I had a much better weekend than I was expecting. We had a wedding to go on my husband's side of the family, and honestly I was concerned that it might trigger some deep emotional issues in his heart. And since in the past, that usually results in his treating me poorly, I was not looking forward to this.
So we discussed ahead of time what we would do if he experienced any sudden anger or irritation with me, and came up with a plan of sorts. I was still holding my breath somewhere in the back of my mind (Ha ha! What fun mixing metaphors!) all weekend, but it turned out to be a good weekend, actually.
I think the counselor visits we are taking together are making all the difference in the world. During last week's visit, I wasn't so sure. My husband seemed to be in denial about a lot of things concerning how depressed he has actually been and what it was like growing up the son of his particular fundamentalist missionary parents. This was true denial, not simply refusing to admit to things. He literally did not remember the things that applied to the questions at hand.
On the other hand, any time I felt compelled to prompt him about some thing he initially thought did not apply (What about when your back hurts and you get up at 5 am to go sit in the chair? when he initially said he thought he slept just fine every night, that sort of thing)he did not seem at all irritated, and agreed that it was in fact that way after all. He was very gracious about it, but also very quiet and seemed sort of flat.
I was not feeling very hopeful at all by the end of the session. It was not that he was purposefully being difficult, but he was experiencing the real psychological phenomenon of denial on such a scale that *I* was discouraged. Turns out I need not have felt that way.
He was (quietly) experiencing true revelation while we talked. Each time I reminded him, "But remember you told me this?" and he did remember, it was like scales falling away from his mind. I didn't know it, but as he sat there he was coming to terms with the truth that he was depressed, had been for some time and that he had experienced a lot of trauma growing up as the son of fundamentalist missionaries. The myth of his perfect Christian family breathed its last breath and expired that day so quietly I did not notice its passing.
And through its death was born a most wonderful hope! Hope that change is not only possible, it is inevitable. He thinks it will come quickly and easily now; I am a bit more pessimistic. But we both agree that the odds are good he/we are going to make it out of this stronger and healthier than ever.
He actually knows quite a bit about PTSD already, from the perspective of understanding his wife's experiences with childhood trauma. He held me through my worst days, and was a major factor in so much of the emotional healing I have experienced. Once he came to accept that the episodes he experiences are also PTSD, he knew there was possibility of healing: for his heart, for our relationship.
Understandably, I was still only cautiously optimistic. I know that flashbacks can grab you so suddenly that it can take your breath away. In the past, he has been so disconnected from his own feelings that he immediately suppressed whatever strong emotion he had (sadness, fear, anger) and tried to distract himself. It would be later, when he was safe with me, that the feelings would begin to leak out. They would be blamed on whatever was happening at the time, and of course that would usually be in relation to me, and letting it all at me would bring the catharsis he desperately needed. And that I desperately did NOT need.
But with the iron curtain of denial torn down and thrown away, his own natural self awareness seems to be growing. I think that if he had experienced any strong emotion, he would have been able to identify it at once and deal with it for what it was. Only we'll never know, because nothing like that happened this time. And so it was a good weekend, for him and for me.
His parents were there, but he no longer had to fight the cognitive dissonance raging between his subconscious (which knows them as flawed) and his conscious (which lauded them as the perfect Christians). He accepted his parents as the flawed people they are, loved them as such, and I think may have enjoyed himself more than ever.
Since he was not roiling in emotional turmoil, he didn't revert to any of his isolating distractions. He was fully present all weekend. The teens and I both profited from his company.
I don't want to say too much about the wedding, as I don't want to tell someone else's story. But I will say this: the groom loves his bride! This warms my heart so much! The bride herself still has a lot of patriarchal beliefs, at least that's the impression I got from the vows she wrote. BUT that man loves her so much, I see nothing but happiness ahead for them both. (I have read many testimonies of healed QF daughters who found much of their joy from the love of their husbands!=)
And so it was a good weekend. We were all so tired the next day, we skipped church. Then later that afternoon, we went to the flea market and bought a box of mangoes and a ripe papaya. I have been feasting on mangoes ever since.
ps Peace and good will to everyone! I'll probably take this post down tomorrow. One day all of my marriage posts will return, in the order they were written, I promise. But for now it's too personal, though today things look really, really promising.