Possible Trauma Bond? Narcissism? Me?

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Shrat

Policy Enforcement
Hey everyone,
I've been dealing with a lot of sadness lately. A little about myself. I'm a therapist/crisis counselor, married for 17 years with two children. I'm at a breaking point with my wife due to possible trauma bonding, but I'm so close to it, I am constantly questioning myself and whether it is me who is at fault. This is a pattern throughout my life. I am a people pleaser. I grew up not knowing my bio-dad, step-dad took over at the age of two, told me he was step-dad when he adopted when I was in 3rd grade. He worked hard, but was generally uninvolved, stressed, depressed etc. I loved him, but he was a stern man we had to walk on eggshells around. My mom on the other hand, was a saint. A kind, Godly women who loved my father despite his grumpy nature. She would not typically get angry, but when she did, it was a scene and completely out of character. Still, I had a pretty normal childhood, or at least I felt like I did.
Dated a girl in and out of high school for 2 years. The last year she began attending a cultish church that I got kicked out of for whispering to her that I thought the pastor was a bit controlling. She told him, and eventually, well, a fun meeting for me happened where I was voted out as if I wanted to come back anyway. Eventually became a youth pastor myself at 19 and did that for 18 years. Met my wife at a youth ministry in another town. She was quiet and gentle natured. She was a doer, a servent, liked to do things for others. This seemingly humble nature appealed to me a great deal. Throughout our marriage, however, she has exhibited control issues and judgment. I've never felt like I can be fully myself with her, and as time as gone on, I've only lessened aspects of my personality to avoid conflict. She has always had social issues, felt awkward, doesn't know how to talk to people. I'm a talker, make friends quick, people like me. It's my only gift. I'm empathetic and this is what has led me to become a therapist.
I've come to realize that my wife may have no capability to have empathy, at least not for me. She is not an apologizer, never has been. It is incredibly difficult for her to admit a wrong, and when she does say she is sorry, it is usually in an angry way and I'm supposed to accept it as genuine and feel good about it. I don't, but again, I've learned to avoid conflict. Over the years I've felt quite lonely. I developed an anxiety issue as a youth pastor because I would take everyone's problems home and forgot that I could not fix anyone. Through CBT, running, and meds, that eventually smoothed out, but it was miserable and I realized I had been anxious most of my life and just thought it was how everyone felt. My wife has a hard time sitting down and having a productive discussion if it involves conflict with us where any compromise on her behalf would have to be made. She won't let me finish a sentence, assumes what I'm going to say, then believes that meaning no matter what. Over the years, this has led to escalations due to my frustration on having to always carry the blame and, along with my already self-critical nature, the panic it has induced. I have had a few panic attacks during arguments. Once I lied down on the kitchen floor because I was dizzy and out of breath. She stepped over my body and just went out to the car. My 6 y/o son at the time came over with a tissue and wiped my nose. She came back in, scooped him up, and left. I could have been having a heart attack for all she knew, but no consideration. Another time, she told me to go to the hospital, so I went out to the car and sat for 15 minutes until it passed, came in the house and went directly to bed. No questions or thoughts toward my well-being. I'm not perfect myself by any means. Last November I broke. I was working for a family based therapy company and I resigned. I had been working with a family, including a Grandmother who was incredibly anxious, was not sleeping, and needed a Cpap machine. My job was as a MST therapist, so I worked with the whole system to help lessen the juvenile's behaviors. If we could get Grandma her machine, she could get better sleep, agitation levels would be down, helping to create a more relaxed atmosphere in the home, perhaps helping the juvenile be less reactive. That was the idea here anyway, we'd try many different things. When I resigned, the company just closed the case w/o assigning another therapist. Grandma still had not gotten her machine and her anxiety prevented her from making the phone calls necessary to make the appointments etc.. I decided to go to the home two additional times after resignation to help her manage this. Yes, in the therapeutic world, this would be unethical, other therapists jaws hit the floor and they act like you just committed murder, trust me, it's a fun time if you accidentally let it slip that you did something so scandalous. But I am who I am and I felt it was the moral thing to do, so I did it. I couldn't not do it. Well I came home and my wife spent two hours arguing with me about how unethical I was (news to me that she would have ever felt this way), quoting scripture about submitting to authority (out of context btw) and making me feel like I was an absolute heel. This is the person I love, that I believed to love me, that I would have thought might say, if she'd say anything, "Honey, that was nice that you helped that old lady", but I didn't even expect that. At the end of the 2 hours, she then says, "I change my mind, I agree". I ask what changed her mind. "I don't know, I just changed it". No explanation. Never an explanation. No apology for making me feel like the core of who I am and my principles are rotten.
So I broke. I felt empty, alone, unloved. I eventually made a bad choice and looked at pornography. I also logged into a dating website to attempt to connect through chat with someone to feel less alone and receive some sort of validation. I didn't, I felt too guilty. My wife found out. I didn't really hide it. I lied for a day out of shame, then admitted. She found a few more things I had looked up, I again lied for a day out of shame, then admitted. She knows everything, we've been in counseling. She still thinks I'm lying even though I've given her complete control of everything. She has all passwords, I have never owned a cell phone, web sites are blocked at work, and I told her she could shut the internet off if she wanted to when she went to bed, (plus she already has covenant eyes on it). Anyway, she keeps insisting I'm still lying, and she'll say things like I'm a gross man. I ignored for a few weeks, but then got incredibly desperate and panicked due to her accusations. What is she thinking I did? There is nothing else, I don't want her to think whatever gross thing she thinks. But when asked, she only kept saying, "you know and you have to repent on your own, I'm not going to tell you". This was for a couple of weeks. She kept being mad at me, and would not tell me what she thought I was lying about. I eventually sent her a facebook message where I pleaded and said, I just want to die. That's how I felt at that moment, completely overwhelmed. Her response: "The lies & manipulation are over the top If you really are thinking that way then you need to go to crisis; in another town if need be. I’m not equipped to deal with that on a normal day much less when you’re lying to me".
Keep in mind that 6 years ago I went to her and told her how alone I was feeling and I was worried about where this was headed. She only seems to have the capability to love me in the way she feels loved, acts of service. So her response is always just to do more, cook more, etc. She knows my love language is words of encouragement. She told our therapist that It is hard for her to encourage me, but she couldn't say why. I have only continued to be better over the years, speak her love language, be considerate. She will criticize what I talk about, so I will be considerate and not talk about those subjects anymore, and then she will say I don't talk as much as I used to. This is someone who never talks, and yet I feel guilty. She will run down of everything wrong with me in arguments and say absolute nonsense and I'll be convinced. She had me convinced once that all of my relationships with my family/siblings were poor and I needed to repair them. I had my shoes on, keys in hand, ready to drive an hour to show up at my brother's door to apologize for who knows what. I don't understand any of this. I am guilty of breaking her trust and understand her anger about the websites. I don't expect her forgiveness anytime soon, if at all. But it sure would be nice if there would be some indicator that she was at least capable of understanding context of what would bring someone to making out of character choices. I feel so depressed. Do you think this is possible trauma bonding? Signs of something else here? Is she a narcissist? Is it me and I have too high expectations? I feel like I am not allowed to be myself, but maybe I'm not allowing myself to be myself? Why do I stay? I'm not happy. But I love her. I don't like her.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
When you reference "trauma bonding", is that a reference to this relationship? That would indicate that you consider this is an abusive situation...?

