Having a husband with PTSD and TBI has its difficulties. I can’t imagine how hard it is on my kids. I try to talk to my girls about this, but some days it’s really hard. I don’t always know what to say, neither do they. I was just having a conversation with my youngest, we will call her D. She says that having a Daddy with PTSD and TBI is sometimes scary and sometimes hard. Sometimes she gets upset over it. D tells me she doesn’t like when Daddy can’t remember things. It bothers her already that Daddy has missed so much of her childhood because of deployments and Army stuff. But now, because of the TBI he can’t remember some of the things we have told him. Some days he can’t remember conversations they have had. Thankfully, I have very good, understanding daughters.
They know Daddy can’t help it. They know he wants to remember, he doesn’t want to get angry, and he wants to just be Daddy. But some days he can’t help it. Some days his memory fails him. Some days he is irritable and little things, even playful chatter, upset him. At these times, D says he can be scary. I’ve seen the look on her face when he loses his temper and she doesn’t know why. My husband would never hurt me or either of our kids. Not even in one of those bad moments. But those of you who have seen the anger episodes know what I mean when I say it can be really frightening. It’s not necessarily violent but can be very loud. I have also seen my husband sit down with D after he’s calmed down and talk with her and try to help her see that he can’t control himself sometimes. I’ve overheard him telling her that he loves her and would never hurt her, but sometimes his temper gets the best of him. If anyone else overheard this conversation they would say “oh he’s making excuses now”. But that’s not it. He wants our girls to understand that PTSD and TBI affect him in ways that he can’t control. He tries so hard but he just can’t. So when I overhear the conversations he has with them, my heart breaks a little because they shouldn’t have to know these things. At the same time, the love I have for him grows because he takes the time to talk to them. A lot of Dads don’t or won’t do that.
I’ve talked a little to my oldest daughter about these things too, we’ll call her E. She says a lot of the same things her sister does, sometimes it’s scary, and sometimes it’s hard. She wants to have friends over on weekends, but she knows Daddy can’t handle a lot of noise. E is thirteen. She likes music and talking on the phone and seeing her friends. She handles things in stride and is generally very good about it all. But she does wish she could turn the music up sometimes and get loud like other kids her age. Who can blame her? She is at that age where expressing yourself is important and completely normal. I want my girls to have the same kind of teen years I had, with friends in and out all the time. We are working on that. He’s trying to accept that kids are loud and work on controlling the temper by finding something outside to do. I’m trying give my kids some time with friends and keep them as calm as I can. The girls are working on remembering when loud is allowed and when it is not. They are also working on listening when asked to do something because not minding is definitely a temper trigger. It’s that way with any parent though, isn’t it? No matter how hard things are some days, or how good things are other days, both girls do agree on one thing….Daddy is still Daddy.