Relationship In a 3 year long distance relationship with a veteran with PTSD, he is now avoiding coming to see me after 3 years of not seeing each other

I think one of the cruelest things about PTSD is the ability to mask during the honeymoon phase. You have no idea what PTSD really is until after you’re well and good in love, then you get a full dose square in the face and you wonder what happened to your loved one. The truth is *this* is really your loved one. Before was them masking until they felt comfortable.

Your man probably was able to mask for a loooooooooooong time because of the distance.

As far as being friends, you cannot martyr yourself to help him. It’s not going to fix his PTSD. He’s an adult, he made a choice. These are the consequences. You are not responsible for his mental health.

As far as combat PTSD and therapy goes, it’s probably just as individual as each vet. Some may seek out care and be very receptive to treatment. Others may be a treatment resistant stubborn ass. I know if he’s American the VA is a joke when it comes to mental health care. My vet has been in and out of treatment for 15 years or so. He did a stretch of inpatient care, and honestly, he needs it again. He’s unfortunately the stubborn ass variety.
He seemed like such a rock, and so stable and committed, until the visa was granted to come here....I feel like he "projected" everything then, how stressful all the hoops we have to jump through are to be together, how he will have to sell all his things to move here, how expensive the permanent visa will be ($8000) etc etc....when he KNEW every single one of these things from day ONE. Never were they an issue, UNTIL he COULD actually come here and our borders opened and he got his tourist visa. None of these reasons he gave were about anything he did not know about for almost three years. Suddenly he was overwhelmed and was projecting into the future and listing all the things that could go wrong, when it was ME who bought those up time and time again (out of fear and concern, not as reasons to not be together) during the pandemic and he always, always told me nothing would stop us from being together, even if our visas were denied we would move to another country to be together. He said no government nor anyone could stop us from being together. He always wanted me to "be in the present" and not worry about things in the future which could go wrong or that i could not control....which i get, but all of a sudden he gets his visa and is totally in the future and throwing every possible thing that could go wrong at me...

I dont know if he was hiding anything from me per se, or he was just lying to himself that he could move here (or even just visit)....but he seemed 100% committed and honest UNTIL he got the visa. He has a lot of integrity and abhors lying, and never lies, so I honestly dont think he was lying to me, ergh its all so unfair.
 
I’d chalk it up to straight up panic when things got real. It’s easy to talk about moving across the world when borders are closed. Can’t go to the grocery, but he’s going to move counties? That is masking.
I feel that is true....thanks sweatpea.....if i may ask one last question of you, I have told him i will do anything to make it work (therapy, talking to others with ptsd etc, reading forums, whatever it takes)...aside from a therapist, which you mentioned some with PTSD straight up wont do, why wont he do ANYTHING, to try to make us work, to try to get through his fears and panic? I feel like he is just giving up :(
I would so appreciate any insight around this....is it just all too hard and panic-inducing? So he puts up a total wall of "Nope, cant do it" and cannot look at ways to TRY to do it?
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
It’s not a choice like quitting cigarettes or something. It’s like asking a diabetic to eat cake to make you happy. They may want to eat the cake to make you happy, but they just physically cannot handle it.
OMG @Sweetpea76 I am soooo stealing this!!! 😃
This has got to be one of the best descriptions I've ever heard.
why wont he do ANYTHING, to try to make us work, to try to get through his fears and panic? I feel like he is just giving up :(
From the sufferer side? Because it's easier to give up than to do therapy.

Therapy isn't just hard when it's ptsd related. It rips your heart out, forces you to relive what you went thru over and over AND OVER, sucks out your soul until there is nothing left but a deep dark hole you have to crawl out of and every time you think you have made it to the top you get pulled right back under. And it can take years. Yes. YEARS.

Until all you want to do is sit in the corner and cry and get drunk in the dark or put a bullet in your brain. And that's if you manage to land a decent therapist which, when dealing with the VA, is a huge if. Like Sweetpea76 said - we are just trying to stay alive. That's the beginning, middle and end of my thought process when I'm in that place.
No one can save me , no matter how much they love me - it has to come from inside me. And it hurts. A Lot. It becomes all consuming. There is zero place to put people who want me to be in a relationship. There is no energy left. There is no hope left. All that is left is just surviving.

