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Finding The Balance - How Much To Tell Your Partner About Your Trauma?

Discussion in 'Relationships' started by Midnite, Jun 7, 2007.

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  1. Midnite

    Midnite Well-Known Member

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    I am pretty confused on where to draw the line, how much should I keep the trauma details to myself and how much can I share with my partner without them affecting him. Of course, whenever I had a flashback, my partner is pretty worried seeing the disturb me, and sometimes he wanted to know details what is bothering me. His thinking, he wanted to know more so that he can be more helpful with better understanding of the situation but on my side, I usually told him that it’s merely some bad memories. Of course, it's pretty hard for me to tell him details of what my assailant had done or how he ravished my body and things like that. And I believe,neither will it be easy for him to know the details of the assault.

    I had told him that I never like him to be rough and that I dislike him whispering into my ears in bed. He has stop doing that since but what I did notice is, each time after I had told him the truth, he becomes extra cautious during our intimate moment, and for months I can sense that he is very afraid that he may trigger or hurt me. I feel sorry seeing him that way as though my past is spreading us thin. Though he does not mind nor has he complain about it but somehow I do feel bad about myself and the trauma has on us now. This has even made me more cautious on what to share with him in the future.

    He may want to know every details now but I just doubt he can accept details without them affecting him in the future. Though he will never force me but sometimes I am finding him a little pushy, wanted to share my pain yet I have doubts on how much details a guy can truly accept, what matters or how bad will it bother him after knowing the truth. Precisely, the more details he knows, the more my trauma is affecting him, as he is becoming over protective or over worry about me especially whenever he is not with me and failed to reach me. He fear something bad may happen to me again. Also I can see he is hurt and angry at my assailant although he tried not to show them to me, but I can read others very well, especially him.

    Sometimes, I truly wonder what the opposite sex has on their mind and how much details they would want to know. I find that it’s not necessary for him to know details of the assault, as I do not want them sitting inside his head forever but sometimes he doesn’t agree so. I think he was much stronger 10 years ago than now where I did randomly pour the details of the assault to him when I couldn't hold them inside me then. He was more concern about my safety and finding ways to comfort and help me pick myself up than wanting to know details of the assault. So I guessed he didn't pay much attention to the details then because he was very busy attending to the hysterical me, but surprisingly now, he wanted to know details again. I am just confused.

    In my opinion, sometimes knowing the truth may not be the best idea. Gosh, I am struggling to find the balance.
     
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  3. Monarch

    Monarch I'm a VIP Premium Member

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    I told my husband a little about my trauma's but I couldn't look at him when I did, it was really hard. He understands a little more why I am the way I am at this point. He doesn't know everything and probably never will, I didn't go into detail I just told him very high level stuff like: ok honey, I was raped when I was 16, it was very violent, I don't like doing certain things because of that. Nothing detailed, he wouldn't want to know that anyway but at least he knows something and that helps.
     
