My husband is my biggest trigger, but I can't tell what's really happening.

lovak

Confident
This might be a long read, have to get some shit out I guess.

Some background info. I have Cptsd from childhood neglect and emotional abuse by my parents, and sexual abuse in infancy and teen years by a couple of different perps. I met my husband 11 years ago, we've been together since. We were both in a bad situation when we met, we grew together, we were fine, got married and bought a house, made a career.
Three years ago, my trauma's decided that 'this is the time to get through all this shit', and things have been pretty bad since then.

I've come to realize I've always been the one to carry the relationship. The practical things, but also the emotional things. Also; staying calm in an argument because my husband has some anger issues.... yeah. Red flag. He's never physically hit me or sexually abused me, nowhere near it! And I think I've always thought that it wasn't so bad then.
But he can get mean. Passive agressive. He throws stuff, he shouts, he scoffs at me. He gets irritated, frustrated, and angry.

He rarely ever says he's sorry. Not because he doesn't want to, I can see him struggling with it. He's been practicing it though. So he often does say sorry. Thing is, that's all he says. He gives me a hug and says he's sorry. That's just not enough after hours of being bat shit angry. At least, i want to share how it makes me feel. I want my voice to be heard, my feelings and thoughts to be allowed. And then he gets mad when only the word 'sorry' isnt enough for me to melt back down into relaxation.

After two years of me begging, pleading, he finally agreed to go talk to someone. Me being mentally unstable and unable to do everything required to like... live a decent life, meant he had to step up a bit. Really, a bit. I still do finances, bills, groceries, cooking, housework, insurancestuff, carstuff etc. He has to manage trash, basically. But we needed to turn things around, and he can't handle.. well, life. He's depressed, burnt out, I don't know what. He's not in a good place, that's for sure, and he's finally talking to someone, but he's not actually commiting to it. He has an appointment every month or so, and besides that, doesn't invest any time or energy. He doesnt even know his counceler's name.
We're also in couples counceling since a couple of months, but we haven't touched the big stuff yet.

What makes matters worse is that, a couple of weeks ago, my husband stated he didnt know if he wanted to continue this marriage. At the time, I understood, I couldnt blame him. I don't know what our future will be like, I don't know if I'll get stable enough to be able to raise kids. (BUT, I've always told him I would never, ever, have kids with him if he doesnt resolve his anger issues.)
I was mostly crying. He was crying too. We weren't angry. We love eachother.

But now, honestly. I'm PISSED. I'm frustrated. But mostly angry.
He insists I need to get better. He finally agreed to be part of my recovery. We agree on something, but he doesnt do it. When I was in full crisis mode and barely concious he left me alone and ate some shoarma. He didnt see to it that I got my regular meds, let alone my crisis meds. When the crisis unit called he didn't even explain how bad it was.
The basic stuff is difficult for me: eating, personal hygiene, etc. I need to manage my energy. We agreed on lunching together this week ( he has a week off work). He just decides he's not hungry. Or says he's busy and doesn't tell me when we ARE going to eat.
He gets angry when I tell him I don't like it when he just ignores what we said we would do and can't even give me some clarity on when we WILL do it for example.
And then at the end of the day, when I'm just tired of having to adapt to him all the time, he get's angry, again. And I have to take my Haldol to not have a goddamn psychotic break.

The thing is. He's got issues. But every goddamn time he displays these issues, I get reaaaaaaal angry. Because he always tells me how MY ISSUES are what's causing the disruption of are future. MY ISSUES are the problem. When I tell him his issues affect me too, and set back my recovery, he gets passive agressive. He says that his issues don't compare to mine, that they shouldnt even be a point of discussion because I'M the real problem here.
So everytime his issues come up now, I just can't. I can't. I don't want to be there for him. He can't be there for me, and blames me for everything. I feel angry, alone, scared. Everything. Scared mostly because he's unpredictable, but now, very angry. Why should I keep adapting to his aggressive behaviour with - if i'm lucky - óne sorry at the end?

