The trauma did change me, and it changed my marriage.
We are hard pressed on every side yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Sitting on the floor, I felt hard pressed, crushed, perplexed, forsaken, struck down, and destroyed. The struggle had gone on too long. Help had not come. God had not moved. The light had not shone through the darkness. It had been years of fighting on all sides. I had lost so much. Sharing my thoughts and feelings with anyone seemed too risky. I did not feel safe.
Roughly 7-8 percent of people in the US will suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in their lifetime. According to the Veterans Administration, approximately 30 percent of Vietnam Veterans were diagnosed with PTSD, 12 percent of Veterans who served in the Gulf War tested positive for PTSD, and in 2020, an astonishing 83 percent of Veterans and Active Duty service men and women tested positive for PTSD who have served since 9/11.
PTSD can not only drive a wedge in a marriage, but it can be utter devastation. Those who suffer are more apt to suppress their emotions and feelings from their spouse. They tend to worry more about intimacy and have lower sexual interest and satisfaction. The divorce/suicide rate nearly doubles in couples who struggle with PTSD.
For the Caregiving spouse, they report less happiness and life satisfaction. They feel emotionally overwhelmed and become more socially isolated.
The fabric of emotional intimacy is torn because the trauma sufferedprerequisite conditions for that intimacy, safety has broken the trust and esteem.
While on that floor, I knew that to feel safe, trust and embrace esteem, I must ask for forgiveness and forgive Jesus. I had been angry with Him for allowing me to walk into that Wilderness. I was mad that I did not feel His presence and had been trapped in my mind for so long. In my anger, I yelled, cried, and stared into the abyss, yet, all the while, I realized that Jesus was still there. He was there in the stillness. I was waiting for me. I finally came to the end of myself. At that moment, I prayed Psalm 51 and the Lord’s prayer as if my life depended upon it because…. it did.
The first step in healing was to reconcile with the One who IS the power that can bind my wounds and restore my soul. I knew I needed counseling; however, before I utilized that option, I must take my heart to my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, the One who holds the same needle and thread that would repair the tapestry of my deeply wounded soul.
The Bible is not silent on the pain and struggle associated with PTSD. King David was no stranger to depression, anguish, and trauma. Take a stroll through the Psalms, and you will come across verses like this one in Psalm 109:21-22 “You, Sovereign Lord, help me for your name sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded.”
The Importance of “Top Cover”
The Second Step was, to be honest with Kristina: Galatians 6:2 calls us to bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ (NKJV). The word “bear” comes from the Greek word “Bastazo,” which means to carry, take up or even take away or carry off. The word “burden” comes from the Greek word “Baros,” which means weight. When you put those words together, “bear a burden” means to take away or carry off the weight someone else is experiencing. In essence, you are bringing comfort to someone else’s challenging situation. In working together through the trauma, the load of carrying it becomes significantly lifted.
The Third Step was to get help, individually and for our marriage. There is a stigma and a fear that exists in Military culture regarding receiving counseling. Research conducted by Walter Reed Medical Center showed that service members don’t come forward and receive proper mental health care because they fear implications on the job, judgment, shame, and guilt. If those are fears you may have, I recommend seeking a Chaplain. Chaplains have a unique privilege that binds them to honor complete and total confidentiality between them and their counselee. Another great resource we used for our marriage was the Mediators at XOMarriage.
No, recovery and victory didn’t happen overnight. It took patience, consistency, and TIME. I heard a pastor preach regarding “Seedtime and Harvest” in Genesis 8:22 and said, “We like to gloss over it as one season of “Seedtime,” but it isn’t. There is a time to plant the seed, then a time of waiting before the Harvest comes. So really, it looks like this.”
In the recovery of any wound, there is “seedtime,” a time of planting, surgery, if you will. Then “time” is the space between the enduring, where you may not see any results. However, that is where all of the internal work is being done. The bandages are placed on the wounds, and they are healing. Then after a time, the applications come off, and “harvest” comes. Harvest is the time of rejoicing because the bandages are off, and you see the wound which appears to be healed. However, it would help if you still had therapy. That is the final step. The space where you work to rebuild the muscles, regain flexibility, mobility, etc. This step is the most crucial and, if done correctly, can leave one stronger than before. The process of recovery in your mind and over trauma is the same.
He will not fail.
The trauma did change me, and it changed my marriage. Our lives and our marriage had a great need, producing an even greater redemption. We surrendered to the surgery and the therapy, and because of it, we are stronger and more committed to our relationship with God and one another. The eyes of our understanding have been opened further to how good God is even in the midst of what seemed to be our very end. The scars are reminders of the redemptive work of God in our lives.
Balancing Military Work Life
You may wonder how something so horrific could ever be used for good in your life. Surrendering to God, that very thing will produce wisdom and intimacy between you and the Lord that will be used to shine light into others’ pain. All it takes is you allowing God to take you on a journey to your healing. He is not naive nor oblivious. He does not recoil at deep wounds or abandon those who feel they are falling apart. He is hope for the hopeless, a faithful companion who sticks closer than a brother. Be Rest Assured, You are Never Alone and Never Without Help. He is With You, and He will not fail.