CPTSD and loving partners of people wit CPTSD

Emeralds

New Here
hi all - I would like to hear from anyone who had CPTSD and is in a successful relationship :) Any tips on how your partners treat you and supports you? How do you return their support? :)

(I just got massively dumped by a guy I was friends with for two years and who I thought I could trust and who said he was fully on board with my healing journey with EMDR/therapy - then after one difficult incident after EMDR, PMS, ill from vaccine and work stresses I self harmed- he literally goes into shutdown and breaks off with me - super uncool)

- so would just love to hear some positivity :) have a great day you amazing strong people!! <3
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
I've been six years with a guy and it went well. We faced issues and the relationship drown but it was due for other reasons. To this day this person is the one I still do trust. There wasn't anything that could not be said and while we often had arguments and an amount of drama, there were always ways out. No matter what I said or did, his attitude was to find reasons behind together, at least just to the extent of what he needed to know, and basically developing a know how of what to do when a spin happens. He also was much older and had quite a lot of shit in his life, actually he used to be an heroin user who did quit so freaking out behaviour, life threatening situations and messy people weren't something alien for him. When I started banging my head against the walls he would just hold me until it stops and then make something to eat or watch something with me. When I'd say don't f*cking touch me he was like okay but only if you stop banging your head against the walls. Etc etc. Negotiating and not shaming the behaviour. He never called me crazy or anything but said that perhaps I should consider to see someone because there is no point to suffer in the wind. Not in a "you have to fix this" vibe.

But I guess that the 3 main things for it to go okay are

1) gentleness, benevolence, patience and goodwill
2) strong boundaries and very good assertiveness
3) some experience or a rather placid basis of character so they don't start to stir the stress up with you
4) the absolute certitude this person is not going to judge you, let you down or try to hurt you
5) being explicit and not implicit

And on my side, well, what I ended up designing now is my user manual. I didn't have it at that time, I just thought either that I was crazy either that everyone was like me but were hiding it (I know it doesn't make much sense).

Basically his lifestyle was also super predictable and whenever my radar started to ring (which happens when I see people pensive or unresponsive in any way), he'd be explicit about how he is at the moment.

For me it was extremely important to have this what-you-see-is-what-you-get thing. If you're pissed, go and tell me no problem. But what drives me mad is to have the impression something is stirring and I don't know what the f*ck it is.

Doesn't mean the relationship was all rainbows and unicorns. But we did things together and I could do things myself too. I think that I'm lucky to have met someone like this quite soon in my life because I clearly had a potential to get out of control freakin fast.

Now I wouldn't like to repeat that relationship because I did change too, but on the moment it was positive. So for me it was successful. But when the relationship started it really went with this idea okay this is weird (big age gap) let's just see how it goes. So nothing was ever at stake and it was easy to walk off at any moment because both of us had that autonomy, and honestly that was a lot of pressure off.

I don't think relationships have to be calculated to be eternal. Finding "the one" is a major stake, and I just can't take it, I just don't think it's true. Even if it doesn't mean I won't do any enmeshment but symbolically I mean I don't think it's healthy to do things like this. I'm not saying you're doing it but many people do and if you tell yourself I'm gonna spend the rest of my life with someone who has PTSD it looks like a mountain while if you tell yourself well we'll see how it goes it becomes manageable. So I think someone who has at least some of that vision is important. And who will not let you entirely lean on them to the point you feel trapped.

But basically relationships that work a long time are relationships where disagreements are well managed. Hopefully with healthy patterns. You can love someone madly and find them amazing and that to be reciprocal, if you can't compromise with anything it's meant to fail. At least in that criteria.
 

