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Relationship How to help my CPTSD partner

terilotois

New Here
Hi everyone, I am new here. I want to reach out because both my partner and I are struggling at the moment.

We got married in recent months. Prior to that, we were kept apart in different countries for more than three years because of COVID. Because of the changes in life and uncertainty and separation and everything, my partner who has childhood trauma and CPTSD has been having an extremely difficult time and in a very low mental state.

I didn’t educate myself and dig deep into the illnesses during the time when we were apart and since we first started our relationship which was more than 5 years ago, hence I didn’t equip myself with useful tools to help after we reunited. My upbringing and personality and lack of life experiences makes me not good at interacting with people, including showing comfort and reassurance, being considerate about others, taking care of others ect.

The problems my partner and I are having for the past few weeks is that he feels unheard, unseen and invisible because I didn’t educate myself before we reunited and lack understanding of his illnesses and feelings. I wish I could turn back times and do things differently. I regret this everyday. Even though I have been looking things up on the internet, watching videos and reading books on CPTSD for the past few weeks, I still feel like I couldn’t do the right thing and say the right thing when he’s having an episode. Part of it is because of the reasons I mentioned above, I couldn’t think of any reassuring and comforting words to say at the moment and I act like shutting down. Another part is that I’m not good at recognising triggers. And my partner would become very angry and upset that I didn’t help him during an episode and prevent the escalation, and more he thinks these arguments are ruining our marriage, which adds on top of his fears and worries. Even he wrote down words and instructions on helping him to ground himself, and I failed to do it. I keep promising that I will do better but each time something like this happens, it reinforces his belief that our marriage is over and he rather deals with his illnesses on his own. It seems like most of the argument always leads back to the fact I didn’t educate myself during the time when we were apart. These arguments started off from the smallest things, for example, when he is agitated and projects his feelings onto things in our home, such as unsorted laundry, and he would escalate because I fail to intervene, and eventually it leads to him feeling invisible, especially when he asks for help and doesn’t get any.

I understand I haven’t been more helpful. Sometimes I am too self absorbed and I feel like every episode is unique in many ways. the core is similar but I just couldn’t pull myself together to deal with it and help him to get through it and save our marriage. I know all the excuses I mentioned are not validated. I know I need to snap out of myself to be more helpful. I know I need continue to educate myself. I keep telling myself and my partner all these but each time I fail him. He feels more disappointed and frustrated with me and believes those are empty promises.
 
And my partner would become very angry and upset that I didn’t help him during an episode and prevent the escalation,
I fail to intervene, and eventually it leads to him feeling invisible
I know I need to snap out of myself to be more helpful.
Ultimately, the single most important person to help your partner is himself.

It is helpful if you can recognise when he’s become dysregulated, so that you can give him the space he needs to get his head right.

It is not your job to stop your partner getting triggered, it’s not your job to get your partner grounded, it’s not your job to get your partner regulated again so he stops arguing with you.

More than that, you can’t. That’s a hopeless endeavour. No amount of him writing down what to look out for, or what to do when, will change that.

It’s fantastic that you want to educate yourself, but the goal would be to offer compassion and understanding so that he can learn to help himself.

If you take on the role of his therapist, or his rescuer, you are doomed to fail.

He can recover, he can learn to do these things for himself. Which would be incredibly empowering for him. But that’s his choice. The best you can do is encourage him to work towards recovery.
 
Ultimately, the single most important person to help your partner is himself.

It is helpful if you can recognise when he’s become dysregulated, so that you can give him the space he needs to get his head right.

It is not your job to stop your partner getting triggered, it’s not your job to get your partner grounded, it’s not your job to get your partner regulated again so he stops arguing with you.

More than that, you can’t. That’s a hopeless endeavour. No amount of him writing down what to look out for, or what to do when, will change that.

It’s fantastic that you want to educate yourself, but the goal would be to offer compassion and understanding so that he can learn to help himself.

If you take on the role of his therapist, or his rescuer, you are doomed to fail.