The things he knew before it was "real" were just things. They were hopes and dreams that sounded wonderful. They didn't require action.
Now they do. Now it's real. Now there are expectations.
And "real" can kick every symptom into overdrive even when you are doing therapy.
Handling it on your own? Ya.... nope.

I'm so sorry you are going thru this because it is horribly unfair- to both of you
 
OMG @Sweetpea76 I am soooo stealing this!!! 😃
This has got to be one of the best descriptions I've ever heard.

From the sufferer side? Because it's easier to give up than to do therapy.

Therapy isn't just hard when it's ptsd related. It rips your heart out, forces you to relive what you went thru over and over AND OVER, sucks out your soul until there is nothing left but a deep dark hole you have to crawl out of and every time you think you have made it to the top you get pulled right back under. And it can take years. Yes. YEARS.

Until all you want to do is sit in the corner and cry and get drunk in the dark or put a bullet in your brain. And that's if you manage to land a decent therapist which, when dealing with the VA, is a huge if. Like Sweetpea76 said - we are just trying to stay alive. That's the beginning, middle and end of my thought process when I'm in that place.
No one can save me , no matter how much they love me - it has to come from inside me. And it hurts. A Lot. It becomes all consuming. There is zero place to put people who want me to be in a relationship. There is no energy left. There is no hope left. All that is left is just surviving.

The things he knew before it was "real" were just things. They were hopes and dreams that sounded wonderful. They didn't require action.
Now they do. Now it's real. Now there are expectations.
And "real" can kick every symptom into overdrive even when you are doing therapy.
Handling it on your own? Ya.... nope.

I'm so sorry you are going thru this because it is horribly unfair- to both of you
Thank you so very much Freida, I just want to send you a big hug.....todays messages have really helped me take some of the burden off myself, stop blaming myself for being stressed so much throughout the pandemic and long distance situation, and cause it to be harder when it always was so hard given the circumstances.....(but who wouldnt be stressed....i still hung in there throughout and never gave up, which a lot of long distance relationshippers dont do) , and today helped me to understand his side more, even if its a little bit, it helps. Thank you for your kind words....I asked sweetpea earlier in the thread what they think of me being friends with him and talking again daily like we used to (or at least regularly)...its only been 2 weeks since we stopped speaking on the phone (used to talk for 4 hours daily for the last almost 3 years) but its so hard being just his friend when i love him as much as i do.
The other part of me wants to continue to show support and love,and for us not to lose each other. We are each others best friend, we love each other and are both really struggling. His last text message to me said he is struggling and "grasping at straws". He is not sleeping much either. I feel heartbroken twice as much, knowing how hard it is for him too. We are very sensitive souls and very alike. (i am an INFJ and HSP, if that means anything) I feel like I am being cruel not being his friend, but as Sweetpea said, its not for me to be the martyr and he is an adult and this is his decision and these are the consequences....but he isnt neurotypical, he didnt exactly just "choose" this, sounds like he had no other choice......it is all so very unfair and difficult.

