It’s been an interesting week. I’ve been busy promoting my newest book, My Life with a Wounded Warrior. This little collection of essays is about living with and loving Jack, who in ’64 stepped on a landmine and got sent home early from his high school trip to the Marble Mountains outside Danang. The book is proof positive, all printed up pretty, that I love and understand the stubborn old former-Marine to whom I have been married for going on twenty-five years.
And THAT scares the holy crap out of Jack.
Being loved makes him vulnerable. Being vulnerable means losing control. Which sends him running for the emotional woods. So, here’s how my week has gone.
Jack puts down the book and wipes his eyes. “I never knew you understood me this well.”
“Honey,” I say, “why on earth do you think I’ve hung around all these years?”
“I figured it was for the money,” he says, straight-faced.
“You don’t HAVE any money.” I point out.
“I know,” he cries, “that’s what keeps confusing me.”
So, this little shared moment melts my heart a bit, reminds me of why I love the big lug.
Five minutes later he gets up without saying a word, and goes to bed. For the next two days he says not one word to me that doesn’t involve what it is I’m planning on fixing him to eat. At the grocery store he makes a crude remark about a woman one third his age, grins at me when he says it, dares me to love him. I pat his hand, tell him, “Bless your heart. Go wait for me on the bench out in front.”
On day three, he tells me he loves me and he’s sorry he’s been acting like a jackass and he doesn’t know why I stick around. Then he doesn’t speak for the next two days. Followed by, you guessed it, a remark so cutting it stops me in my tracks.
It’s difficult, very, very difficult, to love a man with PTSD. None of this behavior has one single thing in the world to do with me. Or how much he loves me. Or even what he wants from me. It’s about him. Period. He’s adjusting to the knowledge that he is lovable.
And it’s going to take a long, long time.