Relationship I think I triggered my wife’s PTSD

throwaway13

Learning
I’m pretty sure I triggered my wife’s ptsd a month ago. When we first starting getting serious 7 years ago she told me she suffered a trauma when she was a young adult and was diagnosed with ptsd. She said she was better but went to years of therapy.

Fast forward to June of this year. We are having a rough patch in our marriage. I’m pretty sure it’s due to several layers of stress in our lives that’s not being handled properly. We go to marriage counseling and I’m being portrayed as a monster. Even the therapist said something to my wife about that. I figure that the time to bring up her ptsd would be in front of a trained professional like a therapist. Big mistake, wife shuts down and now there’s a wall around her.

What’s my next steps to help us heal? Give her space? She is refusing to go back to marriage counseling.
 

anthony

Founder
I want to say for the last 8 months she’s not been herself.
That is her issue, not yours. Own your shit, don't own hers. This is coming from someone who did very similar things to what your wife is doing now. It was me who was broken, not my ex-wives.
And what I don’t understand is that she’s a school social worker so she knows therapy is going to take time.
Probably makes it worse for her, to be honest. She is taking in others problems when she really doesn't have the capacity to deal with her own fully. If you go back 8 months ago, did a student seek her help for something that may be close to her own trauma? That would be a question for her. You seen the change, she probably tried hard to push all her shit back down and screw the lid back on, but the lid came off for her and she's probably been trying to screw it back on ever since.
Next day she leaves me a letter saying she wants a divorce because her trust is broken.
The irrational side of PTSD. I've said this many times here to supporters, the problem with PTSD is that we become so overwhelmed, our only solution is often to run, to get away from everyone and everything we can / think we need to, in order to reduce our daily stressor input. Its not a you thing, its a her thing. The one with PTSD is the issue more often than not, not the partner taking all the shit and trying to meet their every need.

Seeking a divorce lawyer is probably about the only thing you can do to protect yourself now. It would not surprise me if she just says "take it all" or something like that, just to reduce her stress from anything drawn out. If she does, you know she is trying to reduce her stress. If not, then something else is going on, because she has the capacity to take on divorce which is a massive stress on the healthiest of brains.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
She wants to divorce and be friends since she can’t trust me anymore.

Yeah… that makes total sense 🙄

Next day she leaves me a letter saying she wants a divorce because her trust is broken.

Honestly, this sounds like PTSD shit-talk.

It sounds horrid, but when my partner talks nonsensical like this I take it with a grain of salt. When he stops talking and starts acting, then I’ll worry.

Is this to say I invalidate things he says or do not believe what he tells me? No. It means I take a step back when he starts talking major life overhauls when he’s symptomatic or triggered.

Dude, if I had a dollar for every time my guy (who’s disabled from combat, mind you) said he was going to go buy a homestead off grid and go live by himself, I could actually go buy a homestead myself. Go milk those cows, buddy.

Now if he found a place and put a deposit down I’d worry.
 

throwaway13

Learning
Yeah… that makes total sense 🙄



Honestly, this sounds like PTSD shit-talk.

It sounds horrid, but when my partner talks nonsensical like this I take it with a grain of salt. When he stops talking and starts acting, then I’ll worry.

Is this to say I invalidate things he says or do not believe what he tells me? No. It means I take a step back when he starts talking major life overhauls when he’s symptomatic or triggered.

Dude, if I had a dollar for every time my guy (who’s disabled from combat, mind you) said he was going to go buy a homestead off grid and go live by himself, I could actually go buy a homestead myself. Go milk those cows, buddy.

Now if he found a place and put a deposit down I’d worry.
Well I’m starting to worry because her attorney finally contacted mine and I have to meet mine next week
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
If she’s contacting attorneys, then I’d stop worrying about her and start protecting yourself.

Legal/Financial actions trump worrying about her mental health issues. She’s an adult, and if she’s being self-destructive or impulsive than she will eventually face the consequences of her actions.

Protect your kids first (if you have any), protect your home, protect your money. Don’t take a hit because of her mental illness. Worry about her last.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
Her logic makes no sense this past month.
yep. That's what ptsd does. It takes away everything except for how I'll survive the next moment. All other thinking goes out the window.
They’re wrapped up in their own survival and don’t see the bigger picture that we’ve built a life with them. Of course what happens with them concerns us too. That’s what a relationship is. It’s not two people doing their own damn thing in the same space. It’s a partnership.
Yep.
I've told my supporters that it's like I don't "see" them for who they are. They become just another in a never ending list of people I've had to fight to survive.

