Guest Post by Marissa
My husband and I have been together since 2002. We have been married since 2009 and have two beautiful little girls ages 4 and 2. When I think of our relationship, the first word that comes to mind is, easy. Don’t get me wrong, there have definitely been rocky roads that have strengthened us as individuals and as a couple, but on a daily basis, it’s so easy to be married to Alex.
On September 11, 2001 (before our relationship), Alex was working for Rural Metro in Buffalo when he received the phone call that the entire nation was tuned into. He was asked to report to NYC to help rescue any survivors that next morning. Unfortunately, there was nobody to rescue. At the time, Alex was a twenty-year-old college student who involved himself in everything academically and socially. He never knew how that day would affect him, as well as millions of others, for the rest of his life.
He among most who served at 9/11 was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). PTSD can be triggered from any traumatic event in one’s life and without proper help, can destroy someone. Alex sought help in 2002, when we first started dating. The counselor taught him to put up walls to block his anger, fear, hatred, guilt, which at the time may have been what he needed, but it definitely was not good for him in the long run.
Fast forward to March of 2013. I was on my way home from meeting my college friends (Jessica being one) for dinner. Alex sounded “off” on the phone. He is usually an easy going, happy person but his temperament was being tested for some reason. Thinking he was upset with me, I became defensive. Suddenly, he sprung upon me that he thought for the past month something was wrong with him. PTSD was then explored again. He explained that it was difficult for him to recognize feelings other than anger and hurt. He said that he knew he loved me, he knew he loved the girls but he couldn’t feel it. It surprised him when he realized that he couldn’t truly remember the last time he felt love. Like a bolt of lightning, my “easy” marriage took a dramatic dive.
I didn’t understand. We had the ideal life. We were blessed with health, family, love, jobs, everything that we needed. I ordered two books on PTSD immediately-one to help him cope and one to help me understand. It was uncanny how each book painted the exact picture of us individually and as a couple. Wow. Talk about an ah-hah moment.
We talked more in-depth in the two weeks that followed than we had in the past 13 years. Many of the conversations scared me. There were points were he mentioned how he wasn’t sure if this life was the life he envisioned. He wasn’t sure if the feelings he “didn’t feel” for me and the girls were because of the PTSD and if it was, he feared he would never be cured from it.
Of course, my world was upside down. My mind was rapid exploring every road that this could possible go. My house was never cleaner. Ha. I started planning possible scenarios in my head, where would I go? Who would I live with? How am I going to tell the girls if this doesn’t work out?
To distract me one day, I went to Old Navy to get the girls some socks. As I walked in, there was this sweatshirt hanging. It was a simple cream sweatshirt, no hood and there was writing on it “Believe in Love”. I liked the simplicity of it. I grabbed the only one that was my size and went to try it on. As I slipped my left arm into it, there was a 3″ hole in the forearm. Damn. I took it to the checkout and the cashier said it was a final sale because she discounted it due to the rip. I contemplated, and thought…I guess I could just mend it.
As I walked out of the store, it was as though enlightenment slapped me across the face. I just bought a sweatshirt that was torn (I am struggling in my marriage), I decided to mend it (Alex, we can fix this), and agreed not to return it (I am not giving up). At that moment, I knew that we would be ok. I needed to touch base with my faith, which I somehow lost in the turmoil.
A year and a half later, Alex has successfully completed a PTSD program to help him move on. We aren’t exactly where we want to be, but have made many strides. I just needed to be reminded to Believe in Love.