When Someone You’re Close to Triggers You

My boyfriend triggered me the other day, and my brain is now reading him as a threat.

He didn’t mean to, but he did something that I’ve previously expressed can be triggering for me. It was a communication issue, and he dropped the ball, so to speak, without having a reason or explanation why. I was PISSED, not only because I had been triggered but now I was facing having to do the work to make him not be a threat. Work I really wasn’t sure I even wanted to do.

Avoiding is easier!

But.

I am working hard to not avoid, to face my challenges and the reasons behind them and I am really trying to heal. It’s hard, it’s scary and it makes me sleep a lot. It makes me react a lot when I even think it should be a fairly calm scenario.

Throw on top of that a person I am close to and trust triggering me because he didn’t bother to do something that is, frankly, common courtesy at least and for me a necessity.

So I did what I have a really hard time doing. In my last decade I had a lot of people run roughshod over my boundaries – a lot of that at work, but trauma stacks up, and I had some traumatizing work experiences. I set a hard line boundary of what I will and will not tolerate, and made peace with whatever outcomes resulted from holding that line.

The result has been both of us working to calm the effects of the trigger, a good weekend, honesty and some teamwork.

“I Can’t Hide Behind You”

I long ago discarded the narrative of a man providing for me, rescuing me or saving me from…whatever. I was raised to do those things for myself, and I do them. Including the saving from PTSD. No one has stepped in or stepped up for my recovery, I have done that myself without much support, except for the therapist I pay, and I sought her out myself too.

I didn’t mean to date anyone at this point in my life, because it’s hard enough to manage myself without also managing a relationship with someone else. I certainly didn’t mean to be in a serious relationship, but here we are. And I find myself having to dig into and rip out a lot of expectations that I didn’t know were there, expectations that, left unaddressed, would get in the way of my efforts to heal. Or maybe would if I hadn’t met just the right person.

Because of our current job/career positions, I’m the one with more financial bandwidth, so I pay for dates. I also give him gifts and buy him things. Because of our differences in personality, I do a lot of the planning and coordinating. Because I have anxiety, I ask a lot of the questions and do a lot of the checking in.

I can’t hide behind him. I can’t run for cover with someone who can provide for me and make a lot of my problems disappear so that I can ignore them. He’s working on a lot of changes right now too, and change is hard. I can’t hide behind his stability because it isn’t there. I can’t let up or slack off because he can’t catch me if I do.

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Because it keeps me pushing forward, for me.

Bucket O’ Fucked Up

I got a little blindsided by this last round of PTSD symptoms. It hasn’t been this severe or lasted this long in maybe a couple of years. I feel dizzy and stupid at times, and very alone.

Don’t make important decisions now, right? Right. Because if I did I’d cut off everyone who isn’t supporting me right now… which is everyone. But in my few rational moments, I remember that they don’t know, and I’m not really in a place to be coherent enough to tell them. And I get this is hard to understand if it hasn’t happened to you, and I’m learning that people can’t tell there’s something terribly wrong with my head unless I tell them, and I’m apparently not good at saying what I need.

But honestly it’s a really isolating condition. And defining my needs is hard when my brain is chaos and struggle and survival.

So without placing blame on myself or others and trying to take a rational view of how to better address this in the future… I’m so fucked up right now. And I know why.

This weekend I was asked by a friend of mine if I wanted to have an affair. He’s married and has been diagnosed with an incurable illness with an uncertain progression. His wife now views him as his illness, and he’s maybe not making super great choices. I get it, to a point, but not only does he know I have a boyfriend, he knows my boyfriend. He asked anyway.

I was shocked, and it brought back most of my 20s – being asked to be a side piece by so many guys I worked with who weren’t happy at home. Which was never for me. It was always for them, and it sent a weird message about my value.

This hasn’t happened for years – until now. And now I’m having to fight to put all of those negative messages about my value where they belong, which is not with how I value myself.

The answer is no.