Fabulous New Best Friend has PTSD.

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New Here
Hello, folks. I don't have PTSD myself and only have an amateur psychologist's knowledge of the disorder, but it's recently touched my life in a big way, and as most of the advice for family and friends seems aimed at people who were in existing, functioning relationships with PTSD folks BEFORE the trauma occurred, so I thought it would best to turn to y'all for advice. I am going to be coy about some of the details out of respect for others' privacy, so please bear with me.

Back in January, I attended a month-long diploma course way out of town and met W and we hit it off as friends nearly instantly -- we were inseparable by the end of the month, and kept in regular telephone and e-mail contact afterwards, and the friendship grew and intensified. In May, I went to visit her (we are Americans living abroad, both in long-term serious cross-cultural relationships -- she lives in a different country, about a four hours away by train) for a three-day weekend, where we had a terrific time -- Saturday night, after a day spent working together on a household project, we went out to dinner and a few drinks (well, I had a few drinks, she had a few more than a few) we talked all night about all sorts of stuff including bad times we'd recently been through, and she told me she had been diagnosed with PTSD (caused by two incidents of sexual abuse ten years apart) and wasn't in treatment at present except for taking lithium. The conversation didn't end there, and it continued very nicely and ended with her thanking me for being a good friend she could trust with so much.

And then, after she acted very distant the next day (which I took to be tiredness and a bad reaction to booze + meds), I went back home, sent her the name of a good PTSD therapist I know of through professional connections in her town, she thanked me kindly, and then a day or too later she pretty much started cutting me off completely. No more phone calls, e-mail responses turned supershort and cold (not nasty, just empty of feeling), then no responses at all. I finally asked "what's up, this is really upsetting you" and got as an answer "it's not you, but I'm working too much and have no time for you anymore." And that was that for about two months. I have since done some more research about PTSD, and know that avoiding people close to you and workaholism come with the territory, but at the time I was just hurt to have lost a great friend.

And then last week I sent her a note for her birthday & mentioned that even though the friendship hadn't worked out, I still thought of her fondly and she wrote back, saying she really missed me, that it was a lack of time for me plus feeling guilty for having no time for me that kept her away, but that she hoped we could work it out and be friends again. I said I'd be happy to talk again. Since then, more nothing.

So what should I do? Am I a trigger, and is there anything I can do to help her feel safe in this friendship? How do I let her know that I'll be there for her when she needs me, without either scaring her off or letting her think I'm a doormat?

Thankful for any help.
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