Watching Demons

A sign of the unknown.  A sign of one day at a time.  A sign of the past.  A sign of  …

E, from A Sign of Life, provided the following powerful bit of writing to share with all of you.  Please take a minute to read and comment here, before popping over to her site to continue building this great new community. 


I knew part of him was suicidal, but I had never seen it in action.

It was a warm night and we had too much energy to remain in the dingy motel room I had been staying in. Out of boredom, we decided to see a movie – some dumb action flick with a lot of popular names. The theater wasn’t terribly crowded, but his preferred spot was taken, forcing us to sit towards the front. I idly wondered if he would be okay without having his back to a wall; it was one of his many idiosyncrasies born of paranoia.

The movie was terrible, more so than we expected. I remember the sounds of explosions and gunshots being fired, but I didn’t think much of them – he was fond of violent movies and watched them frequently.

Suddenly he shifted in his seat. He withdrew his arm from around my shoulders. His normally imposing presence became small and meek as his shoulders hunched over and he put his head in his hands. He brought his spidery legs up, folding his entire body into the uncomfortably-cushioned red cinema chair; it would have been amusing seeing my six-foot-four beanpole of a fiance so squished, if it weren’t for the fact that he was rocking quietly back and forth, sobbing ever so quietly.

I put my hand on his back and he flinched away.

“What’s wrong?” I whispered as a demon appeared on screen, wading through a river of lava.

He shook his head and continued rocking.

Rocking and sobbing, sobbing and rocking.

I tried asking again what was wrong. He shook his head again, vehemently, then hissed back, “I don’t want to be here.”
Confused, I asked if he wanted to leave the theater, conceding that the movie was, indeed, terrible. He shook his head and looked at me. Tears rolled silently down his sharp cheeks, and his eyes screamed for help, for peace, for the pain to stop.

I’ll never forget that look.

It was only a moment, then he went back to rocking and sobbing, sobbing and rocking.
I was confused, and scared: for me, for him.

“I don’t want to be here,” he insisted again.
I encouraged him to leave, to let us go outside and clear our heads. In return, I got another head shake. Increasingly bewildered and bordering on frustrated, I asked what he meant.

“I don’t want to be here, Erica, aliveI don’t want to be here,” he yelled as loud as his whisper would allow him.

Then he was quiet again, rocking and sobbing, sobbing and rocking.

Minutes passed; I’m not sure how many. Gradually, he unfolded himself from his chair. His shoulders stretched out again and his eyes dried, but he seemed shaken and somehow fragile. Apparently he was feeling well enough to whisper sarcastic comments about what was happening on screen – something about how fitting it was to see Channing Tatum play such a role. I chuckled nervously and nodded, giving him a concerned look.

When I asked what happened, he whispered, “PTSD attack,” and shrugged it off like it was nothing. I felt more than watched as he compressed that part of him – the part that craved the gentle kiss of death – and shoved it far amongst the other skeletons in his proverbial closet.

It will resurface again; it’s as much a part of him as it is his thick black hair, or his almond-shaped brown eyes that are brimming with mischief and life. I don’t know if it will rise in the form of senseless rage, or intense paranoia, or a depression so low he doesn’t return from it. Years of therapy and medications have managed to get it under control, but it will never go away entirely.

There isn’t much else to be done except wait.




EI married a soldier, I think too much and write too little, and I prefer having too much time than not enough. Come on by for fiction, foxes, and ramblings.


32 thoughts on “Watching Demons

  1. My heart stopped with those words he said to you. My perspective is different,but I can only imagine seeing the moment happen and hearing those words.

    ((Hugs)) and strength to both of you.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you for sharing your story here.

    Waiting … for something you hope to never come. Waiting… for the medical world to come up with something to help the men and women dealing with PTSD. Waiting … for people dealing with things like this to get the recognition, understanding, and support they need and deserve.


    You have a strength I can’t even fathom.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for letting me place my story here… It was something I had been wanting to write about for a while but it felt too scary for my own page.

      The waiting is the worst.


    • He’s gone through a lot of treatment over the years, and it’s available if he’s willing, but he doesn’t trust counselors or therapists (based on previous experiences), which makes it more difficult. I think it’d be really beneficial if I could get him to see a counselor he actually liked in the past, but she’s on the other side of the country.


  3. This was so hard to read. Scary, painful, tragic. I hope things are okay.

    My brother spent time in Somalia. He suffers from PTSD from his experiences there. He’s locked up tight about it. But it’s terrible.

    I’m hoping for the best with you and your husband. And for my brother, as well. Always.

    Liked by 2 people

    • For the most part, things are going well. The biggest part of it is trying to keep my own stress levels low (I’m prone to anxiety) so he doesn’t get stressed out. It doesn’t always work, but it helps.

      I hope your brother is able to find the peace he deserves.


  4. Thank you for sharing this. My brother (and a few friends) has done one tour in Iraq and recently gotten back from a tour in Afghanistan. I’m not as close to it as you are, but I’ve seen the nights with only three hours of sleep. I’ve seen the anger for no reason. I’ve seen the alcohol abuse. My brother finally decided this time to see a therapist. He asked some friends after they got back “are you guys sleeping?” They all replied “yep, just drink till I pass out.” He went to the VA instead. I’m proud of him for that, but I know it’s still a long, tough road for him…and your husband. Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I see lots of soldiers turn to alcohol and it makes me sad… There are stories of those who spend every free minute at the bottom of a bottle, trying to forget… I’m glad your brother started looking out for himself — that’s a huge, scary step to take.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, E – this is heartbreaking. I know it all too well. I have it too. There is treatment for it. I’m living proof that you can come out on the brighter side of things. Still, I also know that it never fully goes away.

    I can’t imagine what he’s been through & my heart goes out to you both.

    On a different note, you write so beautifully. I felt like I was there with you for a second.
    Thank you tremendously for sharing this here.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Powerful post, E. I’ve experienced that strange anticipation of waiting for the worst in someone you love. It’s a tough position to be in. I also know what it’s like to be in his shoes with the sudden panic of PTSD. I’m glad he’s getting help. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I hope you and your fiance come through this. Your description was agonising to read and must be a living nightmare to be part of. Thank you for sharing something we would all do better to understand.x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your kind sentiments — this event took place about eight months ago, and we got married about three days after it happened. It’s been a bumpy ride, but we’re working through it and he’s agreed to look into finding a therapist recently, which makes me very, *very* hopeful.


  8. That must be heavy to see… You’re pretty brave for staying with him – I don’t know if many people would have the strength to do so. Hopefully he will find a way to leave it all behind and you will get a fun future!


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