when I develop feelings trauma resurges

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
Whenever I can feel myself crushing on someone or developing feelings for them, I start to feel afraid and angry. Afraid that they'll hurt me, and angry that by liking them most likely more than than they like me I'm giving them power over me. My main relationship trauma was five years ago, almost to the day that I'm posting it it ended. It was sexually abusive, emotionally abusive, and at times physically abusive. Afterwards I put myself in dangerous scenarios that led to more compounded trauma.

I've "hacked" my fear and anger a variety of ways. I would either date people that I didn't actually like, because then I had power over them, or more recently I've avoided dating altogether. The few dates I've been on I eventually stop the conversation. Boy, I can hold a conversation and keep it going to infinity, but sometimes it does just end because I'm the only one holding up the conversation or we're just not clicking.

I've been talking to someone now for a few months, I think 2 now, we haven't been on "dates" per say but it's COVID and we don't live close, but we talk every day. I consider them a friend already (I would want someone to be a friend to me first, before a relationship) but they do flirt with me and I flirt back. It's been the healthiest crush I've ever had, in my entire life. We have shared values, life goals, communication styles (and we've both been really good at communicating our needs and opening up to each other, slowly, when trust is building). I'm very good at reading when something is off at this point and haven't ever felt like they had bad motives or intentions. They make me feel safe.

Recently I've been having panicky thoughts because I can feel myself liking them. I talk to them before I go to bed most nights and we wish each other a good sleep and afterwards I'm terrified of the thoughts in my brain when I turn my phone off. I want to go cold, and show no emotion. I want to not text them back for a few days, like I'm just so terrified. Like I can't stop talking to them and I feel like that's power over me but they can't stop talking to me either, so maybe we're even? I'm so scared of power dynamics that are different because that's how I got caught in my worst relationship.

I'm going to talk to my T more about it. I've been having a lot of triggers lately and I'm in the middle of a huge life change so I'm hoping maybe once things settle down I'll feel safer and less triggered like this. It's also anniversary dates of a lot of the worst of the abuse, but I thought I was mostly through that. How do you deal with crushes bringing up these triggers?
 

Friday

Moderator
I've "hacked" my fear and anger a variety of ways. I would either date people that I didn't actually like
Yuck. I’ve sooooooo done that one. (Married him). I figured I couldn’t fall in love with an asshole, so for a time I only dated assholes, wouldn’t sleep with friends or people who might/could become friends, etc. Snort. That worked out just peachy. >.<


How do you deal with crushes bringing up these triggers?
I pretty much just accept the fact that as soon as I start to REALLY care about someone? (So, not crushes, but similar sort of situation)... I’m going to get weird for a little while. Anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months, on average.

My version of weird is that I grieve their death, in advance. Not that I won’t grieve again, if/when they actually die... but I have to get okay with losing them before I’m willing to care about them. It’s complicated, and dark, but at the end I either trust them to handle themselves come what may & let them into my heart, or I break shit off then&there before things get too deep. It’s not a lotta fun, but I’ve done it with virtually every relationship I’ve been in for the past 20 years or so, so I figure it’s here to stay.
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
Yuck. I’ve sooooooo done that one. (Married him). I figured I couldn’t fall in love with an asshole, so for a time I only dated assholes, wouldn’t sleep with friends or people who might/could become friends, etc. Snort. That worked out just peachy. >.<
I'm glad, and also sad I'm not alone haha! I wouldn't date people I would be friends with. It did not go well lol. But recently (like this year) I've considered dating people I consider friends and it's harder because I *actually* care haha.
I pretty much just accept the fact that as soon as I start to REALLY care about someone? (So, not crushes, but similar sort of situation)... I’m going to get weird for a little while. Anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months, on average.

My version of weird is that I grieve their death, in advance. Not that I won’t grieve again, if/when they actually die... but I have to get okay with losing them before I’m willing to care about them. It’s complicated, and dark, but at the end I either trust them to handle themselves come what may & let them into my heart, or I break shit off then&there before things get too deep. It’s not a lotta fun, but I’ve done it with virtually every relationship I’ve been in for the past 20 years or so, so I figure it’s here to stay.
That's an interesting coping mechanism, I do that for my family, like I prepare for how I'll handle when they're gone, the emotions I'll feel. I've never done it with friends/people I care about or are dating but maybe if I did I would feel more secure. I think I'm on the cusp of crush and really caring. Maybe doing that would help me accept that I DO really care! Thank you as always Friday :)
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
today I'm so absolutely sure that I'll never be good enough for them in order to protect myself from getting hurt that I almost want to delete them from everything and run. So badly. I know they probably don't see me that way. No one ever does.
 

Friday

Moderator
today I'm so absolutely sure that I'll never be good enough for them
Any chance they’re a “safe” outlet to protect how you feel about yourself onto them?

