Relationship Need Advice - I triggered my girlfriend (PTSD) she broke up with me. Blocked me out of her life.

Marcus132

New Here
Hi, I am so thankful there is a community to ask questions and get more information on something I have no knowledge (but trying to read as much as I can now).

I recently triggered my girlfriend with PTSD, she ran and eventually texted me to say she didnt feel safe and wasn't coming home. I had no idea what was going on - I knew she had PTSD, but to be honest I didn't know I had a role to play in it (I do now). So, I asked her to come home so we can talk about what happened. I was stunned. I then said, I was going back to my place because this wasn't working. Well, that set off another trigger that I was unaware of (now, looking at it, omg I had no idea and I would have never said that if I had more information - i know, my fault, but i am trying now to understand). So, she then said she doesn't want me to text or contact her in any way. She will get a hold of me when she is ready. She definitely won't talk to me - and I am absolutely shattered. I love her. She said that she gets triggered around me and it isn't working. She is heartbroken and loves me but will never be able to have peace or calm in the relationship. I am at a lost.
Can someone explain what is happening? Any suggestion of what I can do to educate myself? And, are there any suggestions moving forward. I want to do what is best for her, but my heart needs to be protected cause I am a lot of pain, too.

Thank you for any comments or help you can provide. If I am being a jerk, please let me know. I really want to do what is best for her.
 

Marcus132

New Here
From what I have been reading is this typical. She was triggered and pushed me away completely. Told me she will communicate when she is ready. What does this all mean?
 

Elsewhere

Learning
Hi Marcus,

I can’t tell you whether this is typical, but I can respond from my own experiences. I tend to get triggered very easily by other ppl. Even just innocent comments can send me into an emotional flashback. This will sometimes cause me to want to avoid that person in the future. For me, CPTSD, especially from the interpersonal trauma from my past, has tended to make relationships difficult. I tend to want to flee after a bad experience, whereas socially better-adjusted ppl might not even be fazed. It sucks.
For better or for worse, I’ve developed a tendency to avoid ppl.

I’m sorry about your gf and I hope things work out
 

Marcus132

New Here
Hi Marcus,

I can’t tell you whether this is typical, but I can respond from my own experiences. I tend to get triggered very easily by other ppl. Even just innocent comments can send me into an emotional flashback. This will sometimes cause me to want to avoid that person in the future. For me, CPTSD, especially from the interpersonal trauma from my past, has tended to make relationships difficult. I tend to want to flee after a bad experience, whereas socially better-adjusted ppl might not even be fazed. It sucks.
For better or for worse, I’ve developed a tendency to avoid ppl.

I’m sorry about your gf and I hope things work out
Thank you, Elsewhere. I am hurt, yes but I just want to understand it all. These forums are bringing insight and comfort, but I am still broken hearted. Wanting your person to run to you when they suffer is natural, but nothing about trauma is natural so I get that. I will be patient and let her come to me when she feels safe. I have hope but not too much where I am going to be wrecked again if she doesn't come back. I love her dearly and struggle with being unable to be her safe zone and me being the one that triggers her.
 

Elsewhere

Learning
I can feel your heartbreak, and I commend you for caring about her and wanting to help her. A good relationship with a partner can be healing, esp. for attachment wounds (if that’s an issue). Speaking for myself, I often wonder how my own partner can love me so much, since some of my symptoms make me feel pretty unlovable. And triggers are a mean beast. I have a growing list of them, and they have caused all kinds of dysfunction in all aspects of my life, esp. relationships.

I don’t have any magic answers. I guess I’d say don’t automatically assume that you’ve done wrong if you accidentally trigger her. First of all, you can’t magically know beforehand what all her triggers are. She herself might not even know. Also, what if, for example, the sound of a sneeze is triggering for her? You can’t be sure you’ll never sneeze, because it’s a basic human reflex that’s out of your control. Certainly, to the extent that you do know about her triggers, there may be some you can choose to control. For example, because of how I grew up, I’m very triggered by comments regarding body weight. I preemptively mentioned to my partner to please resist the urge to ever make those kinds of comments because it could cause me to spiral, and neither of us will benefit from that. That one was easy—others are harder... If she’s able to interact with you right now, maybe asking her about her most troublesome triggers could be helpful.

We live in a world full of potential triggers, though, and completely avoiding them for the rest of our lives is likely not feasible. The obvious solution would be to neutralize all triggers so that they no longer have power over us, but I have yet to succeed at that (not sure about whether others have, in their own lives...)
 

Marcus132

New Here
I can feel your heartbreak, and I commend you for caring about her and wanting to help her. A good relationship with a partner can be healing, esp. for attachment wounds (if that’s an issue). Speaking for myself, I often wonder how my own partner can love me so much, since some of my symptoms make me feel pretty unlovable. And triggers are a mean beast. I have a growing list of them, and they have caused all kinds of dysfunction in all aspects of my life, esp. relationships.

