How do I help?
Ok, I'll give the shortest version of my story possible: My fiance used to be in the navy. He served for 8 1/2 years before his ex wife got him kicked out. That's part of the reason she's his EX wife. Anyway, I don't know exactly what the details are, I just know that something that happened in the navy, plus the fact that his ex wife was abusive to him and their son, gave him PTSD.
Now, it's been about four years since they divorced, and ever since, he's been raising their son, who has high functioning autism. He's had trouble finding/holding a job, due to being over qualified, and the rotten economy, and needing to be there for his son.
He and I have been engaged since Feb 28th of 2011. Our wedding is planned for April 28th this year. Shortly after we got engaged, we got our own apartment. At the time, we were both working decent paying jobs, and were reasonably able to support ourselves. Then, he got an even better paying job, and we had some leeway. It was fantastic!
My best friend and her son needed a place to stay. We were so well off, we offered to let her sleep on our couch. She got a job almost right away. Having her there was a huge blessing to me, because my fiance's new job had him sleeping in motels all week, and only coming home for 1 1/2 days. That was incredibly hard on me and his son. His son regressed a lot, he closed off and started forgetting how to do things. I was getting depressed and extremely emotional. I'd never been a "mommy" before, especially not to an autistic 8 year old, so I felt completely overwhelmed and lost. I don't know what I would have done without my friend there, to offer support and guidance.
Then things started going down hill. First, I walked out of my job. It was the most mentally abusive job I'd ever had, and we didn't absolutely NEED the money, so I figured we'd survive on a tighter budget until I found another job. Then my best friend got fired. But we were ok. My fiance's job was still enough to support us all. Meanwhile, my best friend and I were pounding the job market with applications and resumes, but to no avail. Then, the worst happened. My fiance got laid off. The company he worked for, simply ran out of work. They laid off all their employees, and closed.
And there we were, with rent, utilities, phone payments, car payments and cable/internet payments all coming due, and none of us had a job. We lasted about two months after that. His dad paid our rent one month, to give us more time to figure things out, but we didn't even last through that month, because the electricity got cut off, and clearly we couldn't live in a house with no electricity, with two little boys.
So, I called my parents, and they let us (all five of us) move in with them. My best friend sleeps on the couch. Me and my fiance sleep on an air mattress in the living room. The little boys sleep on the floor in my oldest brothers bedroom.
Stress has become a daily battle. We're all still looking for jobs. We're all struggling with feelings of failure and defeat. We're all trying to figure out how to pick ourselves back up. We're all trying not to step on each others toes, and trying not to over react when our toes get stepped on.
The people most stressed out are my best friend and my fiance. They don't get along. They tolerate each other at best. They are both "putting up" with the other, because we all have no choice but to live together. They both complain to me about the other. But it is absolutely taking the hardest toll on my fiance.
This morning, I had my first glimpse of what PTSD actually means. With all the stress we've been under, my fiance keeps telling me he feels like a failure. He feels guilt from the navy, because he didn't finish what he started, and because he loved the navy and misses it. He feels like he's failed his son because of the situation we're in. He feels like he's failed me. Every day, it gets harder and harder for him to bite his tongue around my friend.
Today, my friend posted something on an internet forum. Her post was something along the lines of "Why should we support our troops when there are such better causes out there?" She has her reasons for feeling that way, which have nothing to do with my fiance. But she posted it, mostly to get a rise, and boy did she. She had several military men going at her, and she was reading the things they said, and reading her snide comments back, out loud. She was saying some pretty awful things about the military and the government, and laughing about it all.
Then, I heard a whimper. I turned to see my fiance, laying on the air mattress in a fetal position, crying. I went to him immediately and held him. He didn't need to tell me what was happening, or why. I knew. He did tell me though. He said, "I'm having an episode. She triggered it." I said, "I know", and asked him how I could help. He said, "Just be here", so that's what I did. He kept talking about wanting to scrape the images out of his brain. I wanted to be able to do more for him than just lay there and cry with him.
After a few minutes, he seemed better. He uncurled and laid on his back and breathed deeply. I held him a while longer, and eventually, we got up and put our air mattress away and had breakfast. He's been moving about his business like normal, but in a kind of "zombie" mode. I'm worried about him. I don't know how much longer his sanity will last.
I agree with tools, your best friend behavior was quite hurtful and even cruel. In the best interest of your husband, who is very fragile at this time, I would advise you to have a nice sit-down with your friend and let her know how you feel. I would not be aggressive or mean (not that you would) or passive, I would be assertive with her. Let her know how you her post made you feel and how it affected your husband and how that is harmful to your family. It sounds like your best friend needs boundaries set...b/c she is crossing a strong line when she is so harmful to someone you love. I believe you would do the same for her if your husband triggered her in this same way. Its not easy having difficult conversations like this with others, but it sounds like it is very necessary. Here's a quick link that may help you!
BTW, your fiance may be entittled to counseling through the Vet hospital...its sounds like it would be a good idea for him to get additional support. You are lovely to him, but PTSD is so powerful that therapy is often needed. If you would like book references about PTSD let me know.
Kellie Montgomery< LMFT
He's not in therapy. Until all of this started happening, his PTSD wasn't really an issue for him. He doesn't have it as bad as probably most do. I firmly believe that every person on earth could benefit from therapy. I did ask my fiance if he would consider going to therapy, and he said there are a lot of things in his head that he probably doesn't want to bring out. I told him that I am planned on getting therapy as soon as I'm able, and asked if he'd consider going with me, and he said yes. So now, it's just a matter of us getting on some kind of insurance.
As far as talking to my friend, I agree that probably needs to be done. It's going to take me some time to figure out what to say and how to say it. I want her to understand I'm not angry at her, but that I just want and need for her to think more about what she's saying, especially about military stuff, around my fiance.