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How do I be myself instead of my trauma?

Thread starter #1
This is going to be ... disjointed. I don't know how to write this and make any sense, but I'll try anyway.

My wife and I are currently seeing a couples therapist and our last session I expressed a lot of fear that I had and said that I just didn't feel safe in our marriage and couldn't really be vulnerable with my wife. I mentioned that I was seeing my own therapist twice a week and doing a lot of EMDR lately. My wife feels the EMDR isn't good for me as it emotionally destabilizes me. I agree that the EMDR dysregulates me, but I disagree that it's not good for me - in fact, between the dysregulation it's been really, really helpful.

The couples therapist thinks my therapy time compared to time with my wife is excessive, and that I need to stop being my trauma and start being myself. I guess that struck a nerve. I do think every day about my trauma. I come here more than any other place on the internet. I'm heavily involved in trauma and treatment groups and I start grad school in a couple of weeks to hopefully become a licensed counselor. So is that who I am?

I know I should be trying harder with my wife, who has stuck by me even as I've been pretty mean to her while dysregulated. To be perfectly honest, I'm scared of enmeshment, like I had with my abusive ex-wife, so I'm probably holding back a lot. Isn't there a middle ground between enmeshment and being my trauma? How do I find out where that is, and how do I found out who I am as a person trauma happened to without becoming my trauma?
 
#2
Maybe you just need to let go of certain stuff. Dump it. Some things linger for years and you can talk about all you want in therapy which may or may not help but ultimately you have to make a brutal decision. Am I going to let this keep on hounding me or am i going to just f*ck it off, be a man dump it and move on with a new solid direction....?! I know that sounds black and white but sometimes you just have to be brutal.
 

Ronin

MyPTSD Pro
#3
I think it's simplistic and not accurate assessment at all on the couple's therapist part.

As in people can't really "stop" being themselves, affected *by* trauma.

Correction. Can. *raises hand* f*cks a man up worse than keeping aware and working on it.

I'd look for a new couples T, if the current one is up for keeping pronouncements like that on issues they have no business having opinions like that on.

You are working on your health, and history affecting that health, SRG.

As well as working toward a degree to help others affected by trauma.

That's So. Fricking. Admirable, yo!
Not something that should be dropped like a hot potato and off to rabbit hole of deep shame and guilt we go.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
#4
We are not our trauma, but we are changed because of it. And that is what we spend so much time trying to do, to find an authentic self again. With the trauma.

If you were to try and say, who am I, what would your answer be? I doubt many of us here can answer that question. My latest trauma has once again, changed 'me'.

Stay true to yourself whatever that is day to day. Many people take their trauma into the world to bring about change and to help others. That's what you are doing now!! This T does not seem to have a clue about trauma.

I don't see any problems with the way you are walking this journey. You are SRG. That's a good thing as is.
 
#5
I think I chose my job because of my trauma. Difference between you and me is that you are highly aware and I did it totally unaware (the flashbacks hadn't begun and I was in total denial about what I had experienced). So, in my humble little opinion: your awareness already makes you not your trauma.

The fact you're asking these questions and figuring things out, shows you're not your trauma. You are processing your trauma.
Doesn't therapy require us to think about the trauma? We're told most of the work happens outside the therapy session, which therefore requires us to think about it between sessions.

But perhaps it's about building time for you and SRW? Time where you put your processing trauma thoughts aside and spend it focused on and with her? Getting that balance you're seeking?
 
#6
The couples therapist thinks my therapy time compared to time with my wife is excessive, and that I need to stop being my trauma and start being myself.
Without therapy you would be a lot worse off. I agree with @Ronin. The truth is you need to heal and part of that is learning how to feel safe in your relationship with you me wife. Enter a good couples therapist.

Would your current therapist be able to help communicate with your couples therapist about what’s going on with you?

To be perfectly honest, I'm scared of enmeshment, like I had with my abusive ex-wife, so I'm probably holding back a lot.
My therapist says that we get past that fear by doing it. So, maybe baby steps - think of one small way you can mesh with your wife. Do that for a while. When that feels safer, add on to it. I believe the idea is that when things go well, your brain can start to learn not to be scared of that with her.
 
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#7
I’d ask the couples therapist if you had been in a car accident and were looking at a couple years of surgery, rehab, more surgery... if they would instruct their clients to be themselves, instead of their injuries... what that would look like? Are they supposed to cease treatment & care of their injuries, to be more “themselves”? If they come home exhausted, and in pain, from physical therapy if they should stop physical therapy?

