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Telling the difference between gut and fear in relationships

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  • #423474
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Seaturtle:

    “In high school… I was ignored, they would stop whispering once I came over, they would not pass the ball to me even if I was part of the play…They made me feel awkward and I was UNSEEN completely. Then I would go home to my dad who also could not see me”- this was a painful experience for you, quite traumatic for a teenager to be excluded socially. I am sorry that you went through this.

    “I needed therapy, being unseen is, I believe, genuinely dangerous.“- what an original, powerful way to put it. And you are right.. the violent things that some people do after being unseen for too long.

    “What makes it all worse is I had no idea they thought I ‘tattled,’ I had no idea why they went from friends to bullies… This makes me feel validated that they were not helpful replies. I came here to feel seen and those responses made me feel the opposite, but I didn’t know why and thought maybe my concerns were too minuscule to be acknowledged”-

    – you didn’t know why..  I always want to know the why-s: it helps to know:

    In your chosen title of your first thread, you asked for help: “Please help me“, and you added in the title: “my mind hasn’t rested in 8 months“. You assertively and clearly stated what you needed and wanted: help so that your tired mind can rest. Instead, you received condemnation, you were accused of being selfish, greedy, unappreciative and unreasonable (accusations that were not true):  “It appears that you have met a gentle kind man…  Yet this is not enough for you. you want to have your sense of self also massaged & pampered by him. Maybe you could swap him for someone who alternates between shallowly love bombing you and ghosting you!… No-one person can fulfill all our different needs all of the time..!“- my goodness, for crying out loud … Basically, you were bullied on your first thread.

    Why? Because the person replying to you jumped to conclusions, that is assumed things about you without supportive evidence, and feeling angry at you.. expressed it clearly, never to reconsider, revisit the thread (within a reasonable time) and apologize. I have never, in all of the .. about 8 years on tiny buddha, commented on the replies of others, but if I was a participant at the time, I should have- would have- I hope (!)  stood up for you and against your (thread) bully.

    At the same time, I need to hold myself accountable for what I would hold others accountable for: I need to do-no-harm to the people I choose to reply to: to Help, not to Harm. There are replies that I submitted in the past that I regret, and I am way more careful now- than I was before- to the principle of do no harm.

    Can two insecure parents raise a secure child?“- I don’t think so. But I’d say that two insecure parents can do their best to limit the physical and verbal expressions of their insecurity.

    “Being insecure is a place I really do not like to be, my ground literally shakes and I feel paralyzed in my abilities to decide and even socialize. I want to be secure, and I know there will always be doses of insecurity in life but I do wish I was more sure of myself than I am right now”- it takes a village, like the saying goes. Let’s help each other best we can to feel more secure… in the insecure world we live in.

    My dad came to where I live this weekend because he had a golf tournament with some friends… This weekend I only got a small hour or so with him alone and in that small time he got teary eyed again, I could tell he was trying to hide it, and he told me he was proud of me. He genuinely asked me questions about myself while actually genuinely listening, I feel he may be beginning to see me… I think he is beginning to unsee what he thought of me that I was selfish and egocentric. Does this all mean he is growing up from a narcissistic development stage of childhood?”-

    -I don’t know for sure, of course. I know what it took for me to change and care about other people: lots of attention, introspection, effort.. work over time, way more than a moment of having teary eyes. In regard to him asking you questions and genuinely listening: notice that you saw him only for a small hour during what I imagine was a relaxing weekend for him. His behavior during that one hour, in those circumstances (a golf tournament with friends) is not an indication of how he’d behave in normal circumstances on the long-run. Also, if as part of his job, let’s say, he has experience in asking questions and listening (and appearing to be empathetic while listening).. he may have extended that skill to you, for the length of that one hour.

    I still though have a fear he will revert back and see me how he did up till a year ago“- if he is indeed stuck in an early childhood development stage and he didn’t have extended psychotherapy and he didn’t sincerely and thoroughly apologize to you, his daughter, for his misdeeds then I would, if I was you, expect him to continue to be who he’s been,

    How do I undo this trauma response? Is it simply how you would end a bad habit by forcing yourself to not give in until the reaction/impulse is gone?“- yes (except that it’s not simple): behave in a different, new way in spite of the impulse, or compulsion to act the old way. It takes practice and a gentle, realistic attitude: lessening and enduring emotional discomfort and not expecting perfect execution or linear progress.

