Saturday, January 21, 2017
What Post-Abuse PTSD Feels Like In A Good Relationship
I got worse, and worse, and worse over the course of our relationship; culminating in us fighting so fiercely that violence became a thing. Once it had happened, my family bowed to my mental health's classic stigma, telling me that it was my fault that he'd been "pushed far enough to hit". Even though this was a man who frequently mocked me, degraded me, bullied me, and insulted who I was. From calling me crazy or stupid to hitting me in my most vulnerable place - calling me a failure as a mother, and telling me that my children will always hate me. This is a man who spent the better part of 2 years tearing me down one part at a time, taking the time to make himself look like the poor pathetic victim of my mental health.
When I did leave him, I did not know who I was as a person. Finding the right path seemed impossible, and I was unsure if I even knew how to survive on my own. But, in time, I did grow and heal a bit. Then, a few months into my freedom, I fell in love again. I didn't mean to, nor did I want to. He just happened. Soft, and concerned, he stepped into my world - and knew my broken places. This was a person who'd been around me a lot after I left my ex, and had heard me cry in fear, and rage, and hatred; and he knew where I was vulnerable. The excellent thing is - he set about healing me, instead of using me. Our romance was, and remains, not without tribulations. I, not only, had already existing Depression and Anxiety, but also a newly developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some of the frequent nuances of our blossoming relationship were frustrating for both him and for myself.
"Are you angry with me?"
I am pretty sure this man could go on about how often this question was asked. He was rarely ever cross with me, nor was he really ever cross at all. He just had this very neutral expression that could be mistaken for anger in the mind of someone recovering from being abused. This question falls in the same lines as "have I done something wrong?", "Are we okay right now?", and "do you want me to leave?" These were all questions I have asked him over the course of our courtship.
"Is that for me?"
This is one of the truly sad statements from this relationship. He would often bring me a perfectly made cup of coffee - something we would kinda compete to do for one another - or my favorite candy. I mean, he made a point to do these little things for me, just to love on me - to make me feel important. It took more than a month for me to stop thinking he was treating someone else before he would treat me. Even then, I still felt that twinge of surprise whenever he would do something kind for me.
Both he and I are recovering from our abusers. When he grew tired of my endless apologetics, he would start counting the "mistakes" he made through the day, that other lovers would have abused him over. So we kinda made a game of it. This opened the door for me to express the things that my ex had left me insecure about. Not making the coffee before he was out of bed, not making his dinner every single night, spending my own money on myself, wanting things, having my menstrual cycle, not being in "the mood" when he wanted it; these were all things that I could count as mistakes my ex had actually bullied me over. Even with this, I was often apologizing for my faults - even when my partner did not see a fault in them.
"He hates me."
I told this one, exclusively, to myself. All to often, I would read his neutral mannerisms as resentfulness and anger. Instead of confronting him, or leaving, I would simply ask if he was angry with me. The continuous "no" responses often soothed and settled my anxiety and gave me rest.
This could go on for a dozen, or more, pages before I ran out of statements. These four are the big ones for me. It is a constantly changing battlefield - learning to love again and to be loved again. Understanding what it feels like to be loved; but, not just loved, wanted, valued, treasured, adored, and supported. I am still exploring the feeling of having someone completely accept my problems as part of the whole package. Through this adventure, I am healing.
Thanks for reading.
Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows.