PTSD

OK. Let’s talk about this.

Since the miscarriage, I have had about nine? ten? periods/provera-induced bleeds/whateverthehells. (The ones on provera were not nearly as vile as the ovulatory ‘proper’ periods, but yes, they were vile too. Vile is not binary). Anyway, as they have come, stamped up and down on my belly in spiked rugby boots, and gone, I began to notice H was being a little… off. Not quite H-ish.

You see, H’s normal reaction to an unwell May is to tuck her up in bed and bring her tea and stroke her hair, while May bats him crossly away and demands to be left in peace for God’s sake. But during a period (I hate the word ‘period’. I really do. Not as much as I hate ‘Aunt Flo’ or ‘The Painters’ or ‘That Time of the Month’, admittedly, but still), H would, in fact, leave May alone. He would bring tea and refill hot-water-bottles, but having delivered them he would scarper. Admittedly, I’m not a good conversationalist at these times and about as easy to cuddle as a brass elbow. It was quite a big deal for both of us when, on one particularly shitty night in a hotel in Zurich, H sat up at about 2 am and massaged my feet in a kindly attempt to distract me from the cramps in my thighs, back, belly, buttocks and jaw (from teeth-clenching). It was such a big deal, in fact, that it made me think about the fact that the normally very huggy cuddlefest that is H on a compassion bender, doesn’t touch me when I have my (ugh) period.

Oh, hey, part of me is saying. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t touch me either. Also, usually, when I am not well, I don’t actually like being touched or asked how I am in a worrity little voice. Just keep the tea coming and pass me the TV remote.

The miscarriage has changed everything, though. The whole I’m-all-disappointed-and-hejeebuz-but-this-hurts-too-much thing? Now I want to be stroked and cuddled. It doesn’t have to be all cuddle all the time, you know. Tea is good, too. And I am aware that while sleep becomes that Vanished Good of Golden Yore for me, at least until the Cute Ute shuts the fuck up, other humans will be and deserve to be blissfully unconscious between 11 pm and 7 am. But, some cuddle? A little cuddle? Mini-cuddle? Cuddle if you ever want a blow-job ever again?

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, in my best wifely, concerned, caring way, I got H in a headlock and threatened to tear his ears off if he didn’t talk right now this minute as to WTF was up with the distant no-touchy thing during the Visitation of the Red Menace. Eventually I had to let go of him as his replies were rather muffled, but when he repeated it all, I gathered that, basically, my periods are so fucking awful that they remind him of my post-miscarriage collapse. And that scares and upsets him, as it was a (yes, really!) scary and upsetting experience, and he deals with it in the way he usually deals with horrible shit, i.e. he puts it a box, tapes the lid on with gaffer tape, puts the box in a locked filing cabinet, and then buries the lot under a deserted cross-roads at midnight. In other words, avoidance tactics. In practice, this means he pretends I don’t really exist until about day 4 of said period, when I am clearly feeling a lot better and have become a cushiony armful of yumminess again.

H did not realise this would be in any way a problem because I am usually so keen on being left alone (only, bring the tea) when not well.

I agree it might have helped if I had said, look, yes, normally, but when I am menstruating, I need cuddles, OK? Only, and this is a stinger, this is pretty much exactly what I did say several months ago. Hence, you see, the need for head-locks. What? I’m not normally violent.

H admits I did say that. It’s just, when faced with me rocking back and forth in foetal position, communicating in grunts through clenched teeth, with the sweaty complexion of a good stilton, he panics. Any intelligent memories of a (pink, comfortable, upright and voluble) wife saying, ‘remember, a back rub would be nice at this point,’ are swamped by fear and grief, and therefore, you know, the whole ‘box, gaffer-tape, spade, if anyone asks, I’ll be down at the old cross-roads’ routine kicks in.

Self-defence. And for exactly the same reason I want the cuddle. It’s all too like the miscarriage, and the aftermath of the miscarriage, and we are both upset and disappointed and dealing with crappy memories, and it really, really is a bit fucking much that I have to do a live-action re-enactment of the whole sodding thing just to prove that I’m still not pregnant, and I want to deal with it by hugging and being treated like a super-special snowflake, and H wants to deal with it by, well, not dealing with it.