    “As I briefly brought up my partner’s mom giving him the silent treatment and withholding affection, I thought it may help to shed some light on what I know about him. He told me his mom would do this and that she made him feel like a bad kid morally as he grew up. She being very Christian made him feel this way…  He said he felt he had to constantly tell his mom he was not a bad kid, but felt “UNSEEN” by her, and still does…  My partner said his dad would emotionally dump on him and he felt like his therapist growing up”-

    – My input: clearly he needs you to not (1) give him the silent treatment, or in any way suggest to him that he is a bad person (like his mother did and maybe still does), (2)  emotionally dump on him (like his father did and maybe still does).

    Seems like your emotional problems within the relationship motivate him to stay in the relationship because of his compulsion perhaps to act like his mother’s=> his partner’s therapist.

    Having read about how often you get distressed in his presence, feeling relief when not in his presence and contemplating breaking up with him, I think that taking an actual break (not a breakup) for long-enough will take care of your current heightened distress level and will open your heart and mind to feeling way better about him and about yourself.

    You can’t solve problems when under heightened distress- except for the quick and relatively easy, short-term solution of breaking up with him. A solution I imagine that you will regret on the long-term. You need your distress level- over days and weeks- to get lower first, so that you can think clearly and come up with reasonable, effective long-term solutions.

    anita

    #423483
    seaturtle
    Participant

    Anita,

    Thank you for acknowledging what I went through in highschool.

    “my goodness, for crying out loud … Basically, you were bullied on your first thread.”

    Unfortunately the response felt normal to me, but at the same time not what I expected from reading the forums and seeing people being heard and given insight.

    I like your principle of “Do no harm,” just hearing you say there are responses you have regretted on here, and witnessing how it makes me feel to receive a response like I did, I will be careful myself.

    “it takes a village, like the saying goes. Let’s help each other best we can to feel more secure… in the insecure world we live in.”

    This idea of needing community, a village, has never felt more real to me than this year. Moving away from my family in Washington, I have lots of uncles, aunts, and cousins that support me, leaving this for Arizona has made me realize how important community really is. I really want to find that for myself long term.

    “His behavior during that one hour, in those circumstances (a golf tournament with friends) is not an indication of how he’d behave in normal circumstances on the long-run”

    I did fear this. He was drinking and of course on vacation so I was getting his most low inhibitions self. He works in finances and holds large amounts of money for people and invests it for them, so I can imagine he needs to know how to get people to trust him. My loved ones are my weakness when it comes to reading people, because I want it so bad. When he asked me how I switched from a “jock” to an artist, and I told him I think I was an artist trying to be a jock, he got emotional and that seemed to me he was emotional about the fact he realizes he didn’t see me before. But this could all be very wishful thinking. He does see a therapist, and has since the divorce, it is actual his couples therapist that is his current one… it’s all very strange to me, that he has therapy yet doesn’t seem to be becoming more aware. The therapist is someone who took my dads side in the divorce, my mom says she always felt that woman did not like her and found her texting my dad once, while they were on a vacation that the therapist recommended, to try and reconcile the marriage.

    “lessening and enduring emotional discomfort and not expecting perfect execution or linear progress.”

    This is something I will be keeping in mind, thank you. Might become a sticky note quote -by Anita, haha.

    ” I think that taking an actual break (not a breakup) for long-enough will take care of your current heightened distress level and will open your heart and mind to feeling way better about him and about yourself.”

    This is something I have considered several times. I have brought it up to my partner twice, and it sacred him both times and he quickly said no, that he did not want that. Now that you also know of his fear to be given the silent treatment, this is a reason I have hesitated to initiate a break, because I don’t want to trigger him in this way. I don’t want him to pull away from me and I certainly don’t want to be dating other people.

