Things were different when my husband came home from his second deployment. He was home physically, but his emotions and mindset were someplace else. He was angry, jumpy, and depressed. He was short-tempered and extremely unpredictable. My husband has PTSD.
It took a while for me to see it, and even a longer while to begin the road of understanding it. It is a dark and frightening place when your husband comes home a very different man than when he left. I knew that the man I loved was still there somewhere, but I didn’t know where, or how to reach him. I can share with you examples of the terror we lived with, but what I really want to share with you is how started to heal. Before my husband was admitting he needed help, before he could even really hear it from me, I began my search for healing. This was not some noble gesture on my part, but a deep and desperate cry out to God to touch the lives of my husband and my family. I had no idea what to do, no idea where to turn for information.
I knew I could turn to the military for help, but I didn’t. I was so afraid that stepping around my husband and doing that would make him very angry, and possibly ruin his career. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. What I did do was read my Bible, constantly. Life kind of stopped for me. I cried out to God in a deep and passionate way. I was losing my family!
I also picked up the second book that would be instrumental in my healing and understanding. That book is WHEN WAR COMES HOME: CHRIST CENTERED HEALING FOR WIVES OF COMBAT VETERANS. I read this book, cover to cover. Alongside with my Bible, this book guided me to understanding PTSD. It helped me to see how it affected my husband, myself and our children. It helped me to have compassion for my husband, but at the same time create boundaries of protection.
As a Christian, I had been concerned about the type of help I wanted. I was afraid that the worldly opinion would be to just leave him. That wasn’t what I wanted and I didn’t believe that that was what God wanted. We married for better or for worse, and this was the worst. I felt like my husband came home from war just as wounded as a soldier in a wheelchair, but that my husband’s wounds were invisible. He needed healing too.
As I began searching for answers for myself, I was no longer obsessing on thinking “I” could fix anything. I couldn’t. I asked God to do it. Eventually my husband did seek treatment. We were in the valley for a long, long time. If you are in this valley now, I want you to know that there is help.
This past spring I attended a conference called WHEN WAR COMES HOME, DON’T RETREAT. This was a gathering of military wives on this same journey. Based on the book I mentioned above, we studied and gathered strength from each other. It did so much for my heart to simply know that I was not alone. I was not alone in what we were suffering, but I was also not alone in my desire to serve my husband, and fight for my marriage and my family. I didn’t want the world’s answers to my problem; I wanted what God would have for my family.
If you are in this valley, I would encourage you to get the book WHEN WAR COMES HOME and read it alongside your Bible. This will strengthen and equip you for the battle you face. You are not alone. God see you and He is ready and able to give you strength to fight.
A note from Jocelyn: Military Ministry has several other wonderful resources for combating PTSD. For the veterans, check out The Combat Trauma Healing Manual. Churches, you might be interested in the Care & Counsel for Combat Trauma Training Course. Military Ministry is a partner of Faith Deployed ministries, and I highly recommend their resources.