Problem in my relationship due to a possible PTSD?

thatoneg

New Here
Hi everybody, this is my first post here and I hope everything is doing good.

Before getting to the real question I need to give you some background information, just so you have a clearer view about what's going on, I'm sorry if this will be long.

When I (F) was 17 years old I had my first relationship and first sexual experiences with a former close friend of mine. I don't know how to define it rather than really abusive. He pushed me to have sex with him as soon as possible constantly repeating me that he loved me and I could trust him, and I should know as we were almost best friends.

So I gave in and I lost my virginity with him even if I wasn't still convinced enough, but I felt immediately that something was off, but I was gaslighted and I kept repeating to myself that he loved me and I could trust him.

It went downhill very fast. We would argue practically everyday about the most stupid things and I wouldn't really know how it would happen, because he'd snap for anything. When we argued through text messages, I was always convinced I was right, then we'd meet to clear things up and I'd end up always apologizing not knowing why. I wouldn't be allowed to touch him and when I tried, he told me "I was not good enough, I lacked experience and if I tried I'd make a mess and hurt him".

Almost right after our first time, I started rejecting him and he would get extremely angry, firstly I tried to make up some excuses, then he wouldn't stop and I'd do something like pushing his arms away. In the end he got really angry and I explained to him that I wasn't ready and I needed a bit more time to approach my sexuality in the relationship, and he told me I was saying nonsense, that after loosing my virginity it was a stupid excuse to ask for more time, that he couldn't see the point in staying in the relationship if I couldn't give him everything the relationship should included.

So, once again, I forced myself into having sex with him and he broke up with me anyways after a couple of weeks because I said to him "fu** off" while we were arguing, and that he couldn't accept lack of respect coming from me. Aside from that, for the whole time we were together he kept blaiming me for being younger than him (just three years apart) and being really immature (as we were friends he always used to tell me how incredibly mature and wise I was for my age...).

I was scarred by this thing and I kept dreading to go out with anyone because I never felt ready to go on to the next step (sexual intercourse and so on), I kept making excuses and always tried to find flaws in all the guys I tried to go out with.

Last year I started going out with a guy who lives in my same student residence, we decided to take things slowly as we were almost already living together with other people, I explained the situation to him and he's always been very caring and understanding, he never pushed me in any way possible and it seemed like my problems had disappeared. I finally changed my mind about sex and I was able to see it as something that should be enjoyed by both parts and not something I had to do to make the relationship work. He is the first person who understands me totally, as he also had some problems with depression and anxiety, we got on very well and we enjoy the same things.

But something changed back in September.

While we were on a road trip my discomfort with sex came back (it happens when I accuse any kind of severe stress as I become very hypersensitive and feel overwhelmed) and I wouldn't tell him what was going on, so after the third or fourth excuse he got upset and he retreated onto himself for quarter an hour. This in some way brought me back to the behaviour of my abusive ex-partner and I broke down. My partner immediately apologised with me and explained to me that he did not react in that way because of the lack of sex, but because I was not being honest with him and that he just snapped unintentionally, and I get him. It seemed like everything was fine, but my anxiety kept growing and growing.

Back in January I started a short cycle of psychoterapy with a therapist offered by the university I study at (it's a free service offered to students in need of mental support) and I really wanted to elaborate the experience with my ex, because I felt like I never recovered from it (I start trembling like a leaf and having nausea every time I see him on the streets) and they would always dismiss my request, telling me that the problems with my sexual life were not coming from that experience, but from myself.

When I explained to them how I felt with my partner, telling them about the sex life and the fact that I started being avoidant and having constant questions about the relationship in my mind like "do I really love him? Am I ok in this relationship? Maybe I do not love him as much as he loves me, maybe when I'm happy with him I'm just pretending it" they told me "yeah, maybe you don't love him anymore, you should really considering breaking up with him because this is not love and all these questions are alarming, you're not giving enough attention to them, you're just feeling trapped in the current relationship", and they insisted on these things.

From that time on, I really started dwelling on the thing. I feel like I'm going crazy, all of a sudden I feel stressed by being in the relationship. When I try to rationalize I can't see any good reason why I should not love him anymore, I would really enjoy the time I'm with him if it wasn't for these thoughts that I feel that don't belong to me. It is really stressing and draining, it's like I can't enjoy the relationship anymore and I'm withdrawing more and more.