    “…except for the quick and relatively easy, short-term solution of breaking up with him. A solution I imagine that you will regret on the long-term”

    Exactly, sometimes I wonder if I can see into potential futures… or I just overthink so much that I trick myself into thinking that. Because it’s like I can see myself breaking up with him, exactly how it would happen, an impulse. I can see it relieving me for a while, but then, by the time I healed he would have closed his heart to me and forever be the one that got away. I can see myself wanting to be with someone else that has triggers as well, to make myself feel better, I would have someone to help, and less pressure to heal myself quickly before I ruin the relationship. But then I would eventually heal and outgrow that person, unless we healed together, but it’s much harder to predict other people. I then think, how powerful relationship with my current partner would be if we helped each other heal and stuck around to do so,, however this thought gives me some commitment fear, I think, and is where the voice of doubt chimes in, asking me “but is he the one you want a powerful relationship with, what if there is someone better suited.” I think that last one is the most superficial of all the thoughts, but it ties a bow on that whole thought spiral and I then feel stuck and indecisive.

    You need your distress level- over days and weeks- to get lower first, so that you can think clearly and come up with reasonable, effective long-term solutions.

    Back to taking a break, I have contemplated this for a year now, and I think a year been in this distress. I talked to one of my Aunts about this, her relationship with my uncle is the only relationship in my life I look up to. Her input was a break as well, as that also worked for her relationship early on. Now you bringing this up as well, I think I have been running from this idea and thought moving out would be enough. I just moved out two weeks and and thought I would see if that helps before taking a break, but honestly it is what I want and know I need. I just don’t know how to present it to him without losing him?

    I appreciate you Anita,

    Sending good vibrations 🙂

    #423484
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Seaturtle: I will reply Wed morning (we are on the same time zone.. ).

    anita

    #423490
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Seaturtle

    My thoughts are with you. I’m having a difficult day so I won’t be able to reply today.

    I just want to say regarding the comment you received on your first thread. That user is very kind. In this instance, that didn’t come across very well. Everyone has bad days communicating and I don’t believe that her intent was to bully you. She could have been more gentle and patient with you. It’s true.

    But if you understand who she is her perspective makes sense. Many people share the belief that if a person is good we shouldn’t be fussy in our choice of partner and I don’t think that is an inherently bad message. A lot of people end up alone without a good partner and wish very much that they had one.

    I think that the initial issue that was presented is different from what the actual issue seems to be. If that makes sense? You and your partner have very real communication issues.

    I thought that it was really interesting to learn that deeper issues were happening than what was initially presented. It was actually a bit surprising to learn that so much trauma was hidden behind that first message.

    I’m not trying to invalidate how you feel. You’re entitled to your own feelings about the issue.

    Just a reminder that this is a public forum and I don’t think it’s helpful for this individual to be misrepresented as a bully. I’ve never seen her say a bad word to anyone before.

    #423491
    Helcat
    Participant

    I thought it was very brave of you to take that step to reach out for advice again and share your truth about the experience.

    Love and best wishes! ❤️🙏

    #423513
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Seaturtle

    After a sleep, I feel better now.

    Thank you for your kindness and understanding regarding my trauma. It was a while ago and trauma therapy helped me a lot. I just wanted to illustrate how each others triggers can interact with each other in relationships.

    Thank you for sharing your partner’s background. That makes a lot of sense why he’s experiencing triggers sometimes when you discuss your triggers.

    I think that couples therapy is tricky. I’ve had a positive experience with it. But I’ve heard of so many people who haven’t. I think if you do decide to go in the future, you would have to have a very clear idea of what you want to happen. A lot of people go and end up either breaking up or feeling unsatisfied with the therapy. One thing that I didn’t like is that our therapist tried to bring up past arguments. We were very focused on wanting to improve our communication.

    The first session was very much just assessment as a couple as well as during private interviews. Our individual issues were discussed as well as our perspectives on difficulties with the relationship. There’s not a lot actually going on in the first session. It is more just identifying risk factors. Obviously, domestic violence is a concern for some relationships.

    I’m glad that your partner has done some things that help soothe your triggers. It can definitely be helpful to communicate what does help with him.

    You’re a very open communicative person and your desire for personal development is admirable. You have a lot of courage to face the situation head on and discuss behaviours within the relationship.

