“Mummy, why is Daddy so angry?”
I feel my throat tighten as familiar tears prick at the corner of my eyes. My daughter sobs into her pillow, she doesn’t see me trying to empty my face of the distress that rattles me. The turbulence of my husband’s anger still hangs in the air, even though he left the bedroom – and the house – a while ago. “He really frightened me, Mummy.”
My children do not deserve this, and neither do I. But this is their father, the only one they’ll ever have. And this is my husband, who I vowed to love and support. PTSD is part of our lives now, and we live with it as best we can. No more playing it down. I need to be honest in admitting that these rages affect us all. And no more making excuses for him. It’s true that he didn’t ask for PTSD, but he is in control of his own recovery.
I stroke my daughter’s soft hair, soothing the anxiety that lingers in us both, searching for the words that might make sense to a 7-year-old. “Darling, I have a story to tell you about Daddy, but it’s not a happy one.” She rolls over to look at me, her eyes and face still damp from her tears, and I feel that she already knows a lot of what I’m about to tell her.
Debra Swain gives advice for people who have partners with PTSD (post continues after the video)
“Daddy has been a paramedic for a lot of years, many more than you’ve been alive, and over that time he has helped a lot of people. Most of the people he helped were very sick or very badly hurt, and some of them even died.” Her eyes widen at the word. For a seven-year-old, death is becoming a very real concept, something tangible, something to fear.