Relationship Accidentally Triggered My Girlfriend's Ptsd. How Do I Help Her?

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I was not angry; annoyed a little, but not angry. I still meant to do it playfully and not injure her. I'm not trying to convince myself that it wasn't out of anger; I know it wasn't.

Annoyance still falls on the negative side of the emotional scale. As I said earlier, emotions are more of a continuum. I know it sounds weird to hear, but it might be a good idea to practice identifying your emotions as well as hers.

Here's one emotional scale, but there are oodles out there.
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Repeat after me : It was a pillow.

Now... I've split my head open in a tickle fight (stupid bedside table), to the point of needing 8 stitches. Was that abuse? Because I got hurt? Nope. I've caught a zipper on the corner of my eye in a pillow fight. No stitches! Yay! But FFS did that hurt. Was it abuse? Again, no.

Normal life? People get hurt being silly. And people get angry, and storm about, and nobody gets hurt. And sex has an awkward, or a yowch! moment, without being rape. And a door gets shut in your face, because no one knew you were there, not because they're excluding you. And someone doesn't answer your text/call/question, without it being an abandonment. And someone wants to spend time with someone else, because that's normal and healthy, not because they're cheating on you, or their friends and family all hate you. And something you asked for gets forgotten, because it was forgotten, not because you're unimportant.

And, and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and, and..............

10,000 very normal, completely unavoidable, healthy life things will trigger OMFG bad! pain! No! Warning! Achtung! Beware! ... :eek:

They're just triggers (or stressors). Triggers happen. And they're not your fault.

It's normal life.

It's normal to be silly. Or to be frustrated. Or to get angry. Or to -insert 10,000 things- which are not abuse. But they're going to get reactions as if they are. Because it takes some serious time for zeh brain to unlink normal & life threatening.

One of the biggest helps I know of? Both as a sufferer and a supporter, is not to jump on the overreaction bandwagon, but to stay very firmly/casually "right sized". This was a pillow fight.


I totally agree with @FridayJones. If I could like her post more than once, I totally would.

Think about it. If you're abusive for hitting her with a pillow, she's also abusive for tickling and messing with you when you're sick and not wanting her to do so.... Either that, or you guys were just doing what playful couples do, and her glasses got hit wrong.

Yes, she's triggered.

That's not your fault. You can't predict or control her triggers. She has to own them, not you.

You've apologized, you're remorseful. You're being sensitive to her needs and feeling guilty. What else can you do for something that was an accident?

I'd just see it as a trigger and be patient while she works through it. Actions speak louder than words. You're concerned, apologetic, trying to learn what to do, and patient. She'll see that once it passes.


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OP your annoyance may indeed have been a negative emotion/reaction------but it's perfectly understandable given that you were sick. (Everyone gets annoyed easier when not feeling well.) Try not to beat yourself up for very human and very understandable emotions. :hug:


Try not to beat yourself up for very human and very understandable emotions.

Yes, yes, yes. I was triggered this morning because my BF was angry with the IT guy (over the phone) and made that move like he was going to throw a spatula--but I was right in the line of fire when he turned around. No spatula thrown, sincere remorse on his face, but I'm extremely triggered anyway. And the point of this story is???? It was perfectly reasonable for him to be that upset; the IT guy was being a real dick. It's not your fault for feeling annoyed because someone was being annoying. And it's not her fault she's triggered, but she does need to work through it without blaming you for it. Her triggers are the fault of her abusers. Her ability to deal with them is her responsibility. (Talking to myself as much as to @CPTX1981 now, LOL) It's not fair to partners when we make comparisons to past abusers.
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