Emeralds

New Here
incredible to hear your experience
I've been six years with a guy and it went well. We faced issues and the relationship drown but it was due for other reasons. To this day this person is the one I still do trust. There wasn't anything that could not be said and while we often had arguments and an amount of drama, there were always ways out. No matter what I said or did, his attitude was to find reasons behind together, at least just to the extent of what he needed to know, and basically developing a know how of what to do when a spin happens. He also was much older and had quite a lot of shit in his life, actually he used to be an heroin user who did quit so freaking out behaviour, life threatening situations and messy people weren't something alien for him. When I started banging my head against the walls he would just hold me until it stops and then make something to eat or watch something with me. When I'd say don't f*cking touch me he was like okay but only if you stop banging your head against the walls. Etc etc. Negotiating and not shaming the behaviour. He never called me crazy or anything but said that perhaps I should consider to see someone because there is no point to suffer in the wind. Not in a "you have to fix this" vibe.

But I guess that the 3 main things for it to go okay are

1) gentleness, benevolence, patience and goodwill
2) strong boundaries and very good assertiveness
3) some experience or a rather placid basis of character so they don't start to stir the stress up with you
4) the absolute certitude this person is not going to judge you, let you down or try to hurt you
5) being explicit and not implicit

And on my side, well, what I ended up designing now is my user manual. I didn't have it at that time, I just thought either that I was crazy either that everyone was like me but were hiding it (I know it doesn't make much sense).

Basically his lifestyle was also super predictable and whenever my radar started to ring (which happens when I see people pensive or unresponsive in any way), he'd be explicit about how he is at the moment.

For me it was extremely important to have this what-you-see-is-what-you-get thing. If you're pissed, go and tell me no problem. But what drives me mad is to have the impression something is stirring and I don't know what the f*ck it is.

Doesn't mean the relationship was all rainbows and unicorns. But we did things together and I could do things myself too. I think that I'm lucky to have met someone like this quite soon in my life because I clearly had a potential to get out of control freakin fast.

Now I wouldn't like to repeat that relationship because I did change too, but on the moment it was positive. So for me it was successful. But when the relationship started it really went with this idea okay this is weird (big age gap) let's just see how it goes. So nothing was ever at stake and it was easy to walk off at any moment because both of us had that autonomy, and honestly that was a lot of pressure off.

I don't think relationships have to be calculated to be eternal. Finding "the one" is a major stake, and I just can't take it, I just don't think it's true. Even if it doesn't mean I won't do any enmeshment but symbolically I mean I don't think it's healthy to do things like this. I'm not saying you're doing it but many people do and if you tell yourself I'm gonna spend the rest of my life with someone who has PTSD it looks like a mountain while if you tell yourself well we'll see how it goes it becomes manageable. So I think someone who has at least some of that vision is important. And who will not let you entirely lean on them to the point you feel trapped.

But basically relationships that work a long time are relationships where disagreements are well managed. Hopefully with healthy patterns. You can love someone madly and find them amazing and that to be reciprocal, if you can't compromise with anything it's meant to fail. At least in that criteria.
really beautiful to hear your story and and journey through it together - both learning! I love your list and really agree. Not being shamed and being able to communicate effectively through thick and thin is really good to hear about :)
I wonder if also it helps to partner with someone who has had experience of mental illness, who can 'get it' to some degree, people with no life experience like the friend I got together with, seemed he had a silver spoon in his mouth and didn't want for anything. also YES being able to be explicit, direct, honest with self and other, open, dedicated to each others' wellbeing.
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
I wonder if also it helps to partner with someone who has had experience of mental illness, who can 'get it' to some degree, people with no life experience
I don't know I think it depends. I personally prefer people who know that trauma does really exist and it's not something you only see in films. But for them to have a mental illness themselves... I don't know, it depends on the person's character, the type of mental illness, the severity of the said illness and if it's well managed or not. In my case my ex was a heroin addict for 20 years, that's quite an experience in life and it exposed it to loads of people with all sorts of problems, plus having stopped under psychiatric supervision, so yes I'm quite certain that it played a major role in 1) not finding things shameful or blaming people for their mental problems 2) knowing that recovery is possible. So I knew it was possible for him, and that made me confident in knowing that people can change, so I too can change.

