Okay my Hooligans, you know I like to give you plenty of warning when a post is going to be all serious and stuff or when it’s going to be lengthy – this is one of those posts. Consider yourself warned. Click away now. Don’t feel obligated to comment. You guys should know by now I don’t work that way. I have lurkers who are here for stuff like this. I promise not to be offended!! Be well and I’ll be over to your blogs in a bit (I may have an appointment with my counselor today, not sure yet). =)
***first, my disclaimer-I’m not a doctor, I’m simply a person who has been through it and still deals with it. I also want to state, I am not equating my relational trauma PTSD as being anywhere equal to combat PTSD. I love and support our military vets***
Relational Trauma PTSD
First, a little bit about the PTSD, I promise you, you are not crazy. I spoke with someone yesterday who didn’t realize that her mind has created a loop. A pattern that must be broken. I recommended a book I found a year ago that assured me I wasn’t bat shit crazy for doing the things I was doing and feel; it let me know that while it wasn’t healthy, it was still a “normal” part of the process.
Here's the book I recommended:
Here's the book I recommended:
I cannot express to you the value of this book in my recovery. Even now, a year and a half after disclosure, I turn to it. I have pages marked and highlighted for quick reference of the behaviors that are “normal” but need to be stopped in order to heal properly. These pages provide me the reassurance I need sometimes to know that I'm not alone.
“A relational trauma often occurs when one person betrays, abandons or refuses to provide support for another with whom he/she has developed an attachment bond.” from Your Sexually Addicted Spouse – How Partners Can Cope and Heal
So, what happens as a result of this PTSD? I’ll spare you the really long list and give you a short list:
Reliving the event Sleeplessness Nightmares
Intrusive Images Hyper Vigilance Anxiety
Panic Attacks Withdrawing Phobias
Flashbacks Denial Oversensitivity
Depression Restlessness Rage
That’s my list. That’s what I went through for months after disclosure and what I’m pulling myself out of now after his relapse. Thankfully, I'm healing much faster this time around. I have better resources available, Devin is more understanding and my triggers aren't nearly as often at they were before.
Does it matter that it’s normal for the PTSD symptoms to occur? As I sit and type this in a mind full of complete clarity, yes, it matters very much that it’s normal behavior to want to check his email account or his browser history or dig through his files and use the computer skills that I mastered in college and got even better at during my hyper vigilant period after disclosure. It assures me that these things are “okay” to feel. It's better knowing that I am NOT doing these things which tells me I'm in a better place mentally than I was over a year ago.
However, when I walk into the bedroom and see Devin at his computer, hear the click of the mouse and catch the glimpse of a window closing on his computer screen and my mind can’t rationalize that he’s simply doing his homework, not closing out of porn…then it doesn’t matter that it’s a normal trigger.
All that matters is that my mind has jumped. I'm in a tailspin. Gone from A to Z, not from A to B to C. I've lost the ability to rationalize. Then I’m angry at myself because I’m unable to rationalize my thoughts, put them together properly and I know it. That’s the worst part…knowing that I’m being irrational. And, I can’t stop it from jumping to Z. It just happens.
What to do?? How do I stop the loop?? How do I calm myself down so I don’t end up on the kitchen floor without knowing how I got there (I lost an hour (I think) crying and wailing from a trigger once because I had been suppressing them for so long).
Stopping the Loop
- First, I take my rockin’ counselor’s, advice. I allow myself to feel the trigger without trying to figure out the cause. Without trying to self analyze it to pieces because that in itself is taxing.
- Next, I take deep breaths from the gut. Breath in, breath out. Slowly, to calm myself.
Then I choose from the following:
- My affirmation cards.
- Guided imagery – a great tool that I use for Migraines too. I imagine myself on the beach. I feel the sand, smell the ocean, hear the seagulls, feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, the sand in between my toes, slipping through my fingers. I transport myself there because it’s my favorite place in all the land. My calming place.
- I read Footprints – it’s my favorite writing and I have it hanging in my bathroom – don’t judge, it’s where I usually end up when I’m crying. =)
- I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself I am strong, I can handle this.
- I pray. A lot.
- I drive to my favorite spots with a pen and paper and vent out my rage then shred it and toss it in a garbage can somewhere on the drive home.
- I blog, although now I try to avoid blogging while to upset because I end up saying things like I’m getting a divorce!!! And then change my mind and to delete the post
- I take an Epsom salt bath with lavender bubbles.
I hope that some of these things have helped at least one person out there. I understand you can’t comment because you wish to remain anonymous and I respect that completely. I began this blog with the hopes that it would help someone through the roller coaster of emotions I felt the first few months after disclosure.
Please understand, you’re not alone. Whether you choose to stay or leave, you are strong and only you can decide what is right for YOU. No one will ever understand what you are going through, the push and pull of emotions, until they have walked the same path as you. Never give up on YOU.