Burleson: Is he really my true Valentine? Love and PTSD.
After a rough night’s sleep of disturbing dreams and wakefulness last night I cantilevered open my eye lids this morning around 6.25am…. My husband’s alarm clock had gone off earlier than mine so I assumed he was off to his ‘hot pod’ yoga class. I had forgotten I’d checked with him before bed and he’d said he wasn’t going (of course I had forgotten!). My alarm goes off at 6.30am. Up the stairs the man comes bearing ‘nectar of the Gods’… steaming hot tea and presents me with an envelope bearing a little heart and a little white cardboard box. Ah… ding… its Valentines Day. I’m so organised I had bought his card at least 2 weeks ago. However, so wrapped up mostly in kids and exhaustion I had forgotten to write it. Bums. I open his gold sparkly card containing a loving handwritten message, love and hearts. I open the little box to find some locally handmade silver heart earrings. I think: I am a lucky girl.
Earlier this week I was in despair about our marriage. It happens fairly regularly. There have been some very traumatic experiences in our time together where he just wasn’t physically or emotionally there for me. Even though years have gone by, I am so ultra sensitive to triggers that I’m haunted by the let downs and disappointments. These memories and past feelings cloud my judgement of him more than they need to. He has demonstrated in the years since that he regrets his behaviour and accepts the consequences of his actions… Result: I don’t trust him the way I should be able to trust my husband; I don’t respect him the way I should like to respect my husband; I am not able to be in love with him the way I dream about being in love with my husband.
Fortunately, we have had loving moments during our relationship together. I only have to think back to they way he looked at me and planned our first official date all those years ago, and I my heart melts all over again. He is with me 100% on my journey for ever. He reassures me when I’m scared and try to push him away. That’s eternal love.
During my latest wobble I lay in my bed, iPhone in hand and started Google’ing ‘How do you know you married the right person?’. Bonkers, right! Yes, I can say that now… However, actually…. I found this and the author chappie has listed 16 interesting signs to consider.
Here we go:
- You spend time together doing things you both enjoy. Right now it’s the odd meal out/takeaway and watching a programme/film together and I have to remind myself that this is more symptomatic of having young children and being exhausted. Before children we used to enjoy playing badminton together, walks in the countryside, city breaks, museums, theatre, cinema. Note to self: try to infuse some of what we used to do back into our lives even if only monthly.
- You can spend time apart. My husband travels for work and does manage to go on trips with his friends, which I really want him to do. I am terrible at this. I can’t go overnight because of overwhelming intrusive thoughts and the intense sense of abandonment and fear. I hope once the children are older I will be more able to do this, because I know I’m missing out on some girls weekends away that’d be so fun!
- They’re attentive. This needs a lot of improvement on both sides!
- When there’s bad news, you got to them first. I am not quite there yet. As a result of my upbringing I’m instinctively guarded and secretive about myself. I’m not good at sharing myself with my husband. Working on it in therapy!
- You have strong trust. Nope. Getting better though. I have only been able to trust and depend on myself for most of my life.
- They’re physically affectionate. Yes he is. I am not because of my ASD and the child sexual abuse causing constant triggers and sensory overloads. It’s a nightmare and a source of upset and sadness for both of us. Weekly EMDR and talking therapy I undergo continues to try to help me sort my brain and heart out.
- They don’t expect you to change overnight. We are quite good on this, apart from moments of frustration.
- You put the other person first. Again quite good on this, although because we are coming from totally different pasts we tend to do it for different reasons. He does it out of love and nurture, I do it on auto-pilot because of fear of doing something wrong and punishment or to be self-sacrificing.
- Your fights are productive, not destructive. On the whole I would say our fights are productive, but they are destroying in the process. My CPTSD and ASD cause extreme reactions, rage, and years ago I used to get violent. My violence now manifests against myself (punching myself in the head/bashing myself in the head with a door, for example) in extreme cases when I can’t use words to express my deep feelings and emotions in a fight, or when I visualise hitting my husband as the only way out to stop the fight. I have learned to control the urges better lately… my new one is in my head… to take a lightbulb and crush it in my hand… hope I never actually do it.
- They share your values and goals. Yes.
- You help each other become more successful. Yes.
- You can make each other laugh. Not enough laughter at all in our relationship. Trauma processing is a heavy and serious process that saps humour. We need more of it in our lives. Note to self!
- They listen more than they talk (and vice versa). I am a very good listener, although ASD causes me to interrupt a lot, which I am becoming more and more aware of thankfully. He is not a great listener, because he forgets to ask or is to afraid to initiate a conversation for fear of my reaction.
- They seek knowledge. I am married to a Twitter addict. HAHA. He told me yesterday that the word ‘Love’ in tennis for zero points actually came from the word ‘Oeuf’, the French words for ‘egg’ and was named so because a zero looks like an egg! I love it when he tells me something fun like that I didn’t know before. Hurrah!
- You never hesitate to ask for help. I’m really bad at this, so is he. Hrm.
- You share the same financial goals. Yes. We don’t talk about the future enough though. We need to really plot to retirement so we can find out whether we are on the right path. Note to self!
Wow that was quite a lovely exercise to do out loud… I would recommend it! I think he’s a keeper after all, my rainbow after the rain.
Perhaps he needs to find out whether he married the right person?
Burleson: Is he really my true Valentine? Love and PTSD. (c) 2019 Laura Devlin