Relationship New to the forum. Looking for advice for supporting my partner

Tinyflame

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @Nemesis92 ,
We both love each other and want to be together but we are going through a rough patch and I want to do what I can to not make things worse.
^^ I think if you are not intending to make things worse, it is not on you. I also wouldn't call it mistakes, just things that haven't worked well. As Sweetpea said:
You are not in charge of managing her stress reactions or triggered behavior.
This is true. Although I would say, sometimes being triggered (just for me) is worse to manage when I am run down, fearful already, feel unwell, haven't slept, etc. So self care for both of you is a good thing.

It is her responsibility to pick apart her triggers (eventually), and to manage herself. If she can't she has to realize what she can do (go to her own space, etc). Adding alcohol in can accelerate a tipping point.

i do think (again just for myself) when triggered and there is some basis (eg there is cause for upset but it does not have the implications I am reacting to, which were from the past) its' harder for me and takes much longer to realize it needn't have the impact it does.
I guess I’m looking for helps with the specifics… what do you say to someone who is inconsolable in the moment?
i don't think we can take away each other's pain, only be present and on the same side. Building trust does build safety. Unfortunately that safety can actually make you more prone to be lashed out at too, though. Not being reactive, listening, being kind, humor, understanding, space, listening to each other's suggestions, and all of these at 'normal' times especially, I think builds that. Which takes a lot of time and patience. And should be for each other, not one-sided.

ETA I think it's very important it is not one-sided, that is if someone is out of control especially at times like those there can only be boundaries stated before such times. And responsibility for one's self. For example, you say she is done or fed up with you, but that could be deflecting responsibility for her own reactions, not apologizing or feeling badly about her own behaviour and part in it, and ultimately putting blame outside of herself rather than her looking inward at what she needs to do for and about her own self/ reactions.

Not sure if that's helpful.

Best wishes to you both.
 
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throwaway13

Learning
But I should be supporting her and doing my best to make her feel safe. Currently my actions just make things worse - and I don’t think it’s fully a her thing or fully a me thing that’s making it the case, I think it is both of us. I was wondering if there are ways to at least mitigate the mistakes I make, aside from trying to listen to what she needs in times of being triggered.
I guess I’m looking for helps with the specifics… what do you say to someone who is inconsolable in the moment?
One thing that took me time to learn is that when my spouse is symptomatic there’s nothing that I can do that will be right. Her brain twists everything around.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
But I should be supporting her and doing my best to make her feel safe.

Here’s the thing though… you can’t make her feel safe. She has PTSD, so she is going to feel unsafe regardless.

It is a difficult lesson for supporters to learn, but we cannot “help” and we cannot “fix.” You are not going to love her better. She has a mental illness.

Attempting to do the heavy lifting when it comes to soothing or managing triggers isn’t romantic, it’s codependent. She has to manage that stuff on her own.

I’ve been with my sufferer for a decade, and trust me when I say you are never going to say the right thing, do the right thing, or be perfect enough to manage any of this stuff with your partner. If she is inconsolable, she’s inconsolable. You’re not going to change that. Only she can change that. You can support her by understanding PTSD and being empathetic without being codependent.
 

Tinyflame

MyPTSD Pro
I agree @Sweetpea76 , but I've often wondered hearing this often:

Here’s the thing though… you can’t make her feel safe. She has PTSD, so she is going to feel unsafe regardless.
I find some people do contribute to a feeling of safety, some increase a feeling of unsafety, some it's irrelevant. Without being codependent, and expecting it, or expecting to provide it, I wonder if it's part of human nature and experiences, or understanding? (Much as even without ptsd, someone loud, or direct, or what have you, may ease one's mind, or disturb another's based on their history beliefs, etc?) I liken it to working with people with dementia, I have a certain way that simply seems to work better for me, and consequently 'us'. Though it's not disingenuous. Or how we pivot, in the sense of approaching an infant different than a child, different than an adult? Or a fearful animal rather than a confident one? I also wonder if some is communication, because clarity personally puts my mind more at ease. I don't mean walking on eggshells of course, just a rhythm or demeanor or understanding. (Though it may be a bit different for Vets, or Vets who were in positions of great authority perhaps? Just a thought. ) I have troubles supporting too, and not sure always what I am facing. And feeling safe is up to me, but as I said I still can find other's impactful in either direction. I find even the feeling of safety itself is on a bit of a continuum, though not counting the initial switch that trips, so to speak.

What do you think?
 

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
I guess I’m looking for helps with the specifics… what do you say to someone who is inconsolable in the moment?

My mom used to actually take me to the hospital when I get so messed up that I'm just wailing uncontrollably because she didn't know how to make me feel better. I had to tell her that the hospital is not going to help me manage my feelings (&& will actively make things worse) because I can't take benzos.

I had to tell her I just have to have my feelings and go through them and there's nothing that she can do to help me. I'm just expressing my emotions && I am not hurting myself or other people, so I just need to be able to do that.

She can rub my back and try to soothe me and bring me hot coffee and help me take baths or go for walks/scooter rides outside and things, but she can't fix my trauma and she can't fix my feelings.
 