I get stuck in it.
Right now, he's been pissed off for over four hours because he bought shoes he decided he didn't want. He ignores me. He slams the doors. He says he doesnt want to be home. He says he doesnt want to do anything. When I ask him if I should cook (he was supposed to cook this time, because the shopping trip we did was quite exhausting), he doesnt even respond en just walks away. He shouted at the cats, and for a moment I got angry but then I just got scared and froze along with them.
1. I get these responses. I know they can happen. I don't really blame him for it, I got shit going on too.
2. What I do blame him for is that he doesnt take responsibility for his actions. His anger - or later, his shame -, always trumps how I feel.
3. I never take anything out on him. And honestly, I don't want to tell the worst things to anyone because I'm ashamed I let them happen. I think that tells me enough about how right or wrong those things are.
4. If I do talk to him about this, say that I can't accept what he does, he always turns it around to be my fault.

And thats where it hurts.
I'm in a relationship with my damn parents. My feelings and needs aren't met. He can't comfort me. He'll almost never owns up to what he did wrong, and he's certainly not taking steps to change something.
At the same time, I get scared that it IS my fault. That I'm really that 'sensitive', as my parents used to say.
The funny thing is, my husband is really mad at my parents for how they treated me. He doesn't really see the similarities.

I do. And my body does it before I do. Because I get triggered all the damn time.

And how to continue? I don't know. I don't want to live in a relationship where my psychiatric issues are used against me: Where I'm told I perceive things wrong. Where my husband uses my weaknesses as his immunityshield; Because my problems are 'worse', he can't do anything wrong. (By the way, according to my husband, he still functions because he still works, and I don't. So that's something I hear all the time. I'm working on myself, I'm still carrying all the responsibility for the household, but ok).
Where my husband can't comfort me. Where I'm still very much alone. My husband doesnt even hug me half of the time when I'm scared, or sad. He just walkes away. Or worse, he just stands a few steps away from me, not responding in any way. He really doesnt know what to do. But he also doesn't seem to want to learn.

Am I really in a bad relationship? Do I get triggered because it IS somehow the same situation or do I just perceive it as such?

In any way, how the hell am I going to go on? When I am so f*cking pissed because all fault is with me, according to him.

So this became more of a rant. I don't expect you guys to have the answer. I'm just tired because I'm starting to realize why I'm not improving much. My husband is home from work and honestly? His 'moods' affect way more of our time than my 'issues'. And my body just. wont. relax. Not around him. Not around that bomb that could go off, and go on for God knows how long.
He's home. We were supposed to spent time and energy to put in our relationship and somehow I feel further and further away from him.

I want to work on it. He says he does too. But it's just words, it's been just words for years. I'm so goddamn tired.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
What's the reason you want to work on the marriage?

A lot of what you describe sounds pretty difficult and that your needs aren't being met, and he can't hear that or do something about it.
 

Cypress

Confident
I have a similar upbringing: physical neglect, emotional abuse from the parents and sexual abuse and assault from a few different predatory types in the neighborhood. So I get where you are coming from. I think with folks like us, relationships are our biggest trigger because it was within relationships that we were abused.

I don't that I have a lot of good advice but I do know that I frequently misinterpret situations. I see threat where it's not there. I also have learned that my mental health issues are my responsibility. Maybe your partner can't handle it but who can really. I don't know about you but I am volatile and I imagine that is pretty stressful.

At the same time, I have learned that because of the CPTSD I have chosen over and over again, partners that are emotionally unavailable, need care-taking and don't handle emotions well.

I can't tell from your email if you were worse but now you are better and realizing that this guy you married is no longer compatible with you. Is it that his level of maturity and yours no longer match? Or are you are doing a lot worse lately and he can't be there for you during the crisis.

This isn't a PTSD thing but I worked with a lady who was really into the 5 love languages. seems hokey but does explain differences in expectations. It may be that he feels like instrumental help, like being the breadwinner, is just as valuable as emotional help.

Anyway, I haven't figured it out yet but I wish you the best.
 

lovak

Confident
Ok, I have to balance my post. I was pretty triggered at the time I wrote it and ended up just blowing off steam, since I don't use these words against my husband.

Overall, we have a good marriage. Similar interests and hobbies of our own. We can talk for hours. We are both highly intelligent and we can talk on a level that we don't often find in other people - No offense, that's just our experience. When it comes to practical and financial stuff, there's equal attention to both our needs.
When it comes to running the household, my husband has been changing for the past two years to carry more of the burden. He's really trying his best in this.
On an emotional level, we get stuck. Often. From both sides.

