Safety is a trigger

HealingMama

MyPTSD Pro
I long for a sense of safety but apparently it is a trigger for me. Or rather, emotional comfort. I had an attachment reaction today and it's frustrating me bc I finally last night felt comfortable for like an hour after two weeks or more of feeling uncomfortable around my partner. After I became aware of the problem he told me that this is usually when it happens, shortly after I get comfortable.

This is probably also why I have trouble with acting out prior to or during a vacation. It's a time to let my guard down.

If you are triggered by a sense of safety and comfort and letting your guard down, what has helped? I am not even conscious of this dang pattern. I can only see it after the fact and that really bothers me.
 
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bird_on_a_wire

MyPTSD Pro
If you are triggered by a sense of safety and comfort and letting your guard down, what has helped? I am not even conscious of this dang pattern. I can only see it after the fact and that really bothers me.
I think remembering (if you have the energy) that when you feel that way it may be coming from within you and not the fault of the other person (or the relationship), you can begin to sit with it and examine your self. And try to communicate. (JMHO).

ETA, do you think connection or attachment may be the trigger, not safety or emotional comfort (since safety and emotional comfort are by themselves the opposite feeling of being triggered or feeling unsafe)?
 
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HealingMama

MyPTSD Pro
I think remembering (if you have the energy) that when you feel that way it may be coming from within you and not the fault of the other person (or the relationship), you can begin to sit with it and examine your self. And try to communicate. (JMHO).

ETA, do you think connection or attachment may be the trigger, not safety or emotional comfort (since safety and emotional comfort are by themselves the opposite feeling of being triggered or feeling unsafe)?
Maybe so, maybe it is connection.

When this happens, I always find a reason to be upset that seems convincing enough. It was a real fluke that I even caught it this time.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
This may not sound like the same thing but I think that it is or is very similar. I used to sabotage feelings of safety by doing stupid things like reckless driving or overspending. I would not necessarily mean to create an issue between me and my partner or me and my husband but create stress, in general in response to the feeling of safety I was having. Sometimes, however, my actions did affect my relationships and I knew that they would, ahead of time.

I wish I had a better or more thorough piece of advice but just writing has really helped me to understand where my connections are and how to slow down the head noise that says that this feeling of calm needs to have a wrench tossed into the middle of it.

Of course, discussing it with a therapist is often helpful. I am finding EMDR to be really great for showing me how all my traumas have built on one another and this seems like it might help me to make some changes in my life.
 

HealingMama

MyPTSD Pro
This may not sound like the same thing but I think that it is or is very similar. I used to sabotage feelings of safety by doing stupid things like reckless driving or overspending. I would not necessarily mean to create an issue between me and my partner or me and my husband but create stress, in general in response to the feeling of safety I was having. Sometimes, however, my actions did affect my relationships and I knew that they would, ahead of time.

I wish I had a better or more thorough piece of advice but just writing has really helped me to understand where my connections are and how to slow down the head noise that says that this feeling of calm needs to have a wrench tossed into the middle of it.

Of course, discussing it with a therapist is often helpful. I am finding EMDR to be really great for showing me how all my traumas have built on one another and this seems like it might help me to make some changes in my life.
I am glad to hear that you are finding some good connections. My traumas have built on each other as well. I'm planning to bring this up with my T, but she is skills based so idk what we can even do with this issue.

I agree with you that it's the same thing, same pattern, unconscious drive to break what is working smoothly. I kind of hate it but I learned not to trust smooth I guess.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
I kind of hate it but I learned not to trust smooth I guess.

It is still pretty suspicious to me, too. But after almost 6 years of marriage, I rarely react to that feeling, anymore. It only rears its head now every once in a while. That took some time, patience and the right guy in my life (finally).

My sister, though, has been a real miracle story in my book. She has been married for about 20 years now, with cPTSD and after severe childhood sexual abuse, being abandoned by my mother and already having an autistic boy from a former relationship who has completely out of control when she did get married. I know she has struggled tons with trust and that feeling of wanting to attack or run.

It is no natural road to get there once you have learned otherwise but smooth can sometimes be trusted.
 

Sideways

Sponsor
I didn't actually pop into this thread, except I'm reading a book by Matt Haig about depression and anxiety. A comment I just read made me think of your thread title:

"Actually, [mental illness] can be exacerbated by things being right externally, because the gulf between what you feel and what you are expected to feel becomes larger."

I thought of your thread, and wondered if maybe something similar is happening for you? That there are external (and possibly internal) signs of 'safety', and suddenly your brain is assuming that things should suddenly feel right. Safe.

