My doctor (the one I trust after the first bunch of quacks I was given proved to be useless) told me that while dealing with an operational stress injury, now is not the time for monumental change. Keep smoking, keep drinking , keep doing weed ( if you do those things) , and then try to stabilize , and then try apply some moderation, and then possibly begin to talk about eliminating some of the negatives. Don’t quit your job, don’t sell your house, don’t ditch relationships. Yet. After some stability, if the stressor is persistent then of course do consider getting rid of it.
Kate’s comment: why do Brian and I so often refer to psychiatrists and psychologists as “quacks”? Because frankly there are a hell of a lot of quacks in the MH profession and not nearly enough oversight weeding them out. It is extremely frustrating to hear the same stories over and over again about the same MH Profession and know that NOBODY is going to remove them from practicing. I personally have had it with them and am blasting those who say they are over sight professionals when I see them screwing up, as they did when they arm chair diagnosed President Trump. That went straight against the Goldwater Rule: a self-governance covenant for all psychiatrists and psychologists. As I’ve said, all those Canadian MH Professionals who gleefully shared that snippet are being blasted by me asking them for their diagnosis of PM Trudeau because they argued it wasn’t “petty or political”. It was both.
I also disagree with his extremely professional psychologist who is one of the best in the world, there are times when you MUST kick things to the curb because they are keeping you broken. Often I found myself in relationships with people I now can see had less than stellar undiagnosed MH issues: narcissists, sociopaths, borderline personality disorder, etc. I said it to a lady today who is a PTSD and abuse survivor, UNTIL WE DEAL WITH OUR ABUSE AND OUR TRUAMA WE ATTRACT ABUSE. Brian and I share this in our history. Sometimes, kicking that relationship to the curb is your only key to health.
There’s different Brians. And while those that love me may have fallen in love with one or two of the versions of me, they get them all. So do you. So does your partner. If he gets to have you that sleeps with him, he gets the you that farts in bed. If he gets to have the you that cheers him on when he’s had success, he gets the you that falls apart emotionally. And we have to give space and recognition to that. Every relationship has ups and downs, but when you have PTSD theres a ton of downs. You are probably absolutely exhausting to deal with. It probably seems like for every smile there’s three frowns, for him. Your probably a bigger pain in the ass than you even think you are. And that shit takes time , and it takes energy. And since we can’t create either of those , the only truth is that the negative exists by stealing time from the average and the positive. You don’t create more time, so you have time to be hurt. You take potentially happy time, and turn it into hurt time. And we all do.
Kate’s comment: I’d add that there is more to this with a PTSD brain. Specifically, a need for simplicity. There has to be zero grey. I have learnt to cut anything or anybody that is not a positive in my life, but more than that I have learnt the importance of boundaries that are known and spoken, no matter how uncomfortable that might be. I had a boundary conversation a while back with an old friend, it wasn’t fun but he knows me well enough and loves me well enough to have understood what I was saying and why. The concept of the continuum is EXTREMELY important. Our brains are wired to see everything as final. The last fight. The last straw that removes the oxygen and our will to live. The earth is literally ending. One of the key moments of recovery is when you are in the badlands you know on a cellular level that it’s bad right now but I will get through this. That’s a big moment.
For your relationship to go forward, you will have to become skilled at taking adventage of the average moments and giving each other something to remember about those moments. In a relationship with people who have regular brains, they can wait for amazing moments to do amazing things (have sex, go on a date, compliment the other) because they have nothing but time. We don’t. Kate and I have to accept that in any given month we are going to have shitty stretches of time. So, when the time is average, you have to act like its positive and make shit happen. Like tonight. We are going on a date dinner. We just did one last week, so we aren’t “due” for another. This isn’t a day that matters , or commemorates anything. But we’ve matured. And we know stuff. One of the things we know is that while shit can happen any time, today we are both feeling healthy, happy, and functional and thats as good as it gets sometimes so lets push it a bit. So instead of waiting for a perfect evening, shits getting done tonight. Because we don’t know about tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow is a beautiful evening, and she gets fainting spells, or I”m stuck in the bathtub because my guts are bleeding. Maybe that happens tonight, in which case its date dinner tomorrow. But failing any real grief we are making it happen on this regular average day today, because if we don’t push it, it won’t happen.