It took coming here to learn that my dramas affect my supporters. Truly - I had NO idea that they were impacted when I was in that place.
I’m just wondering about her isolating now, it seems like there’s a very thick wall around her and I don’t know how long it will be up or what to do to get it down. She keeps on bringing up “trust” like she can’t trust me anymore.
Yep. I used to actually take off. As in get in the car and bail. Now I can isolate at home, but I still can't predict how long it will be, or how bad it will get. I think of it as being in a big bubble, and anyone who comes near is a threat to breaking it - and that will break me.

The trust thing is hard to explain -- but it's not what you are thinking of as trust. I trust hubby with my life. But when I'm in that place I don't "see' him as anything but another threat. I can't trust that he won't try to kill me because I can't remember exactly who he is. I'm sucked back into the nightmare where death was around every corner. The whole world is filled with demons, and I have to make sure I keep away from anyone who might be yet another one. All I can do is try to ride it out, for as long as it takes, then work on repairing the damage I've done once I'm back.

Again, I'm not trying to excuse her behavior. We can be impossible at times and I truly have no idea how supporters do it. Especially once they realize this is going to be a lifetime thing. I have more good days than bad days now, but I can still be a huge pain in the ass to those who love me - and that's after YEARS of therapy.
 

throwaway13

Learning
yep. That's what ptsd does. It takes away everything except for how I'll survive the next moment. All other thinking goes out the window.

Yep.
I've told my supporters that it's like I don't "see" them for who they are. They become just another in a never ending list of people I've had to fight to survive.

It took coming here to learn that my dramas affect my supporters. Truly - I had NO idea that they were impacted when I was in that place.

Yep. I used to actually take off. As in get in the car and bail. Now I can isolate at home, but I still can't predict how long it will be, or how bad it will get. I think of it as being in a big bubble, and anyone who comes near is a threat to breaking it - and that will break me.

The trust thing is hard to explain -- but it's not what you are thinking of as trust. I trust hubby with my life. But when I'm in that place I don't "see' him as anything but another threat. I can't trust that he won't try to kill me because I can't remember exactly who he is. I'm sucked back into the nightmare where death was around every corner. The whole world is filled with demons, and I have to make sure I keep away from anyone who might be yet another one. All I can do is try to ride it out, for as long as it takes, then work on repairing the damage I've done once I'm back.

Again, I'm not trying to excuse her behavior. We can be impossible at times and I truly have no idea how supporters do it. Especially once they realize this is going to be a lifetime thing. I have more good days than bad days now, but I can still be a huge pain in the ass to those who love me - and that's after YEARS of therapy.
I believe this is her first triggered event in our relationship. It’s extremely difficult for someone who doesn’t suffer from ptsd to comprehend. With some of the posts from members on this forum a lot of her actions are starting to make sense.

For instance, she sees me as a threat and just automatically goes for a divorce attorney to get away. We’re separated right now while she’s at her mother’s house. When she disclosed her ptsd to me all those years ago she said the only other person she talked to it about was her mom. Maybe that’s why she feels her mother’s house is a safe place. What she doesn’t understand is that in a divorce with joint physical custody she’s going to have to be without the kids for 50% of the time. I think she’s starting to realize that know because I’ve talked to her about how she can’t restrict me from being with the kids, which she is doing. I’m not pushing the issue know because I do not want to make things worse, but I told her this morning when there’s a court order saying who has the children on what day she’s going to have to follow it. Even the marriage counselor we saw for two sessions told her that she may be fearful of me, but she can’t be fearful of the children with me.

I just hope she wakes up before it’s too late.

That is her issue, not yours. Own your shit, don't own hers. This is coming from someone who did very similar things to what your wife is doing now. It was me who was broken, not my ex-wives.

Probably makes it worse for her, to be honest. She is taking in others problems when she really doesn't have the capacity to deal with her own fully. If you go back 8 months ago, did a student seek her help for something that may be close to her own trauma? That would be a question for her. You seen the change, she probably tried hard to push all her shit back down and screw the lid back on, but the lid came off for her and she's probably been trying to screw it back on ever since.

The irrational side of PTSD. I've said this many times here to supporters, the problem with PTSD is that we become so overwhelmed, our only solution is often to run, to get away from everyone and everything we can / think we need to, in order to reduce our daily stressor input. Its not a you thing, its a her thing. The one with PTSD is the issue more often than not, not the partner taking all the shit and trying to meet their every need.

