Sometimes I swear I just don't know what to do when he has his outbursts. In the beginning, before I had any idea of what exactly PTSD was, we would argue and I would wined up crying and then he would leave and nothing would get solved or discussed (well at least not right away). He would eventually come back and apologize but I never really had any grasp on what had just occurred. So then I would spend time looking at myself and wondering what I was doing wrong? That maybe it was my fault? Then I did some research and learned that I had been handling his outbursts all wrong. So now, sometimes I just breath and let things run their course. Other times, if I can get through to him, we will attempt to have a conversation, but even then I am walking on egg shells to make sure I don't say the wrong thing. And even with those discussions, I usually wined up crying too.
Recently I have talked with someone else who's husband also has PTSD. She said that they use a key pharse of "I'm off to OZ" when things start to get out of hand. I thought that was funny. She would say that, and then put space between her and her husband until everyone was calm. So I have found myself using that saying on the past two occasions. The first one it worked like a charm. It made me able to laugh at myself and to calm down, while he was also trying to calm down. Later on we talked about it and that was the end of story.
Today I found myself going "off to OZ" way to early for my liking. He can just be so mean with some of the stuff he says. Because I was "off in OZ" I stayed calm and just let him talk, and at times ignore me all together. I was proud of myself for one, staying calm and two, not crying. But for the life of me, I have to wonder if he realizes some of the things he is saying to me?? He has away of turning everything around and making it my fault (hence going back to finding myself internalizing everything). We attempted to go shopping at an outlet mall this morning. We go into the first store. He is asking me my opinion on some colognes. I tell him that they smell nice but that I liked what he currently wore the best. So right in front of the sales clerk he starts to say things like, "why are you always trying to control me" and "next time I'm going by myself because you are always trying to tell me what to buy". I tried to point out to him (first big mistake) that I was not trying to control him. That he asked me my opinion on the scent, and I told him I didn't like it as much as what he currently wore. I even told him that if he wanted it, that we should go back into the store and he should get it. No no no no. He said to just forget it and we moved on. So we go to the next store. He is looking at a pair of jeans. He asks me what I think about them and I tell him they're ok but that I think he had enough jeans. (Now I admit that was probably not the best thing to say, but I was not trying to be controlling. I was mearly giving my opinion because he has a TON of jeans!) But again, I find myself being belittled in front of the sales clerk. She asked him if he was finding everything ok and in front of everyone he says "I don't have permission to buy any jeans today". I try to laugh it off so that she will think he is joking, but I know he is not. He continues to banter on about me controlling him, as well as cussing at me in front of other passer-bys. I try to tell him to stop because he is embarrassing me (another big mistake). So then I just tell myself "lets go to OZ" and I disengage from what he is saying. Finally he asks me if I am mad (which I am because he has again brought attention to us in public and has embarrassed me) and I say yes. So he blows up as says "well fine if you're mad then we are leaving" and then he storms off way in front of me all the way to the car. When I get into the car he is ready to go and has his head phones in (another way that he chooses to block me out). So I pull out my phone and start to read an eBook that I have on it. I think that we might actually make it all the way home in silence but that doesn't happen. Instead he starts in on me, telling me that I am always trying to control him, that he was having a good day and that now I gave him a headache. That I "act too perfect" and never admit to MY short comings. He says he has shortcomings and can admit to them but that I can never see that it is my problem that causes us to fight. During all of this I have not responded. He then asks me if I am even listening to him and I tell him yes in a very calm voice. Then he tells me that he can't stand it when I talk to him in a calm voice. I tell him that I think it is better this way then to be yelling at each other (not sure if that was a good move or not, but I'm guessing it wasn't the best time to say it). Then he puts his head phones back in and continues to ignore me. We get home and he just shuts down and starts to watch TV before going into the bedroom to lay down.
I think the thing that continues to bother me the most out of all of this, is being publicly humiliated. He talks down to me a lot in public. And he does not do it in a quiet manner. Instead he some what raises his voice so that others for sure can hear what he is saying. Thus embarrassing me as well as making me feel very defenseless. I know if I try to say anything he will just continue on and bring more attention to us. But at the same time, I feel like a dog that has been beaten down and made to submit. Later on, whenever we do talk, I always tell him how I feel when he does that. He tells me he is sorry and that he will stop, but it continues to happen.
I'm wondering what else I can do to stop this behavior? I have thought about recording what he says on my phone discreetly, but I feel like if he were to realize what I was doing while he was still mad, that it would only make things worse. But at the same time I really want him to hear how he speaks to me. Because the other thing that happens when we do try to talk about it, is that it turns into a "he said, she said" moment. Where sometimes he will remember things he said and other times he will get defensive and try to tell me that he never said anything like what I am telling him.
I need someone to help me understand.