Allow me to explain:
There’s this mental checklist I run down every time my husband and I fight. It goes something like this:
Is he being a jerk because:
1. He is a jerk.
2. He can’t help it. His TBI is the reason he forgot (my birthday, to take out the trash, my sister’s name, to take one extra step so his dirty clothes would actually make it INSIDE the hamper this time, etc.).
3. Maybe it’s late onset PTSD. Didn’t I read that one of the signs is increased irritability and forgetfulness?
4. He’s still not used to life at home after all these years of war. It’s not PTSD or TBI, it’s transitioning. But for the love of God, how long is it going to take the man to transition? Is there a statute of limitations on this crap?
5. Maybe he’s not the jerk, maybe I am. Maybe he’s right and I’m wrong.
6. …And maybe I’ve always been the jerk but he’s been gone too much for either of us to notice it until now…
7. No, that can’t be it. I get along fine with everyone else. Must be that he’s always been a jerk but has been gone too much and for too long for me to notice it until now.
8. Nope. I noticed it yesterday, too. So does that mean that it is PTSD or TBI?
9. And if his jerkiness is medical, is it fair for me to get mad at him for it? I mean, I wouldn’t get mad at him for lying on the couch if he had cancer and I wouldn’t expect him to take out the trash if he were missing his legs. I wouldn’t yell at him for dozing off if he had narcolepsy. Maybe I’m just being insensitive?
10. No, I cry for roadkill. If anything, I’m oversensitive.
11. But if this is a war wound, what am I supposed to do about this? Insist on better? Suck it up and live with it? Seek treatment for him? If I think he’s a jerk now, just wait until I suggest that he has PTSD…
So this has been going on for a while now and, no, I haven’t figured out the answer. For what it’s worth, I’m 95% sure it’s not PTSD because our arguments tend to be of the Mars/Venus type and I’m pretty sure that combat has nothing to do with that. (Though in mythology Mars WAS the God of War…hmm…)
Anyway, it occurred to me this morning that this checklist has effectively rendered PTSD and TBI the male version of PMS, which almost makes it kind of fun for me. Almost. Now everytime he screws something up, I can just (breathe deeply, count to 10) then rub his head and say in baby cooing tones, “Awww, it must be your wittle TBI messy-wessying up your thinking again.” Which has about the same effect on him as his “Must be your time of the month.” comments have on me. If only he got chocolate cravings and bloated a couple of days in advance as a warning…
I didn’t say it was a good solution, people. Just an equitable one.