19 September 2010

Veterans, Dating and PTSD

So the show is (and has been) in reruns for a while now... but I really enjoy That 70's Show.  Yes, it's about growing up in the 70's and it's funny and all that, but there's something deeper underneath the comedy.  Red was, among other things, a Korean war veteran.  I suspect, although it never came up during the show, that Red had PTSD.  It's obvious that he held a lot inside.  Yes, Red was just a character... but there was a lot about him that I recognize both in real people, especially other veterans, and especially in myself.  There are those days when I do feel the need to insert my foot up someone's ass.  (I haven't done it.  But I'll admit to thinking about it.)
Another character that I think is really unappreciated is Kitty-- growing up in the 70's, I think everyone knew someone's Mom that was just like her.  If Red had PTSD from Korea, she's the one who ultimately dealt with it more than anyone else, even if she seemed a little crazy on her own sometimes.  Kitty and Red were the perfect couple, though... each of them offset the other's issues.

Okay, yes, I know, it was just a TV show, and not reality.  Being single again, I now have time to watch TV that I didn't have being in a relationship.  Which is scary in itself, but I've encountered something a bit harder to deal with: real PTSD and real relationships.  It's hard enough being an older student and having a romantic life-- most of my classmates are too young, and most people my age aren't interested in dating a full time student unless they're students themselves.  There are people who do fit that description, though.   College isn't all about studying, it's about going out and having fun with other people, too.  So I'm trying to do that.  Red looking for Kitty.

First dates are actually pretty easy to find, after a certain amount of email and on the phone chatting and flirting, it's usually not that hard to arrange a date for coffee.  After that, things get more interesting, because eventually you mention that you're a veteran, and perhaps you mention that you're a combat veteran who went to war in the Desert.  (Most people I've been on dates with don't make a distinction between Iraq and Afghanistan now, and Saudi Arabia then-- it's all the War.)  And, at some point, if a relationship ever becomes "serious", you'll eventually have to bring up PTSD because it affects how you react to intimate relationships and their issues.

How do you explain to someone that you'd rather sit in the back corner of the restaurant where you can see the entire dining room, especially the front of the restaurant?  How do you explain that you're not comfortable at the large family gathering with people you don't know, because it's loud and crowded and you're just uncomfortable with that?  How do you explain your angry outburst when someone cuts you off on the freeway?  How do you explain that you are absolutely not coming to bed until you've checked to make sure the door is locked, regardless of the fact that she just locked it?

It's not at all uncommon to encounter someone who is also divorced, also been through some rough times--  and among that group, it's not at all uncommon for people to try not to repeat the mistakes of the past.  Single again, people want to avoid the mistakes of the past, and getting involved with someone that is a fairly frequent visitor to the mental health clinic at the VA hospital... not what most women are looking for.

Even Lieutenant Dan eventually found someone.  But again, that was in a movie.

There's actually an eHow article with advice on dating veterans.  eHow articles always have a level of difficulty assigned to whatever procedure they're telling you how to do.  The difficulty rating for dating a veteran is "Difficulty: Moderate".  In contrast, the eHow article on replacing the inside window handle of a 81' Nissan Pickup is rated "Moderately Challenging".  I want to believe that there's hope.

1 comment:

  1. Dating someone with PTSD and just found your blog. I think it's awesome you can talk about it all, even if just in writing. Gave me some much needed insight, and being able to understand what's happening helps me to cope, and for that I thank you. The hardest part, for me, has been the emotional numbness of PTSD, which can't be easy for him either and I try to remember that because the last thing I want to do is give up. Sometimes I think he thinks if he lets himself feel anything he may feel everything and I can see how that could be scary. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks. I hope your journey finds you in a place of happiness and peace.


If you'd like your comment to stay private, please let me know in your comment. Anonymous comments are also allowed.