But feeling 'safe', when you have ptsd, is something that our brains only gradually learn over time. Suddenly being 'safe' doesn't cure ptsd, including all those miswired neurotransmitters that are routinely reminding us that we're unsafe.

Actually being safe may help establish a feeling of safety. At least temporarily. But you still have ptsd, and with that comes the perpetual state of fight/flight - feeling unsafe irrespective of how 'safe' your surroundings are...?

Maybe? So, safety not being a trigger as such, but also, not being a permanent cure for that much more familiar feeling of being unsafe.
 

HealingMama

MyPTSD Pro
I didn't actually pop into this thread, except I'm reading a book by Matt Haig about depression and anxiety. A comment I just read made me think of your thread title:

"Actually, [mental illness] can be exacerbated by things being right externally, because the gulf between what you feel and what you are expected to feel becomes larger."

I thought of your thread, and wondered if maybe something similar is happening for you? That there are external (and possibly internal) signs of 'safety', and suddenly your brain is assuming that things should suddenly feel right. Safe.

But feeling 'safe', when you have ptsd, is something that our brains only gradually learn over time. Suddenly being 'safe' doesn't cure ptsd, including all those miswired neurotransmitters that are routinely reminding us that we're unsafe.

Actually being safe may help establish a feeling of safety. At least temporarily. But you still have ptsd, and with that comes the perpetual state of fight/flight - feeling unsafe irrespective of how 'safe' your surroundings are...?

Maybe? So, safety not being a trigger as such, but also, not being a permanent cure for that much more familiar feeling of being unsafe.
That's an interesting thought. Maybe sometimes that is what is going on. I do think the incident that inspired this thread was more like safety being dangerous.

In trying to articulate this, I am reminded of Diane Poole Heller's attachment injury trainings. Specifically the fourth module. I get her therapist-facing advertisements and her DARe4 training sounds right on the money. One of the goals of that training is to

  • Unravel the entanglement of the 'need to attach' from the instinct to 'defend against' survival-threat that arises from a parent being too scary or who had unresolved trauma of their own
And that's how I'd describe this. There's a need to attach, but it's also something to defend against, so I feel pulled into fight mode or flight mode or sometimes freeze mode. Occasionally I give into the attachment need, and then all my alarms go off and within short order I'm trying to unravel it somehow.

Attachment means threat for me on a deeper level, so deep that it's hard to even be conscious of this pattern. I tend to pick very natural, convincing reasons to distance myself.
 

bird_on_a_wire

MyPTSD Pro
Attachment means threat for me on a deeper level, so deep that it's hard to even be conscious of this pattern. I tend to pick very natural, convincing reasons to distance myself.
I think when it comes to attachment, and insecure attachment styles, for all people it's largely unconscious until made conscious, whereby then you can choose to recognize and attempt to deal with it or change it. Which doesn't mean you can necessarily change all of it, or all of it with all people, but does help you take onus for what your mind is doing and choosing to communicate and act differently, and have a better understanding of how the people around you are left feeling in response, too. And maybe tend towards secure attachment, albeit even selectively. We all tend to interpret life and pick very natural, convincing reasons that fit with our subconscious fears, stories and schemas (usually negative ones) we tell ourselves and meanings that lend to support what is our subconscious belief of reality, and that bode for self-preservation and for pain avoidance when not a secure attachment style (let alone as regards ptsd complicating matters).

Good luck to you. 🤗
 
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HealingMama

MyPTSD Pro
I think when it comes to attachment, and insecure attachment styles, for all people it's largely unconscious until made conscious, whereby then you can choose to recognize and attempt to deal with it or change it. Which doesn't mean you can necessarily change all of it, or all of it with all people, but does help you take onus for what your mind is doing and choosing to communicate and act differently, and have a better understanding of how the people around you are left feeling in response, too. And maybe tend towards secure attachment, albeit even selectively. We all tend to interpret life and pick very natural, convincing reasons that fit with our subconscious fears, stories and schemas (usually negative ones) we tell ourselves and meanings that lend to support what is our subconscious belief of reality, and that bode for self-preservation and for pain avoidance when not a secure attachment style (let alone as regards ptsd complicating matters).

Good luck to you. 🤗
Well, yeah when you put it like that I agree, that this is a common way many people process their experience. Confirmation bias and all. Thanks, it helps to hear someone normalize it especially when I'm dysregulated and feeling a lot of toxic emotions. 🤗
 
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