It's not clear which of the two of you have been diagnosed with PTSD - is that you?


I eventually sent her a facebook message where I pleaded and said, I just want to die. That's how I felt at that moment, completely overwhelmed.
Was this recently? Have you started seeing someone to help you with your depression and anxiety?
 

Cannonl3all

New Here
Hey everyone,
I've been dealing with a lot of sadness lately. A little about myself. I'm a therapist/crisis counselor, married for 17 years with two children. I'm at a breaking point with my wife due to possible trauma bonding, but I'm so close to it, I am constantly questioning myself and whether it is me who is at fault. This is a pattern throughout my life. I am a people pleaser. I grew up not knowing my bio-dad, step-dad took over at the age of two, told me he was step-dad when he adopted when I was in 3rd grade. He worked hard, but was generally uninvolved, stressed, depressed etc. I loved him, but he was a stern man we had to walk on eggshells around. My mom on the other hand, was a saint. A kind, Godly women who loved my father despite his grumpy nature. She would not typically get angry, but when she did, it was a scene and completely out of character. Still, I had a pretty normal childhood, or at least I felt like I did.
Dated a girl in and out of high school for 2 years. The last year she began attending a cultish church that I got kicked out of for whispering to her that I thought the pastor was a bit controlling. She told him, and eventually, well, a fun meeting for me happened where I was voted out as if I wanted to come back anyway. Eventually became a youth pastor myself at 19 and did that for 18 years. Met my wife at a youth ministry in another town. She was quiet and gentle natured. She was a doer, a servent, liked to do things for others. This seemingly humble nature appealed to me a great deal. Throughout our marriage, however, she has exhibited control issues and judgment. I've never felt like I can be fully myself with her, and as time as gone on, I've only lessened aspects of my personality to avoid conflict. She has always had social issues, felt awkward, doesn't know how to talk to people. I'm a talker, make friends quick, people like me. It's my only gift. I'm empathetic and this is what has led me to become a therapist.
I've come to realize that my wife may have no capability to have empathy, at least not for me. She is not an apologizer, never has been. It is incredibly difficult for her to admit a wrong, and when she does say she is sorry, it is usually in an angry way and I'm supposed to accept it as genuine and feel good about it. I don't, but again, I've learned to avoid conflict. Over the years I've felt quite lonely. I developed an anxiety issue as a youth pastor because I would take everyone's problems home and forgot that I could not fix anyone. Through CBT, running, and meds, that eventually smoothed out, but it was miserable and I realized I had been anxious most of my life and just thought it was how everyone felt. My wife has a hard time sitting down and having a productive discussion if it involves conflict with us where any compromise on her behalf would have to be made. She won't let me finish a sentence, assumes what I'm going to say, then believes that meaning no matter what. Over the years, this has led to escalations due to my frustration on having to always carry the blame and, along with my already self-critical nature, the panic it has induced. I have had a few panic attacks during arguments. Once I lied down on the kitchen floor because I was dizzy and out of breath. She stepped over my body and just went out to the car. My 6 y/o son at the time came over with a tissue and wiped my nose. She came back in, scooped him up, and left. I could have been having a heart attack for all she knew, but no consideration. Another time, she told me to go to the hospital, so I went out to the car and sat for 15 minutes until it passed, came in the house and went directly to bed. No questions or thoughts toward my well-being. I'm not perfect myself by any means. Last November I broke. I was working for a family based therapy company and I resigned. I had been working with a family, including a Grandmother who was incredibly anxious, was not sleeping, and needed a Cpap machine. My job was as a MST therapist, so I worked with the whole system to help lessen the juvenile's behaviors. If we could get Grandma her machine, she could get better sleep, agitation levels would be down, helping to create a more relaxed atmosphere in the home, perhaps helping the juvenile be less reactive. That was the idea here anyway, we'd try many different things. When I resigned, the company just closed the case w/o assigning another therapist. Grandma still had not gotten her machine and her anxiety prevented her from making the phone calls necessary to make the appointments etc.. I decided to go to the home two additional times after resignation to help her manage this. Yes, in the therapeutic world, this would be unethical, other therapists jaws hit the