’ game…this was me growing a pair and putting my foot down. So for the next few nights I said no. I told him I would rather ‘cuddle’ tonight (lol) and in truth it WAS nice just cuddling and talking, it took away that anxiety.

Eventually, I felt stronger again and we did our thing and instantly I felt better for holding off on it, it felt less wrong and more right. Obviously the set up was the same but I was doing it because I wanted to which took away a massive amount of doubt and insecurity. This time the kissing was more passionate too – rather than going through the motions…it was more intense…more enjoyable. Afterwards we lay together and out of nowhere he said

 ‘you did that’

-Not understanding what he meant he explained that he had been thinking about me/us the majority of the time rather than focusing on those intrusive thoughts (that he wont tell me as he’s ashamed of them) Surprised and confused – as before he could only really ‘get off’ if he let those thoughts take over and any ‘normal’ (according to him) thoughts were pushed aside- he explained that the more we have been doing it like this…kissing etc he’s been thinking more and more about us rather than the other stuff.

THAT was amazing to hear, he had offered up that fact without me asking for it, he told me because HE felt good about it…proud i suppose as until this point for him those thought have been all he’s ever had so for him to be able to push past that was a breakthrough for him…and sharing it with me was a breakthrough for US too. It reminded me that while I cant always see – or don’t always realise- the baby steps we are making…HE is making his own and when he is ready he will tell me.

Eyes Wide Open (Gotye song)

Eyes Wide Open (Gotye song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a while after that we were feeling positive, our confidence grew and I even ventured back to our original ways without feeling sick about it. One of the things that had kept putting me off was the lack of eye contact so I had almost trained myself to not make eye contact with him during ‘his turn’ – to avoid seeing him squeeze his eyes shut so tightly I suppose :/ But like I’ve said before we all close our eyes when we are in the moment, we all have random/irrelevant thoughts coming in and out of our heads sometimes…the difference being that we don’t always SHARE them and most of us don’t have thoughts that overrule everything else.

Well…recently he’s been keeping his eyes open 🙂 and he can still manage to climax lol. Again, he made a point of telling me (in case I hadn’t noticed) because HE felt good about it and because HE was making progress with his own demons. Of course its not nice to have felt like this before and making eye contact with your wife…or just being able to LOOK at your wife whilst being intimate shouldn’t be a big deal…but for us it is and ultimately its not about the way I look, it’s not ME putting him off. This is a big step for him towards letting go of the things that hold him back, towards letting ME in to his world…

xBx

 
16 Comments

Posted by on July 4, 2013 in Honestly...

 

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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

 
7 Comments

Posted by on June 15, 2013 in Guest Post

 

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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.

 
12 Comments

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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A new perspective: Thinking INSIDE the box

Three-Point Perspective

Three-Point Perspective (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As mentioned yesterday I recently received an email from a fellow blogger. He told me he knew personally about the numbness of PTSD and wanted to give his perspective on the whole situation… ‘How I felt, what caused it, and most importantly, what you can do for your husband as he goes through this’

The emails went back and forth between us, we established that all experience of PTSD is different…every PERSON is different and that some situations or causes are more complex and deeper rooted than others… BUT regardless it was encouraging to read his account. It helped me to understand SOME of what my husband is going through and he’s also offered to write some guest posts for me to delve deeper and explain more about it so those posts will be up soon. For now…I want to share with you some of the points which struck a chord with me and hopefully help YOU to understand a little bit more too.

‘I want to try and explain this part clearly so you know what your husband is going through. I know this probably has to be the most confusing aspect of PTSD for you – I knew I had a heart because I could feel my pulse, but I could not FEEL any emotion whatsoever.

…as for your husband, I have no idea why he has PTSD so I cannot tell you what to avoid or how to specifically help him, but I can tell you what I would have liked as I was going through it…

  • Love him – This part is going to SUCK, because you won’t get much love in return. Hold him. Kiss him…While his heart may not understand, his head will. When he finally awakens, you will have a stronger relationship.
  • This one will be especially hard. Make love to him. Loveless sex may be difficult for you, but the intimacy would be appreciated by him. His sex drive may be lower right now. If so, it definitely isn’t you, so don’t put that blame on your own shoulders. With his brain in overdrive, the thoughts may not be focused on sex.
  • Get him help – This is beyond your abilities to help him by yourself. PTSD is evil. Being a zombie is evil. Living that way feels awful. The sooner he can talk about it and deal with it, the better.
  • Encourage him to write – It helps. Buy him a notebook and pens. If he is writing, don’t disturb him. If he asks that you not read the notebooks, respect his penned words and leave them alone. The words will only hurt you and it will break his trust.
  • Encourage him to exercise and eat right. After fights with the ex, I would walk the city streets at 1-2 am. It was the only thing that helped calm me down. Look for a co-ed sport that you both can participate in. Talk walks together. If he wants to talk, let him talk. If he doesn’t, talk to him about ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE PTSD. Make walking and meal times PTSD free zones. Don’t let him eat fast food as it will only make him feel gross physically. Encourage him to eat right because he needs all the brain power he can get.
  • Limit video games – I’m a gamer and I started playing A LOT. I didn’t have to think when I was playing. I didn’t have to feel when I was playing. I could get lost in the world I was playing in. While it can be a help at times, don’t let him go overboard. Men like to go to our “cave” when we are dealing with issues. Don’t let him get lost in his online cave.
  • Don’t ask him how he feels. He doesn’t fucking know. Honestly. Pressuring him to answer that question or any other question about feelings is going to make it worse. In fact, try not to talk about emotions as much as possible. Yes, that is unnatural and completely foreign to you.
  • Don’t take what he says personally – I remember saying some crazy shit during that period of time. Remember, he cannot feel, so statements he makes have no emotional motivation to them. They are just words. Conversely, try to remember that your husband is in a PTSD cocoon. He may want to tell you that he loves you…but he can’t feel it right now. When he does say the words, in whatever form he says them, cherish them. I’m sure it was hard for him to say them.
  • Find a support system for yourself – You will not be getting the same kind of love from your husband as you are used to. Rely on family and friends. Treat yourself to a spa day once in a while and keep up your appearance. Go out with the girls and get drunk and dance your ass off. You deserve it. This is FUCKING HARD! It is perfectly OK to spoil yourself once in a while to recharge your batteries.

You two CAN DO THIS! You can win against EVIL. You can get your husband back. You can have an AMAZING marriage. It CAN BE DONE. Do not GIVE UP. Failure is NOT an option. I have faith in both of you.

I will do my best to help you understand what he is dealing with and I will give you as much insight as I can. Honestly, I lived with that shit for far too long. If I can help your husband get better, I will, because I know exactly how it DOESN’T feel.’

There IS hope

xBx

 
 

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