PTSD overflows into all areas of life at times. Things that trigger a flashback can be unknown and other times they are known. It can seem like things are going well and then, what seems out of no where, it all flares back up again. Unfortunately, PTSD knows no limits and creates uncontrollable responses. Lately, those responses have been in the physical aspect of my marriage.
I am going to pause here. This is a delicate topic, it’s one that isn’t talked about. It is considered private. It is uncomfortable to talk about, but the reality is this happens. We aren’t the first couple to go through this, nor will we be the last couple. Fortunately for us, we were prepared for this, we talked about this in our premarital counseling. We expected it to happen, we thought it would be as soon as we were married, but that wasn’t the case. We had 2 months where there were no problems. I know this led to me putting my guards down and even thinking that it wouldn’t be a problem. But that was not the case.
The physical aspect of a marriage is intended to be an intimate and loving aspect. It’s part that allows two to become one. It is meant to be guilt and shame free. It is supposed to be a passionate experience that draws my husband and I closer. And we have experienced that. But now we are in the midst of a struggle. One that shouldn’t be a struggle in the first place, a struggle that another man created, a struggle that is neither of our faults. With PTSD the body remembers. It remembers smells, feelings, sounds, touch, weather, sights, it remembers it all. Those things can be a trigger, even when it isn’t known what the trigger is or why a flashback, anxiety, a panic, anger, or any other feeling is happening that brings a person back to that place of remembering what happened.
Let me just give you a glimpse of what this has looked like for us. It has meant me curled up crying, unable to breathe, completely out of touch with reality reliving the experience. This means my muscles get so tense they hurt, it feels like it is happening again, I get so worked up I feel like I am going to get sick. It looks like my husband sitting with me, talking, trying to get me to come back to the present moment. My husband has been great at this. He talks through everything he is doing he tells me he is going to get me water, he asks what oils I need and begins diffusing them, he lets the cats come in the bedroom, he sits with me and patiently waits. He asks what would help. He makes suggestions. He respects that touch becomes unsafe, not because he did anything, but because my body can’t handle it in that moment. It isn’t easy for either of us. It creates anxiety around touch for me, and creates a distance of any touch between us.
Why would I share something that is so uncomfortable to talk about? Because this is the reality of PTSD, this is how it overflows into aspects of life. This is what some people who have been raped or sexually assaulted experience. It is something that needs to be talked about. It has to be talked about because my husband and I, we aren’t alone in our struggles and we want others to know that they are not alone either. Because seeing and knowing the uncomfortable parts may stir up a call to action, it may give new understanding, it is another way of showing that this horrific crime is not okay. It demonstrates why there needs to be stricter sentences for those that commit this crime. It is why we have to change our language and expectations as a culture. The other reason I share my story is because it is a way of processing. It is a way of finding my voice, not only for myself, but for others who have been through something. It’s a way of practicing and reaffirming that it is not my fault, that my husband and I did nothing wrong, that I am not alone in this process, and a way to reinforce knowing that it will get better.
It is an uncomfortable subject to talk about. This was not an easy post for me to write. However, I recognize that it matters. This is part of my story. And we are just beginning on this part of the journey, we have no clue what it will look like. We are going to learn how to navigate this and how to overcome. We know we will because God designed us to be physical and intimately known with each other in this way. We have faith that He will bless us in this area and will guide us through this journey. But we also know we need support from the community of people we have around us. We weren’t meant to do it alone. We feel called to share our story, to let God work through it every step of the way. To be vulnerable and transparent and trust that God has a plan, even if the plan is to make it easier for us to talk about, maybe it’s to let one person know they are not alone, maybe it leads to a bigger platform. So, here it is, a transparent look at what PTSD looks like for us right now.