Monday, October 5, 2009

Post Traumatic

I remember talking with a long time friend shortly after the separation from my ex-husband. My husband was my first love and I was trying to have hope that I could love like that again.

"Oh no, you won't." she told me, "You will never give your heart like that again. You won't ever be that naive again. Its sad, really."

Those words drained the life from me that day. However I kept my chin up and I kept hoping.

---

My next major relationship was with Soldier. I was surprised, frankly, at how quickly I did give my heart to him. I thought I proved her wrong!

During that relationship, however, I did notice many times that I would react to something he said or did because of a past experience with my ex-husband. I didn't realize the effect that a failed marriage would have on me. It occurred to me, in fact, that perhaps I wasn't as naive and hopeful as I thought.

After yet another failed relationship, I am attempting love again. I am trying to allow myself to fall madly and completely like I've done before. Perhaps this time I can get it right?

Poor Jack.

I still find myself reacting. I still overthink. I am still cautious. I am still fearful. It is taking me longer to trust.

I am too frightened to give my heart like I did the first time.

As a matter of fact, I am realizing more than ever that I don't trust my own judgment anymore.

---

I know I'm reacting to fears from my past. I know that, sadly, I am expecting the same results. I also know that my fear will end up creating the result I am expecting.

I remind myself that everyone is different. I remind myself that the situation is different. I watch myself react. I hear the doubts in my head. And there are the few naysayers warning me that maybe I've got my hopes up yet again... and that maybe I will be let down yet again.

I don't regret my past relationships. I needed them at the time. I have learned from them. It is the pain of those wounds that I am still reacting to. Little bumps and bruises along the path that I don't want to feel again.

I have to allow this to unfold and not project my fear upon it.

Gentleman Jack is not my ex-husband. Jack is not Soldier.

But still...

When I married my husband, I thought I'd be married for the rest of my life. Then, I thought Soldier was the one I would marry next. Now, I am in a relationship with a wonderful man and....

Ugh!

This is a man who loves me like I've never been loved before. This is a man who has me in his thoughts all the time and tells me so. This is a man who wants to do whatever I need to bring a smile to my face. This is a man who sees right through any facade I might attempt because he truly wants to know me. This is a man who shares himself completely and deeply with me. This is a man who has children and, when he's around my children, is such a positive, loving figure.

My children adore him. My friends adore him. I adore him.

In fact, I am crazy about him. Yes we are different in many ways. I am still learning to be treated like a lady by the gentleman he is. And yes, he lives a state away.

But I love him so very, very much.

So why am I questioning it? Why am I so frightened? Why don't I feel comfortable completely giving in to these feelings and thoughts of a future together? Is it too early? Am I simply thinking too much? Is this just a place holder for yet another relationship in my future? Am I even able to be in another relationship?

Am I doubting because there's some intuition guiding me that Jack isn't the one? Or am I just frightened? Am I listening to my head instead of my heart? Am I just frustrated because I can't figure out a future with him when our lives are a 3 hours' drive from each other?

Is it even possible to love again, after failed relationships and especially as a single parent, without having a single doubt or worry in your mind?

What do I know?

---

I've written many times about dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and relationships. My last relationship disintegrated because of PTSD after Soldier came home from war.

Wikipedia describes PTSD as "severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma".

It seems to me that heartbreak can be an "extreme psychological trauma."  Wouldn't you agree?

Here I am with the battle wounds of past failed relationships. Here I am with the paranoia that it could happen again at any time....

All this time I've written about PTSD, I never once considered that I too could be suffering from it.

17 comments:

  1. Oh yes, you said it, sister. Both Blue Eyes and now Mr. V have said, "Don't make me pay for [Chapin's] mistakes." Ugh. But how can you NOT view men through the lenses of past experience? I hate the idea that I'm making anyone "pay" for what my ex-husband did, but neither do I think I should have to sit around avoiding love and allowing my ex to continue to make my life miserable. Fortunately I have found a wonderful man who is willing to speak up when I'm "making him pay" and remind me to see him for who HE is. I'm blessed. And it sounds like you are, too. Both of us worry too much and overthink too much. Just go with it!

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  2. T:

    You know that I can relate to what you've written here on so many levels, our situations being so similiar in a lot of ways.

    From one overthinker to another, let me say: I think you're overthinking this! I know how and why it happens, though. Fear leads to overthinking.

