Last night reminded me that even when we aren't actively experiencing military life, we are still dealing with my husband's military experiences.
You would think given my involvement with SpouseBuzz, the stories I have heard from fellow military spouses, and my general bent toward being vigilant to the hyper degree, I would have put two and two together much faster last night.
But, I didn't. And I feel like I let my husband down because of it.
Because of the ongoing ramifications of my husband's eye injury, he has been working a different shift at his civilian employer. Lately, he's been arriving home around eight in the evening. When he walked through the door last night, he was "vibrating." That's the only word I have to describe it. He just emanates waves of angst, aggravation and impatience. When I look at him, it's almost like I can see the waves encircling him, like the dust clouds that plague Charlie Brown's friend, Pig-Pen.
Even when he showed me the injury to the side of his head that he sustained at work when a door that was raised for unloading collapsed down, it didn't occur to me that could push his buttons. The long scratch and the impression from the door's screw plus his description of the loud crash should have raised the PTSD red flags for me. Unfortunately, over the past few months, I've laundered, ironed, and folded that flag and found it a nice spot in the back of the closet.
It wasn't until my husband had dozed into a light and fitful sleep and I heard him say, "I think it was just a grenade or it would have been louder" that I realized the incident at work had pushed his button and took him somewhere I have never seen with my eyes.
He returned from his most recent combat deployment nearly two years ago. We lived through a very stressful and anxious time from the moment he arrived home until two months ago. He could finally switch off his high alert status and relax into himself a little. I think we were both lulled into a false sense of normalcy. We both must have forgotten that when your family serves in any capacity, what is "normal" remains a moving target.
This morning, I shared with my husband what I thought happened last night. He didn't remember dreaming about anything having to do with grenades. The vibrating that had been so apparent the evening before had burrowed into its den. Rather than being defensive about the idea of the loud boom and knock in the head pushing his button, he was thoughtful about it. Because the feelings he had erupted so suddenly and without a reason he could identify, I think it had unsettled him more than when he knows exactly why he's having those feelings, but is unable to shake them.
We're still learning how to navigate this path and recognize the signposts that can illuminate a helpful detour. My goal is to not allow it to rule my life such that I become a white knuckled driver, but to not be a distracted driver either. I need to learn an awareness balance so that I'm comfortably in the middle between proactively alert and skittishly crazed.
Just another skill to add to my military spouse arsenal.