New Relationship after ptsd

purplefishie

New Here
I could use some advice. I’m trying to have a relationship for the first time after leaving one with domestic violence verbal/emotional/financial 5 years ago. Have to have contact with ex because of child. The new guy is great- a little quiet on emotional communication but shows how he feels.

I am getting triggered constantly from small comments, texts, any feeling of not being sure where I stand/trust. I’m disassociating when stressed, walling off emotionally, having to just get away from him. Sometimes I feel calm and happy but the longer this goes on the worse I’m reacting to normal relationship ups and downs and communication. Trying to take it slow and stay grounded but it’s not working, I think I’m not capable. Any advice?
 
It's tough, isn't it?

The more you are working on yourself, the better off you'll be. Are you working with a qualified trauma therapist? If not, you really need to be.

My problem is that I constantly mix up my current partner and my abusive ex in my trauma-addled brain, even though they are absolutely nothing alike. And we've been married 13 years! So there is no quick fix. Your awareness that you have issues is fantastic and will go a long, long way.

Does your new guy know that you have issues?
 

purplefishie

New Here
I do have a trauma therapist. I’ve let the guy know I’ve been through a lot and described some of it but not much as I don’t want him to think it was my fault or I’m unstable. I’m sure at this point he knows I have issues from my behavior. I opened up to someone about this before and they used it against me so I’m feeling like I just can’t speak.
 

DharmaGirl

MyPTSD Pro
Do you have grounding tools to help when you are triggered? Are you working on triggers and stressors with your therapist? If you are constantly triggered, maybe you should work on yourself before you try having a relationship? What do you do to to handle the excess stress in your life? Do you meditate or exercise? What can you do to control your reactions to the small comments and texts? There are lots of ways to reduce stress and handle triggers, but they take practice when you aren't stressed or triggered. It would be a good idea to talk to your therapist about this.
 

purplefishie

New Here
At some point if you want the relationship to last you're going to have to open up.

If you can't trust this guy, why are you with him?
It’s just very new it’s been just about 3 months. Still building trust but also keep getting in my own way.

Do you have grounding tools to help when you are triggered? Are you working on triggers and stressors with your therapist? If you are constantly triggered, maybe you should work on yourself before you try having a relationship? What do you do to to handle the excess stress in your life? Do you meditate or exercise? What can you do to control your reactions to the small comments and texts? There are lots of ways to reduce stress and handle triggers, but they take practice when you aren't stressed or triggered. It would be a good idea to talk to your therapist about this.
Thank you I do work on those things. It’s been 5-6 years since trying to date anyone. A real prize of a guy appeared and I decided to try. First time out after very traumatizing experience, I’m finding it much more difficult to handle than I thought I would.
 

DharmaGirl

MyPTSD Pro
I won't date because the stress is too much for me. I'm old though so it's not as important to me. Al the things I suggested worked for me to the point where I could have friendships again. The DBT Workbook was really helpful teaching me to be present with my feelings. Have you heard of it? I think I'm going to buy it again and work through it.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
i've been married for 41 years and am still taking my relationship play by play. i reserve the right to leave the playing court at any minute without explanation. so far, i've come back every time, but i reserve the right to keep on going the next time i leave the game. leaving my options open goes a long way toward relieving the relative pressure and give me room to ply therapy tools, as needed.

on a note which feels related to my own senses this morning, i am in the third year of my second parenting career. a concept which was unheard of in my first parenting career (80's and 90's) is, "play dating." i had my first "play date" yesterday on behalf of my 5 year old foster daughter. i find my social anxiety psychopating down lines i seem to remember from way back when i was eligible for romantic dating. dunno if i'm projecting, or what, but parental dating feels like the same social anxiety nightmare to my strictly personal senses.

begging forgiveness if i just went too far off topic. . .
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
I can feel you really want to work on you and still have a decent relationship and why should not you?

But I find often people confuse what is inside their head to what is outside - this is classic traumatic reaction nothing to be ashamed or afraid of.

I know these things are so obvious but they do keep us up at night when we do not make them clear like the day.


If I could give a direct advice without knowing much about your situation, I would say the following random things:

I am getting triggered constantly from small comments, texts, any feeling of not being sure where I stand/trust. I’m disassociating when stressed, walling off emotionally, having to just get away from him. Sometimes I feel calm and happy but the longer this goes on the worse I’m reacting to normal relationship ups and downs and communication. Trying to take it slow and stay grounded but it’s not working, I think I’m not capable. Any advice?

Whenever you have a feeling that you find negative, just ask yourself - is this real or a thought. For example, Like the text says "goodbye" and you think he means never seeing you again, you can stop and correct your own thought/feeling. Is it just good bye at face value or is it "good bye" as abandonment value? it can be both but at least at this point, you can only accept what is real. He said good bye. If you do not hear back from him and you usually do the next day, you can ask him sorry I am confused, are we sill on for such and such? Asking questions is a great way to get out of the certainty trap! Abusers love us to be certain so they can convince us like children - so we belief everything they tell us! but real life is not certain.

using real words to dialogue internally does help and puts things into perspective rather than thoughts jumping to the muscles and acting out without having the dialogue!

it is very possible you are doing this or something like it already but I was not sure...

