Big lies, little lies..sweet and innocent white lies.
Rambo is a liar. He can't be truthful about his intentions, his desires or his needs. He can't clearly assume his position or what he wants honestly and openly to the rest of the world.
My husband decided to quit ALL his medication cold turkey, 2 weeks ago, without telling anyone, me included. He has been medicated for 10 years approximately. And please, spare me the sermon about how bad this is, how dangerous it could be: I know.
He finally told me a couple of days after he stopped. I got angry, of course. I am a strong believer in «working together» but more than that, I felt like the way he did it was a pure lack of respect for all of us: him, my son and myself. How could he choose to make us go through this process without even considering the impact it would have in or fortress? But most of all, how could he put himself in such danger without even informing me from the beginning?
Just how much do you think I was happy with his *stupid* decision?
But.. just how stupid his decision really was? I, for one, saw it coming for months. He's been telling me for months that he felt like his meds were slowly killing him. He expressed on many occasions the fact that he felt the lost of sensitivity of his small fingers; he was experiencing extensive ans inexplicable urges of tiredness.. He was physically deteriorating. He's been mentioning his desire for months to his psychiatrist who prescribes the medication. He wanted to know who he was, him, inside. He was anxious about the physical effects he was experiencing. His question seems legitimate, as he doesn't feel like after all these years, the medication is working the way it should.. on the contrary. What would he have to loose to start from fresh with everything he now knows about himself? Who the hell could disagree with him after all the work he's done?
Not me, not anymore. In fact, I would most probably feel exactly the same.
It was important to him, in his process. And instead of trying to listen to him and give him a little empowerment and give him a little credit, he was always convinced to take some more. More, more, more, more. My husband feeling not considered, my veteran being abandoned by VAC, Rambo is taking over. And Rambo can make radical decisions...does make radical decisions.
Like I said, I knew it was coming. If anybody would have asked, I would have scored 150% on the prophecy test. But what I couldn't predict was the impacts it would have on him...
Physically, he's almost alive...he's helping me with the cleaning... cooked supper for me...he's more present when we have a discussion..not as zombie as he usually is. Energy, he has more energy. But psychologically, as fast as his physical energy level was growing, the PTSD anger resurfaced, escalating daily. We ended up in a (little) physical altercation a couple of days ago.
When he entered our bedroom, a bulldozer came towards me. What happened between us happened. Then we both silently looked at each other straight in the eyes for 3-4 seconds, at 2 inches apart. His eyes..my God..his eyes...enraged. He was drooling.
I was obviously facing a veteran with PTSD in full detox..not medicated.
He turned around without saying a word, left the room, went into the computer room. I stood standing there, numbed by what just happened. Triggered myself. Dangerously calm.
I heard «Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang....» 10? 15? 20 times? I think he was banging his head on a desk. He was screaming, yelling: «You want to leave me alone? Is that it? Then get the fuck ouuuuut! Arrrrggghhhhhhh....
I sat silently on the bed, waiting for the storm to be over, almost expecting him to come back in the room. I couldn't feel anything, any emotions..nothing. I felt like I was waiting for a movie to be over. Our dog came to me, shaking. Petting her helped me reconnect with reality and in my mind, something was clear: «I'm not going there, Rambo. I AM NOT GOING THERE.»
Suddenly, everything stopped. I could hear him sob and talk to himself.
I stood up calmly and walked silently in the guests room the take the suitcases. I started packing them.
After a few minutes, he came to me..almost calm:
-So your leaving, is that it?
I just looked at him and ordered him to leave with a calm but determined hand gesture.
And that was the beginning of our little distorted dance ...crossing psychological mine fields...that would bring us back together. It's always the same dynamic. It's the mind playing game of who did what, who's fault it is.. but in a twisted way. It's a mind game that only Rambo masters, as his questions that are not meant to «understand»..but to find something wrong, to nourish the anger..to prove me wrong. These questions are catches.. and I am part of an interrogation. He's at war and has a mission: win over the enemy.
I am the enemy. My job is to give him as less as possible elements for him to grab on and for me not to fall into his traps, using my own strategies.
Like I said: it's a mind game.
Why I am telling you all this? To make my husband looks like a monster? Not at all. To make me look like a victim? Not at all.
I'm sharing this to contextualize the ridiculous telephone conversation I had with his psychiatrist because what caused this unusual fight is the fact that he had an appointment with his psychiatrist and refused to go.
