I’m looking for advice on how to stay connected, and grow intimacy and friendship when you’re scared.
To give a brief background, I am a survivor of various kinds of abuse from different people in my life. My father, a childhood friend, an uncle, a boss, an ex-boyfriend. The details don’t really matter; what does is that it leaves me fearful in relationships now. I’ve been through therapy, medication, and mindfulness/meditation. All have helped a lot and I’ve healed very much over the past couple years. But I still keep people at a distance, and have a hard time fully trusting even my husband, who is loving and gentle.
I feel like I’m at a place now where I’d like to start growing new friendships, and putting more trust in my husband and family. But I’m scared that trying to be close will trigger painful symptoms like emotional flooding, flashbacks, panic, dissociation. (I have PTSD. It’s well-managed but I can still be triggered.)
I also feel clueless. I don’t know how to explain to others that these things might happen, and it feels selfish to ask them to deal with it. I don’t know how to ask or invite people in HEALTHY ways to be closer.
I’m healing all the time, and things get better slowly but surely. This is my next step. I’m just so scared! Does anyone have any advice? Especially if you’ve dealt with trauma, mental illness or social anxiety before? How did you learn to relate to people? How did you learn to trust? How did you deal with the times that it didn’t work out?