Kate’s comment: smiling as I write this because he was clearly taunting the devil with that paragraph. His guts are bleeding and although he was going to grit his teeth, I said no, we aren’t going out tonight. There was some argument but we know each other well enough now for there to be this comfort in failure: acceptance. Not tonight but it will happen.
PTSD episodes are tiresome on the other people, but almost invisible. They can see some of it, but most of the symptomology is hidden. Your face and voice will only show a fraction of the pain. So its hard for those attending our freak-outs to know how to gauge this one. Is this bad? Is it mild? We don’t know. I suffer from PTSD myself, and yet when Kate is reacting it takes a bit to know which kind I’m dealing with. Some a hug will help. Some a hug will feel like she’s being confined and restrained. Its not easy to know. And its fucking tiring to try figure it out. As well, lots of times the triggering of an episode is a self inflicted wound, for both of us. We both are guilty of reading and getting involved in stuff when we know we don’t have the capacity for it. Its hard to comfort and support someone who keeps stepping on the same nail, time and time again and complains about a sore foot. So, its one hell of a big ask to expect someone who was prepared for regular ups and downs, to take on our amount of downs.
Kate’s comment: so bloody true. This is why I value honest friends and companions. The ones that turn around and say, “WTF girl?” I have a follower on my Kate Gillie Art page who is a Canadian Veteran, he calls me out whenever I post something he thinks is wrong. I love that. He will argue back and forth, and generally, he’s right. I LOVE friends who aren’t kiss asses. Equally my dearest doesn’t hold back. He will literally call me a bitch if I’m being a bitch, which let’s be honest is fairly often when I’m p*ssed off. I have a tongue that will one day slice my own throat.
I see a pile of versions of this. Perhaps other may see more, but I’ll be blunt and list them.
- You’re blind. Your pain hurts so much that you can’t even see that he is actually amazing. You happen to need someone or something to lash out at and be angry at, and since he’s there that happens to be him. So while your pissed at him now, you’re really gonna be fucked when you push him away because he was the best thing happening to you.
- You’re right. He just isn’t cut out for this. You need more, and he’s a good dude, but its just not possible for him to meet your needs. So he goes , with grace.
- He’s a dick. Your not really asking for much, he’s not willing to bend even a bit to what you need. Punt.
- You’re being unrealistic and you know it. In which case , give your head a shake and don’t slap the hand that feeds you.
- You’re being unrealistic and you don’t know it. But your close friends do, and if they wanted him gone now would be an easy time to tell you. If they think you’re expectations are too high, and he’s good, hopefully they have the balls to tell you. In either of the two scenarios, your friends that know the both of you (but know you more) may be itching for a chance to tell you something.
- No one is the right answer for you right now, because you need alone time. If so, you both deserve to know that instead of framing it as a shortcoming of his.
- Your relationship would be just fine if you would do the things you know you should be doing. So if you were going to the right doctors for the right things at the right times, with the right diet and the right amount of exercise and the right amount of sleep and the right amount of remembering that he had a day too, and its not all about you; maybe you’d be just fine.
Kate’s comment: on # 1, HURT PEOPLE HURT, remember that always. Never forget it. When Brian is wounded I stop listening to his angry words, I literally tune the words out and simply deal with the physical needs whatever they be, or I simply exit stage left. #2, the man I dated before Brian was a very good man but we were not meant to be, he couldn’t handle or understand my PTSD issues, he put me in impossible situations that I couldn’t handle not realizing until too late. Sometimes it just isn’t meant to be. It is very sad but there it is. #3, yup. Remember UNTIL YOU HAVE DEALT WITH YOUR HISTORY OF ABUSE & TRAUMA YOU WILL BE AN ABUSE MAGNET, it’s that simple. #4, ah yes, I have a girlfriend whom I love dearly but I see her doing this over and over again, there is a measure that is impossible to meet. Why? It’s safer that way. It maintains distance and an ability to cut and run. #5, surround yourself with friends who aren’t afraid to call you an asshole. #6, hmmm… space is important for sure but so is support. #7, you have to fight this thing and you have to fight it every minute of every day until you don’t need to fight it anymore because you’ve won.