Of course, the fact that he didn't know if he had to inform the psychiatrist or not about his decision was an enormous stress.. and, do I have to repeat it, being not medicated and in full detox...let's say that it doesn't help the situation.
But after our (little) physical altercation, when he calmed down and realized what happened..totally against his own nature..gave him a shock. I believe he also realized that I wasn't kidding when I told him: «If this is the kind of life you want to live, it's your choice. But it won't be mine, I can assure you of that. I am not going there.».
He realized he was loosing me. He broke down in tears. He gave me the permission to talk to his psychiatrist. He didn't care anymore..
So I was able to talk to his psychiatrist and his liaison nurse with his permission.
People could ask me: «Why didn't you call them 2 weeks ago?». Good question. Pertinent question.
My answer is because of the «culture of silence» of our fortress based on those elements:
1) I understood the reasons (not «how») motivating his decision - making me an accomplice, I guess..-
2) I didn't want to trigger his anger, as I am the one who lives with him and will suffer the collateral damages of «betraying his trust».. and the event between us proved me that I was right about his «new anger»;
3) I was afraid that his specialists would make decisions such as intern him or whatever without his consent.
Only a very few people knew what was happening in our fortress.. close close friends only. And I took days before opening up about it: I have years of training of going through Hell and talking about it..when the wave is calmer.
So, as much as I understand that these specialists know what they are doing, as a spouse, dealing with them is not that easy. Why? Because they don't get MY REALITY and the challenges I am humanly facing..
Here are some of the questions I was asked:
1) Can you bring him to the emergency?
Do you REALLY think I will be able to convince Rambo to get in the car, bring him to the emergency, have him wait I don't know how long in the waiting room with strangers.. to discuss his situation with a new doctor he will never see again ..who will do what? Lock him up? Medicate him without his will? Let him go after 5-6 hours, leaving me alone with the collateral damages?
What is it you don't understand, doctor?
Nope. Discussing it with him will trigger him -which I don't want that for me too after what happened this morning- and you know what? As his wife, I don't believe it would not be helping him.
My answer is no, I can't bring him to the emergency. But I can promise that if I am in physical danger, I will leave and make a call. That's the best I can do. But for now, at this moment, no, I am not even trying to bring him to the emergency. He's in better hand with me.
2) He must start taking all his meds.
Do you REALLY think I will be able to convince Rambo to do so? Hey Buddy, don't you realize that the more time goes, the less influence I have on my husband, as Rambo is taking over? So you expect me to convince him to take these back again when he feels improvements since he stopped taking them?
No, you don't understand what's happening here and the reasons why this is happening. Give him 1... only 1... maybe I'll be able to convince him.
So he prescribed 3.
They did their job. I am not saying that they didn't. They are professionals and they checked if I felt like I was in danger, if he had suicidal ideas.. and if I had some:
«Doctor.. I'm not suicidal but suicide seems to become more and more like an option. I feel like if I leave him, he will kill himself.. and if I stay and nothing changes, I will kill myself.» But then again.. just I truthful should I be myself? Will they call the cops on us???? And if I am not... they are my only direct my only hope to also help him.. and help me help him.
They did an excellent professional job in checking the good facts.
They scheduled an appointment..March 19. I expressed the fact that considering what was happening, it seems far..and I asked if I could call them if anything major would happen. I know my husband was suppose to call back his psychologist a couple of months ago.. he didn't. It's been a while since he started his descent...I know...but what if I had to leave him? Wouldn't you want to know.. just to see if you could try to reach out to him?
The answer I had?
Something about the limit of interventions. The notion of «individual responsibility»..especially my husband's.
Okay. So let's get the facts straight:
1) I am an isolated woman living with a veteran with PTSD in detox and obviously suffering.
2) Since he doesn't trust «the system»... you, VAC,... I am the only link between him and the outside of our fortress;
3) I am the only one who CAN -maybe- influence him.
And you dare mention the words «individual responsibilities», today, when we just went through a (little) physical altercation 2 hours prior? When I wasn't sure about what they would do..with him, with us.
