In the follow up book to “Warrior Lover: Battling the Combat PTSD Relationship” and “Warrior Loving: Amazing Sex with Your Veteran”, author Leilani Anastasia has done it again. While researching the nuances of the Combat Vet relationship, she discovered a nasty by-product of Combat PTSD – infidelity! In this book, she examines why our Warriors are more inclined to cheat and what to do if you find yourself in that situation as the partner of one. Well-written and witty, this book offers not only explanations as to the “whys” of this happening but also it explores how to handle these situations. This book is a must-read for anyone who suffers from Combat Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and/or in a relationship with someone who has it!
Before He Cheats
As the partner of a Veteran, we often wonder why he (or she) does things that he (or she) does. We know by now that Combat Vets suffer from this nasty little thing called PTSD. We know that it affects their brain and psyche FOREVER. We also know that it can cause behaviors that are “out of character” for our Veteran. I don’t know about you, but I think the hardest thing for me to handle is the “numbness” that goes along with this horrible thing called Combat PTSD.
In the blog post titled “This Might Happen to You”, a semi-anonymous blogger who goes by the name of “Uncle Sam’s Mistress” had the following to say about the most perplexing of Combat PTSD’s symptoms – numbness: “What irritates me about the military’s ‘maybe/might/possibly’ definition doesn’t quite explain the lengths to which this numbness goes to. He doesn’t care about anything or anyone. Period. He doesn’t care what he says, how he hurts people, how he lets them down. He doesn’t care if he hurts himself or any consequences of his actions. He doesn’t even try to act like he cares. That’s not emotional numbing, Uncle Sam, it’s emotional death. It’s the end of my old husband and friend. It’s an empty shell of a person with no heart and no conscious. They don’t feel anything, they don’t care about anything and they just feel nothing.”
Sound familiar? If your Vet is anything like my Vet, I’m guessing it does. One of the things that I find as a partner and a caregiver to be the most difficult is the numbness. I am known for “needing a filter” at times. With my Combat Vet, it’s like his filter needs a filter! Does this make sense to you? If not, please allow me to explain; People like us generally KNOW when we will say or do something that will hurt another person’s feelings. Normally, unless we are pissed off, we try to avoid hurting others. It’s not only the polite thing to do but it’s also the mature and responsible thing to do. I like to think that I was raised to be a lady. However, one thing that I have noticed with my partner is that he will SAY ANTHING to pretty much ANYONE with no regard as to if it is offensive. Now I know I don’t have to tell you to imagine what it is like living with someone like this. You see it on the daily! Is this a by-product of bad breeding? Is it an issue with his (or her) upbringing? Probably not. I will tell you what I think it is. That filter that is missing is just a SYMPTOM of the Combat PTSD. “How”, you ask? Here’s how: In a Combat Vet that is afflicted with PTSD, the need for a filter is the least of the Vet’s concerns. As we’ve already discovered, war is a pretty nasty business. I’m pretty sure that on the battlefield, manners are not of significant importance. “Could you please pass the grenades?” is probably not often uttered. Okay, so we understand – they were taught to act like animals. Now let’s bring this animal home and put him (or her) in a more civilized environment and add in the by-product of war – PTSD! It normally isn’t until the Combat Vet is reintroduced to Civilian life that he (or she) realizes how dramatically different their experiences and outlook on life are compared to the rest of us. Now that this has been established, the Combat Vet then starts realizing that things are different – if they are lucky. The unlucky ones don’t realize it and the symptoms of PTSD come into play. Hard. They start having avoidance issues, nightmares, flashbacks, withdrawal, self isolation and HYPERAROUSAL – the reason that we are all sitting here around this book right now!
Having said this, don’t you find it a little easier to understand how our “Lieutenant Lover Boy” turned into “Captain Cheater”? As the blogger “Uncle Sam’s Mistress” so eloquently put it; “That’s not emotional numbing, Uncle Sam, it’s emotional death.” That’s so very true. The numbness that accompanies PTSD at times is not only crippling to the Veteran but it’s a living hell for those that love him (or her). These feelings of numbness often remind me of a form of sociopathy – antisocial behavior which is mainly characterized by lack of empathy towards others, coupled with displays of abnormal moral conduct and an inability to conform with the norms of society. I don’t know about you, but the act of having sex with the neighbor’s wife doesn’t seem like the most social behavior in the world to me. Does it to you?
It seems to me that cheating can then be likened to the hysterically funny scene in the movie, Shrek, where he and Donkey are talking about onions. It went something like this:
Shrek: For your information, there’s a lot more to ogres than people think.
Shrek: Example? Okay, er… ogres… are… like onions.
Donkey: [sniffs onion] They stink?
Donkey: Or they make you cry.
Donkey: Oh, you leave them out in the sun and they turn brown and start sproutin’ little white hairs.
Shrek: NO! LAYERS! Onions have layers. OGRES have layers. Onions have layers… you get it. We both have layers.
Donkey: Oh, you both have layers. [pause] You know, not everybody likes onions. [pause] CAKES! Everybody loves cakes! Cakes have layers!
The cheating can then be likened to a SYMPTOM of the NUMBNESS that is a part of Combat PTSD. In other words, once you start peeling away at the outer layer of PTSD, you will then find the emotional NUMBNESS that makes way for the INFIDELITY. These are the reasons behind the behavior. Yeah, it’s not very scientific but the analogy works pretty well for these purposes, don’t you agree? One can also make the case that dating or being married to a Combat Vet is kind of like dating an Ogre too. Oops, did I just say that? I think I did! I won’t tell, if you won’t!