    And there are a lot of reasons to be fearful in any relationship, and even more when it's with a man who lives 3 hours away and you can't find a way to figure out how to be together. I'm there, girl. I'm SO there.

    I noticed that you wrote this: "I don't regret my past relationships. I needed them at the time. I have learned from them." Can't you look at this relationship in the same way? This is what you need right now, and that you're going to learn everything that you can from it, without knowing how it's going to end?

    The truth of relationships are that we never know how they're going to end. You married thinking it would be forever. So did I. So do we all. There are no guarantees in life. Why create heartache for yourself in a situation that should be filled with joy? You have many reasons to feel the way you do about Rascal. Slow down. Enjoy yourself. Give your heart time to ease into things and tell your head to take a break for a little while.

    If you are still and listen closely, the answers will come to you, I promise.

    *hugs*

    Also -- anytime you want to talk, you have my email. I'm here for you. :)

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  3. If you keep worrying so much about what the end result may or may not be you won't be able to completely enjoy the journey. Relax and enjoy the here and the now because that's all we are guaranteed anyway.
    Sunnie

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  4. I'm very glad for you that things seem to be working wonderfully in your relationship with Rascal.

    But honestly, I'm seeing something here that I've seen on blogs before. Too often.

    Why do you feel the need to analyze and name your relationship with Rascal? Is it love? Will it last forever? Will he turn out to be like other men in my life?

    I know this sounds easy and is devilishly difficult to do, but you need to relax. Take some deep breaths and not worry about categorizing your relationship. Let things develop as they will without a magnifying glass on every moment.

    Will Rascal prove in the long term to be a real knight in shining armor? Who knows?

    Will he turn into another kissed toad to be scratched from your list in your search for a prince? I hope not, but who knows.

    The essential element you seem to be missing here is that life is not about the destination. It is not about the happy ever after. It is about the here and now. The journey to happiness. Slow down and enjoy today for tomorrow is guaranteed to none of us.

    Next time he snuggles and holds you close as you both fall asleep, enjoy that moment for what it is. It is a moment in time that can never be recaptured. Waste it worried about tomorrow and pretty soon you'll find that all the tomorrows have turned into yesterdays.

    Hope that helps.

    TAG

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  5. If I had a nickel for every time the best friend said "He is not *fill in the blank ex here* " when I started my last relationship. Those constant reminders of her and his consistent opposite-of-the-last-man behavior over time did make it better. It is natural. I know men and women feel that they are paying for behavior of the ones before them, but it is what it is. Those relationships contribute to who you are, some of your reactions can't help but be molded by past relationships. If they are open and understanding (like Rascal)and you are open to talk about why you react the way you do it will work out.

    I can "what if" anything to death so I know the feeling of over thinking. Opening your heart is scary and is risky, it always will be. That good old fear of the unknown. But what if the unknown is nothing to be afraid of?

    If nothing else, you will have learned a lot about yourself from this relationship and banished away some of the "pay for it" reactions from the past. You will grow to expect the positive treatment you are receiving from Rascal. You should expect that kind of behavior and it's wonderful that this man has come into your life to teach you this.

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  6. There are a lot of people in my life right now who are feeling fear of the unknown, the countless "what if this/what if that?" scenarios playing through their heads. I am trying to live by a new motto:

    Uncertainty = Opportunity

    Not knowing what will happen does not have to be a bad thing unless you only look at it that way. I know this is hard -- boy is it! -- but try not to overthink. Try to enjoy without labeling what your relationship is/isn't and what may or may not happen. Who knows how long we'll all be here -- just be sure to enjoy the ride while you are.

    (Again, I know this is hard because my tendency can be to overthink. But promise you'll try, 'kay?!) :)

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  7. I've just started following your blog, and love it. Since I don't know your whole story, I hope my comments have some relevance. Think that all this thinking could be a sign that you are making progress and can love again. For me, I gave my heart away too easy, it wasn't really love, I just gave my heart and soul to the first man that walked by. When you analyze consider all the pros and cons and then eventually give your heart away, that is a true and lasting decision, a true and lasting love...

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  8. T, what Momma Sunshine said. And also interestingly I have just been thinking about PTSD in relationships.

    Actually the symptoms are quiet similar to PTSD from accidents, crime, war, etc.

    The flashbacks, shock, sense of disconnect, the inability to let go of the situation completely in the heart/mind and move on, all point to PTSD.

