Post # 1
I feel funny even writing this, but I hate talking about it IRL so here I am. Today I was taking a shower and heard footsteps so I called out to my Fiance. Next thing you know tons of ice cold water is being dumped on me. I started screaming and didn’t stop and it just turned into a horrible flash back. Prior to Fiance I was in an abusive relationship and I was BAD. It took me years to claw my way out of it and a long time to not be a shell of a person, but for the most part I live a normal life and rarely think of it. BUT sometimes totally run of the mill things trigger a strong reaction out of me and it is just…. frustrating, embarrassing and causes issues between Fiance and I.
i stood in the shower for 20 mins crying and Fiance felt awful, he was just trying to be funny. What he didn’t know is my ex in a drug fueled rage held me in the showee under scalding hot water once. As a result I don’t like anyone in the bathroom with me, I get nervous and feel like a caged animal. In general I can not tolerate being out of control of my body in any way. I HAVE to be able to move my limbs, walk away and physically control my surroundings. Being held down and having things done to me ( physical, sexual and mental abuse) was awful at the time, but it sucks more now because it creeps up into every day life. Rollercoasters, heights, having someone stand in front of the exit, someone taking my keys, child locked doors, sleeping not closest to the door, being tickled, being held…. Nope. All things that make me panic inside and if they happen I immediately start plotting in my mind how to “escape”
Ive had counseling but some habits are hard to break. I DO trust Fiance but I realized today my actions show him I don’t. I feel badly that my past us creeping into the here and now and I know it hurt him that I had such a visceral reaction. I gurss I’m just venting here- sorry for typos my iPhone has a mind of it’s own. ETA: this is a running prank between Fiance and his friends and literally the only time in 4 years he has ever pranked me. He’s not an asshole, I swear. He really had no idea I’d react that way.
Post # 3
@mixtapehearts: Oh gosh you poor thing. Yep a prank like that can be a big shock sometimes. I hate people “scaring” me…like jumping out from around a corner just to give me a shock. Often I can end up punching / hitting someone because its my natural reaction to being frightened!
I don’t think you can particularly “stop” those split second reactions you will have when frightened. I don’t believe your actions mean that you don’t trust him – try not to be so hard on yourself. Of course you are going to react when something like that happens!! Chances are you didn’t even see it coming so its not a very fair situation to be in. It’s not your fault for getting a scare.
I think keep up the “fun” in your relationship…initiate a tickling fight or something on the couch that is more relaxed so your Fiance can be assured you are still up for having fun and playing with him!
Post # 4
I’m so sorry for what happened 🙁 both in your past and this incident. I’m sure your Fiance is a wonderful person. Have you actually told him about the horrid things that happened to you? Perhaps sitting down and telling him will help him avoid creating triggers, perhaps couples counselling and continued individual counselling will help as well
Post # 5
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
@mixtapehearts: You need to let out the details of the abusive relationship with your Fiance so he can better understand your feelings and reaction. I’m sure he feels awful about hurting you. It’s going to be tough to relive the abuse but trust me it will go a long way to building trust with your Fiance.
Post # 6
@mixtapehearts: I was physically abused when I was a kid… Sometimes even now that I am in my 20s and have been through YEARS of therapy, things still crop up. Some of them are really little, seemingly silly things but they can really affect my relationships with others. A wise friend told me that dealing with trauma is like an onion– there are lots of layers adn when you think you finally have worked through it, things crop up and you have to deal with them again. It’s not a failure, its just the nature of having something so awful happen.
I think it will be helpful for you to share with your Fiance some of your story. if you don’t feel like you can, I think it would be really beneficial (regardless) to try therapy together. It could help him understand why things have the effect on you that they do.
Post # 7
@mixtapehearts: Oh my gosh, that sounds incredibly traumatic. Have you talked with your counselor/considered the possibility that you may be dealing with PTSD as a result of your relationship? It is incredibly common in survivors of domestic violence, and what you just described sounds very much like it. I agree with PPs that if you feel able to (and haven’t already done so), it may be beneficial to explain why you had that reaction so you can alleviate some of the guilt you feel and help him understand why he needs to be careful in the future surprising you in that way.
