PTSD Spirituality: PTSD-Identity Attempts to Destroy Love

The PTSD-Identity attempts to destroy love.  It tries to bludgeon away those who love you.  It tries to damage our capacity to love, to be loved, and it wants to erase and recognition of the greater implications of love. 

Our Soul Responds to the Presence or Absence of Love

PTSD is a wound to the soul.  There are physical aspects involved in PTSD such as changes in brain chemistry and structures like the amygdala, but PTSD also wounds our souls.

We respond positively to love.  We tend to respond negatively to the lack of love.  PTSD can heighten its damage if it makes us unlovable.  PTSD symptoms can destroy our ability to trust.

Part of surviving and then subsequently healing from PTSD requires we learn and accept that we are lovable.  We retain an essential worth and value. 

  • PTSD’s desire to isolate and then kill me can only be achieved if I abandon hope and love.
  • PTSD wants me to give up hope that I can ever be better.
  • PTSD wants us to believe that the nightmares, anxieties, fear, and loss of trust are the “new normal” that will never get better, but only worse.
  • PTSD wants us to think we cannot be loved because we are not lovable.

When PTSD is fully engaged we end up alienating those who love us.  We take on PTSD behaviors we know are wrong.  We do them to try and feel as if we are alive, as if we have value, as if we can actually be loved. 

PTSD seeks to cheapen and alienate love by abusing sex.

One of the paradoxes here is that often a PTSD afflicted person will commit adultery and sleep around in an attempt to feel they have value.  They do this in spite of having people at home who find them desirable and who love them. 

 It’s as if the PTSD has disqualified us from feeling the love of people who loved us before we were traumatized.

These PTSD behaviors, often expressed in infidelity and porn addiction, are done with the purpose of causing more despair in the person with PTSD and are an attempt to make loved ones give up on him or her.

The person with PTSD needs to relearn their inherent value. 

You must take a major risk: Accept you are loveable.

The trauma we experienced gave us PTSD.  The PTSD wants us to feel so tainted that we abandon hope that we can love or be loved.

PTSD Healing Lies in the Risk of Love

If you have a PTSD physician, a medical doctor or psychologist, then follow their medical advice.  But there is more than pills and chemistry to treating PTSD.  Love also helps heal PTSD’s soul wound.

We have mentioned that PTSD seeks to alienate you from your loved ones, usually thought of as your family and friends.  But there is more (as if that was not bad enough):

PTSD wants to alienate you from God.

God is Love.  If you are alienated from love, then PTSD has alienated you from God.  PTSD cannot isolate and kill you if you have a healthy relationship with God.  God and love are the same thing.

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.  1 John 4: 7-8

The PTSD-Identity seeks to drive us away from God.  By doing so we are driven away from love.  By compelling us to do acts which cheapen love, it attempts to break off our relationship and experience of God.  And, of course, our friends and family are cheapened by PTSD at the same time.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.    1 John 4:18

PTSD wants us to always be afraid.  If we operate in fear, then we are more likely to harm ourselves and our relationships with others.  Yet, love dilutes and then casts out fear.  If the fear is decreased and dispensed with then there is room for love, room for God.

Many people with PTSD feel that because of what they have done, or what has been done to them, they are no longer worthy.  They fear that they no longer can love or be loved.

And there lies the PTSD trap:

Fear generates more fear and

drives away hope and love.

Fear increases isolation and

Makes us more susceptible to suicide.

In the healing of PTSD we have to risk love.  Love restores relationships and self-worth.  Sometimes, in the cases where alienation has taken a strong hold, this can only be done at a distance in prayer and writing in a journal.  But it can still be done.  We don’t have to surrender to the PTSD.

This essay has been rather freeform and stream of consciousness.  The point, however, is that if you have PTSD, don’t give into the temptation or fear that you can no longer love or be loved.  You are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1): You have value. 

Since God is love, and you are made in the image and likeness of God, then you too share in love at its most pure and essential.

Nothing PTSD can do truly removes you from love.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z

Comments

  1. Hello Staci

    Ive been through the same sort if thing regards the cheating but found out after 10 years of it happening.

    Escorts,sexting,twitter,online affairs,actual affairs etc.

    My daughter discovered it and after syffering verbal and physical abuse too i asked him to leave.

    I hope you manage to sort things out for what is tight for you.its a very hard thing to deal with completely.

    I tried even after i found out about the 10 years of cheating but my anxiety gradually got worse and my anger to him crept in.he joined a dating website then ended it,very strange.

    Then recently i found out he arranged to see an escort but didnt go in the end.

    He then wrote a reply to my petition for divorce moaning that i didnt work and we struggled but i was too afraid to work and also struggled with anxiety to work.

    He also said he couldnt remember certain aspects if abuse and asked me to remind him. So very hard.

