There are three reasons why I stay.
And by stay, I mean in this family, in this marriage. Because, let’s face it, even though we know the grass is never greener on the other side, when your grass starts growing serious prickles then maybe any colour grass might be better.
So, to be completely honest, yes, I have thought about the idea. I could even go so far as to say I have, at times, even fantasised about the idea. The idea of leaving.
That’s hard to write, actually.
It’s even harder to say.
But I’ve never put a plan into action. Not even close. There was a stretch of almost a year when I couldn’t bring myself to wear my engagement and wedding rings. It made me feel like a phoney. Like I was accepting all the bad behaviour in my world. Like I was committed to living in that way. Like I was married to PTSD.
I am married to PTSD. And yes, it is my choice to stay. But it’s not an easy choice to make.
Abuse comes in many forms, and although there’s a lot of focus on physical domestic violence – and rightly too – there’s certainly plenty of other ways to be hurt that won’t leave a mark. Hell, don’t we already know that all too well…. hello PTSD.
If you know a friend who is in the trap of domestic abuse, you would support her in any way to escape the situation. Anyone would. And it would be the right thing to do. No one should stay in such a toxic environment, and neither should their children.
But if you know a friend who is supporting a partner suffering with severe mental illness, a partner who is often resistant to treatment, and, as a consequence, her daily life often involves submitting to unsolicited anger rages, problematic drinking, aggressive arguments, and other intimidating behaviour, what would you say? If she decides to leave – for her sake, and for the sake of her children – would you tell her that she’s done the right thing? Or do you privately label her as a selfish, callous bitch for walking out on her partner in his time of need?
It’s not quite so black and white after all, is it?
I’m committed to my marriage. Committed in the most stubborn way. And although my marriage vows are, without doubt, part of my reason to stay and support my husband in any way I can, they are not the main reason.
My three main reasons for staying, and fighting with such blind determination to keep this family together, despite the ravages of PTSD, are complex and obsessive.
Yet, at the same time, they couldn’t be more simple….
These are my three children.
And they are the reasons why I stay.
They deserve the loving family they were born into. They deserve committed and devoted parents. Parents who put them first, always. They deserve a safe home at all times, and the complete freedom to be happy, rowdy, inquisitive children.
I have been fighting for five years. And I’ll fight for many more if I have to.
(original post published 18th April 2016)