General Progress With So's Ptsd!

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dulcia

MyPTSD Pro
After finding this site, I have a concrete list of things I can actively do each day to help with my SO's PTSD outbursts/episodes. Since trying these things, we have gone 8 days without any outbursts or arguments! Hooray! I am sure I will be tested again soon, but for now, this level of functioning feels oh so good!
 

dulcia

MyPTSD Pro
Congrats on making progress! Is your list specific to your SO or general enough that it might be use...
They're vague. The only specifics I have are certain triggers I make a note of avoiding. I am working on these right now:

- Speak clearly and directly to avoid misunderstandings.
- Realize there is no need to speak everything that comes to my mind. (Silence is more calming than my chattering.)
- Give space when needed. (Take the hint that he's not in the mood to talk right now and do something else or that he's not texting back because he is busy or doesn't have anything to say -- which is not a horrible thing.)
- Use more "I" than "you" statements. (You didn't even give me a kiss goodbye vs. It makes me happy when I get a goodbye kiss.)

Here's a list I posted on another thread a while back. Mind you, I'm super new too and have only recently started moving back uphill with my SO through a rough patch :)

- Try not to take it personally (key word *try*)
- Do not return insults and put downs that are sometimes common in outbursts
- Have someone you trust and feel safe with that you can call/text/talk to during a particularly bad outburst that can ground you (when I get too in my emotions to think clearly)
- After things have truly and completely calmed down -- compliment and receive a compliment in return (i.e. You did a good job reeling yourself back in earlier today, I'm proud of you for that)
- Never get physical. A touch, push, or grab on your part can be a massive trigger and can escalate things to an unsafe place.
- If you can't snap him out of it, try to find something that grounds him. (For my SO, it's seeing the animals nervous because they don't like the yelling. If I can get him to realize how it's distressing them, it sometimes helps calm him down)
- If you are venting to friends and family, don't just tell the bad. We tend to only complain when things are bad, and forget to bring up the good things too. If your friends and family only hear about arguments and outbursts and not about how he did the dishes or picked you flowers, then they are going to start resenting him.
^Some comments from sufferers and supporters recommend not venting to friends and family unless you have to, so if you do, keep it vague. Your friends won't really understand and often your SO doesn't want other people knowing about their diagnoses.
 
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This is a great list, @tiredtexan !!

Thank you for sharing! This lines up with a lot of our practices in our relationship, too.

I do avoid "venting" to any family/friends - mainly because I want to protect THEIR view of my husband. I have found it VERY helpful having this forum, and one other specific to DID and supporters of DID folks, to voice things that I really couldn't "entrust" to others outside our relationship. Plus, posting in this way often gives me other things I can research, or helps me gain perspective on other things I can control in myself ..

One BIG one for me is my own self-care. I MUST guard my sleep, and since I'm the primary bringer-of-a-paycheck, this is especially important so I can stay on top of things with my job and still come home without a short temper. :) :(

I am SO happy for you that you are finding good steps and solutions - things you can be PROACTIVE in to assist BOTH of you in your success!

~WU
 

dulcia

MyPTSD Pro
This is a great list, @tiredtexan !!

Thank you for sharing! This lines u...
I am new to this forum and only found it after 2+ years into my relationship with my combat vet. I have made the mistake of venting to friends and family in the past, particularly my sister. She (understandably based on some of the things she's heard) thinks I can do better, deserve better, etc. But I now know that she ultimately cannot understand my relationship dynamic, especially based on how much people in this forum are able to understand so quickly. I can't take back my past sharing, but any advice on how to rectify the situation? Luckily, I haven't done massive damage to my relationship with my sister, and she can still play nice with my SO, but the way she now views our relationship hurts me. Whenever she brings things up (unsolicited) about PTSD or my relationship, I am polite but dismissive and do not engage in the conversation. His diagnosis is not broadcasted but is often assumed due to his being a combat vet who did multiple tours overseas. I don't discuss anything but minor issues with my sister anymore, and nothing PTSD-specific, but I'm worried I've done irreparable damage to her perception of him and am unsure how to try and repair it.
 

feetfirst

Learning
Realize there is no need to speak everything that comes to my mind. (Silence is more calming than my chattering.)

