This has definitely been a very trying time of year for us--- for him. It always is, every year. However, he finally let down his walls this past week and let me in. I know, as I have known all along, that his anger is his defense mechanism that flares up when he feels upset. He very rarely shows sadness or fear to me. Anger is almost always the predominant emotion and that can, and does, cause a lot of tension and frustration between us.
This past week he let me in. He cried on my shoulder, he talked to me about his traumas instead of shutting me out, and he let me help him. I felt like we were partners again and not strangers or enemies living in a house together. I wish it could be like that more often. If he would let me in and allow me to be there for him, I think we'd have a much better relationship. Instead, he tries to act tough and keep things from me because he doesn't want to hurt me or expose me to his pain. What he doesn't realize is that yes, the things that he has gone through and what he has to deal with on a daily basis are horrific, but they don't have the same hold on me that they do on him. He could lean more on me and let me share his stress or take it away. Ironically, by trying to protect me and keep me from his pain by acting out in anger, he ends up hurting me more with his outbursts and anger.
I need to hang on to these moments and remember that underneath the mean words and sarcastic, biting comments, is someone who is hurting and in pain. Let me be clear, it's not okay to be nasty and Lord knows, he needs to work on communicating better and thinking about what he's going to say before he blurts out horrible things. That being said, I can work on things too and try to be more understanding. I do vent frustrations and lately I've gotten pretty despondent and bitter about how things have been going. I need to take time for myself in a healthy way.
Bottom line, I need to make sure to take time for my own mental health. I can't help him if I'm not in a good spot. Hubby needs to take time and think before he acts and let me in instead of keeping me away. I'd love to say that this is going to happen right away but let's be real. He has had PTSD for 10 years and we're still trying to figure it all out. I don't have all the answers and neither does he.
What works for you? What doesn't?