I tried to break up with my partner more than once when stress was at its peak and then I would feel horrible. It's like my mind is so crowded by so many things that don't belong to me that I have some serious difficulties in understanding what I really think and feel. I feel completely detached by reality, any social activity drains me to the point I'm always exhausted, I'm not even able to feel anxious for my exams anymore. On the other side I see that my boyfriend is really worried about me, he tries to compensate and help me and I feel like the more he tries to be closer to me, the more I withdraw and I feel terrible about that. I feel like a part of me that it's not me is ruining my relationship be convincing me I'm not in love anymore, and I don't know if it's true or not (does it even make sense).

I started to see another therapist and he mentioned I could have PTSD, so I wanted to ask here if people that share with me this problem have ever felt this way, if it is normal.

I guess I just need to be reassured. Everything feels incredibly overwhelming right now and as much as close friends and family try to support me, they don't really get what's going on. I feel incredibly alone and like I'm ruining what's good in my life with my own hands.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
Hi, @thatoneg - welcome. Do you mind if I ask, approximately where in the world are you posting from? (Therapy styles are pretty different, depending on what country you're in).

And is there anything that happened in your life (prior to the stuff with relationships) that could also be traumatic...like being in a motor accident, or a natural disaster, or in a country during wartime (or other examples)?
 

thatoneg

New Here
Hi @joeylittle thank you for your reply. I'm writing from Italy, regarding past traumas, I'd say my parent's divorced impacted me pretty badly, as it was not the smoother process ever (a lot of fighting, arguing and involving me was sadly involved) and it went on like that for more than a couple of years. Also, I tried to talk about this with my previous therapist, but this topic was pretty much dismissed as well.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
Was it verbal arguing or did you have fears for safety of one parent or the other? Did they physically fight each other?

What you are experiencing may or may not be related to the specific condition of PTSD, the diagnosis itself is best for professionals to sort out. There could be other things playing a role, or it could be PTSD. The responses of the first therapist do seem fairly unhelpful.

It seems like you didn't have a great model for emotionally safe relationships growing up, struggle to set and keep boundaries in relationships now, and for sure could benefit from some stress management strategies related to the overwhelming feelings that come up when trying to communicate needs and boundaries in relationships now.

Did you feel heard and validated much as a kid?
 
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thatoneg

New Here
@Justmehere it was mainly verbal arguing, but I remember clearly that in some situations I feared for their saefty.
Well I felt validated just from one parent, and sometimes I still struggle to feel validated from the other (this led me to have vary bad anxiety when it comes to work and university as I always want to do my best to impress said parent, at least this is what I discovered with my first therapist).
 

Justmehere

Moderator
Ah, ok. Makers sense. You asked about if what you are feeling is normal - and it's common, inside and outside of a PTSD diagnosis. It's possible you have PTSD or it could be a different mental health battle, and that's something to sort out with the pros. While that gets sorted out, I think what stands out to me is really struggling to hold boundaries and feel heard, especially after being gaslighted by an abusive ex. I can relate. I mean, relationships can be stressful and messy, and sometimes we need help to learn the skills to manage them and support to understand what is going on. When gaslighting was in the picture in my own life, it was hard for me to trust my sense of things and stand up for what I needed and be heard. It's hard to explain... I doubted everything for a time.

You also mentioned feeling overwhelmed. You have taken good steps to reach out, get help, and sort things out. I believe things will likely get better, a lot better. One thing that might be helpful to explore is grounding skills. You can use the forum search or the general search engine of your choice to find a lot of great free info on ways to ground when the anxiety and stress hits. It's good for any stress and anxiety generally, and can help with PTSD symptoms too.

PTSD or not, you are not alone in your experiences and really understandable feelings about them now.
 
C

Compelled to Run

It sounds like the first boyfriend has some issues. How were his parents towards him? I used to behave in some ways like him and I had serious issues with my mother. It makes think that he has an unhealthy perspective towards relationships like you somehow just exist for his needs.
 

thatoneg

New Here
It sounds like the first boyfriend has some issues. How were his parents towards him? I used to behave in some ways like him and I had serious issues with my mother. It makes think that he has an unhealthy perspective towards relationships like you somehow just exist for his needs.
I actually have no idea. As far as I remember, he had a pretty bad relationship with his father and he oftentimes didn't want to hear anything from him. Other than that I don't know any details because he tended not go deeper about this stuff. Sadly he was(/is? Don't know, never heard from him since then) not the kind of person who would admit to have issues, but I hope for him and for the people around him he got help in the meantime.
 
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