    Regarding the lateness. I wouldn’t be happy either if my partner didn’t let me know. Depending on how late he is, would determine how annoyed I’d be. It’s good that you know what doesn’t work for you and what does.

    The difficulty is how receptive your partner is to trying out different communication styles. To find something that helps you both.

    Do you think a simple apology might work for you? For example, “Sorry for being late, I know it’s a trigger for you. I don’t ever want to make you feel unseen.”. Just brainstorming, I’m sure that you would be able to figure out something that would be able to best help you.

    The difficulty with apologising is that some men hate it. My husband did and felt like an apology meant that he had to mean that he’d done something wrong. Instead of simply being a way to validate emotions. Women are prepped by society to apologise in a variety of different scenarios and understand that it’s largely about validation and manners. I had to talk to him and explain that it’s not that he was doing something wrong. It’s just showing that he cared and empathised with how I felt.

    It’s a very tricky situation that you are both in. I hope like you do that moving out will take some of that pressure off. It’s extra tricky because you’ve been experiencing daily triggers and you both haven’t had a peaceful week together for a while. It definitely sounds like you’re both feeling the pressure of the situation.

    I think that you did a good job of reflecting on the difficulties in the relationship and how you feel about them.

    To a lot of people, taking a break just means breaking up. So I can understand why he feels scared by this idea. Perhaps you could take a break without actively using that term. What would taking a break look like to you?

    I want to gently validate your feelings about your trauma and the difficulties in the relationship. It’s not your fault that you have trauma issues and it’s not certainly easy for you.

    What I don’t like is when your partner invalidates your trauma. You are not a weak person, you are strong and that is easy to see because you have the strength to face your issues and discuss these difficult situations. These are things that your partner seems to have difficulty with.

    I think that having my trauma invalidated, which is a big part of my life would make me feel unseen too. What do you think?

    Love and best wishes! 🙏

    #423522
    seaturtle
    Participant

    Dear Helcat,

    “I thought that it was really interesting to learn that deeper issues were happening than what was initially presented. It was actually a bit surprising to learn that so much trauma was hidden behind that first message.”

    I appreciate you bringing this up because I did consider many variables that affected her response, and I would certainly not label her as a bully. I realized how my message could appear superficial and whinny on the surface, I think I was more venting than actually communicating well. I suppose I was hoping someone who read it would see through those things and somehow sense the deeper issues, but that may have been unreasonable of me to hope for. It just so happened that I am triggered by feeling unseen, and unfortunately her response did make me feel that way. Calling her a bully for that is an exaggeration, but labeling the response as bullying did help me to see the commonality between that response and quite literal bullying in high school that I experienced. I hope this makes sense, labeling it as bullying was a helpful way for me to highlight the scenario, but I do not believe that is who that participant is or what would have been said if I communicated my struggles better.

    #423523
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Seaturtle:

    Thank you for acknowledging what I went through in high school“- you are welcome!

    Unfortunately the response felt normal to me, but at the same time not what I expected from reading the forums and seeing people being heard and given insight“-

    (1) It is sad that rudeness is quite normal. Next time you receive a reply that is judgmental and rude, here or elsewhere, let the person know it. Stand up for yourself in an assertive, respectful, yet strong way (vs aggressive and rude.. which is weak, really).

    (2) It is true that the person who replied to you is a good person, a regular participant who has been genuinely trying to help many people; a kind person..  just not on in that one instance, in your first thread. I am sorry that it happened. Your resulting feelings of hurt and discouragement are as valid as can be.

    This reminds me of how important it is to do-no-harm and to be kind every single time I choose to reply to a member. I am glad you gave the forums a second chance by starting your second, current thread.

    I like your principle of ‘Do no harm,’ just hearing you say there are responses you have regretted on here, and witnessing how it makes me feel to receive a response like I did, I will be careful myself“- thank you for being the good person that you are, I appreciate you!

    And thank you for appreciating me.

    Seemed to me he was emotional about the fact he realizes he didn’t see me before. But this could all be very wishful thinking“- I never underestimate how intense a child’s need and wish to be seen.

    He does see a therapist..“- he may be dating the therapist.