Thank you Freida xx
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
I dont know if HE even thinks or realises the PTSD is a factor
I can't answer for him, of course, but I can tell you that it's totally possible to be living with PTSD and have no idea what's "PTSD" and what isn't because....... You know, I'm not totally sure WHY that is. I suppose because PTSD is like the filter you see the world through and it takes a fair amount of self awareness to notice the filter. And, the more stressful the situation, the less likely you are to notice it. He TOLD you this isn't a PTSD thing. That pretty much tells me that he doesn't think it is, hasn't considered the possibility, and probably has no idea how much a PTSD thing it is.
From the sufferer side? Because it's easier to give up than to do therapy.
Yeah....... @Freida that might be a little harsh. I'm not totally sure it's "giving up" exactly. At least it wasn't for me. It was more that trusting someone enough to let them inside my head, to where I actually live, looked like an existential threat. (Pretty often it STILL feels that way.) I suppose that's hard for people with differently wired brains to imagine, but it feels that literally true. Being alone is hard. Trusting someone is terrifying.
He seemed like such a rock, and so stable and committed, until the visa was granted to come here....I feel like he "projected" everything then, how stressful all the hoops we have to jump through are to be together, how he will have to sell all his things to move here, how expensive the permanent visa will be ($8000) etc etc....when he KNEW every single one of these things from day ONE. Never were they an issue, UNTIL he COULD actually come
I think that's called "being overwhelmed". LOL (I probably shouldn't laugh, but it's SUCH familiar territory.) First of all, I think it's totally possible for someone with PTSD to be "a rock". Many of us are exceptionally good in an actual crisis. It's the imaginary crisis..... Anyway, I think your description of what it looked like is exactly right. Once it looked like it was going to actually happen, panic set in. I do that all the time. Or try not to, now that I realize that the so called "higher centers" of my brain has been hijacked by the survival part. I would NEVER have figured out that's what's happening on my own. My T was a lot of help coming up strategies to deal with it too. But the first step, really, was to recognize that it was a PTSD thing.
its so hard being just his friend when i love him as much as i do.
Can I just say that I totally don't get that? Probably just me. Being a friend is a big deal. Near as I can tell, the only difference between being a friend and being in a romantic relationship is sex. Or the potential of it. Which, I guess, is still there even if you're friends. By dealing with him, right now, like a friend, seems like all you're giving up is day dreams about a house with a picket fence or whatever. I don't know about you, but in my world things rarely end up like I thought they would anyway. That doesn't mean they end badly, just that life is full of surprises and the only day we get to live in is today. (It just occurred to me that that might be another difference between the way I experience the world and the way other people do. The past counts some, the future is just an interesting idea. I have no expectations of it and it sometimes freaks me out a little when it actually shows up. LOL) You sound like a great person. I hope things work out well for you both!
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
It was more that trusting someone enough to let them inside my head, to where I actually live, looked like an existential threat. (Pretty often it STILL feels that way.) I suppose that's hard for people with differently wired brains to imagine, but it feels that literally true. Being alone is hard. Trusting someone is terrifying.
@scout86 This is a much better way to put it. By giving up I meant it's easier to give up the idea of therapy, not necessarily on the world. Thank you!
 
I can't answer for him, of course, but I can tell you that it's totally possible to be living with PTSD and have no idea what's "PTSD" and what isn't because....... You know, I'm not totally sure WHY that is. I suppose because PTSD is like the filter you see the world through and it takes a fair amount of self awareness to notice the filter. And, the more stressful the situation, the less likely you are to notice it. He TOLD you this isn't a PTSD thing. That pretty much tells me that he doesn't think it is, hasn't considered the possibility, and probably has no idea how much a PTSD thing it is.

Yeah....... @Freida that might be a little harsh. I'm not totally sure it's "giving up" exactly. At least it wasn't for me. It was more that trusting someone enough to let them inside my head, to where I actually live, looked like an existential threat. (Pretty often it STILL feels that way.) I suppose that's hard for people with differently wired brains to imagine, but it feels that literally true. Being alone is hard. Trusting someone is terrifying.

I think that's called "being overwhelmed". LOL (I probably shouldn't laugh, but it's SUCH familiar territory.) First of all, I think it's totally possible for someone with PTSD to be "a rock". Many of us are exceptionally good in an actual crisis. It's the imaginary crisis..... Anyway, I think your description of what it looked like is exactly right. Once it looked like it was going to actually happen, panic set in. I do that all the time. Or try not to, now that I realize that the so called "higher centers" of my brain has been hijacked by the survival part. I would NEVER have figured out that's what's happening on my own. My T was a lot of help coming up strategies to deal with it too. But the first step, really, was to recognize that it was a PTSD thing.

Can I just say that I totally don't get that? Probably just me. Being a friend is a big deal. Near as I can tell, the only difference between being a friend and being in a romantic relationship is sex. Or the potential of it. Which, I guess, is still there even if you're friends. By dealing with him, right now, like a friend, seems like all you're giving up is day dreams about a house with a picket fence or whatever. I don't know about you, but in my world things rarely end up like I thought they would anyway. That doesn't mean they end badly, just that life is full of surprises and the only day we get to live in is today. (It just occurred to me that that might be another difference between the way I experience the world and the way other people do. The past counts some, the future is just an interesting idea. I have no expectations of it and it sometimes freaks me out a little when it actually shows up. LOL) You sound like a great person. I hope things work out well for you bot
I can't answer for him, of course, but I can tell you that it's totally possible to be living with PTSD and have no idea what's "PTSD" and what isn't because....... You know, I'm not totally sure WHY that is. I suppose because PTSD is like the filter you see the world through and it takes a fair amount of self awareness to notice the filter. And, the more stressful the situation, the less likely you are to notice it. He TOLD you this isn't a PTSD thing. That pretty much tells me that he doesn't think it is, hasn't considered the possibility, and probably has no idea how much a PTSD thing it is.