  4. dljwhitewolf

    dljwhitewolf Active Member

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    I think you are worried about your ptsd rubbing off and giving it to him. It can't. Plain and simple. No one, unless they've been there, will feel the intensity we feel.
    I'm kind of curious why he wants to know every little morbid detail. That I would not give.
    But what bothers you now, after the fact, should be avoided sexually.
    I hate to have the back of my head pushed, I have an automatic reaction in my arms and hands on that one. So I tell people. Even childern, I tell them first off, do not touch the back of my head.
    Have you tried emdr, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.
    It is a good treatment for reoccurring flashbacks. I don't have reoccurring, and have gone through it, but for me, because of the years of trauma I experienced on a daily basis, is more harmful then good.
    I have never been asked the full on details. Well, I am very intimidating, so I guess that squashed those questions.
    He does not need to know the full details, just the overall picture of what you went through, and what it has changed in you.
    I can only give suggestions, but have you ever thought of couples counselling?
    The only problem with that is the finding of a good counselor. He/she would have to understand fully about the trauma you endured, or its all for naught, nothing.
    With me, I can turn myself off, well I am off, it's hard to turn on, but can you do that? Turn off. If so, maybe going to a safe place outside of the house like a park where you can be alone, you can "turn off", ask him not to speak, and explain to him as if you were a third person of what happened and how it has changed your behaviors. Still being turned off, go do something that is more like a reward for the two of you, something safe and stimulating, like going for an ice cream cone, and go to a totally different subject.
    Maybe trying this type of speak, reward, and move on may help.
    The reason I say not to have him speak, is that you may not continue to be able to keep "off", and it's your feelings that need to be given freedom and detachment from the event.
    Sometimes when others want to help, they bring us to the places we always try to avoid. Anyway just a suggestion and hope you understand what I mean.
    On other occasions, give him the time and place to speak, and listen to him in a turned off, (that's if you can) mode. Hear him in the third person, not letting your feelings get involved. Then again go do something positive in a positive scenery.
    Maybe this can get you over the hump of the trauma, instead of staying on the top of it, reliving way too many times then necessary.
    Still, I am curious as to why he wants to know the details...
    I once had a boyfriend, (mine was sexual abuse starting at three and lasting way too long,,,), he asked me, as we were getting into an intimate situation,
    didn't I ever enjoy any of it?
    Well needless to say, mouth open in a huge gap, I slowly, cause that was a shocking question, got my stuff together, and mouth still open, looked at him as if I never met him before, and left, never to return or even think of him again.
    So you are right, some information is top secret, and should remain just that.
     
  5. Monarch

    Monarch I'm a VIP Premium Member

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    whitewolf _ I am with you on the back of the head thing, probably for the same reason, noone touches the back of my head unless they want to get the shit beat out of them.
     
  6. Midnite

    Midnite Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Monarch and dljwhitewolf.

    Good to know that others have the same opinion too, that he doesn't need to know the full details, but definitely he needs to know and understand that the trauma that I went through and how it is still affecting me.


    Maybe it wasn't his intention at all. Maybe I misunderstoond as he never talk about this other than when I am struggling with myself after a trigger. A number of times during my bad moments, he did air his frustration on having to have to guess his head out, what was freaking me out during a trigger. He felt so lost and worried seeing me struggling alone with my deep emotions and revolving in a very distressing self, and he felt helpless when he is not sure, how he should be of any help to me other than to just hold me without saying a word for hours. But in my honest opinion, he being there just to hold me and let me have the emotions all to myself is the best comfort for me during a bad trigger.

    Certainly, I'll have to be frank with him that I will never be comfortable enough to tell him details of the assault and by sharing every details will not do me any good except making me worst (hopefully not). Anyway he has been doing me great help already all this while by just holding me, because it does make me more secure and comfortable in his supportive presence. Hopefully by telling him this, he will not press me to speak out anymore.
     
  7. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    It is understanding how he could feel helpless and not know what to do or that he should be able to do more. I feel sorry for my husband when he comes home after I have had a rough day, as it is obvious on me, he just sits and looks at me so sad looking. I ask what is wrong and he says he wish he could do more to make me better. I have to tell him it will happen in time and remind him it is not as often I am ill now and not as severe.

    My husband pretty much has all the gory details. I do need certain people at this point to understand what and why I go through what I do. But you can only tell when you are ready. We don't revisit details, he got it once. And if someone thinks it won't mess with their spouse is mistaken. My husband went through a lengthy bout of depression. It does effect them. And there is a residual effect of PTSD. They may not get PTSD but still get a form of it where they can have symptoms. May have to poke Anthony for more info on that. I cannot remember what it is called and it all involves, so my info on it is sketchy and I cannot remember where I read about it on here.

    Just let him know if you are not comfortable if that is the case and maybe explain why you are uncomfortable (example - shame, that BTW you should not carry). It may be more helpful to explain, for both of you, how you feel about it more than the acts that caused it. Let him know even if he does know there is probably little he can do to change a thing unless his aim is he wants to be on guard himself for your triggers. Which will drive you both nuts as triggers are normally surprises. And two hyper vigilant people would be a bad combo IMO.