@tiredtexan That's a great list you provided. I can definitely use some work on speaking less and listening more.

I didn't think I had a list, but I guess I do. Here's my list of the things I try to do each day:
  • Respect his need for time alone and know it's not about me.
  • Keep my focus on me and my issues, especially when he's struggling the most.
  • Take care of myself.
  • Remember his struggles are not my struggles, and I am not responsible for his life.
  • Stay out of his business unless he asks for my opinion.
  • Try not to take things personally.
  • Remember it is the depth of his feelings for me that makes him feel uncomfortable around me.
  • When he escalates, remain calm and tell him ASAP, "You're escalating love." If escalation continues, tell him I love him and am leaving the conversation for now.
  • Stand outside of the escalation and don't get dragged into it.
  • Don't hold back on being effusive.
  • When I think something is distorted thinking, gently say, "Love, I think that's distorted thinking." to keep it from building.
  • When I'm struggling, DON'T talk to my friends. Come here, read about other's experiences and post if necessary.
  • Use active listening to ensure I'm hearing what he's saying. A side benefit is he hears what he's saying too and can clarify.
  • Let him know how much he brings to my life.
  • Be mindful of not asking too many questions or probing.
  • Think twice about being critical, as his shame often blows it out of proportion and makes things worse.
  • Try to remember to be lighthearted and enjoy each other (this can be one of the most difficult as things often seem so serious).
  • And the number 1 thing: love him for the amazing man he is!
Wow this was such a good exercise for me, I just printed out my list for myself! I look forward to the day when these actions will be automatic. For now, I'm grateful I no longer feel as though I'm walking on eggshells.

Thanks for starting this thread!
 
Oh dear .. VERY good stuff, here!!

These especially stood out to me ..

Remember it is the depth of his feelings for me that makes him feel uncomfortable around me.

Try to remember to be lighthearted and enjoy each other (this can be one of the most difficult as things often seem so serious).

And as for this:

Whenever she brings things up (unsolicited) about PTSD or my relationship, I am polite but dismissive and do not engage in the conversation. His Diagnosis is not broadcasted but is often assumed

*deep sigh*

My husband's PTSD is actually because of developmental trauma. So for us, it happens to be a bit of a relief if people presume his "quirks" are due to his military experience. He never actually made it to combat though - he was special ops, but broke his back on a training exercise and was dismissed thereafter before ever seeing combat. Which is a whole 'nother story. So I'm not sure our situation will help too much .. BUT ...

As for "redeeming" other's opinions .. If/when I do talk about my husband, I tend to very CHEERFULLY talk about our VICTORIES - how I'm PROUD of him .. even with family who know about his very broadly categorized "social anxieties" (w/o going into detail, and for us, this also means having hidden from them the fact my husband is also a "multiple" (DID/MPD)) - I CHAMPION his successes in overcoming, and some of this is evident to them, too, because he really does do so much better with other family, and social events, etc. than years ago. We talk about how we "brag" on each other in this way. :)

Cuz I would rather they "assume" he is BETTER than he is. If they think he's awful - they only reinforce my OWN selfishness or negative emotion in the moment, and we have NEVER found that helpful. :) :( So I guess I make it a point to brag on his successes, even if to some objective observer it might seem I'm over exaggerating them. Because INSIDE our relationship, the things that others outside might presume to be problems .. well, they just are our "normal" and other people can't really "judge" our relationship like other relationships .. so we have our OWN set of policies and procedures, we have defined for ourselves what relationship "success" looks like ..

So .. I don't know how to put this, but it's a little like I'm "translating" OUR successes into language that "other" people would understand as "success" .. I suppose in the strictest sense it might sound like I'm advocating lying - I most certainly am not. And if it comes down to STRICT honesty with a counselor or Therapist, etc? I suppose that might look VERY different than my "bragging on my husband" to my MOM or my SISTER, for example. As far as I am concerned, my husband and I are the BEST equipped to know how to understand our dynamics, even with "complications" at play. And we just have to accept that we have largely reinvented the wheel of "normal" and we are OK with that. It really does, for us, boil down to what works for US. (We choose to not let it matter what everyone else might think .. but I want to speak as positively as possible because if they think worse, they BUTT IN, and that DOES make it worse!!) In those relatively RARE instances where I need to "vent" and have no other outlet, I will be much quicker to express it HERE in an anonymous forum than with FAMILY I have to see face to face too often. (LOL) ...

