I decided that I am not going to be the one to apologize for someone else hurting me this time, and I am not going to be the one to make it right or make amends.
I’ve done that so many times before, and after several days of struggle to understand what’s wrong, I know now, and I’m not ok with it. Frankly, I didn’t deserve that, and if I’m the one who makes this right I’m essentially saying that someone else’s choices and actions are somehow my fault because I experience PTSD.
And if that means I lose this relationship, then that’s a consequence I can live with, because I can’t live with continuing to take responsibility for someone else hurting me.
There’s a lot of backstory to it, but my relationship with my boyfriend has been challenging, and I have felt like I’ve been pushed to a place of calling it quits. We’ve both had to learn a lot about ourselves and communication in the last year, and recently I’ve been faced with a choice of pushing past all of that and being vulnerable and honest and starting – and leading – hard conversations, or quitting.
I really wanted to quit.
It’s so much harder to be honest with myself and with him, to say the things that aren’t fun to say, to draw the lines and hold to them, to lay out the situation without making threats, to set boundaries without making selfish demands and to practice love when I have no idea if it will be returned.
I’ve had moments of bright, happy and cheerful the past two days, which quickly tips over into what feels more like manic than actually happy and calm, but I’m still mostly struggling through the confining, dark depression of PTSD. It doesn’t help to be constantly triggered while trying to work through communication and behavior course corrections
I want to take a break from all of it.
But as we know, life doesn’t stop. And if anything, I’m proud of myself for not giving up on me.
My boyfriend and I continue to have difficult conversations. I keep doubting I have the energy to keep going, but I keep pushing through.
We don’t have anything to hide behind. We don’t have money and job security, we don’t have a lot of time together, we don’t have a long history of trust and connection, we don’t even have a certain belief that we belong together. It’s fucking hard.
Because we don’t have anything to hide behind, and because we’re both sticking with the difficult conversations long enough to get past the darts and jabs, we’re starting to get honest. The kind of honest where you face shame and admit you’ve been hiding things because you’re not sure they’ll like you anymore if they know. The kind of honest where you say what isn’t ok. The kind of honest where you admit you might be the problem but this little bit is all you know and you haven’t learned enough to figure out the rest yet.
I’m not sure how many people ever get this honest in a relationship, but I don’t think many do it within the first nine months. It takes more courage than I knew I had. And I do it because I believe I matter enough to speak and hear the truth. To not walk away because I’m scared and this is really hard, but because walking away is the right thing for me. And I don’t know that yet because I don’t have enough information.
And there’s no backing down now, because we’re here, rumbling with the truth no matter how scary or how hard. AND IT’S HARD. I’m still not in neutral, and I’m not comfortable with some of the surprises I’m getting. I’m constantly in high threat mode and no one else is bringing me back down to my version of calm. While I’m rumbling with a really painful series of realizations about who I am and how I got here.
But worth it, because I’m worth it. And so is he.
There are few things more healing than a sincere and unasked-for apology. And I really value that when I met my boyfriend for lunch to talk things out, he offered just that. Actions do really speak louder, but there are some words that cannot be replaced, and “I’m sorry” is on that list. It’s why I agreed to keep working things out, and why I’m wanting to heal our relationship rather than end it. Sorry is hard, but sorry can heal.
As hard as it was to be in a relationship before I started putting focus and energy into healing, it’s even harder now. And possibly more so because I’m dating a person who hasn’t yet begun the process.
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!
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.