Nemesis92

New Here
My mom used to actually take me to the hospital when I get so messed up that I'm just wailing uncontrollably because she didn't know how to make me feel better. I had to tell her that the hospital is not going to help me manage my feelings (&& will actively make things worse) because I can't take benzos.

I had to tell her I just have to have my feelings and go through them and there's nothing that she can do to help me. I'm just expressing my emotions && I am not hurting myself or other people, so I just need to be able to do that.

She can rub my back and try to soothe me and bring me hot coffee and help me take baths or go for walks/scooter rides outside and things, but she can't fix my trauma and she can't fix my feelings.
Thank you,
 

caroline_13

MyPTSD Pro
Yep. Being the “Designated Asshole” is my least favorite thing about loving others with PTSD.

I actually mean ‘favourite’ in a non-sarcastic sense.

In a romantic relationship? That means we’re done. Full stop. Mad respect for supporters who can ride that ride, because I simply do not play. I have zero problem with momentary physical violence, until they realize who I am & when/where they are. But the pervasive, acid-dripping, aspect of thinking/feeling me as not-me? Gets zero play. In a romantic relationship.

Traumatized KIDS I suck it up. Not being me. Not being real. Just being a safeish target for their anger. And paranoia. And mixing up past/present until there’s no distinction between the two.

Traumatized adults can go f*ck themselves. Or someone else. Shrug. Either or. But no matter what? It’s not gonna be me.
This is kind of what I was feeling but I am not qualified to give relationship advice...
 

Friday

Moderator
This is kind of what I was feeling but I am not qualified to give relationship advice...
LOL… I almost never give advice. I just share what I did/do, why, & the end results… and let people take what’s useful to them, or not.

I only learned to do that once I had kids… as what’s best for one kid, even in the exact same family, is very rarely best for any other kid in that family. And that only gets exponentially more true once one is looking at parenting kids outside of that family. People are different & need/want different things. Seems so damn basic, but it took me being responsible for making the best of things, for people NOT me, to really wrap my head around it. As I had to do things differently for every child in my care. Different from how I would want things, and differently for each of them.

A multitude of “bests” just blew my mind, but it changed my perspective -utterly- in all things relationship. Because the same durn things that I find as bonuses in a romantic relationship? Will be dealbreakers for others. And vice versa. There is no singular “best” or “right” way. It all comes down to personality & preference (and luck & timing 😉).
 

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
I have PTSD.

I hope it’s ok to say this.

I cannot drink alcohol as it spikes my symptoms. Last time I drank (4 years ago) I had a meltdown where I regressed to feeling like a traumatized child. I haven’t had a drink since.

Alcohol can cause issues for many people with PTSD and other mental illnesses. It’s not up to you to control her alcohol consumption, but I do want to throw out there that alcohol could be making things worse for her. If she’s open to hearing this, you could talk to her about it. Or, you could just suggest more sober type activities. (I’m not making any assumptions on how much she drinks, but I do know that for me, even a small amount of alcohol can cause major problems.)

I wish you the best.
 

Nemesis92

New Here
I have PTSD.

I hope it’s ok to say this.

I cannot drink alcohol as it spikes my symptoms. Last time I drank (4 years ago) I had a meltdown where I regressed to feeling like a traumatized child. I haven’t had a drink since.

Alcohol can cause issues for many people with PTSD and other mental illnesses. It’s not up to you to control her alcohol consumption, but I do want to throw out there that alcohol could be making things worse for her. If she’s open to hearing this, you could talk to her about it. Or, you could just suggest more sober type activities. (I’m not making any assumptions on how much she drinks, but I do know that for me, even a small amount of alcohol can cause major problems.)

I wish you the best.
She rarely ever drinks - we were just out at a works event and heading home when she got triggered. She’s not in a good state at the moment, very erratic and getting high and low moods. She says she wants to be social but just wants to be alone. I’ve seen her a bit but for the most part I’ve been staying at my home alone to give her space.

Christmas is a really triggering time for her so I think that is what is causing it at the moment as there are decorations out already- I’m hoping it won’t be like this for months and she can get a bit of steadiness but who knows. She doesn’t want Christmas to exist. I feel stuck in the middle because my family have invited her but she doesn’t want to come but she also doesn’t want to offend anyone. I want her to want to come and be part of it but it was all negative talk yesterday so I didn’t push but deep down I’m worried about Christmas every year now because I can’t just ignore my family and stay with her but I also can’t just leave her alone on Christmas
 

caroline_13

MyPTSD Pro
I have PTSD.

I hope it’s ok to say this.

I cannot drink alcohol as it spikes my symptoms. Last time I drank (4 years ago) I had a meltdown where I regressed to feeling like a traumatized child. I haven’t had a drink since.

Alcohol can cause issues for many people with PTSD and other mental illnesses. It’s not up to you to control her alcohol consumption, but I do want to throw out there that alcohol could be making things worse for her. If she’s open to hearing this, you could talk to her about it. Or, you could just suggest more sober type activities. (I’m not making any assumptions on how much she drinks, but I do know that for me, even a small amount of alcohol can cause major problems.)

I wish you the best.
Me too, alcohol makes things worse.
 
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