floor and they act like you just committed murder, trust me, it's a fun time if you accidentally let it slip that you did something so scandalous. But I am who I am and I felt it was the moral thing to do, so I did it. I couldn't not do it. Well I came home and my wife spent two hours arguing with me about how unethical I was (news to me that she would have ever felt this way), quoting scripture about submitting to authority (out of context btw) and making me feel like I was an absolute heel. This is the person I love, that I believed to love me, that I would have thought might say, if she'd say anything, "Honey, that was nice that you helped that old lady", but I didn't even expect that. At the end of the 2 hours, she then says, "I change my mind, I agree". I ask what changed her mind. "I don't know, I just changed it". No explanation. Never an explanation. No apology for making me feel like the core of who I am and my principles are rotten.
So I broke. I felt empty, alone, unloved. I eventually made a bad choice and looked at pornography. I also logged into a dating website to attempt to connect through chat with someone to feel less alone and receive some sort of validation. I didn't, I felt too guilty. My wife found out. I didn't really hide it. I lied for a day out of shame, then admitted. She found a few more things I had looked up, I again lied for a day out of shame, then admitted. She knows everything, we've been in counseling. She still thinks I'm lying even though I've given her complete control of everything. She has all passwords, I have never owned a cell phone, web sites are blocked at work, and I told her she could shut the internet off if she wanted to when she went to bed, (plus she already has covenant eyes on it). Anyway, she keeps insisting I'm still lying, and she'll say things like I'm a gross man. I ignored for a few weeks, but then got incredibly desperate and panicked due to her accusations. What is she thinking I did? There is nothing else, I don't want her to think whatever gross thing she thinks. But when asked, she only kept saying, "you know and you have to repent on your own, I'm not going to tell you". This was for a couple of weeks. She kept being mad at me, and would not tell me what she thought I was lying about. I eventually sent her a facebook message where I pleaded and said, I just want to die. That's how I felt at that moment, completely overwhelmed. Her response: "The lies & manipulation are over the top If you really are thinking that way then you need to go to crisis; in another town if need be. I’m not equipped to deal with that on a normal day much less when you’re lying to me".
Keep in mind that 6 years ago I went to her and told her how alone I was feeling and I was worried about where this was headed. She only seems to have the capability to love me in the way she feels loved, acts of service. So her response is always just to do more, cook more, etc. She knows my love language is words of encouragement. She told our therapist that It is hard for her to encourage me, but she couldn't say why. I have only continued to be better over the years, speak her love language, be considerate. She will criticize what I talk about, so I will be considerate and not talk about those subjects anymore, and then she will say I don't talk as much as I used to. This is someone who never talks, and yet I feel guilty. She will run down of everything wrong with me in arguments and say absolute nonsense and I'll be convinced. She had me convinced once that all of my relationships with my family/siblings were poor and I needed to repair them. I had my shoes on, keys in hand, ready to drive an hour to show up at my brother's door to apologize for who knows what. I don't understand any of this. I am guilty of breaking her trust and understand her anger about the websites. I don't expect her forgiveness anytime soon, if at all. But it sure would be nice if there would be some indicator that she was at least capable of understanding context of what would bring someone to making out of character choices. I feel so depressed. Do you think this is possible trauma bonding? Signs of something else here? Is she a narcissist? Is it me and I have too high expectations? I feel like I am not allowed to be myself, but maybe I'm not allowing myself to be myself? Why do I stay? I'm not happy. But I love her. I don't like her.
I don't know what Trauma bonding is yet, but you're not alone in dealing with gaslighting, and those behavior patterns...Yes, well she sounds like a Covert Narcissist to me.
The panic attack with your 6yo boy tending you you is heartbreaking. No matter what, remember what you experienced in your childhood, and make sure your baby boy isn't going going to want to rescue a woman like mommy, who may be the vulnerable narcicisst that treats Dad like trash. You're doing what you can with the pen thing. Even if its an addiction, you're being proactive.
Youtube Dr. Ramani
That woman's channel helped me a LOT with the "Narcissistic" people in my life... My recent ex fiance.
You got this brotha
 