Seeking a divorce lawyer is probably about the only thing you can do to protect yourself now. It would not surprise me if she just says "take it all" or something like that, just to reduce her stress from anything drawn out. If she does, you know she is trying to reduce her stress. If not, then something else is going on, because she has the capacity to take on divorce which is a massive stress on the healthiest of brains.
Thank you for your input. This forum has been a huge help in understanding ptsd. I wish I learned more about it when she disclosed it 7 years ago.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
It’s a learning curve. Like you said, to people without PTSD it makes zero sense. There is no way that we will ever know what’s going on.

The first time you see your partner triggered or very symptomatic is a shock. You think you know what PTSD, but you find out quickly that you had no idea WTF it really is.

Make sure you’re taking care of the kids and yourself. It’s an oxygen mask situation… put yours on first. You can’t help anybody if you aren’t breathing first.

This is probably why a lot of the supporters here seem kind of hard or cold. We love our partners, and we are very empathetic to their PTSD. We would take away all their pain and suffering if we could fix things. However, we have to set hard boundaries and be realistic with the way we manage our relationships with them. It’s not love to be codependent and miserable. The only people who talk about “Ride or Die” are people who have never had to deal with an actual ride.
 

throwaway13

Learning
It’s a learning curve. Like you said, to people without PTSD it makes zero sense. There is no way that we will ever know what’s going on.

The first time you see your partner triggered or very symptomatic is a shock. You think you know what PTSD, but you find out quickly that you had no idea WTF it really is.

Make sure you’re taking care of the kids and yourself. It’s an oxygen mask situation… put yours on first. You can’t help anybody if you aren’t breathing first.

This is probably why a lot of the supporters here seem kind of hard or cold. We love our partners, and we are very empathetic to their PTSD. We would take away all their pain and suffering if we could fix things. However, we have to set hard boundaries and be realistic with the way we manage our relationships with them. It’s not love to be codependent and miserable. The only people who talk about “Ride or Die” are people who have never had to deal with an actual ride.
I’m starting to become indifferent to her symptoms now. It’s been a little over a month and I’m emotionally drained. Since last night the only thing she said when I’ve tried talking to her is that the only thing I want to do is control her. She was supposed to start working again in a few weeks (she had a job with a school district) and she just up and quit. We had childcare all lined up because we knew she would start up soon. I think she’s on a self destructive path and I need to jump off before I lose my own sanity. It’s sucks, I just need to take care of myself and make sure the kids are ok. Now since she has been limiting access to my children my only option is to tell the lawyer I want a legal separation in writing with parenting schedules since a divorce can possibly take over a year.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
I just need to take care of myself and make sure the kids are ok

If she thinks you’re trying to control her then let her do her own thing and handle the repercussions that come with that. That does NOT apply to your kids though. Good idea getting that all managed now. The kids are the most important thing now.

Is she still stable enough to care for the kids?
 

throwaway13

Learning
If she thinks you’re trying to control her then let her do her own thing and handle the repercussions that come with that. That does NOT apply to your kids though. Good idea getting that all managed now. The kids are the most important thing now.

Is she still stable enough to care for the kids?
I’m not sure how stable she is right now. She somehow made the leap to me wanting to be in control of everything, and that makes absolutely zero sense to me. We always have shared everything. Even finances I made that a priority in our marriage.

She’s been limiting access to my children and that’s something I will not tolerate. Today she told me because I’m trying to control everything she needs a gap between me and her with the kids. First thing tomorrow morning I’ll be on the phone with the attorney asking for a legal separation with my parenting rights spelled out in writing.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
First thing tomorrow morning I’ll be on the phone with the attorney asking for a legal separation with my parenting rights spelled out in writing.

Good for you. Stay strong and protect the kids.

If she is triggered and feeling unsafe she is probably projecting “controlling/abusive” qualities onto you. She may see you as a threat.

That does not give her a pass to keep your kids away though.
 

throwaway13

Learning
Good for you. Stay strong and protect the kids.

If she is triggered and feeling unsafe she is probably projecting “controlling/abusive” qualities onto you. She may see you as a threat.

That does not give her a pass to keep your kids away though.
From your past experiences how long do these triggers last? I want to ask her about her ptsd being triggered but I already saw how that went in our last therapy session before she refused to go to more. I am worried that if I bring up her ptsd it may get worse and the therapist was definitely serious when he told me I shouldn’t bring it up unless she does.
 
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