Geeeenerally speaking... I won’t date anyone else unless I’d date me. In my 20s? That wasn’t a problem (for me) because I f*cked around at will, and had a helluva lot of friends. It was a problem for some of the blokes that wanted a relationship, rather than just sex, but the only times (and there were several, I’m not a fast learner) I broke that rule? I seeeeeriously regretted it. (Again, married one of those. I broke all my rules with my ex. I figure my son just really needed to be born, because it took somehing like 9 kinds of stars aligning for my to have ever even gotten with my ex, much less stayed with him). So, for roughly 8 years? Barring a few bad calls, if *I* wouldn’t date me, I didn’t let anyone else date me, either. Because ONE of the things that would happen is that all the things I didn’t like about myself? I shoved off on them. It wasn’t meeeee who felt this, it was them, and that pissed me off. Both because if it IS me? I can do something about that, as well as a heaping dose of “how dare they?!?” & a soupçon of “Okay, how can I make this work?” ;). In retrospect? (In psychobabble) It was something more married to Avoidance & Disassociation than Transferance per se. Because the things I didn’t like about myself at the time, were mostly trauma related, and I was neither willing nor able to do Jack shit about them. So by shoving the thoughts and feelings I had about myself onto someone else? Voila! Magic! No longer tied to my trauma, no longer something for me to work on; but someone else’s deal. Not me. Not mine. Which DID let me “work” on those problem areas (complete with handy dandy scapegoat), becuase it was “for them” instead of “for me”, and about them, not me (or my trauma). Headdesk. Poor damn bastards.

There are a helluva lot of different reasons to transfer ones thoughts/feelings onto someone else... I’m not trying to say my reasons are -or even might be- yours... but it was one of those thunder clapping epiphanies once I realized why/how I was doing it (first how, then why) that sent massive tremors throughout my entire life. Creating? Of all things...Boundaries. & Personal integrity. They may or may not be feeling what I do, but since I AM feeling this way? That gives me a helluva tool set to start changing what I don’t like about myself, so that I don’t feel this way NOR shove it off on them. A lot like putting on glasses for the first time, and realizing the world is a lot clearer than it was.
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
Any chance they’re a “safe” outlet to protect how you feel about yourself onto them?
This honestly makes a LOT of sense to what I do. I think for me it’s shoving my low self esteem onto them. *I* don’t like myself so they must not either. These periods of low self esteem are less frequent (ok maybe a little more frequent now that I’m in the middle of a huge move, I had a pain flare and my depression got worse) but they still mess with me.
So by shoving the thoughts and feelings I had about myself onto someone else? Voila! Magic!
That makes so much sense. Now I can recognize it and apply it/ work through it!!
 

lil_fighter

Confident
Strangelongtrip, it sounds like a lot is going on for you at the moment and with the anniversary of your previous relationship ending it seems like that experience would have been occupying some of your headspace which would have been very distracting especially when you have met someone new. You mentioned that this person you have met makes you feel safe and that it feels like it is the healthiest crush you have ever had. This all sounds really positive and initially reading your post, I did wonder if you not being able to meet the person (due to COVID) was hindering the connection between you leaving more room for anxiety but I can also see that you both communicating at a distance may be a blessing for now as it allows you to build that foundation and as you say a friendship, which is so important. It feels safe and it feels like it is progressing at a healthy pace. Working through the feelings you mention of low-self esteem and projecting that on to the other person, is rally important especially as this is a new situation now. It sounds like you have come leaps and bounds and that you are well on the way to establishing a much healthier relationship (if that is what you want it to become). Go at your own pace and recognise any default behaviours and thought patterns that you may revert to out of habit, use your therapy sessions to help you to distinguish between what is actually happening with this person and what is your own stuff that you may be projecting. Good luck, it all sounds promising. Remember your self-care and take it at your own pace ☺️
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
idk what's wrong with me and I just like am not allowed by whatever universal forces that be to have romantic relationships. idk what I did in a past life that it's just like not allowed for me. idk what's wrong with me.
 

Strangelongtrip

MyPTSD Pro
You know this is a cognitive distortion, right?
would it be black and white thinking? I'm not sure. I cycled rapidly from wanting to be around people all the time and talking to this person all the time to being annoyed at talking to anyone. I think I'm having trouble regulating. Idk what to do anymore so I'm isolating.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
would it be black and white thinking?
No, probably fortune-telling. Specifically, the idea that there's some force that is guaranteeing you'll never have a positive relationship. There isn;'t any such thing.
I cycled rapidly from wanting to be around people all the time and talking to this person all the time to being annoyed at talking to anyone. I think I'm having trouble regulating.
That sounds like trouble regulating...are you working with a therapist right now?
 
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