We both promised to do better at the communication lark. Well, no, I actually promised I would be promising to do better if I hadn’t already done better, thank you. H promised to, well, get over himself and rub feet.

The thing that really annoys me, however, is that from the very day I lost Pikaia, yea even while lying in my hospital bed feeling like road-kill, I was worried about how H would deal with it all. And H spent quite a few months denying that it had any kind of permanent or traumatic effect on him at all, why should it have, I mean, he was sad, obviously, but, it’s all over now, onwards and upwards. Hah, I say. Hah.

You remember we went to a counsellor about my (our! It was supposed to be our!) inability to get over it and cheer the fuck up. We did do lots of useful work on communication and acknowledgement of each other’s feelings and more communication and that it’s normal to feel crushed to pulp by years of embarrassing medical shit topped off with infertility and a dollop of miscarriage. But I am actually quite annoyed, then and now, that the one thing we never discussed at length was H’s feelings, because H was always denying he even had any. Yeah. He does have a remarkably elaborate burial ritual going for these feelings he doesn’t actually have, doesn’t he? And denial is in Egypt.

PS I am well aware you are all staring at me in disgust because H is obviously an angel in chinos. Tea, hot-water-bottles, and now I want foot-rubs? Just how special is this super-snowflake?

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9 responses to “PTSD

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    You forgot the sign for H’s box saying ‘beware of the leopard’…

    Vicarious pain is a bugger to process. It’s torment that you can’t relieve, can’t deal with, and can’t fight, and yet you still feel it. I’d usually rather pain happened to me than John, I feel less awful about it. I suspect H will (and I choose to use the ‘positive’ tense here out of genuine belief in your future, not jollying-alongness), when he sees you thrashing about in labour, be actually so upset by the sight of you in agony that he will wonder why the hell he wanted to put you through it in the first place.

    I think chaps don’t necessarily recognise a negative emotion for what it is – even when they are being trampled flat by it. Perhaps they dismiss the feeling as just a particularly gassy lunch, or something. However, H IS an angel in chinos, and I know he’ll make a big effort. He does value his head un-locked, I’m sure. And you are the superest-nicest-specialest-mostdeservingest-snowflake I know, who totally should get footrubs ad lib.

    And if H is digging down at the crossroads again, can you tell him to send John home when he meets him?

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    Let me instantly qualify the above to SOME chaps; Xbox will deservedly tell me off otherwise, as he’s totally a bloke who Gets It.

  • Ben Warsop

    I cannot imagine H in chinos.

    I also think that – sucky and vile though it is – you guys are actually dealing with the lack-of-communication-no-no-nothing-everything’s-fine-look-I-SAID-everything’s-FINE-OK stuff remarkably well. It’ sucky. It’s vile. But you are at least negotiating it, which is more than many are able to. You are one determined cookie and you are quite clearly going to get back-rubs.

    Have a cup of tea.

  • twangy

    Hmm. Noticing lots of parallels between H and my H, JB. He is also so sympathetic and lovely when I am sick.
    BUT, when the Time is around, he is all morose (I mean, understandably) and I don’t dare tell him I am feeling bad. It’s hard to let him be disappointed, and still not blame myself for it. It’s hard.

    You seem way ahead of us though. Keep going!
    We’ll get there.

  • meganlisbeth

    argh. mine is dreadful when i am sick and a thousand times worse when HE is sick.
    it seems to me like you two are really doing great at the communication thing, may. keep taking care of each other. xo

  • Korechronicles

    Shouldn’t that be “Beware of the RABID leopard”?

    Anyway, you do have a super-snowflake angel in chinos. I do hope they are tasteful khaki rather than beige but I digress. Angel. Super-snowflake. H…all of the above.

    Hope you get the communication knots untangled to everyone’s mutual satisfaction. And good luck with the busyness.

  • a

    Here’s why H is an angel in chinos…as he’s wandering off to the crossroads, he’s not telling you that you should have been there and back already (as my dear husband, who is completely incapable of processing emotions, has done).

    Meanwhile, I hope he can readjust, because your superspecial snowflakeness has MANY years of cuddles ahead before menopause.

  • Valery

    Mhm. After burying the boxes with the early miscarriage and the failed IVF I actually did go on a trip to Egypt.

    “And denial is in Egypt.”

    I love denial. Much easier than the communications thing.

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