    This is a reason I have hesitated to initiate a break, because I don’t want to trigger him in this way. I don’t want him to pull away from me and I certainly don’t want to be dating other people“- if not a break, then make changes within the relationship so that you have the space/ alone-time that you need when you need it.

    “It’s like I can see myself breaking up with him, exactly how it would happen, an impulse. I can see it relieving me…  Back to taking a break, I have contemplated this for a year now, and I think a year been in this distress… I just moved out two weeks and thought I would see if that helps before taking a break, but honestly it is what I want and know I need“-

    – It occurred to me just now, and I don’t know if I mentioned this to you before.. that when with your partner, you may be re-experiencing the distress, anger and the desire to run away/ remove yourself from the situation,  that you felt with your father growing up.

    Your father demanded that you give him loving attention, which is inappropriate for a father/ parent to demand from his daughter, and that terribly distressed you and made you angry with him (“his insecure self needed me to literally tell him he was seen. I literally began to do this for him… I started to send him random texts like ‘I love you'”).

    “I find myself wanting to criticize my partner.. A mentality like, if I have to be hyper aware of what I am doing, like responding to messages, cleaning up after myself hyper-vigilantly, making sure YOU are seen“-

    – right here, you are re-experiencing what happened with your father in the context of your partner: angry (wanting to criticize) with (your father=> your partner) for making those inappropriate, unreasonable and distressing demands from you (to be hyper aware etc.).

    As adults, we forget how badly we felt as young children because as children, we dissociate from alarming, intense feelings. And so, when you currently meet your father, as an adult, you don’t feel that distress, or too much of it… Yu don’t feel these distressing feelings in the context of your father. But what happens with those dissociated feelings is that they re-appear in other contexts, commonly in the context of a romantic partner.

    Makes sense..?

    anita

     

    #423524
    seaturtle
    Participant

    Helcat,

    ” Do you think a simple apology might work for you? For example, “Sorry for being late, I know it’s a trigger for you. I don’t ever want to make you feel unseen.””

    Yes. When the apology feels true, then it does release the trigger. If he used this phrasing it would be even better, the problem is often his “apologizing” comes across fake. I am not sure if I am reading it correctly but I am pretty confident in my ability to read these things. Like sometimes he will apologize but I feel he is just saying it to just end the conversation and move on, other times his apologies are “I’m sorry but…” and that “but” just negates it all for me and I stop hearing what he’s saying. Honestly a false apology hasn’t happened in a while, I think/hope he realizes they are ineffective. I have learned he can also be passive aggressive but doesn’t know he’s doing it when I confront him, he makes me feel stupid for even thinking it could have been passive aggressive and this bothers me. It concerns me he does not see that his “jokes” are passive aggressive and pretty obvious to me. Another reason I know they are not just jokes is because when we are having a consistently good time he doesn’t “joke” around.

    The difficulty with apologising is that some men hate it. My husband did and felt like an apology meant that he had to mean that he’d done something wrong. Instead of simply being a way to validate emotions. Women are prepped by society to apologise in a variety of different scenarios and understand that it’s largely about validation and manners. I had to talk to him and explain that it’s not that he was doing something wrong. It’s just showing that he cared and empathised with how I felt.

    I want to straight up just read this to him because it is so true. He does struggle to apologize and all I really want is just recognition of how it could have been harmful to me.

    “To a lot of people, taking a break just means breaking up. So I can understand why he feels scared by this idea. Perhaps you could take a break without actively using that term. What would taking a break look like to you?”

    These are good questions. While living together I felt the need for a break quite heavily, but since moving out, it is sort of a break in itself. I see him about 2-3 days a week instead of 24/7, he is not a big texter or any social media communication so we have full days without talking which I think is what I need because before our lives were so intertwined that everything I did was around him. What I did for food that day was a communication with him, or how we relaxed at the end of the day, or even when I would come home/leave or even shower and wash my hair! So now I can breathe a bit more and just make decisions for only myself, so that I don’t forget my needs and my self care, which I often gave up if he was home. I hope these things don’t make us a bad match, and i hope I can heal in this semi-break period and then be able to relax with him again living together.