Now if I were to go out with someone I'd like to be with someone who has life experience but preferably without mental illness issues because I know I won't handle it well. I can barely take care of myself and if I become a factor into worsening their illness, it's set to be really freakin difficult. Not impossible but really difficult. It is true also that outside of the world that has been affected by mental pathology or trauma, I don't really understand how "normal" works and it often looks void and stupid or frustrating for me, like seeing a bunch of lemmings with silly aims, I don't know. I don't want to come up with some experience and the person to respond like I don't know that even exists and I don't want it to exist. Sometimes I had that sad frustration with my ex because he hadn't the stolen childhood syndrome and all the frustration and I felt very lonely about it. But there always will be things that others won't get about us. That's why they're others.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I don't have a diagnosis , but had trauma in childhood.
Been in a relationship for 17 years.
Most of that : I was in denial of what happened and whilst I believe I told her (once, vaguely) about a part of what happened to me as a child at the beginning of the relationship: I never spoke about it at all until 18 months ago.
Things began crumbling down around me and it came out and I started therapy.
So she has seen me change.
We're on a journey together to understand how everything impacted me. I was 'functioning' most of my life (by numbing, disassociation and denial), so hid all this from myself, her and everyone else. Until it came tumbling out.

What helped I think is that we have a deep connection and know each other. The foundations of a relationship where we accept each other for who we are is there and helps.
The rest: is talking. Me learning about what emotions are and learning to express myself. Her learning that I need different things now. We try and listen to each other.
Doesn't always work .....
But we try and find a way through.
I see her as a safe, supportive person who I admire, and she feels the same about me.
 

Emeralds

New Here
I don't know I think it depends. I personally prefer people who know that trauma does really exist and it's not something you only see in films. But for them to have a mental illness themselves... I don't know, it depends on the person's character, the type of mental illness, the severity of the said illness and if it's well managed or not. In my case my ex was a heroin addict for 20 years, that's quite an experience in life and it exposed it to loads of people with all sorts of problems, plus having stopped under psychiatric supervision, so yes I'm quite certain that it played a major role in 1) not finding things shameful or blaming people for their mental problems 2) knowing that recovery is possible. So I knew it was possible for him, and that made me confident in knowing that people can change, so I too can change.

Now if I were to go out with someone I'd like to be with someone who has life experience but preferably without mental illness issues because I know I won't handle it well. I can barely take care of myself and if I become a factor into worsening their illness, it's set to be really freakin difficult. Not impossible but really difficult. It is true also that outside of the world that has been affected by mental pathology or trauma, I don't really understand how "normal" works and it often looks void and stupid or frustrating for me, like seeing a bunch of lemmings with silly aims, I don't know. I don't want to come up with some experience and the person to respond like I don't know that even exists and I don't want it to exist. Sometimes I had that sad frustration with my ex because he hadn't the stolen childhood syndrome and all the frustration and I felt very lonely about it. But there always will be things that others won't get about us. That's why they're others.
sure I get that, it could get tricky with someone with similar issues and messy. I think I was more thinking as you said 'life experience' of the complexity of emotions and mental states, being able to not panic when seeing someone in distress and being able to co-regulate, which I think only comes from a deep self awareness or willingness at least to look at your own emotional complexities, illness or not.
I can completely feel the sense of lost childhood, that is something very specific to CPTSD, so much to grieve, I used to be quite numb to that, but since starting EMDR I really feel the loss whenever I see other families (although they are rarely perfect, but even some glimpse of structure, food on the table, no abuse being hurled at you...)

I don't have a diagnosis , but had trauma in childhood.
Been in a relationship for 17 years.
Most of that : I was in denial of what happened and whilst I believe I told her (once, vaguely) about a part of what happened to me as a child at the beginning of the relationship: I never spoke about it at all until 18 months ago.
Things began crumbling down around me and it came out and I started therapy.
So she has seen me change.
We're on a journey together to understand how everything impacted me. I was 'functioning' most of my life (by numbing, disassociation and denial), so hid all this from myself, her and everyone else. Until it came tumbling out.