Shrat

Policy Enforcement
When you reference "trauma bonding", is that a reference to this relationship? That would indicate that you consider this is an abusive situation...?

It's not clear which of the two of you have been diagnosed with PTSD - is that you?



Was this recently? Have you started seeing someone to help you with your depression and anxiety?
I just enrolled in therapy, start early Dec. I am a crisis counselor myself, so I speak with my fellow crisis counselors. But it's hard to tell them full details as I still have a tendency to want to protect my wife's image due to living in a smaller town. I don't want to hurt myself if that's what your worried about, it's more thoughts of not existing at times, lack of hope. Ultimately, I have my faith, but that's also difficult because my goal has always been selflessness which would dictate that I put myself aside in these circumstances, however, I've been doing that for 20 years and if this is an abuse of a sort, I don't want to enable it any longer, nor teach my children that it is okay.
 

Shrat

Policy Enforcement
When you reference "trauma bonding", is that a reference to this relationship? That would indicate that you consider this is an abusive situation...?

It's not clear which of the two of you have been diagnosed with PTSD - is that you?



Was this recently? Have you started seeing someone to help you with your depression and anxiety?
And in response to your first question, yes, I suppose I'm trying to understand for myself if I am, and have been in an abusive situation and just have not recognized it. She I quite often feel crazy as she changes stories within minutes and says she didn't say things or did say them. I have a great memory, she's acknowledged that my memory is much better then hers, but she always insists that she is right in every one of these circumstances.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
I don't want to hurt myself if that's what your worried about, it's more thoughts of not existing at times, lack of hope.
There was 2 panic attacks that you've had that you referred to in your post: lying on the kitchen floor after feeling dizzy and breathless, then sitting in your car when your partner suggested going to the ER.

Panic attacks suggest Anxiety - and that's treatable. So that you wouldn't have your young child having to be the one to come and help you stabilise - you can learn skills to do that yourself, and ultimately, largely avoid panic attacks altogether.