He can recover, he can learn to do these things for himself. Which would be incredibly empowering for him. But that’s his choice. The best you can do is encourage him to work towards recovery.

Hi thank you for your response.

My partner understands that I am not his cure nor his psychiatrist. He just wants some reassurance, comfort, care from me, such as making sure he has ample sleep, making him something to drink in the morning and make sure he drinks it instead of taking his mood for granted. He is not asking for a lot, but somehow I just keep failing him. And then he would feel triggered or get dysregulated by the fact that i am not helping him. I dont think he is asking for a lot. It is just my background, upbringing, and being an only child and all these make me who i am, which is not very helpful in this situation.
 
He just wants some reassurance, comfort, care from me, such as making sure he has ample sleep, making him something to drink in the morning and make sure he drinks it instead of taking his mood for granted.
This is such an odd sentence for me - reassurance, comfort, care are all good things to offer our partner.

But making sure that our partner has slept enough, drunk enough water - they’re not comfort and care (unless the person is physically incapacitated, such as paraplegia). They’re mothering/nursing.

You seem to be leaning into the role of nursing carer, which is very different from the role of a partner. He’s going to have a very difficult time healing if he’s giving away the degree of agency and responsibility that he is. It might be reassuring for him to have you taking on those responsibilities, but I have a hard time seeing it as constructive or helpful.
 
Yes I am not sure, JMHO, but much as you could pour a glass of water it takes the person to drink it? (If that makes sense.) Reminders can help each other; so is thoughtfulness to allow someone to sleep. Provided though they also respect you can't or shouldn't have to walk on eggshells.

Even if he wrote directions for a flashback to be helpful, you have not failed him if they don't work or you forget, as it his flashback which is not your fault and nothing to do with you. Similarly with triggers: if you're not intentionally triggering him to be cruel or hurt him, it's not your fault. And they always remain his to manage.

It doesn't help to solve rough edges and adapting to and in the marriage by blaming someone else, which sounds like he might be doing. I hope you will be kinder to yourself and recognize that even a relatively new marriage is a cause of a lot of stress.

I think in many cases the best a person with ptsd can hope for is patience and forgiveness, as their actions and reactions might necessitate a lot of both. But management is squarely on the person with ptsd. You are no more responsible for how they feel than if they felt lousy because of Diabetes. If things you do are helpful, that is a bonus, and he is very lucky, not a requirement nor your responsibility. The more he recognizes why he feels badly (which has nothing to do with you) the more able he will be to address the root reasons.

Welcome to you.

ETA, I would be remiss to leave out saying I have felt very betrayed and hurt when blindsided by triggers I could have avoided if informed. But it had to be something I considered very important to me, and the situation/ alternative being unmanageable or unbearable (not an option to effectively deal with the triggers). But not everyday triggers, and it is still my responsibility. Including what conclusions I draw. I think some of that is human and one's history, some is ptsd, to ask what does this mean; what does this infer; is this reasonable to expect consideration; is this making too much out of something because I am feeling too much (usually negative), etc.
 
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It seems like most of the argument always leads back to the fact I didn’t educate myself during the time when we were apart.
So he is a MASTER blame-shifter.

Which means?

2 things.

1. If you don’t have boundaries carved in diamond, he’s going to end up abusing the f*ck out of you… totally on accident.

2. His learning to accept responsibility for his own shit? Is both totally outside of your control, and something that may never happen.
 
Hi everyone, I am new here. I want to reach out because both my partner and I are struggling at the moment.

We got married in recent months. Prior to that, we were kept apart in different countries for more than three years because of COVID. Because of the changes in life and uncertainty and separation and everything, my partner who has childhood trauma and CPTSD has been having an extremely difficult time and in a very low mental state.

I didn’t educate myself and dig deep into the illnesses during the time when we were apart and since we first started our relationship which was more than 5 years ago, hence I didn’t equip myself with useful tools to help after we reunited. My upbringing and personality and lack of life experiences makes me not good at interacting with people, including showing comfort and reassurance, being considerate about others, taking care of others ect.