I really hope others reply, though, on your question as to:
I can't take back my past sharing, but any advice on how to rectify the situation?

Great thread - I think I'm benefitting more than adding to the discussion, though! (LOL)

So thank you!
~WU
 

dulcia

MyPTSD Pro
INSIDE our relationship, the things that others outside might presume to be problems .. well, they just are our "normal" and other people can't really "judge" our relationship like other relationships
I am near tears because this is so perfect. I am an open person and overshare in nearly every aspect of my life, so I've struggled with what I mentioned in my earlier post. This statement is everything. You're not lying, nor do you have to lie. You're not hiding and you still are able to share with friends and family. Thank you SO much for your response. I feel as if I can physically feel my perception of things shifting after reading it.

On a side note: Your post also made me realize how different people react to things that happen in my relationship. For example -- my SO's PTSD leads to bad tempers, exaggerated responses, cynicism, etc. In short, he can be difficult sometimes, often times for no reason or for the tiniest reason. (I know you can already understand all of this due to your experience with PTSD, but prefacing it helps my thought process.) One night he was overreacting and having a full blown episode that included criticisms, yelling, and punching walls. I was very emotional and did not want to drive and also knew that neither of us would want the neighbors to see me wandering around our street a blubbering mess. I also know that EVERY TIME this happens, he is so mad the next day that he just cost himself time, money, and effort on patching yet another hole. So...I locked him out of the house. Things were escalating too quickly and we both needed space and in that moment, that was my go to. Maybe not the most mature thing, but safer than my other reactions in the past. He blew my phone up with calls and texts and was irate but went for a walk because there was nothing else to do and eventually calmed down, at which time I let him back in. The point of the story -- I told my sister that story and her response was that I shouldn't have to deal with that and that I should be with someone that treats me like a princess. My SO's family? When he told them what happened the next time we saw them, they laughed, hugged me and congratulated me for what I did. I think that is because his family knows him on an intimate level like I do and know how he is and how his behavior can get. Their response was totally unexpected and made me feel embarrassed at first, but how awesome to have that :)
 
Oy, I have had a bad history of "oversharing" .. I have had my own issues, and so there is a lot of general "people pleasing" in my efforts to talk about our experiences .. and I think there's this drive, too, to "seem more normal" because of relationship stuff - everyone gets "relationship stuff" right? So sharing builds intimacy with people - especially female family members (not to be sexist, we just tend to be more verbal and can talk around a relationship map topographically and with animation, et al!) ..

BUT. I had no idea about healthy boundaries in relationships, and I was really more about trying to get people to share in my world with interest, and fact of the matter is .. all too often, these people just don't "matter" enough to me to try to let them in that far.

I have had to do a lot of work on MYSELF in order to be a good support for my now-husband. Even when we were just "friends only" - and our journey with PTSD started LONG before romance entered the picture, which I think made our journey a bit healthier than many others I've seen posted here, but the fact of the matter was my then-friend actually loved me better, more sacrificially, more sincerely, than any of my family ever has. He saw things in me other people couldn't, and he'd call me out on things other people wouldn't - cuz I was a bit of a force to be reckoned with in my own right. ;) But he could "stand up to me" and I respected that. He was FEARLESS with respect to worrying about what other people thought. He just didn't - in large part cuz he'd given up on that in his youth cuz life forced him to. And now, we kinda balance each other out. I provide a bit of a social conscience for him - he cares more about coming across conversational instead of confrontational, for example. And for me, he became a safe place to BE myself, failures and all, without loss of the love and respect of our friendship (and now marriage). My family? Not so much.

So I "upgraded" (LOL) .. I have a love relationship with this man who is MY family, and my FOO (family of origin) - while I LOVE them - has a place that's like another circle outside of him and me.