Not wanting to exist anymore is more in the low mood spectrum of issues, like depression. Also mostly treatable.

Neither of those are ptsd, though.

What you've described doesn't sound abusive so much as dysfunctional. Narcissism is a personality disorder of pretty epic proportions, and you've acknowledged that your partner does have a love language, it's just different to your own. Would seem to me that rules out narcissism rising to the degree of a psychiatric disorder.

You sound miserable in this relationship right now. And it sounds like it gets pretty dysfunctional. But based on what you've written, 'abusive' sounds like a big call.

Thing is - none of us here can diagnose squat. It's just a peer support forum for people with a particular mental illness - ptsd - which neither of you have...? So, apart from speculation from people who have never met either of you, and have no qualifications to answer the questions you've posed...it's hard to know what support to offer, except to say that perhaps starting with your own mental welfare, and getting some real life help with that, would be the most likely thing to make a big difference in your situation.
 

Friday

Moderator
Do you think this is possible trauma bonding? Signs of something else here? Is she a narcissist? Is it me and I have too high expectations? I feel like I am not allowed to be myself, but maybe I'm not allowing myself to be myself? Why do I stay? I'm not happy. But I love her. I don't like her.
Why do you need apportion out blame/diagnoses? You don’t like her. Or respect her. And haven’t, it sounds like, for years and years. 6+ if I’m reading things right. There doesn’t have to be more than that... unless your church doesn’t allow for divorce, except for in the event of abuse? If that’s the case, I would seriously consider a legal separation. All the pain in the neck, expense, & benefits of divorce (custody, child support, spousal support, separate banking, credit, homes, et al)... whilst still remaining married.
Do you think this is possible trauma bonding?
You haven’t mentioned anything that reads as trauma. Lots of fairly normal interpersonal conflict, some dramatic/manipulative emotional-blackmail style conflict (meltdown level stuff, like throwing yourself to the floor on one occasion, threatening suicide on another), & some 101-trust building for infidelity stuff (handing over passwords & other transparency).

Am I missing something? The two of you working as missionaries in someplace with a war on, plague, natural disaster? (Living day in & out with the very real threat of death hanging over the 2 of you; or up to your eyeballs in other people’s deaths?) One or both of you -or your children- being sexually assaulted? Domestic violence? Mountain climbing accident? Kidnap&Ransom? House fire? Months of painful surgeries & prolonged recovery following a car crash, or cancer diagnosis? Mugged & stabbed/beaten/shot?

Just throwing out some ideas here... somehing like 70-80% of the population experiences CritA level trauma at some point in their lives, apx 20% of those people go on to develop PTSD from that trauma... but trauma bonding can occur without PTSD. So whilst there’s very good odds that you and/or your wife have been through CritA trauma, there’s only low middling chance you went through that together as you’ve been together for what sounds like 10 or 15 years. <<< Which is what might create a PTSD* level trauma bond. Going through life or death circumstances, or sexual assault, together. Which, sure, can affect relationships up to their eyeballs. But normal relationship problems don’t create trauma bonds. Trauma does.

*
As opposed to, say, the bonds forged or shattered in grief; like from burying one of your children. But as you asked specifically about trauma bonding, that’s where my focus has been. Also not meaning to disinclude the 50% of people who go through traumatic circumstance and don’t develop PTSD. All kind of super messy things happen in life or death trauma, PTSD is just one of them. People without a single symptom of PTSD, or any other trauma/stressor related disorder, can & do readily form trauma bonds with people they’ve been through life & death shit with.


Is she a narcissist?
Ditto everything @Sideways said, but especially here.
 

Shrat

Policy Enforcement
There was 2 panic attacks that you've had that you referred to in your post: lying on the kitchen floor after feeling dizzy and breathless, then sitting in your car when your partner suggested going to the ER.

Panic attacks suggest Anxiety - and that's treatable. So that you wouldn't have your young child having to be the one to come and help you stabilise - you can learn skills to do that yourself, and ultimately, largely avoid panic attacks altogether.

Not wanting to exist anymore is more in the low mood spectrum of issues, like depression. Also mostly treatable.

Neither of those are ptsd, though.

What you've described doesn't sound abusive so much as dysfunctional. Narcissism is a personality disorder of pretty epic proportions, and you've acknowledged that your partner does have a love language, it's just different to your own. Would seem to me that rules out narcissism rising to the degree of a psychiatric disorder.