I started to laugh: «Well I hear you. Don't worry about me! I won't bother you with my husband unless it's really really really important! I wouldn't want to impose too much stress on the system and I understand everybody's responsibilities and limitations. As a matter of fact, I believe I have a fucking better understanding of the notions of «policies», «limitations» and the whole system in general. So let me assume my personal responsibilities, I'll put on a fucking smile on my face, go back to my husband and do what I have to do. Thank you very much to both of you for your precious time. As for me, you can count on me to inform him about his appointment in March. That's all I can do as the decision belongs entirely to him, of course, since this is HIS responsibility. Thank you for your support and have a good day!»
I hung up.
Rambo was so happy that even I was now on his side: «You are right! They don't understand a damn thing. They can all go to Hell»
After a few hours, the liaison nurse called back because «she was under the impression that I misunderstood what she said».
Of course, I'm always the one who's wrong. It's true for Rambo, it's true for them, it's true for VAC. Hey! I am just a vet's spouse!!!! Just a burden who is not officially a client.
So her and I ended up having a discussion where I tried to make a point regarding the fact that for all those years, I could have been a better help.. that we would not be here, now..you know.. the long term process. For Christ sake, we have been dealing with the same people for the past 7-8 years.
I debated the fact that I could have been an allied and the way they worked, never really including me. They never asked, in 7 years, how the medication was working, what I was seeing.. what was really going on in our fortress..beneath the lies he told them. I never was educated about the medication in general...
«Yeah but you were able to meet with his psychologist..».
Yes ma'am, I was.. but it was always in a «curative» way.. when something major was happening...but that's not «including me»!!! Come on!!!! As a nurse, how could you be so narrow minded? I can you not realize who I can be for those you are treating everyday? I'm just trying to tell you how I could have been more supported to help my husband.
Because when I help my husband, I help all of us too.
Some guys don't even want their wife to know that are suffering from PTSD and they don't want her to know that he's being treated. Some guys don't want the specialists to call home.
I get that. I get that on a legal point of view. I get that as a fundamental right of privacy.
I do get that military PTSD has its twist.. and it could results in a complete...secrecy, I guess.
I get it. But my heart truly goes to those spouses too. I know these questions shouldn't be asked..but how much should a spouse has the emotional right to know? Isn't it what a couple is all about? How good can this be on a marriage? The way I see it, it must be Hell in those fortress at times.. but then again, I wouldn't know so it's not for me to judge.
As a matter of fact, my husband was always open to the idea of «me being included» as he took him years to be able to express himself (more) about his emotional state: he always needed me to talk on his behalf during the crisis we were confronted for the past 8 years. Although he wanted to be honest in the process, his emotional challenges regarding his skills communication were real. «What I am suppose to tell him?», he would ask me prior each and everyone of his appointment.
7-8 years of fighting everyone to have my logical place.
Maybe I am a quitter, maybe I,m just tired, maybe I'm just premenopausing.
The liaison nurse lost me when I felt like I had to prove myself to her as an ally. She gave me the final blow I needed to disconnect myself from them. She didn't help get my confidence back.
And guess what?
I had a message on my cell phone this morning. They want to organize a meeting with everybody.. February 23.
I called back:
«Let me give you my husband's cell phone. I don't understand why you are calling ME on my cell phone since HE is the client. HE's the one who has to decide, no? HE's the one directly concerned by confidentiality, no? ME, I'm just his wife. I MIGHT join him if he decides to go... and if HE wants me there.. and if I feel like it. Is that good enough for you? Have a nice day.»
I fully agree with the notion of «individual responsibilities and limitations».
Yes, dear friends...me too, I am stuck in this system, sick and tired of the impacts it has on all of us in this family.
Would I recommend this to anyone? NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. It's NOT a good idea to stop the medication cold turkey, it's NOT a good idea to stay silent about it, it's NOT a good idea to stop «collaborating» with his specialists.
No. No. No.
I keep repeating we should win an award for the most dysfunctional couple in Canada. You know why? Because Rambo and I are now a team. This whole system is not working for us.
2 days later, where are we at?
I guess the fit Rambo threw helped him evacuate a lot of his anger..and was a breaking point about what was going on.
He's calm. It's all good in the house. He continues to notice physical improvements and I don't feel him as a ticking bomb.
And WE have an action plan..something that works for both of us regarding our choices and the situation we live in regarding the fact that he's in detox..he talked to the pharmacist..he's opened to medication eventually..and will start looking for a new psychiatrist and a new psychologist.
He wants to start from new.
And no, he didn't take the 3 pills his psychiatrist prescribed.
Welcome into our parallel world: that's no lie.