Dating with PTSD – When Communication Holds Trauma

It’s a horrible realization, and such a hard thing to battle through.

Dating again has opened up a whole new area of trauma that I did not realize I had. I have actually been abused and traumatized by communication, or the lack thereof.

Shit.

I have had it burned into my brain that if I don’t perform to expectation, if I don’t do what the other person wants or what works for them – with no regard for me – then I will be punished or abandoned. If I try to ask for what I need, I will get abuse. If I try to have a voice, I will get abuse. If I do anything that might assign any value to myself, other than an object of whim and convenience, I will get abuse. I will be manipulated through the withdrawal of affection, attention, acknowledgement or care. I will be abandoned or discarded without notice or explanation. There will be no resolution or discussion, only accusations, abuse and silence.

I had no idea.

One of the things that is so important for me to communicate is how I feel and what I need. If I am anxious, if I get triggered, if I am scared or uncertain, the best way for me to resolve that and mitigate severe anxiety/panic attacks is to have the space to talk about it or work through it so that I can understand what’s going on.¬†Which is the exact thing that I have been taught will get me abused. It’s a horrible realization, and such a hard thing to battle through. Because the only way this gets better is to do exactly what I’m afraid of doing, and I have to not only look at my own scars, I have to show them to someone else, someone I am just now learning to trust.

Shit.

In staying with my practice of gratitude, I am grateful that I had the courage to start the healing process once I realized what was happening. I am also grateful he was willing to listen and be accepting.

But shit.

That Oblivious Friend

Bitch, please.

At what point do you grab your friend by the shoulders, shake her and say loudly, “YOU’RE THE PROBLEM!”?

A month ago I wrote a post about my friend dumping her boyfriend for no good reason. I was pretty compassionate at the time. I’m much less so now. A month after dating for 4 months, she is still acting like this just happened. She doesn’t want to get back with him, but wants to be friends like they were before they started dating.

Bitch, please.

So the rest of us are being dragged through her need for attention (now that she’s not the center of his), which is expressed through:

  1. Inserting herself into every conversation and trying to make herself relevant to it (this gets noticeably weird, and often)
  2. Using dumb excuses to be around him and talking very awkwardly about it
  3. Blaming everyone else for her failures and lack of maturity in the relationship

She’s clearly not aware that some of us are annoyed (I’m the closest to it, but by no means the only one who has noticed, I’ve found out), and I’m not sure whether to ignore her bad behavior or call her out on it. We went to her ex’s rec league basketball game last night then to dinner with another friend, and her ex and I shared plates. It was satisfying to have her pout over a simple thing, honestly. He and I wanted tacos AND pancakes, sorry she isn’t more imaginative with her dinner choices. We also talked through scenarios in which he could work for me that excited he and I both, and it was nice to carry on with my friend¬†without her being able to jump in on our future goals (which have zero to do with her, especially now that she’s dumped him).

So maybe ignoring her pettiness is the answer, and going on like it doesn’t happen. I’m not sure that ignoring the bad behavior of oblivious people is the answer, but it’s an answer that for the moment doesn’t drag me into being responsible for it.

 

A Day of Rest

Anxiety pushes me to keep moving, keep going, do, do more and do more than that.

Yesterday I carried a baby around, played with small children while their parents ate lunch (we ran like airplanes and made a “campfire” with acorns, leaves and sticks), worked quietly and watched my football team lose in the last minute after dominating the first half. No exercise, no letting the Fitbit dictate my day, no feeling bad about finishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, no staying up late “just because”. After a week of massive steps forward in my recovery, dreaming every night with dreams that are resolving things in my brain, putting dozens of miles in, hitting a big deadline and enjoying the heck outta some bagels and coffee, I rested. It felt so good.

Anxiety pushes me to keep moving, keep going, do, do more and do more than that. Resting, quiet, stillness have been my enemy. I haven’t quite gotten to taking a day off or going on vacation, but I have finally established a bit of a weekly schedule, set some boundaries for myself and gotten some sleep. This is the acknowledgement of that, that for an entire week I put effort and attention toward taking care of myself,¬†even when I was busy, stressed, anxious and multitasking.

PTSD is a weird beast. It’s taken a long time to beat it back, but this was the first week that there wasn’t a glimmer of light, there was a beam of it. I’m basking in it!