    I hope your ok and my prayers are with you

  2. After just three months of marriage I found out that my husband was cheating on me with multiple women. He had gotten onto swinger websites and told me that it was the easiest way to get sex. After finding out I saw a counselor, he saw a counselor and we saw a marriage counselor together. My husband has been deployed 5 times as a hospital corpsman. His PTSD was so bad at that time and he wasn’t on any medications. Once a week he went to sex addiction recovery program. He also got on meds to control his PTSD. Then three years later, I noticed his PTSD getting worse and worse. He would follow me, screaming at me. I kept telling people that I didn’t know what was wrong with him. Then, I found out that he had stopped taking his meds. I got him back on them and noticed that it actually got worse. I found out that he had been sexting a woman at work and had tried to get on websites again. He had also tried filming women changing. This all happened in the span of one month. I drove him to the VA hospital and he was hospitalized for a week in the mental health ward. Durning that time they found out that when I put him back on his meds he had serotonin syndrome from the VA mixing his meds for the last two weeks but prior to that he was just going through a bad episode of PTSD because he stopped taking his meds all together. He’s begging me not to leave him saying that he wasn’t in his right mind the last month and I’m lost as to what to do. I don’t want PTSD to be a crutch (he’s cheated in the past) but I don’t want to discount it either. What do I believe? Is this an excuse, or is this a behavioral problem?

    • Hello Staci,
      I admire your strength and ability to withstand such brutal blows to your marriage and to you yourself as an individual. Most people would not be able to endure such events and still look for more information before making such an important set of decisions.

      Not everyone could withstand the attack by PTSD on their spouse and their marriages as well as you have. That said, it will take a toll on you and it is important that you are also protecting yourself from the shrapnel that PTSD flings about.

      I started writing a reply to you and it got longer and longer. Since many people share this experience, I decided to turn the response into an essay and post it. As of now, it is the first entry on the website (until I put up a newer post). It can also be found at the below link.

      http://www.ptsdspirituality.com/2016/02/29/ptsd-spirituality-infidelity-should-i-stay-or-should-i-go/

      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  3. Sry also to add i do have proper ptsd with most symptoms ranging from nightmares to anxiety depression and hypervigilence.

    Its gitten worse.

    Tonight my husband says i hv no ide of his everydsy struggles and that maybe he shouldnt be here anymore.

    My daughter panicked as she wantd to see what he was saying but he ssid he wouldnt hirt himself.hes blamed me alot tonight and was very angry with me.maybe he was embarrased hes bn caught with the same behaviours and angry i checked his phone but it was the same reaction from a year ago wen we forst discovered hos cheating.je admitted to my daughter it was aistake bit he sdid to me that i or his family camkot control him anymore which i never ever hv done.

    I find hos behaviour very strange.i nd to back away and hv minimal contact i think.

    Lastly,he has dashed all my hopes of ever trusting again.wat if all men are like this.its scary🙂

  4. Also meant to say my ptsd does not allow me to let go of what he did.ive had physical abuse and verbal and found put about 10years of his cheating a year ago hence my checking his phone after so long.

    My ptsd everyday makes me obsess with where he is whats he doing and with eho.he says the women he was going to see was the only one of late.my daughter and i dont beleive him.she said shes glad she knows what hes foing as she didnt want hom to date or anythg so she could get over what he had already done.

    I cannot cope with his past violence and cheating and as a result i Am so ill but he was mot in anyway remoursfull that i found this message and was upset.altho he was remorseful to oir daughter kust not me.i dont understand this behaviour of his isit a relapse.

    I also hV no family or friends to help they keep getting annoyed at me and either ignore me or get impatient and lp going on about therapy or make horrible comments etc.this cause me to set back for a week each time and ive kow pulled away from them.im sick of panic attacks and anxiety from them caused by them.im trying to get well and they kp sucking me back down into ptsd down days.one minute they are super nice and cery understanding the next defensive and snappy and ignore me.

    Regards

    Adi

  5. Omg so sorry for my spelling mistakes i am a tad upset and not concentrating😀

    • Don’t sweat the typos. You are fraught with the reverberations of a difficult PTSD situation and spelling is one of the first things to go.
      When my own PTSD is chewing me up, I sometimes get the tremors and can’t types, write, or use a keyboard. Last week I had a bad encounter with a large dog and it cost me three days. I am not healthy enough to be very productive any ways, but having to deal with PTSD anxiety and tremors due to someone’s dog was a real bummer.
      So…don’t fret over the spelling, you needed to express it and you did. That’s part of our healing journey.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  6. Sorry meant kind regards 😀

  7. Hello

    Ive contacted you before about my husband who physical and verbally abused me.we have now been apart for over a year but i have never stopped loving hin although i do accept more ornless that its over

    Ive found it extremely hard to let go of the anger and hurt but justs recently turned a corner and felt i could finally move on a little.

    Then today he came to visit our daughter at home and it was going well when due to a strong gut feeling her was up to no good again i checked his phone which i havnt done for over a year. The one time i check it and there was a message to what looked like a random women possibly an escort asbhe used them before.

    I felt very panicky and hurt. I didnt say anythg straight away and my daughter sensed i was upset so i said i saw something on his phone ill tell you later. He was hovering around me as he could see i wasnt happy.i eventually told him what i saw and hen cam the blame towards me and the defensiveness. I had blame that i shouldnt be snooping on his phone etc. He wouldnt tell me who she was just kept saying i should have gone on his phone and ive ruined his visit with our daughter.