    To me it is normal to want to know to try to protect you and normally with most things the more information you have the better you can do that. But with PTSD that is not really the case, explain that. More info is not always better. Most husbands feel that is their job. Protect you from the big uglies in the world.

    It took a long time for me to tell my husband everything. And I did on my time table and in little pieces, no sense in over whelming the other half.
     
    OneToughCookie likes this.
  8. dljwhitewolf

    dljwhitewolf Active Member

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    I feel the same way veiled, but was told in many a psych hospital, not to worry so much about the other person, as far as them feeling what we are experiencing. I am quite protective of others feelings so I do not always give too much of the details, as the visuals will be stained in their memories.
    When I am in a relationship and going through a flashback, I cannot always speak, all I am trying to do is to get the residual effects further away from me, so I can get to a calmer state. After, when I am away from it, I can say "well, this is what it pertained to, " and at the point I will or won't go into more specifics of it.
    But I think midnite he needs to know what not to do, and in that frustration probably runs high. Tell him the best medicine is being held.
    Mostly, I get stuck in the, "I just can't believe people could be that cruel and evil, to get off on the fears they created in others." thing. It just floors me.
    I speak during mine, so I do it alone, there is always a pre-flashback warning I go through, so I get to a safe place alone, before it.
    I did have a bad doctor, on a psych unit in florida, (he was a vet, mostly to help himself, cause he was horrible for others.) I just entered the hospital because I hadn't needed xanax and knew I was going to have a wicked flashback, well he wouldn't give me xanax, I told him well here it comes, don't let anyone in my room.
    I was under a table and remember all the details, but I also knew I was talking, when my vision came back, there was a nurse, sitting hysterically crying on the end of my bed.
    I said I am so sorry you had to go through that. I went and berated the doctor, and got an ama, against medical advice and left. Hell the flashback was over, all I needed was xanax to help not take the full dose of it, but I had too, it was over. So I just feel bad because that nurse now has those images in her brain. So, yes, they do effect others.
     
  9. madjon

    madjon Active Member

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    depends on the person, what you tell em, what i know of what happened is what i have been told, i know most of what went on, dont worry too much about effecting him, dealing with the fall out sometimes knowing the cause helps, anyways, it depends on them and if they want to know and you think you can do it, then maybe.
     
  10. Midnite

    Midnite Well-Known Member

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    Thanks veiled, dljwhitewolf and madjon.

    I have been thinking and trying to process information posted here. I still have not make any decision yet but I shall be soon. Thanks again.
     
  11. cactus_jack

    cactus_jack Well-Known Member

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    When I'm dating a girl they usually see me at some point going through flashbacks. They'll ask about it and I'll tell them a little bit about it and next thing I know they're gone.

    Now, I don't date. Might as well advertise my whole life story on public radio.
     