Because it seems like this was an offhand comment that wasn’t well thought out, or instruction that wasn’t well relayed.

As with both physical injuries and trauma therapy people can DEFINITELY go overboard, and pour all of their everything into their treatments and neglect the rest of their lives... but they also can’t just black&white on&off it. The times where one can set everything aside tends to be in brief glimpses. Which are important. But also not sustainable. They’re far more, in my experience, celebratory. In massive physical injuries? Great hospitals go to huge lengths just to add 5 or 20 minutes of normal into a person’s life a week. But it’s hit or miss. There’s simply a lot of the time it’s not possible. But whilst couples do fight about that? And it’s huge stress on the marriage? That’s also a baseline that’s fairly well understood by most GOOD couples therapists. Worked with, instead of worked against. Which makes me very curious about your couples therapist.
 
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#8
Maybe this isn't a black and white thing. I could be way off (often am), but maybe what your partner is trying to communicate is that the balance is currently out, and it feels like there isn't room left for her in your life...?

So, not a case of stopping therapy, or your course...but taking some of it slower, so that there's more room for other stuff.

I was in therapy 5 days a week for a long time. And it felt like maybe that would speed the process up.

It didn't. All it did was make my entire life about my recovery, and getting there as quick as I could. When actually, the other stuff in your life, the good stuff (like having a partner who loves you) is just as important. That stuff, investing time in the other stuff that matters, is just as much a part of recovery as the trauma work and emdr.
 
Thread starter #9
Thanks all.

I know a lot of people here are saying I should ignore the couples therapist. I'm not sure. I have felt there's a lack of balance in my life, but I'm not sure it's even possible to balance everything I have to do.

I'm strongly thinking about maybe cutting my therapy back to once a week. I'm going to talk to my T tonight about it and yes I am aware of the irony. But I don't see any point in doing that if I'm just going to waste that time. I'd like to spend it with my wife, but we haven't been very good at maximizing the short amount of time we have when it's only us.

I am totally confused.
 

osiris

MyPTSD Pro
#10
Hey SRG
Trying to process my therapy session this week and this really strikes a chord.
T and I were talking and I said how it feels like I’m nothing but trauma, because my earliest memories are trauma related. I don’t even know what me exists without it!

No wisdom for you, but fwiw I think you are doing a great job at trying to sort out stuff with loved ones in your life, be compassionate and help others in the same PSTD mud, and find healing in your own journey.
 

siniang

Not Active
Sponsor
#11
I know a lot of people here are saying I should ignore the couples therapist.
Ok, I'm gonna stand on the other side then and will say that yes, while his wording might have been off and there's a lot of value in what @Friday has said, I do think he does have a point worth thinking about (which you do and and hence why you opened this thread).

I don't think you should ignore that therapist or immediately start looking for a new one.

You know I've been voicing concerns along the same lines in your diary before (particularly regarding your EMDR sessions). No words of wisdom or help (because that's what therapists are for, they have the expertise and experience). But always keep in mind, learned helplessness is also a thing. Not saying it applies to you. But it's always helpful to not forget and reflect onself from time to time.

Now obviously you have a trauma history around relationships... but maybe ask your T how you can include SRW directly into your healing process. Make her part of it.
 
#12
f*cks a man up worse than keeping aware and working on it.
I've learned this lesson slowly and painfully. I messed up, badly, when I decided I didn't need anyone but myself, and I put up a wall I'm struggling to get rid of. Like right this minute. So yeah don't just tamp it down and ignore because it WILL come back (for me, anyway). (Sorry if this has been too big a theme in my posts.)
T and I were talking and I said how it feels like I’m nothing but trauma, because my earliest memories are trauma related. I don’t even know what me exists without it!
Pre-verbal trauma? My therapist has been big on that recently. I don't like it! People say "Oh, you never had a chance!" and I hate that. I had lots of chances! I took some of them! I just had to quit my work a little earlier due to this illness.

The rest, SRG, I don't know, really. I wonder this all the time and I wish I had a real answer to this one. I hate being my trauma but I can't separate either. And to me those words sound like someone is telling me: "Don't even bother trying."

But I'm scrolling through these messages and, when you said "lack of balance" well, that caught my eye. Maybe it's not too much therapy but it's not enough time for yourself to be alone? Or maybe alone with your wife, if she would be willing to spend that time with you just chilling together doing nothing much? It might be more relaxing and put less pressure on... It depends what you're working on of course.
 
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