Now, I know some people can think that his "extremes" suggest I'm tolerating potentially "abusive" behaviors. MEH. This man couldn't abuse me if his life depended on it .. he's fierce sometimes, he's "extreme" sometimes, but he is also extremely fierce in his PROTECTION of me, and his "fierceness" is directly proportional to his heart/core conviction to "be kind to the creature" .. he's a champion of the downtrodden, and he stands up to bullies. So no, I'm not "hiding" some kind of abusive behavior inside our relationship. And if I was ever tempted to, he'd be the first to force me to "man-up" so to speak. (LOL)

An analogy I've used in other posts .. I've come to see our relationship as a Garden, with a beautiful fence around it. You can see it from the outside, you can appreciate the beauty, or maybe even harbor your own opinions about "Well, I wouldn't have planted THAT there," or "Geez, it looks like that corner sure has a lot of weeds, I'd do something about that!" Psh. But I didn't invite you INTO our garden, and you don't know why we chose to put what foliage where, or what our plan is for dealing with the thornbushes or the weeds, etc. WE are landscaping this, WE love this garden, and if I INVITE you to offer your observations, or perhaps even to contribute some seeds or saplings, or whatnot, it's because WE want those varieties to be incorporated into what we've got going on here. But if I didn't invite you? You don't just get to throw all your seeds over our fence. And what's more, if you are forever throwing bad seed in here, or have nothing constructive to offer, you MAY lose the privilege of even looking OVER the fence, here, let alone ever having the gate opened to you. So tread lightly, loved one. This GARDEN is my home and my priority. And we are nurturing this garden OUR way, for OUR good pleasure, for OUR good health and happiness and wholeness. And guess what, we're the ones who live with the results - for better or for worse.

I don't want to "lock" anyone out, per se. But I am MUCH better about defining the boundaries, identifying "toxic" people, and perhaps most critically - not NEEDING all their opinions about whether our garden is good enough or not. I have had to identify MY own happiness, and as far as our Garden is concerned, THIS is my happiness, his HEALING is my joy, his vibrancy and health and wholeness is my pleasure! And not because I'm all about sacrificing myself as if I'm some kind of martyr. It's actually in large part a direct result of the fact that HE has championed MY best self. He forces me to "own" my own decisions, to not be so subject to my own emotions or the opinions of others, he has forced me to stand on my own two feet, and WE have taken great care to build our life in such a way that we don't "need" each other to survive (in the most literal sense) .. which means we continually CHOOSE to be together. (That might take some further explaining, but you'll just have to take my word for it that this "works" for us. ;) )

I'm thinking out loud, here - I hope I haven't totally sidetracked the conversation. But I really do GET the whole "tired" and "lonely" elements. And I DO need an outlet to process other struggles (like work struggles can REALLY stress my guy out, in large part cuz he can't fix it, and he knows we NEED my paycheck - so if I am having a rough time of it with work stuff? I have a few good girlfriends I can talk freely with about those things, so I'm not unnecessarily weighing my husband down with my frustrations. IF I need to share something with him, I try to do what we call "speak from conclusion" .. he can't handle all the thinking out loud - but if I give him the bullet points that demonstrate I've already worked it through, etc? He's much more apt to appreciate what I'm managing on OUR behalf .. )

For as long as this post is, I still feel I'm really abbreviating, but I hope at least SOME of this encourages you, too!!

~WU
 

dulcia

MyPTSD Pro
I try to do what we call "speak from conclusion" .. he can't handle all the thinking out loud - but if I give him the bullet points that demonstrate I've already worked it through, etc
I'm learning to do this and I have definitely noticed that it's helping. If someone is easily overwhelmed, you don't give them too many details or more than they need. That makes so much sense now. Lol.

As for everything else, thank you for sharing! Your sense of "we" that you have is so strong and makes me hope I can have that someday with my SO, who is still a champion at maintaining the walls he seems to have built over the years. Some days, I see the way he acts and his reinforcement of the walls as a testament to how much he cares for me deep down and that it is, at least in part, due to his strong feelings for me that he has to keep me (and any associated emotions) at a distance. Other times, I think maybe I am reading too much into the whole thing and I am just another relationship to him that may or may not work out and that has the same issues as any other past relationships of his. But how I feel depends on the day, really. (Obviously we don't talk about our feelings much.)

BUT -- the main thing I take from your post is your strong sense of "we" and "our love" and "our life". A solid confidence in your self, your hubs, and your love for each other. And I think that is is what I ultimately yearn for.

Not hijacking this thread at all! We're having conversations I didn't even know I needed to have ;)
 
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