When Rebecca met the man of her dreams she had no idea he was homeless. But she soon discovered this was the least of his problems. He also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And the reason why shocked her to the core.
All I ever wanted in a man was kindness and a sense of humour and the is exactly what I found in Dave. He and I worked together helping the long term unemployed by day and feeding the homeless by night. He would have people in stitches and get them to do things they never thought possible. He is able to look into your soul, know exactly what you need and share a laugh and a cry.
We fell in love. I'd never loved someone so much. Dave soon confessed he was homeless. I didn't care. All I cared about was being with Dave.
We set up our lives together. We got married, bought a house and had two beautiful children. But how long can someone keep on being who they are meant to be, when their unimaginable nightmares start to come back and haunt them and completely turn our brief happiness as a couple into a nightmare with the main character an unrecognisable and scary monster one day and a timid shadow the next?
Dave has complex Post Traumatic Disorder courtesy of being the victim of child sexual abuse and military institutional abuse. So gradually over time I made the transition from wife to carer. Dave is a full time job. Lucky for him I love my job.
To understand why I am with Dave, you have to put yourself in his shoes.
Imaging waking up numb, not because you are in shock or something terrible has happened, but to protect yourself from what could happen so you know you will be able to mobilise the troops when you inevitably need to respond to the next disaster; like your drunk husband falling in the middle of your busy road as your children cross the street; or when you get a phone call while working interstate in an ambulance from a complete stranger to say your husband is incoherent, is on his way to hospital with broken bones; or when your seven year old says “quick get home from work mummy, daddy has fallen into the pool, don’t worry it is ok, I have it under control!” Every episode is followed by a stint in a psychiatric hospital where visible but only temporary improvements were ever made, so we were filled with hope that Dave had genuinely improved and would find ways to manage his condition. These periods of sanity would last for weeks even months until the next unexpected episode.
I always know when another episode is on it's way. I've been through it too many times before. It's his paranoia. His accusations that I am twisting his words and how he blames me for everything that is going wrong in his life. I am a psychologist by trade. He demands I stop using the 'psych talk' on him.
We almost didn't make it. Caring for Dave is something I feel born to do but at one stage I uncovered a series of lies that spanned several years that rock the very legitimacy of our relationship Emptied bank accounts, text messages on his phone from other women to which I politely replied, 'Hello, I am Dave’s wife, he is undergoing bowel surgery right now and his two young children are hoping he pulls through. You might want to think about what you are doing to them'.
I found myself with two young children who adored their dad and all they pray for is for Daddy to get better and for our family to be happy. Walking away would have been the easier option and many would say the right one but I love him. I love our family. And Dave's behaviour isn't his fault.
During this time I felt like robot. I felt like I had to watch what I did and said (even though I had been badly betrayed) just in case he slipped into depression, dissociated himself or harmed himself o inadvertently others.