Yeah....... @Freida that might be a little harsh. I'm not totally sure it's "giving up" exactly. At least it wasn't for me. It was more that trusting someone enough to let them inside my head, to where I actually live, looked like an existential threat. (Pretty often it STILL feels that way.) I suppose that's hard for people with differently wired brains to imagine, but it feels that literally true. Being alone is hard. Trusting someone is terrifying.

I think that's called "being overwhelmed". LOL (I probably shouldn't laugh, but it's SUCH familiar territory.) First of all, I think it's totally possible for someone with PTSD to be "a rock". Many of us are exceptionally good in an actual crisis. It's the imaginary crisis..... Anyway, I think your description of what it looked like is exactly right. Once it looked like it was going to actually happen, panic set in. I do that all the time. Or try not to, now that I realize that the so called "higher centers" of my brain has been hijacked by the survival part. I would NEVER have figured out that's what's happening on my own. My T was a lot of help coming up strategies to deal with it too. But the first step, really, was to recognize that it was a PTSD thing.

Can I just say that I totally don't get that? Probably just me. Being a friend is a big deal. Near as I can tell, the only difference between being a friend and being in a romantic relationship is sex. Or the potential of it. Which, I guess, is still there even if you're friends. By dealing with him, right now, like a friend, seems like all you're giving up is day dreams about a house with a picket fence or whatever. I don't know about you, but in my world things rarely end up like I thought they would anyway. That doesn't mean they end badly, just that life is full of surprises and the only day we get to live in is today. (It just occurred to me that that might be another difference between the way I experience the world and the way other people do. The past counts some, the future is just an interesting idea. I have no expectations of it and it sometimes freaks me out a little when it actually shows up. LOL) You sound like a great person. I hope things work out well for you both!
Thank you so much for your reply, Scout. It is so helpful....especially the part about him possibly not even knowing it is PTSD responding and making the decisions, and he may not even know it.

The part about being friends and your take on that is interesting, I suppose due to it being long distance, we cannot see each other anyway, but if i choose to keep him in my life as a friend only, i feel like it will be so hard, as i will always be longing for him to come here,hoping he will change his mind.... and i will imagine all the things we will never have. I wont ever be able to hold him again, touch him, snuggle up with him, just BE with him. If i continue to be friends and talk with him regularly like we used to, what if he never really realises what he missed out on, and is just content with how things are, as friends, and wont ever change that. Or, will me completely not being in his life as a friend and having no contact ever make him miss me enough and realise what he has lost and then do whatever it takes to be with me? I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, with no answer, so I just sit here sad and crying every day feeling lost and heartbroken :(
 

joeylittle

Administrator
If i continue to be friends and talk with him regularly like we used to, what if he never really realises what he missed out on, and is just content with how things are, as friends, and wont ever change that. Or, will me completely not being in his life as a friend and having no contact ever make him miss me enough and realise what he has lost and then do whatever it takes to be with me? I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, with no answer, so I just sit here sad and crying every day feeling lost and heartbroken :(
As much as is possible, I'd encourage you to start framing things based on how YOU will experience them, and get out of the habit of trying to predict what the impact will be like on him.

So if you want to be in contact, and do so as friends, and you find that ends up being OK for you? Then great. But if it feels too painful, then don't do it - give yourself permission to move forward with your life as it is now, without him.

I know that's easier said than done - but this kind of thinking:
Or, will me completely not being in his life as a friend and having no contact ever make him miss me enough and realise what he has lost and then do whatever it takes to be with me?
Can easily get you trapped into a sort of loop, where everything you do is based on anticipating or counterbalancing his reactions, before he's even had them. It'll just end up making you feel worse, and simultaneously making it very hard to untangle yourself from a bad situation.

I'm sorry it's so hard, though - and am glad you're able to come here for support.
 
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