Another thing is this - since you are so new to each other and you are from abusive relationship, one of the ways a lot of people get into terrible is. Abuse relationship usually mean the boundaries were broken beyond with menace. the abuser got in your head and you allowed it by virtue of trusting or it was forced. Now after the abuse, since this is all we know, we try to get into others' head or we demand they get into our heads without knowing and this causes a lot of grief. You are dissociating because that was one way you were trying not to have a person force themselves into your mind and getting close to this man is reminding you that, you are repeating this by default. This is a great thing to bring to therapy and witness it happening and try to play with by stopping it or creatively dealing with it like finding a unique way to compensate. BUT you do not need to tell him or burden him cause not everybody can understand the mechanism of trauma. This is your journey not his.

Long story short, you are conscious of your story but you are also probably a bit of pleasing type (my view of your post - could be 100% wrong). So you are trying to be honest with him but you do not need to hand him your mind. You have THE RIGHT to think one thing and do another and not share what you are doing.

This is really hard for traumatic people to get their mind around because it may seem like you are lying or being unauthentic but you are actually being an adult who can hold layers and layers of feelings/information without acting or announcing it all the time. This ability is something that gets lost in trauma cause abusers collapse all our layers so we become automatic and automated and then an easy target!

You can feel not trusting while you deal with that in therapy, and also announce to yourself in your head, you are observing this man as if you know nothing! both can be true and this is building your layering muscles. and if the layers get crossed, just ask what the person is saying or doing rather than explaining their doing with your own lenses from the abuse and feeling you are giving your own information.

Good luck.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
But I find often people confuse what is inside their head to what is outside - this is classic traumatic reaction nothing to be ashamed or afraid of.
^^ Wow, thanks @grit I totally do this, and usually what's in my head is terror (or evetually terror+ hopelessness or +/or exhaustion = despair).
Whenever you have a feeling that you find negative, just ask yourself - is this real or a thought. For example, Like the text says "goodbye" and you think he means never seeing you again, you can stop and correct your own thought/feeling. Is it just good bye at face value or is it "good bye" as abandonment value? it can be both but at least at this point, you can only accept what is real. He said good bye. If you do not hear back from him and you usually do the next day, you can ask him sorry I am confused, are we sill on for such and such? Asking questions is a great way to get out of the certainty trap! Abusers love us to be certain so they can convince us like children - so we belief everything they tell us! but real life is not certain.
And the last sentence of this ^^ totally resonates with me. I can not believe without great effort (at those times) anything but what others have told me. (Sounds pitiful, I know.)
Abuse relationship usually mean the boundaries were broken beyond with menace. the abuser got in your head and you allowed it by virtue of trusting or it was forced
^^ Very much so, for me.

I don't however relate to saying one thing and doing another (unless it means changing my mind, and saying so). I would find that a frightening situation.

Hi @purplefishie . This is a very new relationship, hope you can relax a bit as this is when you just are even basically even beginning to learn a bit about each other. It's great all indications are so far good. And it's going to be very challenging to push out of your comfort zone. At least you realize you are triggered, that is a huge thing.

ETA, this thread caught my eye, because for some unknown reason I got it in my head to google this morning someone from my far past, as to whether he still has a moustache or not. To which I thought, OMG, what am I doing, why is it on my mind? And this person means nothing to my life today- and doesn't have to cause me negative thoughts or awful feelings or color my day, or actually even my feelings about myself. And I deleted my search history, literally and figuratively. "Thank God" ( I thought for myself) it's a new life and a new day and a new time and new people. And maybe, a new choice of what I think about, and what I choose to think? Most of all.

Welcome to you. 🤗
 
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grit

MyPTSD Pro
@Rosebud
I do not want to hijack @purplefishie posting but I just want to quickly respond
I don't however relate to saying one thing and doing another (unless it means changing my mind, and saying so). I would find that a frightening situation.

I did not mean 'saying' something and doing "another". I meant thinking something or holding a thought or a feeling and doing something that may be or is opposite to the thought/feeling inside. This is a layering of human adult's mind - complex process that may only become obvious when it is broken. We all do it.

You said you have terror in your mind but you are not running around the city in terror---so you are acknowledging the terror in your head but controlling your behaviour including speech relating to the terror. At work, many times especially when a person is fired or a new person is hired, managers or others know but they go on as business as usual until they are ready to share. It is natural thing we do, but in trauma, all things become broken or fragmented and we have to do sometimes manually until they are integrated.

What I was trying to convey to @purplefishie is that: you may have a lot of fears and scary thoughts from the past but there is a way to hold that in your head and still try to observe outside and ask questions to clarify so of course you are not taken for a fool either. If fear inside is coinciding fear outside that is real, most likely it is really hard to concentrate and keep the body safe so you may naturally bolt. But when fear inside is not equal to fear outside, we have confusion. The best way is to clarify which also gives you more information about the person while they try to say what they need or try to pull a wool over your eyes! give yourself the credit that trauma breaks only our humanity to a level but it does not break our animal instincts at least to a point.

I can be a bit over -verbalizer, so I hope this makes sense.
 
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