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Supporting a partner who has childhood trauma(7 Posts)
His father died when he was a toddler and his sibling died when they were babies. He supported his mother who had MH issues including depression, anxiety and hoarding. He was subjected to childhood poverty and neglect.He never had a sense of “safe home”.
He married young, had kids and only then left the place he’d known as home, same town he grew up in. Then another relationship, more kids. Then married again, no kids.
He has been a long term friend who had been nothing but kind to me. He is a living partner (so far). I am divorced but he loves my DCs and respects my ex-husband. I have ASD but he is understanding and loving. We seem to want the same things.
How best to support him? Does anyone else have a partner like this?
We have been together nearly a year. A bit of drama at the start but we soon found a balance and we seem to understand each other well. We have travelled together & had a great time.
A few things:
- he has been on ADs since he was 16. Is now in his 50s but came off them when we got together (I didn’t know he was on them)
- he sometimes uses viagra for ED and is infertile (low testosterone). He has supplements for this
- he needs A LOT of sleep and rest
- he still lacks a sense of “place of safety”; living in multiple places which he owns, staying evenings in pubs (but doesn’t drink) and is a bit of a wanderer - likes sailing, flying, driving away
- he doesn’t always talk about his feelings but is ok if encouraged
- his boundaries around women are weird sometimes. Enjoys playing the hero & attracts female friends who become needy on him. He has, however, changed some of the dynamics with these women to be more available to me & to create more distance with them
Does this sound ok? How can I best support him? He says he loves what we have. Our kids are bigger and we are over those heady, highly emotional passions from the start and getting more settled. There is no pressure to combine homes, I asked not to rush & he has respected this.
I ramble! Is anyone else in a relationship like this?
Please keep your own boundaries and remember your own needs. You may find it helpful to learn about Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is often kicked off by ongoing or early terrible things when the person has no control over events.
Trauma counselling is very specific. It is not your job to do all the work. You can't. It is for him, as an adult to take responsibility for himself. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood may be able to help. Citizens Advice may be able to help. There are charities out there who may be able to offer free counselling. All hope is not lost.
I am on the receiving end of trauma counselling at the moment. It's an eye-opener.
Thank you, wherewouldlifebe
Interestingly, I was reading about cPTSD. He has PTSD through a work problem - caring, frontline - but I wondered if it was more like cPTSD. He has done a lot of work on himself & is responsible. He takes ownership of his own pain, but yes, I’ve noticed that it works because I am a strong person with an equally strong understanding of my own shit. Hmm I suppose the question is if I can stay in this position...
Pete Walker’s book on cPTSD is a hugely helpful resource. As is Toxic Parents by Susan Forward, which I read first. I am waiting for schema specific CBT and counselling, so cannot help in that regard.
The main thing for me was understanding and accepting the damage inflicted on me, how wide and deep it ran. Then facing up to the lifelong feelings, behaviours and habits that I need to change. Very, very painful, but utterly worth it.
As PPs have noted: he has to want to look into this for himself though. He is not your project, and I say that with kindness.
Thank you, I appreciate the advice. He has already worked on himself, in that regard there is no ‘project’ for me, and I have my own stuff to deal with. Was thinking more in terms of managing the relationship. For instance, he seems to need lot of rest & sleep...
I will re-read those books, great idea. He has already had CBT and counselling, and was on ADs but is off for now.
As you say, much of it seems to be about how the lifelong feelings, behaviours and habits have led to his stuff now. We’ve worked together on establishing a home as a point of safety and he has done a lot of that by himself. There’s a lot of travelling between us, that works well. I suppose I am interested in how to continue the relationship with compassion.
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