You sound miserable in this relationship right now. And it sounds like it gets pretty dysfunctional. But based on what you've written, 'abusive' sounds like a big call.

Thing is - none of us here can diagnose squat. It's just a peer support forum for people with a particular mental illness - ptsd - which neither of you have...? So, apart from speculation from people who have never met either of you, and have no qualifications to answer the questions you've posed...it's hard to know what support to offer, except to say that perhaps starting with your own mental welfare, and getting some real life help with that, would be the most likely thing to make a big difference in your situation.
Thanks Sideways. I have been on medication for anxiety for several years. I've had a few panic attacks, the two I posted about, and another more recent, but not huge. My wife is diagnosed PMDD and PCOS, which affect her hormones considerably, but there's more there. The stuff I posted is only a slice. I think what Cannon says up there about covert narcissism could very well be true as every one of those symptoms, she has exhibited from the beginning. It has been incredibly frustrating as I have all but disappeared in my efforts to adjust and be considerate to meet her needs, it's been hard work, but it is never enough and she has done nearly nothing and makes it seem like that's my fault. When I express my feelings, she will generally mirror what I say. For instance, "I've felt lonely for awhile now" "Well I've felt lonely for a few years". And, "I feel like my world is very controlled here at home and I have to make sure I stay within certain guidelines or I get punished for it", "Well I've felt like you've been controlling me for a long time". And that last one is tough because she has complete freedom to do anything she wants, no questions asked, ever. So no validation. I understand you may think that these things are not abuse, but when I read online, it can get confusing because some of these are just a few examples of what has been consistently the communication and behavior I have received for twenty years, and some of the articles I read make it seem like it might be emotional abuse, so that's why I asked. I didn't want to think something was that it wasn't. And I know you can't diagnose that, more searching for opinion.
 

Shrat

Policy Enforcement
Why do you need apportion out blame/diagnoses? You don’t like her. Or respect her. And haven’t, it sounds like, for years and years. 6+ if I’m reading things right. There doesn’t have to be more than that... unless your church doesn’t allow for divorce, except for in the event of abuse? If that’s the case, I would seriously consider a legal separation. All the pain in the neck, expense, & benefits of divorce (custody, child support, spousal support, separate banking, credit, homes, et al)... whilst still remaining married.

You haven’t mentioned anything that reads as trauma. Lots of fairly normal interpersonal conflict, some dramatic/manipulative emotional-blackmail style conflict (meltdown level stuff, like throwing yourself to the floor on one occasion, threatening suicide on another), & some 101-trust building for infidelity stuff (handing over passwords & other transparency).

Am I missing something? The two of you working as missionaries in someplace with a war on, plague, natural disaster? (Living day in & out with the very real threat of death hanging over the 2 of you; or up to your eyeballs in other people’s deaths?) One or both of you -or your children- being sexually assaulted? Domestic violence? Mountain climbing accident? Kidnap&Ransom? House fire? Months of painful surgeries & prolonged recovery following a car crash, or cancer diagnosis? Mugged & stabbed/beaten/shot?

Just throwing out some ideas here... somehing like 70-80% of the population experiences CritA level trauma at some point in their lives, apx 20% of those people go on to develop PTSD from that trauma... but trauma bonding can occur without PTSD. So whilst there’s very good odds that you and/or your wife have been through CritA trauma, there’s only low middling chance you went through that together as you’ve been together for what sounds like 10 or 15 years. <<< Which is what might create a PTSD* level trauma bond. Going through life or death circumstances, or sexual assault, together. Which, sure, can affect relationships up to their eyeballs. But normal relationship problems don’t create trauma bonds. Trauma does.

*
As opposed to, say, the bonds forged or shattered in grief; like from burying one of your children. But as you asked specifically about trauma bonding, that’s where my focus has been. Also not meaning to disinclude the 50% of people who go through traumatic circumstance and don’t develop PTSD. All kind of super messy things happen in life or death trauma, PTSD is just one of them. People without a single symptom of PTSD, or any other trauma/stressor related disorder, can & do readily form trauma bonds with people they’ve been through life & death shit with.