The problems my partner and I are having for the past few weeks is that he feels unheard, unseen and invisible because I didn’t educate myself before we reunited and lack understanding of his illnesses and feelings. I wish I could turn back times and do things differently. I regret this everyday. Even though I have been looking things up on the internet, watching videos and reading books on CPTSD for the past few weeks, I still feel like I couldn’t do the right thing and say the right thing when he’s having an episode. Part of it is because of the reasons I mentioned above, I couldn’t think of any reassuring and comforting words to say at the moment and I act like shutting down. Another part is that I’m not good at recognising triggers. And my partner would become very angry and upset that I didn’t help him during an episode and prevent the escalation, and more he thinks these arguments are ruining our marriage, which adds on top of his fears and worries. Even he wrote down words and instructions on helping him to ground himself, and I failed to do it. I keep promising that I will do better but each time something like this happens, it reinforces his belief that our marriage is over and he rather deals with his illnesses on his own. It seems like most of the argument always leads back to the fact I didn’t educate myself during the time when we were apart. These arguments started off from the smallest things, for example, when he is agitated and projects his feelings onto things in our home, such as unsorted laundry, and he would escalate because I fail to intervene, and eventually it leads to him feeling invisible, especially when he asks for help and doesn’t get any.

I understand I haven’t been more helpful. Sometimes I am too self absorbed and I feel like every episode is unique in many ways. the core is similar but I just couldn’t pull myself together to deal with it and help him to get through it and save our marriage. I know all the excuses I mentioned are not validated. I know I need to snap out of myself to be more helpful. I know I need continue to educate myself. I keep telling myself and my partner all these but each time I fail him. He feels more disappointed and frustrated with me and believes those are empty promises.
You need to look after yourself ,don’t take to much on you ,you are not his therapiest and he needs to know his triggers and work on them ,or avoid them if is better to do that for his and your health and marriage ,unfortunately to know your own triggers with cptsd you still have to go through pain to let them
Out and make a decision if you want to put yourself through that again which sometimes means to remove some
People or places from
Your life till you healed .You tried your best so far and you care I can see but you forget about self care by blaming yourself and being hard on yourself.Is draining to be with someone who has mental illness and can drag you down ,you can’t give what you don’t have and your responsibilities first is your own mental health .I have cptsd myself and I can’t expect my partner suffer with me and trying to look the triggers that he press as a lessons what I need to work on myself and I can see that he has some issues as well with mental health and likes to isolate himself then triggers my abonament issue but is less painful because I know he suffers from his own experiences and his actions has nothing to do with me .take care
 
The problems my partner and I are having for the past few weeks is that he feels unheard, unseen and invisible because I didn’t educate myself before we reunited and lack understanding of his illnesses and feelings. I wish I could turn back times and do things differently. I regret this everyday. Even though I have been looking things up on the internet, watching videos and reading books on CPTSD for the past few weeks, I still feel like I couldn’t do the right thing and say the right thing when he’s having an episode.
I feel it's admirable that you want to learn, but also, remember you are not responsible for him being triggered. I speak from personal experience, as someone who tried their best to support someone with CPTSD. I have been accused of not "saying the right things" when my ex was triggered at me. Mind you, I would say things like "I'm sorry", "Thank you for telling me" and I would never raise my voice. BUT! he will go on to tell me I did not say what EXACTLY he wanted me to say, e.g. "You could have said 'Everything you said is valid and I'm sorry I have treated you wrongly and I will make it up to you by doing X and Y...' but you didn't. You choose your own words and by your choice of words I know you aren't genuinely remorseful or want to help me."

As a supporter, it's really difficult and frustrating to hear this from your person when you are trying your best, but also, you can't read his mind for exactly what you need to say and do each time he has an episode. For me, calling him out on that didn't work because he would get angrier at me and bring something up for months ago as evidence that I didn't care for him or wanted him as a partner. Take it from me. He needs to take responsibility for his role as well and not put the blame completely on you. Remember to take care of yourself.
 
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