The Capacity Is Different Now
One of the effects of PTSD that you don't recognize right away is the change in capacity. As humans, we all have different capacities for different things. Or in other words, we all tolerate things differently.
You may be someone who is able to tolerate a very long, very slow story from a 7 year old while someone else might want to just blurt out "GET TO THE POINT!". And there is nothing wrong with having different tolerances...they are part of what makes us us!
But trauma changes you. You aren't the same person you were before the trauma. You don't tolerate things the same way. Things that didn't make you bat an eye before will now bother the shit out of you in an instant.
Things that seemed like minor annoyances can now be major inconveniences. Boisterous laughter can now seem like intolerable noise.
As a spouse, it can be so difficult to navigate this new capacity that your husband or wife now has.
They don't have the same level of patience for your kids that they used to have. The rapid fire questions and the constant need for attention and the talking way too loud will wear them down way faster than it used to.
Because of this, you won't leave them alone with the kids for too long. Not because you fear for the safety or anything like that (in my case, anyways). But because you know that once that capacity has been reached, it's no good for anyone.
Your spouse will now be irritable and frustrated for hours. Your kids won't really understand what they did "wrong", and you will undeniably be riddled with guilt.
So now what does this mean? It means you will take less time for yourself. It means that you might plan little overnight getaways will the girls or even just a night out, but that you will constantly be checking in. In the back of your mind, you'll be praying that the kids didn't complain about dinner, that they didn't argue when asked to clean up or get ready for bed, and that they didn't ask for too much. But let's be real...they are kids. So they'll probably do at least one or all of those things.
Now you'll be wondering if the time away was really worth it. You'll be wondering what kind of mood the house will be in when you get home. You'll be wondering what you have to diffuse mere minutes after walking in the door.
And sometimes there isn't anything to diffuse. Sometimes they have had a great time together, sharing laughs and making memories. But if there is one thing that you remind yourself when it comes to having kids and living with ptsd, nothing is predictable.
The best thing I have found that works for my family is planning. My husband needs clear, concrete plans. Who,what, where, how long, etc. He needs time to mentally prepare for whatever the plan is. I also might make sure that he gets a little more down time or gym time.
And I know that this is probably going to evolve. My kids are both under 10. So they are still busy and needy. As they grow older and more independent, this is going to start look
This is my family. This is my story. Your's might be similar or it might not. Either way, I'd love to hear if can relate to this at all.
Take care of each other,