Relationship Supporting without over-stepping, aka My Tightrope Walk

Ok, this is only my second post, but if you read my first, you'll know I had a difficult conversation with my SO and our therapist, which resulted in her shutting down for the past week. She's still struggling to function at the bare minimum and has 3 kids, one who is a non-verbal toddler on the autism spectrum. On the best of days it can still be exhausting, because spectrum kids need more supervision and their sleep is unpredictable at best, on bad days it feels impossible. We don't live together because of a moral clause from her divorce, but I spend most of my time with her and the kids when I'm not working or sleeping, and it's been this way for over a year. Her ex was abusive and isolated her very effectively, to the point where she has literally no support system besides me and our therapist. Her only family member who tries to help is her mom, but her mom is the cause of most of her childhood trauma, either directly or indirectly, so it's not the healthiest situation.

With all that in mind, and knowing that she's definitely still upset with me on some level but can't talk about it yet because shut down, how in the world do I make sure she's ok, that the kids are getting attention, and still give her space to decompress? She's still at the beginning of therapy for CPTSD, so her tool belt is very under-stocked with ways to handle stress and function when her brain decides it needs to just shhhhhhhh for a while.

Sorry this is long and rambling, eventually I'll stop feeling the need to give so much back story before I get to my point. She's still too shut down to have a productive conversation, even about the level of help she needs right now around the house, so I'm winging it the best I can until the dust settles. Thoughts?
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
Does she ever let you watch the kids? If so, maybe you could text her and see if it’d be OK to take the kids on an outing or something? I know it’s hard with Covid, but maybe a drive, hike or picnic away from people.

Maybe make it less about “poor frazzled PTSD nerves” and more like “hey, I was kinda missing hanging out with the kiddos”?

Maybe just giving her an afternoon to catch her breath would help.
 
Yeah, I watch the kids sometimes for sure, but their dad is in town right now and if he happened to see me out with them, well, that would be problematic. The whole situation is so damned complicated right now, it's frustrating. Maybe I'll start a diary on here so I can get the whole story out, that way I won't have to explain certain aspects each time I post.
 
No clue, his schedule fluctuates. And unfortunately he's a huge part of the problem, but they have shared custody so there's no way she can cut off contact. He always told her, "if we're not together, we'll both die", he threatened to blow my head off, and we tried every legal avenue possible, but without him threatening me to my face, or visible texts she can show authorities, it's just hearsay. It took her a year and a half to get him to sign divorce papers, and the terms he agreed to keep her in a vulnerable position, but it was either that or never be divorced. Ugh.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
Ok, this is only my second post, but if you read my first, you'll know I had a difficult conversation with my SO and our therapist, which resulted in her shutting down for the past week. She's still struggling to function at the bare minimum and has 3 kids, one who is a non-verbal toddler on the autism spectrum. On the best of days it can still be exhausting, because spectrum kids need more supervision and their sleep is unpredictable at best, on bad days it feels impossible. We don't live together because of a moral clause from her divorce, but I spend most of my time with her and the kids when I'm not working or sleeping, and it's been this way for over a year. Her ex was abusive and isolated her very effectively, to the point where she has literally no support system besides me and our therapist. Her only family member who tries to help is her mom, but her mom is the cause of most of her childhood trauma, either directly or indirectly, so it's not the healthiest situation.

With all that in mind, and knowing that she's definitely still upset with me on some level but can't talk about it yet because shut down, how in the world do I make sure she's ok, that the kids are getting attention, and still give her space to decompress? She's still at the beginning of therapy for CPTSD, so her tool belt is very under-stocked with ways to handle stress and function when her brain decides it needs to just shhhhhhhh for a while.

Sorry this is long and rambling, eventually I'll stop feeling the need to give so much back story before I get to my point. She's still too shut down to have a productive conversation, even about the level of help she needs right now around the house, so I'm winging it the best I can until the dust settles. Thoughts?
Kids get lost in parent's mental health issues. I think, the best support you can be, is there for the kids, help them with homework,......and help out with crockpot cooking so there's always a hot meal available......and bring her some smiles with flowers once in a while.
 
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