    Later i contacted him and he was angry as wasbi.he said me nor his family can control him anymore and if he wasnt here anymore etc(meaning dying).

    He says that alot but has never tried.he was very angry to me saying ive ruined his visit and what if he had met someone in the pub instead of online?would i botherbif we were divorced whigh of course i said yes.the fact he is still using women like thhis show me he has no respect for all the pain and damage he has caused and still priceeds to blame me for his actions etc.

    What should i do?ive resigned myself to not contacting him anymore or arguing as im dealing with someone who i cannot reach or get to.

    My daughter and i have ptsd from all his abuse and affairs etc and hes still doing it maybe thhe once but who knos.very strange i check one in a year and happen to see the message from the apprent only time he has done this in a year!strange.

    Im going to see the doctor to ask about edmr therapy as it looks succesful and im not letting him ruin my whole life.

    I hope you are well.

    Jind regards
    Adrienne

    • Hi Adrienne,
      It is a good idea for you to look into EMDR and trying to gain more control over your life and your thoughts.
      If you and he are on a divorce trajectory, then you may have to let go of checking his phone. If you two are on a stay-married trajectory, then an agreement to allow one another to check phones and computer histories may be a way of helping to stay on track…perhaps even a written agreement (if you are both committed to staying married to one another). If the marriage does not look endurable, then part of gaining your own life back may include ignoring parts of his present life which are not to your standards.
      I am glad to see that you recognize that your daughter and yourself can get your own sort of PTSD-shrapnel from all of this. It is important to take care of your self and your daughter. Protecting your self and your daughter is vitally important and will help you both heal in the long run.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

      • Hello

        Thankyou for your reply. I feel alot of guilt for checking his phone he was very angry and to be honest ts the first time ice checked it in a year.i had a feeling he was upto no good and it was comfirmed due to it being dome women he found online a random women he said.

        I feel so guilty but i ndd to know and at least i see hes sinking back to his behaviours.we r on the divorce route yes and i myself will stay faithful until the end as i take my vows seriously.bit nows the time to rebuild i will not waste any more time on him and his behaviours.

        Kind regards

  8. Thank you for your response. I also appreciate you recommending my self-help book to your school’s librarians. I certainly hope it proves helpful to at least some. I certainly realize one book can not meet the needs of all of those whose relationships have been harmed by PTSD. Thus, at my website, I share other books that I found helpful in writing my book. Some of them may appeal to your readers as well–including books such as “Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character” by Dr. Jonathan Shay; “War and the Soul: Healing Our Nation’s Veterans from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder” by Dr. Edward Tick; and “War is a Force that Gives Life Meaning” by war correspondent, Chris Hedges. I will send you my article separately.

    Sincerely,
    Diane England

    • The books you recommend are all very worthwhile. I use many of them in some of my teaching and I am happy to say that I have done some work with Ed as well. I guess great minds think alike!
      Thank You & Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  9. Having written a book that is primarily for the partners of PTSD sufferers, I touch upon this topic—one of the tougher things for the partners to deal with, not surprisingly. I probably should have delved into it in more depth yet (except the editors wouldn’t let me cover anything in depth, but only wanted more and more topics covered in a book limited to about 200 pages). I have heard from one military officer’s wife—someone with some graduate training in mental health, too. She had decided to terminate her marriage because her husband would not seek treatment for his PTSD and indeed, his infidelities were something she was unwilling to tolerate further. That said, she also stated that she believed the military command was not helping the wives of PTSD sufferers in their struggles to maintain their marriages because they were essentially turning a blind eye—if not tacitly supporting– sexual promiscuity amongst their warriors wounded by PTSD. Normally, of course, they would condemn infidelity.

    It would seem, then, that this topic is one that needs to be further discussed. I am in the process of writing an article that will be viewed by military healthcare providers from all military branches. I have not yet decided what is the best way to broach this subject—or, if I should do so at all. If you have any suggestions, I am all ears. After all, this problem will not be going away anytime soon. (By the way, “The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship: How to Support Your Partner and Keep your Relationship Healthy,” was designated as one of the “BEST BOOKSOF 2009” by the “Library Journal.” It is also on an Army War College reading list—books associated with building resilience).

    Thank you for what you do.

    • Hello Dr. England.
      Thank you for taking the time to visit the site and to comment. PTSD-Partner care is an area of devastation as big as the primary PTSD problem itself. I fully agree with you that the Army does very little to help spouses stay together and deal with PTSD. From a unit readiness and moral standpoint, one would expect them to encourage deep, binding relationships with spouses. Yet, the military leadership has consistently refused to lead on this issue.

      I will ask my University library to order your book. It is a text which needs to get disseminated. In my conversations about PTSD healing, I think I deal with as many (or more) family members as I do with the person who suffered the initial trauma. This work you are doing is sorely needed.

      In your article, I would suggest that you play out the readiness and morale issue. If PTSD is eating away at relationships, then unit cohesion is damaged and the unit will not be as effective. From an economic point of view, it costs more to replace and retrain soldiers than it does to heal the ones we have.

      When your article is ready, I would very much like to see it.

      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

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