Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Laid Off Spouse Part 1: Reality sets in

On Monday I was going to start a series about being the spouse of someone who has been laid off. I wrote most of the post (about what was different this time vs. the last time we dealt with a lay off), but then didn't get around to putting it up.

Why? Reality set in. The post was written earlier in the day, when I was still feeling pretty chipper and optimistic about this new adventure. Then I got home and didn't feel as positive. It'd be a disservice to myself and to anyone reading this to put up something that I wasn't 100% behind. Hence, this post which was mostly written on Tuesday, and finished on Wednesday.

I don't hide my emotions well. I have a hard time just moving on from things. People have tried to tell me to let stuff go, don't over-think...but that's how I roll. It's too bad if you don't like it or can't understand it. Maybe I don't understand those who prefer to live in delusion, ignoring what's going on around them. That can be a worse way to live, to not deal.

So now I'm going to tell you what it's like being married to someone who is laid off. For the second time in our almost four year marriage.

It sucks. BADLY.

The first time was hard enough. But to have to go through it again? Yes, there are some positives this time around vs. last time, and I will blog about them, eventually. I just wasn't feeling it Monday night.

I don't remember if I've ever mentioned this here, but Turtle has PTSD, as a result of the horrible accident he was in. Yes, other people, besides veterans, can have this. It's irritating when trying to find materials and resources about PTSD when everything points to veterans. Not that they aren't entitled to be studied, written about, etc, but I think people who haven't been exposed to it just assume that it can't happen to anyone else, which leads to a lot of misunderstanding. The easiest way to explain it is that it's an anxiety disorder, brought on from a traumatic experience. Everyone's PTSD is different--some people have extreme cases, like serious flashbacks (I always think of Vietnam vets) to just nervousness and agitation about things in life--this is more or less how Turtle's is.

If you are interested in learning more about PTSD, Cate Linden at Liberal Simplicity (which I've been following for over a year) wrote about her PTSD, following a rape. When I found her blog, I had no idea that she had been through this in her past. I'd just liked her blog! When I read that post, I asked Cate if her husband, Jason, would ever be willing to share his thoughts about living with her and dealing with her PTSD. About a month later, he wrote a complimentary post as the spouse of someone with PTSD. (I commented on both of their posts, as Rabbit, so you can read my thoughts there.)

I don't talk about it much--I'm sure that many of my friends don't know, because it's not something you just bring up. I forget who knows and who doesn't. So, I often feel alone when dealing with his symptoms, partly because I don't know who knows, and partly because people have their own lives to deal with and don't always understand. It's easy for people to just gloss over things, to focus on what they think is important to look at, and not understand what I'm saying (or NOT saying).

Back to what's currently going on at our house before I go off on a huge tangent!

This lay off, while expected, has brought out some of Turtle's more extreme symptoms, although some of the things he is experiencing are typical of anyone going through a bad time.

Typical stuff: He's not sleeping well. He's worried about finding another job. He's worried about me having to be the sole breadwinner and the pressure that it entails. He hates that he can't provide for us. He also hates that our plans for a family are put on hold yet again. Not that we were going to try anytime soon, but it was being discussed more frequently prior to the lay off.

NOT typical: His stomach is in constant pain (this is also where the majority of his accident injuries and surgeries were). He gets agitated easily. The slightest annoyance REALLY gets to him. When he is in pain, he can't do much. It's pretty debilitating, and there's really nothing that can be done. One of the "lovely" side effects of having your abdomen split from sternum to pelvis for almost a year. In normal life, his stomach only bothers him after eating or when he's exerted himself a bit too much, but when the mental/emotional stuff kicks in, it manifests in his stomach.

Monday night, I had a little breakdown. I was tired, not feeling great (I'm fighting allergies or a cold), overwhelmed with everything. Also, Monday was two full weeks since the lay off. His last day was Thursday, May 19, but I'm not counting that Friday--that was more of a "day off" for him. I've had a crazy 2 weeks at work, including a business trip and preparations for a month-long event which kicked off June 1. I feel as if I'm not holding up my end of things at home. Yes, he's doing more chores since he's home but the things that I'm doing aren't getting done or are getting done sloppily. When he worked, I had much more alone time--I have flex time, he didn't. Two days a week, he worked 12-8, so I had the house to myself until almost 9 pm, time which I spend doing my chores. With him home, it throws me off! Which is not a slam against him, or wishing he'd go away.

It's a new reality, and it takes getting used to. We're still in an adjustment period. We'll get used to this, just like we did last time. I hope there isn't much time to get used to it (meaning: he gets a new job soon). I am feeling much better today, but I still feel like I need to put this out there, for those who have been laid off or living with someone who had, so that they know they aren't alone...and also for those people who've never experienced a lay off, to maybe understand what their family or friends are going through.

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