How are you going to be able to stay with this man of two faces and heal?
That to me is the most important question for you?
He triangulates, plays the "sensible, happy, nothing's wrong" guy with others right after he has poked you with a hot pin in private long enough to make you feel crazy, so he can "show" people how crazy you are!
I am all for staying with someone if they quit traumatizing you. He hasn't. It takes a long time to heal from PTSD, but only if the traumatic events cease. He hasn't quit playing with your head and heart.
I was thinking about this support thread a lot in the past few weeks.
For me my biggest trigger was my H on the computer. All his infidelity was online, but it was in our home, while I was there, while I was gone, while I was working etc etc etc. It was not a safe place for me. I would come in the door and H would give me the "glare of hate" and turn back to the screen.
The very fact that I can actually sit in this office, on the computer is testimony to FACING your triggers.
I also was peri-menopausal when H went online for the first go round in 2001-02. It was one month to the day after his computer fried (I still blame too much cybersex lol) that I had the last period of my life. I was at a conference on of all things Grief and Loss...ironic eh? The PMS had me crying (deep wracking sobs) in my room, in the bathroom off the conference room, at dinner, in small groups. The presenters at the conference were really concerned about me. The last day I woke up and had to go buy tampons (sorry if tmi) since it had been six months since my last period. My mood had improved considerably. Told the concerned presenters it was hormones. They were all women in their 50's and 60's so most understood.
I do think that the hormonal changes can exacerbate PTSD for us ladies.
In late 2003 the IT folks at the state level decided that the email was getting too slow due to use and added MSN messenger for discussions and such that we had used email for.
That was, along with yahoo, my H's drug of choice. He would hook up in a yahoo chatroom and then move to MSN, which was more difficult for me to "find" anything.
One day, while at work, one of my coworkers was having a discussion on messenger with her supervisor. The MSN tones were very audible, I just got up and started to walk out my door and the therapist who worked in the same building saw my face, my body, and my shaking. She stepped into my office with me and said "What is that?" referring to how I was looking. She thought I had just found out someone had died. I told her what was going on and she asked if I would be comfortable talking to her. She was willing to refer me to someone else, but as I said earlier, it's a big state with few resources.
At my first appointment with her she said what she saw as I was hearing the chimes was the face of a person with PTSD. It was a bit of a specialty for her, so it was great to have someone at least identify my internal state by my external one.
She recommended anti-d's (was already on them and they were NOT working this time) and anti-anxiety meds. Xanax was really helpful, but I did end up addicted to them. I haven't had any meds for over 2 years now, but I still have triggers etc. I view them as snippets of unresolved crap that need resolution.
Now this is the hard part to explain, since it does seem antithetical, but facing the triggers does help them lose their power. Learning what I could control (my internal state) and what I couldn't (external events) helped a lot.
I had practiced yoga, had natural childbirth and been into weight lifting in my lifetime, so learning the relaxation techniques had already happened for me. The therapist was able to remind me to use them.
I had really a hard time when I would be on the road with my job. If the company cell phone was already in use by someone else, I had to bring mine which was shared with my H. I would either have to scroll through all the names and #'s H had entered in there in order to call home or have to dial it. Before we got cable the line would be busy...I knew that meant he was online chatting it up with his g/f's. After we got cable he would answer, but I could hear the tap tap tap of the keys while he would give me one or two word answers.
I would feel like driving into a mountain or ditch or off a bridge when I would call, so I quit calling. Then I would get hell later for not calling. Rock and hard place here.
The therapist would have me visualize the screen on the cell phone, and have me deep breathe and do square breathing (breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, exhale for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, two normal breaths and then square again) to help regain some control over my reactions.
She had me bring the cell phone to an appointment. She scrolled through the phone book. She would say a name and number while checking my pulse. She could identify by my pulse rate the women H was messing around with and the "neutral" names and numbers.
After three more sessions around the cell phone she asked why those numbers and names were in there in the first place. I said "The phone is in my H's name" She asked "who pays the bill?" and of course over responsible, anal retentive caregiving codepentent (go figure) ME
She reminded me that even with the phone in his name, it was still community property and I being the payer of bills had every right to delete numbers of g/f's from her husband's phone.
