Relationship My partner has been isolating himself - what is the best way to ask about it?

D-sweet

Learning
We are kind of in a new relationship (7months). He has once causally mentioned that he has PTSD. He is currently very stressed and has been disappearing from our relationship for week(s) each time from time to time when he was overwhelmed by demanding workloads. When he reappeared, he would be like nothing happened. i tried to talk every time but still very difficult to get to a point.

I don't want to make PTSD as an excuse for bad behaviors but I am concerned that it could be the reason. What is the best way to get an understanding?

I just wish he could give me some clues (even without telling me what the trauma was) if it's PTSD acting in between.

thanks
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
Is your partner aware of all these? How long have you been in this situation and has is been improved somehow?

Hell no. It’s been ten years and he still isolates. The thing that makes it better is me not taking it personally. I’m not upset if he needs alone time to feel better. I love him, and want him to feel better. Me insisting he interact with me, just to comfort me, while he already feeling terrible would make *me* feel terrible. He isolates, that’s how he copes.
 

D-sweet

Learning
So I've thought a bunch about this and was trying to figure out what makes my people safe and I really don't have an answer. They just - are.

I think it's a lot of trial and error and it's really based in how ptsd manifests in each person?

I know that's a totally lame ass answer 🥺
But I'll keep thinking.....
I understand and it actually makes a lot sense. thanks for putting time into thinking, appreciated :)

Hell no. It’s been ten years and he still isolates. The thing that makes it better is me not taking it personally. I’m not upset if he needs alone time to feel better. I love him, and want him to feel better. Me insisting he interact with me, just to comfort me, while he already feeling terrible would make *me* feel terrible. He isolates, that’s how he copes.
I admire you for all the afford you make because how much you love him. What's your tips for not taking it personally and how do you manage your own need during his isolation? And what was longest time he has ever disappeared from you?
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
I don’t take it personally because I understand it is a coping mechanism. He is in survival mode. He can’t think past surviving.

Here comes the analogy we tell the new supporters. Think like this…. Image he is swimming upstream against the current in rapids, struggling to keep his head above water. Your splashing around in knee deep water by the shore, calling to him to come swim with you. You’re hurt he won’t come swim with you, and meanwhile he’s just trying not to drown.

He’s trying not to drown. He can’t worry about my feelings right just then. I get it. My partner has severe PTSD. I’ve been with him for years, and I have seen him extremely symptomatic. I understand he is mentally ill, and he can not always pull his weight in the relationship.

I use the time he isolates to socialize and do loud crowded activities that he cannot manage. Amusement parks, concerts, clubs, shopping malls, etc. That’s my “non-PTSD time,” which *I* need at times. Usually by the time he isolates he’s been ramping up and has been being a dick anyway.
 

D-sweet

Learning
I don’t take it personally because I understand it is a coping mechanism. He is in survival mode. He can’t think past surviving.

Here comes the analogy we tell the new supporters. Think like this…. Image he is swimming upstream against the current in rapids, struggling to keep his head above water. Your splashing around in knee deep water by the shore, calling to him to come swim with you. You’re hurt he won’t come swim with you, and meanwhile he’s just trying not to drown.

He’s trying not to drown. He can’t worry about my feelings right just then. I get it. My partner has severe PTSD. I’ve been with him for years, and I have seen him extremely symptomatic. I understand he is mentally ill, and he can not always pull his weight in the relationship.

I use the time he isolates to socialize and do loud crowded activities that he cannot manage. Amusement parks, concerts, clubs, shopping malls, etc. That’s my “non-PTSD time,” which *I* need at times. Usually by the time he isolates he’s been ramping up and has been being a dick anyway.
i think it would be much easier for me if we live together, we are supposed to but have been delaying since it happened. in my case, when he isolate, he vanishes.

is that true though that it would be better to live together?
 

joeylittle

Administrator
He always sees me as a safe person however i am not sure how he feels after i shut the door on me. Do you have any advices how i can be a safe person if he ever comes back?
This was a few posts ago - and a question you asked @Freida , not me - but I'd like to jump in and say: this is not the best way to be thinking about it.

You need to think about how YOU want to be around him. What way of being will feel right to you and contribute to your happiness in the relationship. If you try and become what you think he needs, you'll be participating in setting up a pretty dysfunctional dynamic.

Truth is - if you're a safe person, then you're a safe person. Whether or not he is capable of seeing that, in any given moment? That's to do with how much the PTSD is flaring - and nothing you do will compensate for that. You want to work on giving equal time and consideration to yourself - a better way to think about it might be, how can you also be a safe person for yourself? What can you do to support yourself, to keep living your life, instead of putting all your energy towards wondering how to be the person he needs.

I don't know if that makes sense...
The thing that makes it better is me not taking it personally. I’m not upset if he needs alone time to feel better. I love him, and want him to feel better.
^^^^ This is a really important point. I think this is essentially what I'm trying to say. @Sweetpea76 just said it WAY better.
 

D-sweet

Learning
This was a few posts ago - and a question you asked @Freida , not me - but I'd like to jump in and say: this is not the best way to be thinking about it.