Post # 8
I’ve told him some of what went on, he’s definitely aware of the severity of the situation. I’ve never told anyone every single thing that happened because honestly most of it I don’t think about or really remember…. Until something like this happens and then BAM. The analogy of it being like an onion is so true, it really is that way. It’s hard to reconcile being over it but still having quirks that affect my life because of it if that makes sense. The abuser is my son’s dad and I see him all the time, we’ve come a long way since then and our interactions are healthy now. I guess maybe Fiance sees me be fine with him and it’s hard to understand for him how I can still be so affected by what happened but not be angry at the person who made me this way.
Post # 9
You said you’ve been to counseling. Have you been to counseling with your FI?
If he knows about your history but still thinks it’s fine to prank you like that, maybe talking it over in a safe environment with a counselor will help him realize exactly why it isn’t. And help you establish firm boundaries – a counselor will have questions to ask that you might not have even considered as a couple.
Post # 10
What a horrific experience to live through. The past abusive relationship is very traumatic For you, as it would be for anyone who has experienced abuse. I have empathy for you. I do truly understand how past experiences can effect current relationships.
Your fiancé did not have any ill intent in his prank, he probably feels absolutely terrible that it triggered you in that way. I suggest you forgive him and have an honest conversation about triggers and experiences so he can support your oath to healing.
Post # 11
That’s terrible about your past. I’m so sorry. I agree with PP’s that it’s healthy to share at least some of your past with your Fiance. I’m pissed off for you about that prank. He needs to know that type of behaviour is verboten. Heck, I’d be pissed if my DH did that to me, with no past abuse issues. Who does that to their FI? Not cool!
Post # 12
If Fiance did that to me I would be FURIOUS and things would not go well, to be honest.
It is a running joke between us that my “lizard brain” (like my primal, animal fight or flight instincts) doesn’t understand that I am small and if this were caveman times I would probably die, because when something scares or surprises me or freaks me out I don’t cry or run away, I start to fight (even though I’m doomed to lose!)
Which is a long way of explaining that if Fiance did this to me I would freaking punch him, just automatically, and then feel really terrible about it but STILL be mad at him. Your Fiance is lucky that you just cried!
To be more on topic, I think if you could have your Fiance with you in some sessions with your therapist it might be good for him to begin to develop a real understanding of what you’ve been through, and how important it is that you always, 100%, no matter what, are able to see your home and your life with him as a safe space!
Post # 13
@mixtapehearts: I know exactly how you feel. I was in an abusibe relationship for 8 years (verbally, physically, mentally, sexually). I’ve been with my now Fiance for two years and although my ‘flashbacks’ aren’t as bad as it was in the beginning, I still have my moments.
This one time my Fiance, bf at the time, were stuck in traffic. He gets annoyed in traffic and I can just feel his vibe of being irritated in L.A. traffic. And if someone cut us off he got upset. I started shaking and I was trying to hold my tears back and felt a slight anxiety attack. My Fiance noticed and got scared not knowing what was wrong with me. I couldn’t talk and couldn’t explain why I was so scared, shaking, crying… I felt embarras and dumb after. When I as with my ex, he had horrible road rage and it scared me to be in the car with him. Every single time in the car he would cut someone off or if someone cut him off, he would get in front of them and brake ON THE FREEWAY, follow them and taunt them. And if I told him anything like stop or he’s being dumb, he’ll slap me to shut up and eventually he’ll turn his anger on me either way. Ever since then, my Fiance has never showed anger or being irritated in traffic again.
