Tag Archive | PTSD

How to Help?

I am struggling in my relationship with my son. I am very aware that he triggers my past trauma with his Dad. Unfortunately, what was modeled for him regarding managing emotions, expressing emotions, and handling conflict was not healthy. In his attempt to set boundaries, he ends up saying controlling and harsh things. When he tries to express how he feels,  it comes out aggressively and blaming. Before I know it, my fight or flight response kicks in and my brain is in high alert. I end up physically shaking,  feeling completely invalidated and disrespected. I shut down and feel that old familiar sense of despair and hopelessness that was my constant companion in my marriage.  It’s been so long since I have felt that so it shocked me when it overwhelmed me last night.

So, the question is how I handle it from here.  I know that my son’s behavior comes from his own suffering.  That is not an excuse,  it is simply a truth. I do believe he needs help. But, he refuses to seek it. So, how can I help him? I know that he needs me to shift out of my trauma response and be able to respond to him rationally….with loving firmness. It has taken most of yesterday and still through today to shift that.  It is such a huge trigger for me. But, I am getting there. 

How else can I help him? I know that allowing him to talk to me and treat me that way does not help him. But, I also know that I need time to shift out of my trauma response and find the strength I need. I know that it will be healtheir for both of us for him to move out. He is an adult, and he needs to find his way in the world. But, he is also extremely sensitive to rejection. I need to find the words to lovingly and firmly push him put of the nest. I need to make sure he knows I am always here with unconditional love….but, that it’s also not okay to treat me the way he has. 

In the meantime, while my trauma response has been triggered, I need to be kind to myself and take care of myself.  I need to watch my thoughts so they don’t go to the old familiar places of self blame and fear.  

As hard as this is, I know I can do it. 

It’s My Story

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I have been feeling a nudging to start this blog for some time. I  knew it would be therapeutic for me to write about my story, and I also sensed that it would be helpful to others.

There was one thing that stopped me.

Fear.

It is a very vulnerable experience to own a painful story and tell it. A huge part of my journey has been to look at myself, my part in my story,  and to take responsibility for that. That is not an easy thing to do. I have come a long way, and it is my intention to continue that journey.

But, my fear was more than that. I was still afraid of my former husband finding out and being angry. That was a fear I knew all to well.  That fear had been my constant companion for over twenty years. A huge part of my healing has been working on overcoming these fears.

My kids have talked with me about how they remember their dad making it very clear that we were not to talk to anyone about what goes on in our home. I remember that too. I felt very restricted in my interactions with friends and family and kept everyone at arms length.  I was afraid people would see the truth….that our family was not as it appeared to be and that I was failing to somehow make everything okay.

When the crisis my marriage was in became clear to me, my former husband gave me permission to only speak to one person about it, his sister. But, I  was so broken and struggling so much with what to do, that I couldn’t maintain the facade with my closest friend.  One day while going for a walk with her, I broke down and told her what was going on.  She was wonderfully supportive and very concerned.

My friend had only seen the charming, funny, intelligent side of my ex, and so she didn’t even think twice when she phoned later that night to check on me, to say to him when he answered the phone, “I hear you are having a rough time. I’m sorry. Please let me know if there is anything I can do. ”

My ex handed me the phone with a glare and said “She knows?” in a raged whisper. I nodded and quickly made small talk with my friend to finish the conversation.  She knew something was very wrong by my response as well as his. But, from the public persona she knew of him, her comment should have been well received.

After I hung up, I got yelled at about how wrong that was and I had no right to share with my friend.

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I was given the message that I had wronged him terribly, even though I knew this friend was trustworthy and would keep it confidential.

This is only one of many incidents that created this deeply rooted fear in me to tell my story.

I have no desire to hurt anyone, to create trouble, or to seek any form of revenge.

I intend only to speak the truth in terms of my story because I know,  from personal experience that this can be healing for others. I know this, because that is what happened for me.

When I was coming to terms with what was happening in my marriage, I joined an online forum and read other people’s stories. I could be anonymous and seek help and support.  I learned I was not alone and I was jarred into seeing the truth of my situation for what it was.  I became strong enough to stop excusing and rationalizing completely unacceptable behavior.  I got stronger and was able to do what I needed to do for myself and my kids.

If one person who reads this has a similar experience,  it is worth overcoming my fears.

This is my story. It’s mine to tell.

Post Traumatic Growth

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http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/Post-Traumatic-Growth

I found this article the other day, and what an encouragement it was!  My counselor suggested to me, shortly after starting to see her, that I was likely experiencing post traumatic stress.  We addressed that through a specific type of therapy called EMDR (https://emdrcanada.org/emdr-defined/) which as very helpful to me.

Fortunately for me, because I was seeking help and support during and after the crisis time in my life, I began to experience healing and positive growth within the first few years afterwards.  If you have experienced emotional trauma, or are currently going through a difficult time, I encourage you to read the article and find hope in those words.  Choosing to seek support and help, and choosing to address the trauma in healthy ways, can be the catalyst for tremendous growth in your life.