What helped I think is that we have a deep connection and know each other. The foundations of a relationship where we accept each other for who we are is there and helps.
The rest: is talking. Me learning about what emotions are and learning to express myself. Her learning that I need different things now. We try and listen to each other.
Doesn't always work .....
But we try and find a way through.
I see her as a safe, supportive person who I admire, and she feels the same about me.
really great to hear that you have support on your journey! She will also be learning lots about herself too :) so good to hear about 'finding a way through' - i imagine patience, trust are key.
 

grief

Sponsor
so the thing about it is that ptsd as a whole puts an incredible amount of stress on someone who is supporting that. my husband is someone who is almost superhuman. he handles all of my shit with extraordinary equinimity. and i mean that. i have put him through a lot. and it really isn't rational to have expected him to be able to handle it as well as he does.

but he has said similar things to me as well. that he doesn't know how capable he'd be of staying. if i were continuously destructive in that way. and that is completely valid. because it is a form of trauma to witness your spouse injure themselves repeatedly. so that is a hard line that i draw. no suicide attempts. no hard drug usage. no self harm. no threatening to kill myself. no threatening to hurt myself. none of my borderline bullshit.

because i do not want to cause him pain. and because our child considers him one of her parents. and let me tell you it's f*cking hard. it forces you to learn distress tolerance at a rapid pace. because that boundary is one that cannot be un-crossed. and i have self harmed in the relationship before. he did stay. but i would have understood if he realized he couldn't cope with that and left.

and the fact of the matter is that he is mentally ill himself. with a personal understanding of trauma. and that is often more difficult than it is beneficial. i would prefer that he did not intimately understand suffering. because i love him and i want him to experience good things instead of bad things. and because when i think of the shit that he's experienced it makes me want to f*cking kill someone.

but that he does is likely what causes him to have the personality that he does. he is, inherently, trauma-informed. and it helps that his job is literally to talk to crazy people all day long. (go figure.) so it's a bit of a two edged sword.

the biggest thing that helps our relationship with my ptsd, is my self awareness. i am able to logically understand and take responsibility for my behavior when i do things that are out of pocket. and because i am willing to be vulnerable in that way it makes it easier for him to accept me. even though i am frankly, crazy.

and while he does not have as good self awareness or admissibility traits the fact that he is so supportive of me, makes it ten times easier to support him regardless.
 

Mee

MyPTSD Pro
I’m almost twenty years married to a husband I would describe as probably the best person on earth- not faultless - not perfect - but certainly incredibly wonderful.

min retrospect it’s clear trauma has defined my relationships even before my breakdown and subsequent diagnosis with ptsd - I knew this but would not have called it ‘trauma’ just ‘experience’ and ‘family’ . I think this is universal of course - and my husband’s experience also primed him to be somewhat a carer.

we talk A LOT about boundaries and expectations and what is ‘my stuff’ not his and attachment styles. Before we had ‘ptsd’ appropriate words we did this with different language. Now we do it with more informed lexicon and a bit more reading behind us - but not a huge amount.

ultimately- I maintain that if for whatever reason I were to become single I would not enter another relationship. I love my husband and we are lucky to have a marriage that bar sexual function works pretty well- but I am no longer able to give what I want to with my emotion and physical health and the guilt often sits with me. That we have a long history- from early adulthood really, provides glue that simply would not exist in a new relationship. And that’s often not fair to my DH who is also my carer , the only source of income , really the lynch pin of our household . It feels not quite one sided - but - not fairly balanced nonetheless- too often and I am not comfortable with that.

However - despite this I do think it’s possible to have a good relationship with ptsd . I think it involves frank appraisal and self awareness, Strong and loving boundaries, self love and self responsibility. The ability to forgive - others and outlet selves ( that one is tough) . The understanding that love is a verb and so is apology- something we show, choose, do, live- not words we say.

I believe strongly in interdependence over independence as a healing and successful living modality. the best partner for someone who is struggling and has trauma related issues and attachment disorders will always be someone more likely to make secure attachments, and be healthily boundaried and communicative. Someone we cannot treat poorly repeatedly and ‘get away with it but can be forgiven by for occasional slips. People who love themselves at least as much as they are prepared to love us.

I opened a book recently on a page that had a great truism ‘ nobody is 100percent trustworthy 100 percent of the time’. It’s a great thing to remember.
 
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