Since I haven't been doing well these last few years, it's put a strain on our marriage. AND, he hasn't been doing well either. He's superstressed. He has treatment too. He does have trauma in his past, mostly from being bullied. It's also likely that he has autism, although we're only recently diving in to that.

I think both of our mental health problems just rub eachother completely the wrong way. We both don't know how to comfort the other (he from autism, I from emotional neglect). We're both triggered and feel attacked.
I get superscared. That's not (always) his fault, there's a lot of trauma. I can run and hide under the bed in a dissociated state, when he isnt really THAT unsafe.

It's both our problems, butting heads.

He did take back his remark about how his problems are not a problem in our relationship yesterday. I have this crisismanagement plan where it says what everyone (me, partner, services), should do in every stage of (impending) crisis. We agreed to work on a agression plan for him, so I know what to do, and hopefully he knows what to do too.

I think the biggest problem is that when he get's upset, communication is damn near impossible for him. When I need communication the most at that time. I only pick up his aggressive behaviour; but without context, without knowing why he's angry, and I get triggered. I need to know what to expect, he needs to be alone and can't communicate. So that's where we're at.


About splitting up. Honestly? I really don't know. I do love him. I also really like the life we built up together We have a nice home, I garden a lot in our garden, it's my safe space. We have two cats that are like children to us. Our finances are great, even though I've apllied for social services (but where I live and in my situation, I get a pretty reasonable disabilitycheck).

Where I live, housing is not easily available, costs of living are going through the roof. If we were to split, the house would be sold. We both could never buy a house back on one salary, the waiting lists for renting are 10 YEARS and up. Private renting is unaffordable.
Where would the cats go? Where would we go? I can't go live with my parents again.

Even If I would find something, the things that make my life easier and worth it now, would be gone. Because I DO enjoy our life together. Walking together. We always eat dinner at the table and talk about our days. We watch movies and play games. We laugh about our cats. We dance together in a silly way. If we don't want to cook we order food. When covid wasnt around we would go to animal parks, the cinema, shopping.

We match. We love each other. What doesn't match, I guess, is our mental problems.

And that's the part that's exhausting. I do think I should give him more time to learn to manage his side of things, and give me clarity on what he expects from me; my side of things. I know there's stuff I do wrong in our relationship and communication, but he rarely speaks out on it, so I don't know.

Buh, my cognitive abilities aren't really with me today. This post is again rambling.
And coming to the conclusion that I really do love him, and enjoy being with him, and that I want to get over this massive bump, together.
 

grief

Sponsor
it sounds exactly to me like you are assuming responsibility for his entire existence and so of course when that is the default he will become agitated when that is no longer the reality he lives in that every waking moment is catered to him and cared for that he doesn't need to worry about.

and you are taking responsibility for being mentally unwell and requiring treatment on top of this (while he is not doing the same in return despite having similar emotional disturbances) only now because you are receiving treatment i think it is opening avenues in you where you can see that your relationship is not equal. you entered a status quo but now that is shifting as you are desiring to progress and not stand still.

for the record just because a person is not physically or sexually abusive toward you does not mean that they are not abusive. yelling (at you, at the animals), throwing things, storming around, slamming things, provoking fear-those are all types of abusive behavior. it is good that he doesn't hit you or sexually abuse you but that is not the benchmark for how a spouse ought to behave toward you on a regular basis, either. he should not get a cookie just for doing the bare minimum of being a person to you.

i do think you need to evaluate what precisely it is you do get out of this relationship. right now i am reading a lot of things you are not getting out of it and those things are fairly substantial. it is possible to love someone and still not fit right together. at the very least he needs to start seriously committing to treatment and to family counseling with you. that should be non-negotiable.
 
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lovak

Confident
@grief
Thank you for your post.
You're right, our relationship hasn't been equal, ever. For the past three years, we were aware of that. We both created this situation: I had to be in control of everything, I wanted to do everything on my own and on my terms, and only realised that when I got completely burnt out. We both created the situation where I carried all responsibilty for everything - because I couldn't let go and put my trust in someone else, and because he just let it happen and never assumed responsibilty. We agree that that should change, and it hasn't been easy.