    “I think that having my trauma invalidated, which is a big part of my life would make me feel unseen too. What do you think?”

    *this paragraph is sad, I am not sure how else to describe it, so read when you have your mental armor on, I don’t want to harm your mood.

    Yes I believe that having trauma invalidated is even another form of trauma, because I feel triggered when I feel invalidated in certain ways, let alone invalidated trauma, it can be gut wrenching depending on how close that person is to you. My trauma has been very invalidated, my dad was one of those types who just believed anxiety made you weak and you could power through anything with a 5 am workout, egg whites and money. Rabbit trail: My brother is not mentally well, he is 2 1/2 years younger than me, actually turns 22 tomorrow wow. Anyways he was in no way a jock growing up, he hated the sports my dad would try to bribe him to play, my dad has no relationship with him he doesn’t understand him at all. My brother is sensitive, musical, inventive, and intelligent, but these positive traits about him shut down through the divorce, maybe earlier. Unseen fully by my dad, even more than I am, he developed a video game addiction, and gambling as well now. He has very low self esteem and was diagnosed with manic depression and prescribed in 2020. He would have outburst of anger to my mom and sisters, so much so they no longer felt safe with him around and he is now living at my grandparents…the place my dad was raised, so I do not think it is helping him. Side note my sister, two years younger than him, was also rejected by my dad. She is a strong woman, I am naturally softer, she did not fit the mold of what my dad thought made a girl a girl, she was constantly in trouble as a kid, spanked too much and I also would cry hearing it as a kid because my dad would get angry with her, she was pretty devious she would have lots of tantrums and hated authority. Anyways come her 18th birthday she moved to another state to live with my Aunt and her family, they are very religious (Christian) they are vegan and just very kind people who pretty much adopted her after she spent the last 8 summers there as well. My youngest sister is the only one still home and she’s an amazing dancer and my dad still to this day tells her she should try a “real” sport. This infuriates me. Bringing this out of the rabbit hole now, me and all my siblings are unseen, and relate to each other in this way. If we told my dad this, he would deny any of it being his fault, he would say we didn’t communicate with him enough, or we are exaggerating the pain or that our whole generation is just weak. Having trauma invalidated, especially by the one that traumatized you is angering, for me anyways. Anger that turns to a deep sadness and feeling of being UNSEEN. Even writing this paragraph took a lot out of me, feel like I need a yoga class right now ha!

    Sending a release of muscle tension to you (as I needed it as well)

    Seaturtle

    #423525
    seaturtle
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    ““He does see a therapist..“- he may be dating the therapist. “

    I don’t think so, because he has had a girlfriend for the past 6 years now and I don’t think he would ever cheat on someone with how much he condemned it. But I can see how you would come to this potential conclusion.

    “…that when with your partner, you may be re-experiencing the distress, anger and the desire to run away/ remove yourself from the situation,  that you felt with your father growing up.”

    It is a very similar feeling yes. I get this impulse to run away and just go do it all by myself and never rely on him again.

    ” you are re-experiencing what happened with your father in the context of your partner: angry (wanting to criticize) with (your father=> your partner) for making those inappropriate, unreasonable and distressing demands from you (to be hyper aware etc.). “

    This makes a lot of sense.

    “As adults, we forget how badly we felt as young children because as children, we dissociate from alarming, intense feelings. And so, when you currently meet your father, as an adult, you don’t feel that distress, or too much of it… Yu don’t feel these distressing feelings in the context of your father. But what happens with those dissociated feelings is that they re-appear in other contexts, commonly in the context of a romantic partner.”

    Yes this makes a lot of sense as well. Does bringing awareness to these things initiate ending the cycle? It is very interesting because this holds very true, I don’t have these intense feelings directed at my dad anymore and now they are aimed at my partner. Since this distress was instilled in me for so long, can I fully heal from it? I wish I could just stop this now.

    Sending love and thanks 🙂

    Seaturtle

    #423527
    seaturtle
    Participant

    I had another thought/question, Since my partners dad emotionally dumped on him and he felt like his therapist, is this how my partner sees me when I am trying to communicate so that he can understand me? Cause it is how I feel sometimes when I try to express to him why I reacted a certain way, what the trauma behind it was, he will call these excuses which just lead to feeling further unseen and invalidated. If this is what is happening, can i help him to see this somehow?

