Ugh thank you so much. I needed to read this and now I’ll continue give bb her space but it’s been hard. Lots of drinking on my endOnce she’s out of this episode (that whole timing thing!), if you’re going to make a go of it, I’d really suggest the 2 of you sit down & work out a game plan / ground rules for future isolations. It’ll probably take a few attempts to really work out the kinks, because each time will teach you something about yourself & vice versa, and what works & doesn’t.
Not everyone with PTSD isolates as a coping mechanism, but for those who do? It’s going to be a fairly regular occurance in their relationships.
Figuring out the Venn Diagram of what you need/want & what she needs/wants (hopefully there’s large overlap!) is one of the most useful things I know of in figuring out a practical compromise where you both get what you need, and ideally both also get what you want.
Every single relationship I’ve been in, whether it’s just me who isolates or if both of us isolate, how we handle those periods? Looks different. Because I might be the same person, but they’re different people. So what works for US? Is fairly unique to us.
I’ve dated a few people where there was no overlap (in either this, or some other area), or the only overlap was in needs-territory rather than wants. “Just” getting needs met? Can work. Sometimes. Although there’s nearly always friction. But either person sacrificing their needs? Puts about a 2 year clock on the relationship statistically speaking. ((And is part of why so many relationships that survive rhe 6mo watershed, die at 2 years. Even psychopaths have a hard time “being” someone else / “who” they think the other person wants them to be, for someone for longer than 2-3 years. The rest of humanity? Finds it near impossible. Being on best behavior lasts around 6mo, and being on good behavior, maxes 18mo later, leaving just “us” / “who” we really are, farts and all.))
I Can handle it. IF we communicate that this will happen from time to time. The unexpected nature of her isolation is what threw me off. I guess she did send a funny meme a few days ago so that counts as a check in but man. This has been unexpected and tough. I keep trying not to dwell on it and tell myself she’s gonna come backHonestly, if you can’t handle giving her space for a few weeks a PTSD relationship probably isn’t for you.
My partner isolates as a coping mechanism. I have to be OK with that. I understand that he needs that space to feel better and that it’s not about me. Giving him that space and not taking it personally is a loving act on my end.
He cannot deal with me being needy or making it about myself when he is in a state… which he usually is if he needs to shut down and isolate. He’s in survival mode.
she just testified against her old partner and he was found guilty of 10 felonies for DV, strangulation, etc...
That’s the thing with isolation periods. They’re coping mechanisms for overwhelm. She’s not always going to be able to communicate that she is beginning to feel symptomatic/stressed/triggered. She has a mental illness and sometimes it will get the better of her. Ideally she would communicate that she wasn’t feeling well and needed some alone time, and you would understand and give her what she needed to feel better without taking it personally or resenting her for needing space. That’s not going to be feasible all the time.
Picture this. Your girlfriend is swimming upstream against the current in 20 foot deep water with rapids. She is barely keeping her head above water, so she is swimming as hard as she can trying to come out of it. You are dog paddling in the shallow water and yelling for her attention. She cannot pay attention to you in the shallows if she’s trying not to drown. Your feelings are being hurt because you’re concentrating on the fact she isn’t being an equal and attentive partner. You’re not considering the rapids.
^^^^ enter the rapids.
She is coping. She told you she needed self care. She has had small bits of contact so you know she is OK. Even that can be extremely difficult, especially if you are adding stress to the situation by telling her how much she is hurting you and trying to have relationship talks. Every self-preservation instinct of hers is probably telling her to run like hell in the opposite direction from that added stress.
PTSD relationships do not function like regular relationships where people mutually put in effort and prioritize the relationship. If your partner has PTSD you have to accept the fact that there will be times that they cannot put effort into the relationship or worry about your feelings. They’re ill. It’s like getting upset with a diabetic that cannot eat cake.
Does this mean to be a martyr and a doormat? Absolutely not. Learn to find the time and place to talk about relationship issues. It’s not in the middle of a symptomatic isolation stress-fest.
Her doing this has literally zero to do with you. Don’t take it personal. And if it still bothers you, it is OK to realize that you are not OK with the relationship. People need different things from their partners.
Noted. I’m taking some time to get out of my head. I think part of the issue is I just moved to a new city and I’m pretty alone out here. I’ve started reaching out more to people. I can chill out for a bit. Everything is fine, you’re right.Might I suggest thinking of things another way?
Giving her that space is a loving act. She needs it to feel better and you want her to feel better. Step back, take a breath, and stop the catastrophic thinking.
She didn’t say “I want to break up” or “I don’t want to see you anymore.” She didn’t cut off all contact. She just needs a break from life. Why spend the energy panicking and feeling bad?
Take a little me time for yourself and consider it a vacation. Give her a week with no “I miss yous” or relationship talks. See if she comes around.
She will appreciate the chill, and you will feel better too.
I’ve been with my sufferer for over a decade, and if you take all the PTSD symptoms and quirks personally you’re going to make yourself nuts.