A friend of mine contacted me recently and he was in distress. During a heated discussion with his ex, he got so angry that he swung at her shoulder. Unfortunately, she turned into it and the punch glanced off her shoulder and he clocked her in the face. When I read what he wrote me, I was shocked and initially stunned. I didn't know what to think. After carefully considering his act of domestic violence, I decided to withhold judgement of his actions until I finished reading what he had written me.
After reading his note in entirely, I was angered that he was put in the situation and frustrated that it happened at all. I need to make this clear: I do not condone his behavior in this matter - violence is unacceptable. That being said, there was more than enough blame to go around. He explained to me that part of the reason that his ex was his ex was because of her cruel enjoyment of pushing his buttons - buttons she knew would get the desired reaction from him. He allowed her back into his life out of a desire to repair damaged relationships and his generosity of spirit. His reward was being pushed to violence.
Enter the Concept of Toxic People:
The basic idea behind this concept is that we, as veterans with PTSD, need to identify these toxic personalities present in our lives and excise them like they are a metastatic cancer. For every veteran, this personality is different. It could be someone in your family, it could be a 'friend'. It could be lazy people who don't give a shit about others. It could be people who try to shove their religion down your throat. It could be anything. The hard part is knowing what to do about it. If you know that someone can get you to redline, find a way to avoid this situation at all costs. Spouses and loved ones, you are also needed in this process. You can sometimes recognize when someone is goading your loved one with their behavior. If you see this happening, play interference or extricate your veteran from that situation.
My friend wanted me to out him in this post. He felt so badly about what happened that he was willing to take the heat when I dropped his name on here. I told him I would never do that, even if he begged. His right to privacy and all of yours hangs in the balance. You need to be able to trust that I would keep your privacy in mind when I write these posts.
I hope this makes you all think about this issue, veterans and spouses. What happens when you stick a sleeping bear with a red-hot poker? You get mauled. If you know someone is wielding a poker and is trying to wake the 'bear', remove them from your life. As I have heard many times in my life: 'People Teach You How To Treat Them'. Act accordingly.
As I continue my life with PTSD, I will share my challenges and discoveries on this blog.