    #423528
    seaturtle
    Participant

    Anita, I wanted to elaborate this point a bit, I hope my disorganization isn’t too confusing.

    ” you are re-experiencing what happened with your father in the context of your partner: angry (wanting to criticize) with (your father=> your partner) for making those inappropriate, unreasonable and distressing demands from you (to be hyper aware etc.). “

    This makes a lot of sense. Are these demands that are distressing to me, made up in my mind as part of the trauma response?

    #423529
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Seaturtle:

    This makes a lot of sense. Are these demands that are distressing to me, made up in my mind as part of the trauma response?“- yes, I think so.

    “I had another thought/question, Since my partners dad emotionally dumped on him and he felt like his therapist, is this how my partner sees me when I am trying to communicate so that he can understand me? Cause it is how I feel sometimes when I try to express to him why I reacted a certain way, what the trauma behind it was, he will call these excuses which just lead to feeling further unseen and invalidated”-

    – he may be taking on the role of a therapist with you, as he has dome with his father (based on his words in regard t his father), but he is a bad “therapist” if he refers to your sincere reasoning as excuses. Can you give me 1-2 examples of what you said that he referred to as an excuses?

    “Does bringing awareness to these things initiate ending the cycle? It is very interesting because this holds very true, I don’t have these intense feelings directed at my dad anymore and now they are aimed at my partner. Since this distress was instilled in me for so long, can I fully heal from it? I wish I could just stop this now”-

    – the dissociated/ removed-from-awareness feelings in regard to your father need to be brought back to awareness, to one extent or another, so to undo the grasp these feelings have on your boyfriend, so to speak.

    Love back to you and thank you!

    * I will probably not be able to reply further until tomorrow, so please take your time replying to this post.

    anita

     

    #423544
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Seaturtle

    Thank you for sharing your understanding of the situation. I’m glad that you found the behaviour being described as bullying, linking to your own experiences of bullying in school as helpful.

    I can understand how the behaviour could make you feel judged and unseen. I’m sorry that you experienced it. It is very kind of you to offer your understanding and empathy about the situation. It speaks volumes of your level of emotional maturity. It is kind of nerve-racking as a new poster. I think that often people want to feel safe before they choose to share more deeply. So I can totally understand why you started off by sharing some of your less sensitive thoughts. I’m glad that you stood up for yourself and gave things a second try. Not everyone does in these situations. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you more as a person and I’m glad that you’re now getting the support that you were hoping for.

    Love and best wishes! ❤️ 🙏

    #423557
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Seaturtle:

    So far in your thread I focused on you, your childhood and how your past childhood experience affects your current relationship with N. You described N so positively that I didn’t think of looking at him, his childhood etc., until I read yesterday: “when I try to express to him why I reacted a certain way, what the trauma behind it was, he will call these excuses which just lead to feeling further unseen and invalidated” (Oct 18).

    And so, I went back to your first thread and read through your posts on both threads. In your 4th sentence, original post, July 29, 2023, you wrote: “he was late for the first date, but I didn’t mind.. since it’s not like he knew who he was being late for, lol, my logic anyway”.

    Fast forward in the relationship.. it’s still not like he knows who he was- and still is- late for.

    Back to your original post: “our third date he accidentally stood me up”- you excused him being late as an accident, but it was not an accident: “Him being late to dates is a common argument we have… he is late which.. at least once every two weeks or so, if not more“.

    “To him he is on time 80% of the time and I should accept that, but that’s way easier said than done, I cant just turn off the trigger or I would. But he thinks I should just be mentally stronger, like he seems to be“-

    – his version of mental strength is what I call the Teflon Mind (TM) : Teflon causes nothing to STICK to cookware. The Teflon Mind doesn’t allow anything to stick to it, anything that may be distressing to consider, that is.

    This is the difference between the two of you: you let things in, you let them stick enough to analyze them, so to understand better.