I don’t have any magic answers. I guess I’d say don’t automatically assume that you’ve done wrong if you accidentally trigger her. First of all, you can’t magically know beforehand what all her triggers are. She herself might not even know. Also, what if, for example, the sound of a sneeze is triggering for her? You can’t be sure you’ll never sneeze, because it’s a basic human reflex that’s out of your control. Certainly, to the extent that you do know about her triggers, there may be some you can choose to control. For example, because of how I grew up, I’m very triggered by comments regarding body weight. I preemptively mentioned to my partner to please resist the urge to ever make those kinds of comments because it could cause me to spiral, and neither of us will benefit from that. That one was easy—others are harder... If she’s able to interact with you right now, maybe asking her about her most troublesome triggers could be helpful.

We live in a world full of potential triggers, though, and completely avoiding them for the rest of our lives is likely not feasible. The obvious solution would be to neutralize all triggers so that they no longer have power over us, but I have yet to succeed at that (not sure about whether others have, in their own lives...)
Thank you, Elsewhere for your PTSD insight. I really just want the best for her - and, unfortunately I believe that is me not in her life. It hurts but I know she is hurting much more than I am so that puts my emotions into check. If you have any other insight, I would love to hear it.
 
S

Saga

Hi, I did a similar thing to my boyfriend after I had a backlash with my PTSD. I think the symptoms take over sometimes and for me, I just need to alone. The presence of other people irritate me when I’m at my worst periods. Everything feels overwhelming and I also can’t stand when people touch me or even talk to me some days. On a positive note, these periods does blow over and eventually I feel like me again.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
Ok... as a supporter, you need to change your mindset, or any relationship you will have with her will be codependent and toxic.
I knew she had PTSD, but to be honest I didn't know I had a role to play in it (I do now).

You have no role to play in it... unless you were the person who abused her and gave her PTSD in the first place. If not, you are not responsible for her mental health and/or the way she responds to it. You do not make her any better or any worse. You couldn’t if you wanted to. That’s all on her.

I had no idea and I would have never said that if I had more information - i know, my fault, but i am trying now to understand).

It is not your fault. You didn’t trigger her. *She* was triggered. Everything that happened was in her head. It is IMPOSSIBLE to avoid triggers. They’re random and sometimes she doesn’t even know what they are. That is something for her to own, not you.

What is happening is projection, and you’re taking that on. You will never ever be able to say the perfect thing and act the perfect way... and even if you did, she’d probably still find a way to get twisted about it at times. First step in moving forward in any kind of way is realizing that you aren’t to blame for her mental state.

Sounds kinda mean, right? Or uncaring? It’s not. It’s a boundary. You cannot be the scapegoat every time she gets triggered or what’s happening now will happen over and over and over again.

Be compassionate, be sympathetic... but don’t take the blame for everything that is going on in her head. The only person responsible for that is her.
 

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
You didn't trigger her, she was triggered. Triggers are random and many times regular normal life, no big deal to others, things. It's her job to manage her triggers. That said, running away from what's triggering you is PTSD. You are in survival mode at that point. Many times you can't think of anything else but becoming safe and you can plow everyone down to get into a safe space. But that is not your fault. You can't avoid her triggers. They can be any sight, sound, or smell.

My advice is to give her space as she's asking. It sounds like she's in that "need to be safe" mindset and so the best thing to do (for me anyway) is to back up and just give space. Eventually it all calms down and I can come out of the dark. One triggered becomes un-triggered eventually. Just give her space until it all calms down.

Hopefully she learns how to handle triggers better over time. That is her job though, not yours to avoid. It's impossible to avoid triggers since they literally can be anything.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @Marcus132 I agree with the above posts. It's not you, she needs to learn how to cope with her triggers. Don't take it personally dude. No need to beat yourself up about it or get really depressed. When I'm triggered I can accept it and use social interaction to distract myself or I can isolate and wait for it to pass. Just give her space for a while like everyone else said. All the best to you. S3 😊
 

candor

Confident
Hi Marcus: Six years ago, I got the same advise as you are getting. My guy has additional mental health issues. Our last break was 8 months long then back to explosive love and after two months of that back to black. He is always in doubt of anybody's motive to be around him. He eventually ghosts everyone. I have been able to gain incredible insights into trauma bonding. In those 6 years, it's all about his needs. There is no way I can bring up my unmet needs cause that is perceived as my being abusive. Being calm and not engaging is perceived as being uncaring. So as a supporter, you train yourself to be tough as nails. You take nothing personally and you never know if this is the final goodbye or why. It has made me aware of the fine balance in all relationships between being withholding of the truth and telling it as it is. Everyone agrees on honesty but few can handle it without going into victim good. Hope my experience helps someone. I have no regrets but would discourage anyone from choosing my path.
 
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