Another time I had a little too much to drink with my ex (became careless and started drinking a lot. I always had liquid courage to stand up to him, not so smart) and I was so wasted. He had me sleep on our hardwood floor naked with no pillow or blanket. To punish me for drinking so much. I tried leaving, naked, and we had a huge fight. I was fell and broke his glass bong, I didn’t smoke, and the next morning I waa bleeding and had cuts on my legs from the broken glass. Horrible night. I went out for a friend’s bday party one night and got pretty drunk. Fiance picked me up and I remember in and out, I was crying hysterically and apologizing to my Fiance for getting drunk. I felt like I was going to get ‘punished’ like my ex did to me. All my Fiance was doing was holding me, trying to calm me down, reassuring me that he’s not mad and everything is going to be ok. He stayed until I fell asleep.
Sorry my post is so long. Those are just two incidents of many others that I had trigger flashbacks of. But just wanted to let you know, you’re not alone. I know exactly how you feel. Every time I have one, my Fiance tells me, “what did your ex do that time, another reason why I need to kick his ass.” Lol I’ve gotten better but ther are times it’s just uncontrollable.
Post # 14
I’m very saddened to hear of your abuse in the past. We never deserve it, yet so many of us have suffered it.
You have had counselling, which is very wise and will have helped. But time is the biggest healer. Time allows you to build a scab over the emotional wound that has been done to you. I sometimes think that I built an emotional door to my past, and closed that part of me away from the present and the future. At times the door creeps ajar, and some of the past ugliness seeps through. And sometimes I open the door and look in…. and generally that is when my nightmares come back.
I can’t tell you how to heal from your abuse. But, for me, I had to avoid thinking about it for quite some time. It took me years (over a decade) to get to a point where I could feel fairly free of the effects of it. But I know, if I dwell too deeply on it, or think to much about things that happened, I will have effects… nightmares, despondency.
If you can, talk to your fiance about what happened. Let him know the things that were done to you, and how certain things make you feel. For example,my fiance knows I have certain feelings about my hair, and why I feel that way. He knows to never throw an item at me, even playfully, and several other things that are triggers for me.
Post # 15
I’ve been going through something very similar to you. I was abused growing up as a child, and have been to counselling after what is called a “trauma response” started resurfacing in my relationship without any intention of my partner trying to hurt me or cause me harm. As much as I thought that I had buried my past down and had forgotten it, unfortunately there were little triggers that would set off the panic in me.
There’s a small part of the brain that stores all of our stressful memories, and when we experience something that is similar to what we went through, our brain signals a release of hormones (such as adrenaline) and we prepare for the ‘flight, fight, or freeze’ response. The feelings that you are having of wanting to run away, escape, or how you do not like being essentially ‘caged’ and unable to remove yourself from the situation is characteristic of the ‘flight’ response. Humans generally choose either response in these situations, and I’m like you, I was unable to ‘fight’ my abusers and so my choice as a child was to ‘freeze’. I couldn’t run away, and I couldn’t fight back, because I would only make the situation worse. As an adult I subconsciously made the choice to ‘flight’, because at this stage in my life I am able to.
It is great that you are realising this. It really is. It took me and my SO ages to figure out what was going on and it caused a lot of grief and drama in the process. But I never KNEW. I never realised that this trigger response was coming from the trauma in my past. Like animals, we never completely forget trauma memories.
How we were able to work it out and move forward was that we had to work out, and I had to tell SO, that when he did *this* that it would set off the above in me and that he would have to be mindful of this. In return, because I knew more about my own response, I have found it very beneficial to find someplace quiet to go, sit down, and SO would come sit with me and hold my hand, and wait for the adrenaline in my system to pass. Previously he would try to hug me and calm me down, and it made matters worse as I felt “contained”.
I hope sharing any of this helps you in any way, I wish you all the best in the healing process x
Post # 16
P.s – It is not that you don’t trust him. Your actions are a very ‘primal’ response. If you’re like me, when you are in these situations you panic and everything you do is very instinctive. Please don’t blame yourself, it’s a physiological response and be sure to explain to your Fiance that it’s not your fault and does not mean you don’t trust him