I've had therapy for quite a while now and my husband has only started recently and not really commiting to it (in a way I would like at least). You mention that he has similar emotional disturbances, and I think you're right, but he can't see it that way because he sees himself as functioning, JUST because he goes to work everyday. That he doesn't function in every other aspect of life is not something that he can see. He also turns it around: I can't work so I function 'less'. When it's not a damn contest of who functions better with the prize of 'not having to take responsibilty for your issues'.
He commits to doing better. But with words. When I ask him HOW he's going to change things, he doesn't have an answer.

When it comes to the 'abuse'... yeah, that hit hard. This is what I often think, and at the same time don't allow myself to think. The first thing is dat he doesn't WANT to be abusive. He does not have bad intentions. The second is that he IS sorry. The third is that he WANTS to change.
And yes, I know it's been mostly words, and actions are coming but very, very slowly. Meanwhile he's pressuring me to 'get better', and doesn't see how his behaviour sets me back. And I write this and think to myself: Almost every person who's in an abusive relationship thinks these things.

And then comes the part where I don't know if I interpret these things wrong. Is he really that unsafe or am I triggered and experience it differently? What is real? What is trauma?

I don't talk about this with other people, not really to the full extent of things. Because I know its wrong. Because I hate myself for letting myself being treated like this... again. Because I'm afraid what people will think - about him. Because I know I wouldnt leave. Because of the good things with him, but also because with him, I would give up on my life as it is now, with all the good stuff too, and I can't handle that right now. Because I love him. Because I don't want to be alone.

And because maybe, I'm exaggerating?

It's like different parts of me are screaming different things. I can't make up what the situation is, objectively. I do think I want to raise this topic - the abuse part, I don't even want to say the words - in couples therapy somehow.
 

grief

Sponsor
When it comes to the 'abuse'... yeah, that hit hard. This is what I often think, and at the same time don't allow myself to think. The first thing is dat he doesn't WANT to be abusive. He does not have bad intentions. The second is that he IS sorry. The third is that he WANTS to change.
sadly these are not mutually exclusive things. many, i would argue most, abusers are not 100% evil beings. they have good qualities. they are capable of being loved. there are abusive people in my history who still taught me things or took time out of their day for me or who even apologized to me. it does not change their behavior and i am not obligated to forgive them just because they are sorry.

the real indicator of regret comes through transformation. if all he is offering you is sorry without changing his behavior, then he has not demonstrated remorse. he just wants you to stop talking about it to him.

Is he really that unsafe or am I triggered and experience it differently?
perhaps it isn't one or the other. you may not be physically unsafe, but your emotions do not sound cared after. he does not appear to regard you beyond his own two feet and that is problematic, especially as someone with an abuse history who is primed to take responsibility for others in areas that they should be responsible themselves (and which you are responsible yourself) as adults.
 

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
Correction.

He does NOT want to change!

He is showing you who he is and you refuse to listen. You make excuses for his behavior.

How can you, as someone with PTSD, even begin to consider staying with him given his violent outbursts and throwing things? I’d seriously be living in my car at this point.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I agree with @grief: if abusers were so easy to spot and walk away from, most of us would not be on this forum! It's the messy complicated behaviours that make it all confusing, and then that evokes the feelings like you have that you are exaggerating.

Does it have to be "split up or stay together'. Is there a pause button? He moves out or you move out for a period. Have some form of break for you both to think what you want, and work on yourselves with a bit more autonomy, and still do the couples therapy?

Sounds a really tough situation where you have desire about what you want from him, and some of that is happening, but some other parts really aren't.

Whatever you decide hope you feel safe during it and it works for you.
 

lovak

Confident
I'm reading, listening, but struggling with how to respond. I notice my impulse to defend his actions: He's not throwing stuff at me, he's not really breaking things. But still, he shouldn't throw stuff, period.
I get what you guys are saying, it's just a lot to swallow I guess.

I've been at this point many times: Thinking this isnt ok, wanting to get it 'out there', but not ready to do that, even on an anonymous forum. I guess I wasn't ready to face reality just yet.

It's a lot to process.

We are kinda going to hit the pause button. I have an intake for short clinical treatment next week, because being home is way too triggering for me. I think I'm going to spend some time there on organizing my thoughts and feelings, and to prepare myself for a BIG conversation, to tell him this is damaging me and time has come for actions, not words.

He does really want to change. I know that much. He's already changed for the better, it used to be a lot worse. Still no excuse for him, I know. He needs to do better if this is going to work.

I'm not ready to give up on us just yet, but I think I am ready to give up on this version of us.
 
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