Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How Many Masks Do YOU Wear?

We are not having a good week.  On Easter Sunday, I was paralyzed from the sermon which spoke of rolling the stone away… and I just broke down and left to hide in the bathroom because even if the stone is rolled away from my “cave”, I’m still imprisoned.  The mask I wore Sunday was one of Despair:  no matter what I do, no matter what I choose, I disappoint someone.  My other two masks that day were Wife and Mom.

On Monday, because we just cannot get calls back from the VA after many voicemails and help from this site, now I was the full-on target of my husband’s frustration, anger, paranoia, and irrational behavior because he was “going to make things happen today!” It was 7:30am the Monday after the holiday.  I asked if we could discuss this after I took the children to school, and was told that the “children need to know how life really is”!  Oh really, do they?  NO, they do NOT!  My mask to the children was the It’s-All-Right one, and to my husband, the Don’t-Make-Me-Choose one.  In choices like these, someone will be hurt.

And, now today (Tuesday), he wants the contact numbers for anyone I’ve ever called about his case because clearly I cannot do my caregiving to his exacting standards.  I wrote them all down for him, because this is the very common distrustfulness of PTSD and I have called many people for him.  Of course, I then had to alert several people that they might receive calls, and that added to the stress.  Today’s mask was Resignation.

You know, if things were improving each day, or even each week, I could stand it. A simple callback from the VA?  It should not be too much to ask.  As caregivers, we give up everything.  We have serious financial strains, no medical care for me or our family, I gave up my full-time job, and our children see too much and are forced to understand behavior that is erratic and harmful.  Who do I fail?  Myself?  My children?  My husband?  Did you know that the life expectancy for a caregiver is shorter than someone who isn’t?  My mask right now is Exhaustion.

Rolling the stone away was so painful in my mind on Sunday.

Today my mask is Blank.  I cannot leave the cave.


  1. it is the war of the wearer
    who says with their mask
    whilst stifling their own anguish
    i can do this,
    do not trouble your heart

    when it slips aside and the
    truth is glimpsed
    who stays present to that vulnerability?
    so back it goes again
    hoping to ease other souls
    as so many times before

    the cracks will break it
    finally it will wash
    all unnecessary bits away
    by the river of tears beneath
    that were all along waiting
    for someone
    to see
    the person dying

    unbelievable synchronicity. i JUST published this on my blog 5 minutes ago.
    i so understand.

  2. gaaaah! i hope you understood my meaning. i understand the feelings. i do NOT mean to diminish your experience at all.

    i will pray for underwhelming days to come...


  3. How vividly you describe your daily life for the last three days; thank you for sharing this. Holidays and weekends are often very difficult, but the frequent waiting for callbacks and seeking progress are a totally different story with PTSD/TBI. A few days means nothing to most people, but when you are waiting without response longer than you were told to expect, it hurts. And, it causes greater agitation and anxiety. Who wants to feel as though they don't matter, or that no one understands the effect of something so simple as a timely phone call?

    Masks can be useful, but they can also lead to losing yourself. Please take care of yourself as best you're able and know you're surrounded by care and support here. Wishing you a Calm Happiness face (not a mask!) as soon as possible!