Ditto everything @Sideways said, but especially here.
I was not being manipulative when I had a panic attack and I didn't throw myself to the floor. I laid on the floor while having a panic attack due to the verbal assault and the constant and consistent lack of letting me speak, her cutting off sentences and assumming meaning, which she then makes her story about me based on things never said. This particular day, it had already been going on for over 10 years whenever we had to talk about anything serious. I have to defer to get through. But my stress level was too high, anxiety shot up, hence my first panic attack. Didn't know what was happening myself. But it sure wasn''t manipulation. I also wasn't threatening suicide to her, she was insisting for weeks on end that I was lying, that I knew what I was lying about, but would not tell me what she was accusing me of. Turns out when she finally did the other day, I wasn't lying and all she had to do was tell me what she had misunderstood. She kept escalating her attacks, telling me I was going to rip the family apart with my lies and that I was gross and disgusting. I had no idea what she was talking about. I ignored for a couple of weeks but the tension broke me, I begged her to tell me one last time, pleaded, she still refused, and I said I just want to die, not trying to manipulate, it was a factual statement because I have literally given everything to this woman and my kids and I don't ask for much, just let me sit and feel like I didn't do anything wrong for 5 minutes. I work in crisis like I mentioned, sometimes double shifts, 17 hours, overnights mainly however. I also work as a drug and alcohol therapist, hear a lot of stories, she does not like me talking about my jobs with her, so I respect that. But she does not provide much emotional support. That's fine, but when something like this happens and she makes an accusation and says I know and she knows but she isn't going to tell me, that feels an awful lot like abuse after being emotionally spent. I should be stronger, have more support, I know, this is part of that start. But my thoughts were far from thinking of manipulating, I simply felt overwhelmed and would have preferred to not have existed in that moment. I knew full well that she wasn't going to tell me anything when I said that.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
What do you want from her?
What does she want from you?
And those things both of you want from the other, can you both give?
And if not, do you separate or stay together?

Suppose those are the things you need to work out in your couples therapy?

It sounds like you have both really hurt the other emotionally. Of course she isn't going to trust you if you went on a dating website etc. That wouldn't have helped your wish for her to hear you and take responsibility for her actions and learn to say sorry. I can see how that would just entrench both your positions.

I'm interested in your account of you going to your ex clients home and your wife's response to that. I can imagine my response if my partner told me they did something that was considered unethical and below professional standards. I would have the same reaction as your wife! You risked your job and profession. There was another way to deal with that situation but you chose this way. Which impacts potentially impacts your wife and child if you were struck off from working. But you feel unsupported by her and don't hear her view. Maybe there is some self reflection for you to consider here.

Having therapy for yourself sounds a good move.

And maybe reminding yourself that you have agency and autonmy in the decisions that you make in your life.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
I should be stronger, have more support, I know, this is part of that start.
I don't know about the 'stronger' part. But getting real life support for yourself sounds pretty critical at this point. That may be online counselling depending on where you are in the world id your local town is too small for the help you need.

Coming here? Is probably about as helpful as a person with testicular cancer seeking input from a peer support forum for people with kidney failure, you know?
 

Friday

Moderator
I was not being manipulative
Sure thing. If you want to assert that your behavior was in no way at any time escalating into any kind of desperate attempt to be noticed/heard/paid attention to by someone increasingly distant; and your decades of working in one of the core fields of manipulation (psychology, diplomacy, hostage negotiation, etc. all require both a natural aptitude to manipulate others, & years of intense training & practice to perfect the skill set); in no way ever comes home with you, or are a part of your relationships, even in your most desperate moments? I might find it unlikely... as most therapists, negotiators, & diplomats have to be really conscious of that... but there are exceptions to every rule. I’m perfectly fine with the possibility of you being that exception.

As it still doesn’t change anything.

The problems you listed out, are still normal unhappy-marriage problems.

As opposed to trauma-bonding. Which is what you were asking about.

That doesn’t mean that they’re good problems. They’re problems so profound as to create an unhappy marriage. Marriages, especially long term marriages, can absorb a helluva lot and still be strong & happy. Things that would be dealbreakers when you’re dating, or divorce worthy early on, just shrugged at and roll of like water off a ducks back. To rise to the level of creating an unhappy marriage? Of no longer liking or respecting someone you love? Those are BFD -big f*cking deal- problems. But what you asked about, was trauma-bonding. Which are just as likely to be happy moments in someone’s life, you&me against the world; as painful moments. To borrow someone else’s analogy? It’s not like testicular cancer is no big deal because it’s not kidney failure. And vice versa. They’re just 2 very different BFDs.
 
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