Now. The second part. If I can sum up the seven points I put up here into two, I’d say it comes down to stay or go, regardless of reason. Here’s what I know about staying in a bad relationship. We do it, because its easier right now. We get that in the long term it’s bad to stay in bad relationships, but do I need this bullshit today? If the day is not awful, do I risk making it awful? If it is awful, if I just tolerate it for one more hour maybe I can go to bed and find some peace? It’s not often a case of believing that it will all get better, or that they do love you, or that you are still in love with them. Its way less fairytale than that, and in the end we aren’t that blind. It’s generally that there’s so much buggerance and dogshit involved in ending it, that we just can’t muster the energy. Its not courage. Its not decisiveness. Its the same reason why you don’t start cutting the lawn at 1130 at night. You know you have to, but just not now. Its easy to put 365 of those “just not nows” together and find that your still there a year later.
Kate’s comment: let’s be honest historically men get shat on in divorces. They risk losing their kids and their entire wealth. Pleased to say that in BC at least the family courts have turned around and are now viewing things from a far more equal footing. My advise having seen as much as I have? Fecking run for it, RUN! Do it intelligently but fecking run, don’t look back and kick that toxic human the hell away from you, cut them out, remove their influence on your life and the sad little feckers that they are will fight to maintain some kind of relevance in your life, just smile and feel sorry for them. They are pathetic and lost you. “Hah! Adios and enjoy your miserable life cupcake” Then nail that door shut, blow it up if you have to.
It’s easy to see a bad relationship as a broken part of the body. In so much as, how long have you walked around with a back ache without going to the doctor? And then he says “ you should have sorted this years ago”. And then you say something like “yeah I know but the house/kids/dogs/jobs etc.” Another big stressor is the dividing up of friends. Everyone says this won’t happen. It happens! Regardless of who brought that friend into the relationship sphere, when it breaks up so do they. And for the friends it drives them crazy if they still have contact with both of you and try to stickhandle that bullshit. So yeah, theres a bunch of bad reasons to stay that we take. Its not even as simple as taking the easier way out. It seems to the person in it that they are taking the only possible solution. Since breakups ruin people and so does PTSD, does it make sense to tackle both right now?
Kate’s comment: when I left my husband in Singapore I joke that he didn’t notice til he ran out of socks and had to make his own cup of tea. He did once call me from Singapore to ask me if we had a washing machine. As for friends. Well, I vanished not only from his life but from theirs. I do that. I simply go. Those that sought me out are friends for life, those that didn’t aren’t missed. I don’t play games of friend ownership, I think that’s pathetic and a sign of an undiagnosed MH issue to be honest. Break ups are great if you’re leaving a toxic person. Brian and I are happy, we love each other and we muddle along in life laughing most of the time. We wouldn’t have that if we’d stuck with what was broken.
You need clarity. Some way to figure out how much of what frustrates you about this person is the relationship working or not working on its own merit. Then, and only then if that part is worth it, do we expose what we need as a patient of PTSD. And we have to accept that the person may be a perfect match for the healthy person we used to be but are shit for the wounded human we now are.
Kate’s comment: here again I will disagree with Brian. If you met this person before you had PTSD then perhaps there is a chance you will find that happy space together again. However, if you got together with them BEFORE you dealt with childhood abuse or trauma, or whatever predated your meeting this person the chances of you staying together after you are on your way to recovery are zero. ZERO. You will see in this person things that are toxic and ugly, they will not want you to get better you will find that they want to keep you broken. Ask your MH professional and they will tell you straight (and if they don’t fire them), “You will be a different person once you are through this and your relationship wasn’t founded on that healthy human, but the broken one.”