  12. Chantico

    Chantico Member

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    I just want to say (and I really hope that I don't come across as intruding!) that I do not suffer PTSD. However, most of the people that I care deeply about have it, or some other similar story.
    I've just finished my first year at university, and from about the second week in I ended up spending most of my time with this guy, funny, intelligent, gentle. Anyway, within a couple of months I saw one of the scariest things happen to him - one night he started passing out, and woke up not knowing who I was, terrified of me. He was crying out whilst being unconscious, thrashing around. The next day when I tried to tell him what had happened, he ended up passing out again, so in desperation I asked him what he wanted me to do - whether he wanted me to tell him or if he wanted me to stop. He asked me to stop, and so I did.
    Anyway, it happened again a couple of weeks later, then the term ended and we had no contact over Christmas because I was in Australia.
    Second term, things intensified. We got together in a relationship which lasted 6 days, but although we ended within days we still ended up spending nearly every waking moment together. And the blackouts continued. I now know them to be flashbacks, regression, reliving what his parents put him through.
    Now it's almost script. I know when he's likely to black out. I know most of his triggers - alcohol being one of them (seems to bring to the forefront memories he's not yet ready to deal with?) I know whether I'll be able to distract him and avert an 'episode', I know when it's too late for distraction and the only thing to do is try and get him to his room before it hits (I've tried to keep them as private as possible for him so he can keep up a 'normal' act around everyone else, especially as being a young male, he felt embaressed that he would become so vulnerable around me) I know now how to keep him calmer and make the 'episodes' pass quicker.
    All I'm saying, is that I am deeply involved with this guy (we ended up dating again, breaking up for the summer, but the way talk has been going there's still the desire to be together) and every time he feels bad, and most of the times he's passed out or in in between blackouts, he calls me.
    Even if we don't work out as a couple, we're still going to be best friends. But I need to make sure he's as comfortable and safe as possible. The problem is, when all this started I had no idea what to do.
    I completely appreciate the need to keep it private, and the trust issues such a person must have. If there was any way I could stop him from suffering, any way i could do as he's begged me on several occasions and 'make them go away', I would.
    But I can't, and I know I can't, all I can do is stand there by him and make sure he knows he always has someone he can lean on when he needs to.
    I'm just worried that I might make a mistake. When it first started happening I didn't understand what was going on, so when he somehow ended up telling me during a blackout that I was a 'grown-up' and I told him he was my age and I was XXX he told me not to be silly, that would make it 2006. When I told him it was 2007 he freaked out. Another time he caught site of himself in his mirror thinking he was 11. He passed out on the spot and I managed to catch him before he hit the floor and carry him back to his bed, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that if he had told me what was going on beforehand, I wouldn't have been so terrified for him, I would have been able to prepare a little, I would have known how to help him better.
    Now I know (mostly) what to do - play along and talk about old tv shows and comic books when he thinks he's a lot younger than he really is...I know he wont remember most of it the next day but my reasoning is to keep him as calm and fear-free as possible which will (hopefully) make the blackouts pass quicker and enable him to go to sleep quicker.
    He lost the ability to speak a few times as well, and again, I didn't know whether or not I should be calling the ambulance. He couldn't tell me what to do at the time - he was scared and angry and at once trying to make me understand and trying to pass it off as just a fluke.
    I do understand the need for privacy.
    I'm just saying that there are mistakes I made in trying to help him, and if he had told me some things beforehand, I could have averted those mistakes.

    He's still in the stage where he has considered that he has PTSD but hasn't fully accepted it yet. Which means there are questions which I have, but don't want to ask him because he's not ready yet.
    This may be in the wrong place on these forums, but I just...I feel very strongly about this, and I want to be able to help him as best as I can (him, and it seems about 4 of my other closest friends with similar stories) so, as the question was about how much to tell partners, I would ask that you tell as much as you feel comfortable with.
    Trust me, they'll be scared and not know how to help you and protect you, and the more they know, the better they can help. The less triggers they end up standing on because they know where they are. I know to keep my hands in sight, I know that bright lights hurt his eyes after an episode, loads of other things I just know now, that I had to work out by trial and error.
    So from someone who is experianceing this from the other side, as it were, I am so sorry. I will never fully understand what he has been through, but I'm trying my best to understand, to help him through this.
    He recently told me that he trusts me more than anyone he has ever known before, which means so much to me as I know how low his trust capacity is.
    It's been terrible, it's been so hard thus far, but whatever else happens, I'm staying by his side and if it's the last thing I witness, he will be okay.
    I just need to know if there's anything I'm doing wrong, if there's any more I can do, and I felt this thread was relevant for me. I understand that there are things he will never tell me, and every question I do ask I preface it with the words 'tell me to back off if you don't want to answer'.
    I just hope that he will tell me if there's anything more I can do to help, and I wanted to say it's difficult to know what to do, difficult for the people who have to watch the people they love go through this internal battle and they don't know if a move from them will make it better or worse. Sometimes the same damn move which works and makes things better for some stages makes other stages worse.

    I hope I made sense there.
    XOX
     
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