You need to think about how YOU want to be around him. What way of being will feel right to you and contribute to your happiness in the relationship. If you try and become what you think he needs, you'll be participating in setting up a pretty dysfunctional dynamic.

Truth is - if you're a safe person, then you're a safe person. Whether or not he is capable of seeing that, in any given moment? That's to do with how much the PTSD is flaring - and nothing you do will compensate for that. You want to work on giving equal time and consideration to yourself - a better way to think about it might be, how can you also be a safe person for yourself? What can you do to support yourself, to keep living your life, instead of putting all your energy towards wondering how to be the person he needs.

I don't know if that makes sense...

^^^^ This is a really important point. I think this is essentially what I'm trying to say. @Sweetpea76 just said it WAY better.
thanks @joeylittle, that is in fact a very good advice and reminder. I have to make a balance in between being safe for him and myself. Thanks :)
 

D-sweet

Learning
@Freida @Weemie you both mentioned you are an isolator, grateful if you could share how you feel or what's in your head about your loved ones when you are disconnected from them?

would the relationship be like paused when you are focusing on dealing with things that overwhelming at that time?

@Freida @Weemie you both mentioned you are an isolator, grateful if you could share how you feel or what's in your head about your loved ones when you are disconnected from them?

would the relationship be like paused when you are focusing on dealing with things that overwhelming at that time?
Other sufferers/isolators are appreciated for sharing too
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
how you feel or what's in your head about your loved ones when you are disconnected from them?
They don't exist. Period.
Isolating is all about staying alive. It's like @Sweetpea76 story of swimming vs drowning. Even now, after all this time, it's still hard for me to "see" my supporters when I'm in that place. And when they try to help its like being pecked to death by chickens.

For me isolating rangers from I don't want to interact right now because I'm having flashbacks to a last ditch effort to not put a bullet in my head. It's when everything is dangerous and just too loud. It's when I need to back away from all kinds of stimulus because my brain is on fire. Someone telling me they love me, they want to help, blah blah?
Sounds kind of like the old charlie brown cartoons where all the adults sound like wahahahaha.

After many, many years of therapy I'm better at seeing it coming and backing away, and my supporters are better about letting me.
But it still sucks. A lot. And when I say they "let me" I don't mean they have a choice. I'm bailing regardless. But they are better at understanding that it's about me - not them.

I did this thread years ago and the response was pretty amazing from both the supporter and sufferer side.
Might be worth a look
 

D-sweet

Learning
They don't exist. Period.
Isolating is all about staying alive. It's like @Sweetpea76 story of swimming vs drowning. Even now, after all this time, it's still hard for me to "see" my supporters when I'm in that place. And when they try to help its like being pecked to death by chickens.

For me isolating rangers from I don't want to interact right now because I'm having flashbacks to a last ditch effort to not put a bullet in my head. It's when everything is dangerous and just too loud. It's when I need to back away from all kinds of stimulus because my brain is on fire. Someone telling me they love me, they want to help, blah blah?
Sounds kind of like the old charlie brown cartoons where all the adults sound like wahahahaha.

After many, many years of therapy I'm better at seeing it coming and backing away, and my supporters are better about letting me.
But it still sucks. A lot. And when I say they "let me" I don't mean they have a choice. I'm bailing regardless. But they are better at understanding that it's about me - not them.

I did this thread years ago and the response was pretty amazing from both the supporter and sufferer side.
Might be worth a look
Thanks Freida for your sharing. I will just let my partner know I will give him space if that means to love and respect him.

I had a quick look of the thread, its comforting to have more understanding of the situation and knowing some people share the same struggle. will take some times to read all of them. thanks for sharing with me.
 

D-sweet

Learning
update: my partner has reached out to me but just explained what kept him busy. He sounds a bit more relaxed but at the same time he isn't as affectionate and empathic as he used to be. is that common?
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
Who knows what common is? There really is no rhyme or reason to it. Everybody has their own individual quirks.

With that being said, my partner tends to act like nothing happened when he comes back around. It’s like freezing so the T-Rex doesn’t see you and bite your head off. It never happened if he doesn’t acknowledge it. He doesn’t have to deal with the stress of apologizing if it never happened, etc. “I was busy clipping my toenails” or whatever instead of “I was having a mental breakdown.”

Give him a little time, drop the subject, and see if he comes back around.
 

D-sweet

Learning
Who knows what common is? There really is no rhyme or reason to it. Everybody has their own individual quirks.

With that being said, my partner tends to act like nothing happened when he comes back around. It’s like freezing so the T-Rex doesn’t see you and bite your head off. It never happened if he doesn’t acknowledge it. He doesn’t have to deal with the stress of apologizing if it never happened, etc. “I was busy clipping my toenails” or whatever instead of “I was having a mental breakdown.”

Give him a little time, drop the subject, and see if he comes back around.
Only got to see this reply when I revisited the thread. thanks for sharing again. it has been tough for me this week dealing with his isolating. I think learning how not to take things personally is one thing, but the other is how you manage to set expectation to the relationship which is different to the general, e.g. how to fill the basic need.
 
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