A few posts back, I wrote about the selfishness of PTSD. I still think that PTSD is a very selfish beast, but recently I have had more thoughts on the subject and wanted to share. In my previous post, I really didn't understand what I think I have now figured out on the subject. It is really quite simple, and yet very complex at the same time.
The selfish beast is called survival. My husband is not being selfish because he's just become a selfish being. Rather, he is being selfish because it's all he knows to do. You see, when one is so busy just surviving, there isn't much time left to think about anyone else. Thus, others might perceive this as being selfish. When in all reality, it's not selfish at all. He can't take care of anyone else if he can't first take care of himself.
During the current conflicts, my husband was deployed for almost 3 years. Of these 3 years, he was only home for 60 days somewhere in the middle. That makes for a lot of time spent surviving. He learned that no one else was going to protect him and that there was danger lurking around every corner. He learned that ANYONE could be his enemy, and also that ANYTHING could be used as a weapon. There was simply no time to think about anything other than keeping himself safe. No one can blame him for that.
After being home for 3 years, he is still in survival mode. In his mind, danger still lurks everywhere and he simply can not let down his guard. He doesn't trust anyone outside of our close circle and is suspicious of most things. He is doing what he was conditioned to do for years. He is surviving for himself and for us. His goal was to come home in one piece. He regularly told me he didn't want to come home "all jacked up." He didn't think it would be fair to me or the boys. In his mind, he is still trying to come home. It's not that he doesn't logically know he's home, but he just has a hard time staying present. He fights intrusive thoughts, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, anger, rage, depression, suicidal thoughts.....well, you get my point. He is still fighting for his life.
Does this make him selfish? Or is he only surviving?