Boyfriend having trouble coping with emotional *thing*
Sorry for the title (and subsequent wall of text), couldn't think of a brief way to sum this up.
Basically, me and my girlfriend both had not-ideal childhoods, it's something thats brought us together since we can talk about stuff thats pretty much impossible with anyone else. My boyfriend had a pleasant upbringing, and while he has always been sympathetic and supportive, he has trouble with understanding.
So, rewind to last week, and they'd been out together and come home a little drunk and a lot horny. We all ended up in bed together, all was going very well, but a triggering event occurred. A 'I just jumped out of the bed sideways, ran into the other room, and cried in a fetal position' kinda triggering.
My girlfriend was very upset, but voted to go out for a long brisk walk, because thats her best coping strategy. My boyfriend, however didn't know what to do. He did the best thing for me though, which was to just give me space so I could lock the monster back into it's box at the back of my brain.
Fast forward to the following morning and my girlfriend and I are both feeling a little senstitive, but are smiley and jokey (because we've both been through stuff bad enough that this just felt like a blip). My boyfriend, however, was distraught.
And he's still really depressed about it now, over a week later.
We've talked about it, about what triggered me, about how he felt, about how we all coped with it, about stuff from previous relationships that may have made him feel irrationally worse. I felt like we made some breakthroughs.
But he's still depressed.
Honestly, I know it might take time and I should just give him as much as he needs, but I just feel like shouting "Harden the fuck up, Princess!" in his ear.
Blah. Sorry, just needed to get this out there. Any anecdotes of similar stuff working out ok greatfully accepted!
Well, he gave you space when you needed it. You may just need to give him space.
You say that you have already talked about it and gone over things. If he has said he just needs time, then believe what he says and give that to him. If you can't handle being around him when he is depressed, then you may need to find a way to distract yourself while he takes his time to process stuff.
I've only been triggered a few times. My first horrific one was many years after remembering and dealing and what I thought was having it behind me. It was totally accidental, and I was so fortunate that the man I was with was also a survivor. I wanted him to get away from me, but I didn't want him to leave me alone. He went to the farthest corner of the bed (which was my blankets on the floor) and he held my foot until I calmed down. I asked him to call me by my name (which is different than it was when I was a child) and that helped me remember I was now, and not then.
It was kind of awesome. I had been very afraid of such a thing, and then it never happened for years; and then I got to live through and see that it was entirely possible and safe to live through it.
And I haven't really had one like that since.
I don't know if you have PTSD or how you feel about hypnosis, but Wendi Friesen has an awesome hypnosis program for eliminating PTSD. Highly recommend all of her work. (wendi dot com)
I know what you mean about just having a blip. I have had other men be upset about it. I just try to reassure them it's a blip. Before I'm with someone, I have a conversation about being a survivor and that weird things could happen but it's not likely.
Depressed seems like a bit of an odd reaction; and yah, I think you have to give it time. Depression can be anger turned in, and he'd probably like to kill whoever hurt you, and he's probably mad because he didn't know what to do, and he really really really wanted to make it better/okay for you.
Good job! You're doin' fine, sounds like to me....
My PTSD is as under control as it's ever going to be, I didn't realize that kinda trigger could still happen though, and all of us will be mindful of it in the future. TBH, I don't see it as being a big deal - maybe thats where my impatience comes from.
Thank you both for reminding me that I need to give him time ... I guess my girlfriend and I had years of dealing with bad stuff and adapted and overcame, whereas my boyfriend basically has no tools at his disposal when realizing the size of the problems I've overcome. I'll give him a month and if things haven't changed might move on to suggesting he talk to a professional about it.
I have run into others and gotten close to them, like you and your girlfriend, being able to bond over past hurts and horrors. What eventually split us up was our take on how to deal with it. In one such case the woman reverted to the mind and attitudes of a small child and her own children had to take care of her in a public place. She felt this was no big deal and just part of how she deals. I refuse to just accept where I am emotionally or mentally. I refuse to say that with all that happened to me I am "allowed" to use it as an excuse.
I am not trying to yell or blame, only that personally it's an issue for me and I see people who use their past as an excuse or as a reason. Please don't let it be an excuse. You don't know that it's as well or dealt with as it's ever going to be. It's scary as hell dealing with it but there are ways, and many many resources. Being aware and making others aware around you is a very important thing. My brain will just not work, I will go catatonic, but I am always working to be aware of my emotional state, finding out if there is a reason for it or if it's just the slip down or up into my diagnosed issues. Being aware and making DH and DC as well as my kids to an extent, aware keeps things moving. It helps them realize that I might need more time to myself, help around the house, to watch a horribly depressing movie, or cry for seemingly no reason. I've learned I have to ask to be held if I feel like I'm about to break, to read books that help me discover how I feel and why, how I can work to get rid of the 'programming' of how I listen, feel, and react that came from the traumas in my life.
I have never given up and just said, "This is the best it's ever going to get." I may have to be on meds for the rest of my life, I may never feel totally free, but it doesn't stop me from trying. I listen to this woman, Belle Ruth Knaperstack, at least a few times a month as I sleep, to help release past grief and pain and fear. I read about trauma and how to deal, I work to do little things that make me feel more myself and away from the person that was damaged and yes DH and I have done many talks on what has happened, what might have happened and how he might have wanted to go back in time and spare me but can't. What he can do now is help me to be stronger. Sometimes that means holding me and being the comfort for the lost little girl or young woman that didn't have that. Sometimes that means supporting me in finding ways to work past it myself and find my own strength. Don't ever think that this is the best it gets so I'm not bothered by it. IMHO, that's a cop out to not try and be stronger and if you survived, then you are stronger then you may like. Don't give up now just because it's over.
Just to be clear, this is the first time I've had more than a mild panic attack in about 13 years, and it was brought around by an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances.
Likewise, my girlfriend only reverts to coping mechanisms when under extreme stress, and those coping mechanisms work well for her and don't affect other people.
We have both had significant amounts of psychoanalysis, therapy and medication, and currently neither of us feel the need for more of that. We are both in the realm of our pasts not affecting our daily lives.
As a work in progress we are both putting in effort to be more confident in social situations, and to have healthy amounts of self-respect and a positive body image.
I am not sitting on my hands here; getting to this point has been a vast task which I doubted was even possible, and I now have a very acute thirst for life. I wish you the best of luck in your life :)
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