Well, let me get the obligatory I am new here out the way.  I’ll start with…me, I guess.  I am 34 and have been in the fire service for 16 (13 good) years.  I have been exposed to, assisted in, and battled against a broad range of adverse conditions- both natural and human.  Most of which were taken in stride, just another day at work.  Even finding humor in the most dire situations.  Some would say it was a way of dealing with the stress, while I can agree with that.  There were times when the misfortunes’ of man are down right hilarious.       

Getting back to the point, my entire life I have been able to "shake it off", until I was injured rescuing one of my crew members.  I received a lumbar spine injury (L3 to S1)and damage to the pelvis, though I was not paralyzed, the damaged is permanent.  This injury has placed me on active disability- meaning I am still working but in an administrative capacity.  I fought the injury as hard as I could, even defying doctors “recommendations” and pushing myself to the limit.  In trying to push beyond the pain I more than exceeded healthy doses of pain meds.  I tried so hard to not be put on disability that I caused more problems….

  My way of dealing with the pain (and at the time, the possibility of being removed from active duty) was very self destructive.  I pushed the limit of mental and physical endurance to the point of no return….  When reality finally caught up to me, I had severely aggravated the spine injury, alienated family/friends/co-workers and almost lost touch of what a normal life should be.  See, part of the problem…most of the problem stemmed from my way of thinking – my career was who I am.  I placed it above everything, my health, wife, children, everything!  

   To make a long story short…. I had basically been on an 18 month adrenaline high, going as hard as could.  I had a complete mental and physical breakdown.  My body could no longer handle the pain, and my brain could no longer endure the punishing personal pride.  Now… I am trying to close Pandora’s Box.  Here in lies my dilemma, I thrive off of environmental stress.  The more chaos surrounding me the more focused and calm I become, I realize this is not necessarily healthy but I love it.  Some people get there adrenaline from perceived danger, I need unplanned life threatening events to feel as if I accomplished things at the end of the day.   But, what I have learned is most of the damage from everything that has happened was handled by my wife (of 15 yrs) and kids (3).  I withdrew so much (especially from the wife) that she is at the point of no return, and I am beginning to think that she would be better of if I let her go her way.. (instead of living with someone who does not return any of her affections).   I guess the biggest reason for writing this is not “firefighter gets hurt, life sucks for me”, it is more about the impact it has had on Her.  She has been there through it all, the doctors, the depression, reduction of income,  lack of “man around the house”, and most of all my inability to show love up to this point. 

            Yeah, I know, this is turning into a novel….hope I have not lost anyone yet.

            Some of the ladies reading this are saying “what else did you do to her?”…Let me reassure you that I have never been violent toward my wife, neglectful maybe, but never violent.  But yes, I am still a jackass…Not to long after the injury, another female (a colleague)  entered the picture.  She basically kept me from putting and end to it all.  That is when I learned that an affair of the emotions is far more punishing than a physical one.  I can never justify it but looking back, having someone to connect with that has had similar experiences is a good thing, as long as that connection dose not overwhelm all other relationships.  It was not my intent to hurt my wife, but this was my way to reconnect with my career “someone who knew”.  It was to try and restore what was left of me and I did not think my wife was the best person to help. (bad move I know, I was on Efexor xr at the time and life seemed as if there were no consequences)  My contact with this “colleague” came to a halt after 7months, she contacted my wife….told her everything, and vowed to stay away from me ( to the point of moving cross country) and we have not had contact since, honest!  I stopped the Efexor cold turkey at this time (really bad move), because nothing was making any sense.   Again, there was never anything physical, but my wife was rightfully hurt by that fact that- we have not nor ever had a mental connection like that.  That is not to say I do not love my wife,  I do very much.  Until recently, she has given everything to hold this family together.  But she is getting tired of…well…me!  I just can’t break self pity and physical pain.  I know that she has been (just) talking to someone else, and I would like for it to end.  I feel almost selfish, how can I been responsible for her unhappiness. We talk to each other about most everything, and we are honest to each other.  And divorce has come up, mostly in arguments.   So, I ask? Would it be best for her, if I was to step out of the picture (no not suicide) and let her find her own happiness?  Or try to convince her that I hope that one day I will again be the man she fell in love with?    

I am tired of writing… If anyone has any questions, I will answer in time.  But please tell what you think you would in this situation.    Thanks–pavlovsdog

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