She made me say the name and number, then she made me tell her what I was seeing in my head at the sound of my own voice saying those names and numbers. As I said each one I would tell her what my head was doing (the flashbacks I was having) and she would have me square breath until my pulse calmed down. I would say the name and number a few more times and then delete it. Each subsequent name and number I spent less time with the racing pulse than the time before. I was able to slow down my pulse by concentrating on my breathing within a few seconds. That was the first step in my healing really. Facing the trigger and learning to calm myself through it.
It was empowering. It was one little thing, but led to most of the other things that have helped.
I felt that my going into full PTSD mode at the sound of MSN messenger at that very moment the therapist was walking by was total kismet. My therapist said that the way things were looking it wouldn't have been long even if she hadn't been in the hallway at the time. She had noticed my almost total change in personality already, but that moment was the one that saved me, literally.
With the "quick fix" notion of HMO's and other insurance programs, it is hard to get the help we really need in the long term for this problem.
Eventually, after my H began to pull his head out of his ass, my job was still doing a number on me. Lots of kids were being shoved out of adoptive homes because of sexual acting out. I mean dumped! at my office door with garbage bags full of stuff and a very confused and hurt kid standing there. Lovely, my H had almost lost his home because of it too. My supervisor was useless. He had no clue what I was going through up in my office, he was 110 miles away and just didn't know how to be supportive at all. He was new, I was training him.
I quit my job, I was a shell of a person and there was going to be no healing if I was personalizing the trauma the kids I worked with were going through. I wasn't going to be able to help them either. For about six months I stared at the computer screen and cried because I just couldn't approve another adoptive home that in 2, 3, 4, 5 years was going to deliver children to my office because they "couldn't handle them." My lack of trust was obvious!
I was in crisis mode way too much. I lived on my retirement for a few months and just worked on me, my life, my marriage and came to some level of peace. I chewed through triggers like they were a peculiar form of nutrition. I kept using the techniques that I learned to figure out the why of the trigger. After a while I came to realize that the trigger was due to unresolved trauma. I had to face each one, realize what was really happening then and relax myself to learn the reality and learn to accept it.
It is much harder on you to fight the reality of what was happening. Coming to terms with the past can only happen if the trauma is not happening any longer. I had trouble healing for a year because I was in false R. It was still happening, but I couldn't heal from the past and the present. It had to stop and it did.
I do have to say however that I have worked with people have been traumatized for over 30 years. I knew how vital it was to face triggers. I knew that the only way was through it. I knew how comfortably uncomfortable you can get if you try to avoid the fear.
I have to be honest, the a's, the kids losing their homes, the things my own kids were doing at the time (I failed to mention that eldest D had bulemia/drug problems/identity crisis, S was getting MIPs and charged with theft, burning down a house, youngest D was suicidal/angry/getting kicked out of school, MIPs and all sorts of crap at the same time H was fucking up and work was fucking up.)
I had told my therapist about SI. She has looked and read here. She told me at our last session about a year ago that when she saw me welcoming people into JFO that she would know that I was in a better state than before.
Healing is a lifetime process because you can only prevent so much from happening. We must learn to grieve and work through pain and triggers. We are in a constant flux of healing from large or small incidents. We need to learn to go through the process since we will be needing those skills throughout our lifetimes, really we will.
I really do believe that it is not what happens to us, but what we choose to do as a result that makes or breaks us.
When we suffer from PTSD from trauma that no longer is happening we need to do things for ourselves! We need to focus on the strength gained from sitting through things, staying in a place, letting other people drive etc. Avoidance is the absolute worst thing. Conquering triggers is the absolute best thing. Learning to relax your way through a trigger, through an uncomfortable situation, even for a little while can be very empowering.
"when you start to panic, focus on your breath and it'll save you"
Those words are so true FierceSelfLove!
I told my husband that for the longest time I was afraid to look at my wounds, but they sat festering and further infecting me and those around me. I had to yank off the scab and dig in, disinfect, scrub the crap out of there, or I was just going to prolong the agony.
It really helps to get the right therapist, keep looking, find someone who can help you scrub, not someone who gently touches and springs back when you squeal.
If nothing else, practice the breathing technique and see if you can get your pulse rate down by bringing on a trigger.
Inhale for count of 4
Hold for count of 4
Exhale for count of 4
Hold for count of 4
Two to three normal breaths and then square breathe.