    “My partner is supportive of me seeking therapy but does not believe in it… I have tried many times to tell him the benefits of therapy… so you can understand yourself. But he will not go to couples therapy with me”- the TM does not want to understand itself; any opportunity to understand (himself or you)- if it feels distressing to him- will slide off him like oil slides off Teflon.

    “I am not sure he sees what makes me special as opposed to another girl who’s pretty, good awareness, and fun… He doesn’t tell me how he feels about me, and when I ask him he says superficial things…  I want him to tell me he loves things about me that make me ME… I want to explode and just be like “DO YOU SEE ME like do you actually see my spirit and soul over here exposed to you and walking in the world”-

    – your father didn’t see you and (not or) your boyfriend doesn’t see you, not beyond the superficial, like you suspect. Your feeling UNSEEN has its roots in childhood (as is true to many people) but it is also happening presently in your relationship. I don’t think that it’s anything personal:  the TM does not allow seeing beyond the surface when it comes to emotions and mental health.

    “When I try to talk about trauma with him I am not always comfortable to do so, because he doesn’t relate“- he doesn’t relate to what slides off him like oil off  Teflon.

    “.. and if it follows an argument and I am explaining why something is a trigger, he calls my response ‘excuses’ and that is the most invalidating thing, but also makes me wonder if they are just excuses“-

    – an excuse means an “attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense)” (online dictionary): so he is saying that you telling him about what triggers you is an offense against him, or a fault in who you are.

    “after me sharing my trigger response after the ticking he asked me ‘why don’t I have triggers like you do, do I have no trauma?’“- he is blaming you for having triggers, stating that he has trauma too, but he has no triggers (being that they slide off, I say), so there is something wrong (faulty, blameworthy) about you, is the message, isn’t it?

    “I get this feeling of unfamiliarity often, when alcohol or marijuana is involved it does prolong the feeling and make me feel more trapped but I have the same feeling completely sober as well. This feeling of disconnect that feels like an awkward unfamiliarity and I am the only one who notices it.”- this IS the experience of living with a TM.. unless you are equally a TM yourself. and therefore comfortable with unfamiliarity.. having adjusted well to being UNSEEN

    “There were several times while I lived with him that I would be having a trigger response that lead to a panic attack and I would go into our big closet with the lights off and sit on the ground, this helps me to calm down. He would come in and sit next to me. He also has pulled me out of a panic attack by whispering in my ear ‘be nice to my girl,’ directly communicating with the voice in my head telling me I was unseen and uncared for”- this is nice on his part, he can be supportive at times… as long as your distress does not distress him.

    But lately he doesn’t grab me or hug me as much like that, and has said he feels he is always consoling me and sometimes does not have the patience to do so and instead feels falsely blamed for my pain”- in your shoes, hearing this, I would feel guilty about sharing with him anything that would make him feel badly.

    “He told me his mom would do this and that she made him feel like a bad kid morally as he grew up”- I suppose he Teflon-ed her message that he was a bad kid, adjusting to her by developing a TM. It is not his fault to have adjusted to her this way, as well as to his father.

    The title of this thread is: “Telling the difference between gut and fear in relationships”- you fear being unseen and you really are unseen

    The title of your first thread: “Please help me, my mind hasn’t rested in 8 months“. You ended the original post on that thread with: “thanks for reading and please anything can help me especially advice or someone in a similar boat” (July 29).

    More than 2 months later, I am responding today: first, seems to me that everyone is traumatized to one extent of another, evident in our very troubled world. Second, we adjust differently to childhood emotional trauma: I was always into looking deeply into things, wanting to shed light into the darkness and SEE. I experienced positive excitement when I saw/ understood something that I didn’t see before. Therefore, I was motivated to do it again and again, to shed more and more light into the darkness and feel positively excited yet again. Other people growing up, when light was shed on a situation, they felt more distress than before.. they were negatively excited, so they turned off the lights, hence the Teflon Mind.

    Some people want to talk about emotions and understand better; others don’t.. or can’t, it’s not something that they are able to endure. So, when growing up with a TM, or being in a relationship with one, you get to feel alone and disconnected in their presence.. you become inhibited and controlled around them, your mind can’t rest. You hold your breath.. and you get the chance to exhale and rest.. when they are not around.

    anita

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