    That's why I now use a lot of EFT in my practice with clients who have these sort of feelings, because it works like nothing else on this stuff. Yeah, I know, I am talking about EFT too much. What can I say, it really works. :)

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  9. Don't take this too literally, but this post made a song pop into my head. I think it was this lyric that I was reminded of:

    "I know the last page so well, I can't read the first."

    I know how that goes: the fear of what will happen in the long run clouding the view of what's happening right now.

    But I also like the way the song ends - after a lament of always being "on the outside of love" - with:

    "Of course I'll be alright.
    I just had a bad night.
    I just had a bad night."

    Because, oh yes, have I been there, with the over thinking and the worry and the fear. (Who hasn't?) But so often I know that if I wait until the morning to panic, I'll likely wake up to discover there's nothing to panic about.

    Anyway. Again, don't take it too literally. I certainly don't think the lyrics of this song describe your situation. But it popped into my head, so I thought I'd share. It's a good song (from a good album), anyway... so feel free to enjoy it even if you don't feel it has any relevance to your situation. :)

    I blipped it, so you can hear it here: http://blip.fm/~eegmi

    Nada Surf ~ Inside of Love

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  10. You CAN love again...but there will be doubt and worry.
    That doubt and worry is a reflection of you, and not Rascal (I know that you know this already)!
    Just be as free as you can with your heart...baby steps...if you stay open to the possibilities whatever is supposed to happen will...and no one knows what that is.

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  11. Sounds to me like you have thought this out very well. I am not convinced that you have PTSD, but what if you do, what does that change about your relationship with Rascal?
    You know what is in your heart, as the a little known band "The Beatles" said "Let it Be".

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  12. Something that I just pulled from some of the comments is this. Why do we need to KNOW that this is real or going to last? Why can't we just enjoy what is going on? What difference does the outcome make? We really should just worry about making today fun and enjoyable. We may die tomorrow and then all we have is the fear we had about a future that is not available anyway.

    I always hear people say, "Don't wish your child’s life away" meaning don't say, I wish she was potty trained, I wish she could talk, I wish she was walking. It will happen in time and we need to enjoy what we have now.

    So we need to do the same with our relationships. They will happen how they are supposed to, so why not enjoy the good while we have it.

    Don't let the nay sayers make your destiny for you. They obviously don't know shit about the love you have in your heart and the ability you have to give it.

    You deserve to be treated like Rascal treats you. Maybe he is just here to teach you that huge lesson. Maybe he is here for ever. Who cares! You are great together NOW!!!!Enjoy!

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  13. Is it even possible to love again, after failed relationships and especially as a single parent, without having a single doubt or worry in your mind?

    YES! Give love without condition or attachment, and you don't have to have a single doubt or worry. Give love without expecting anything back. Give love without attaching hope of an outcome. Give love just because it's good and right.

    It's not the same as romantic love, but maybe it's better?

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  14. Hmmm. I think language is really important.

    I never use the phrase "failed marriage," or "failed relationship" for that matter.

    I honestly don't look at my marriage as a "failed" anything. We married, things happened, it didn't work.

    Other relationships? There are reasons things work for awhile, then change. We grow, learn, have different needs, discover things that bother us and grow beyond irritation into real obstacles. I find all that to be HUMAN, not "failure."

    And trust me - I have stories that would make your hair fall out. But I still don't believe I "failed." Maybe you should reconsider your terminology, and thus your viewpoint?

    Heartbreak? No way around it. Goes with the territory of loving.

    Failure? Save that word for pop quizzes.

    My 2 cents.

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  15. Well you've gotten some wise advice here T. I don't know that I have much to add, other than to say, maybe it's time to just let go. Let go and enjoy what you have now, and try to kick the thoughts of fear and doubt to the curb.

    I should take my own advice really. Hmpf.

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  16. T -I am having these discussions at the moment with my friends about Plane Boy! I adore him. He makes me happy. He likes me!

    But I am scared! Sometimes it actually makes me want to cry I get so scared!

    Its hard this being happy after being dysfunctional thing! But we can do it!

    Breathe, remember the way he looks at you and you will be FINE!

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  17. Wow, T, I'm catching up and this one hits me hard. I don't even think it's about "over thinking."
    In my experience, it's more along the lines of what Love Coach Rinatta is saying:

    I actually stop thinking when I'm caught in an emotional flashback and disconnect (my intense feeling go way back, to my relationship with my mother).

    I know that you can move through this, too! Good for you for doing yoga, running, talking to friends and family.... big hug.

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