Hello once again! I just wanted to start by thanking you all for coming here week after week to read my blog and, in the midst of it all, I hope you find something that speaks to you. This week is going to be a little challenging, so I hope you are ready for it. I am going to tap into a topic that I have only skimmed the surface of in a few past posts. I encourage you to read this with an open mind and with a fresh lens. With that being said, let’s begin.
When you hear the word “trauma”, I am sure your mind begins to think about things like abuse or death, but trauma can also come from relational interactions. It’s in this realm of trauma where you will find me. As a mental health care worker with a master’s degree as a therapist, you would think I would have recognized the signs sooner, but I was completely oblivious for the longest time. When did it happen? How did I become so messed up from a relationship that I became the worst possible version of myself?
You all know how I entered a relationship after my divorce happened. I really believe that the relationship was what I needed at the time. I wrote a post once about how my relationship with this guy really cracked open the lock I had on my emotions and helped me heal from the loss of my kids. Despite the events of the past few years, I still firmly believe this. He truly had a way with supporting me during that time and making me feel safe enough to open my heart. What I wasn’t prepared for, was another relationship though. I would say my relationship with him taught me more lessons than anything I have ever experienced in my entire life.
Triggers. Man, those things are brutal. I will be the first to admit that I was a terrible girlfriend/fiancé these past few years after my divorce without even really realizing it and it is all because of triggers that I didn’t even fully recognize were at play. If you read my post a few weeks ago, then you read a snippet of the emotional drainage that relationship had on me and the state of mind I was in when it ended. While that post wasn’t about the relationship, it did spark a conversation with an anonymous individual and my friend Honor, both who really got me thinking about it all.
Throughout my relationship these past few years I was constantly being triggered. My emotional state was so fragile from divorce that my inner self unconsciously set in safety mechanisms that I didn’t even notice. Let me give you an example. One time, in my prior relationship, he mentioned wanting to go to the gym and learn MMA. Seems harmless, right? Most girlfriends probably wouldn’t have said much about it…but it triggered me. My ex-husband used to work with the MMA gym in the last few years of our marriage and I guess I somehow associated it with divorce. Him just mentioning “MMA” would send my brain into overdrive protective mode and I convinced myself that if my new relationship had any commonality with my marriage that it was destined to fail. MMA is just one of the many, many examples I could give of triggers for me during the relationship and it was a constant source of arguments. He always felt I was being controlling. Sure, in a sense I guess it was, but it was my brains way of protecting me. It was my mind’s way of responding to the triggers. I associated anything my ex-husband did with pain and loss and my mind would have a meltdown if my new boyfriend mentioned wanting to do anything associated.
I was a great wife in the beginning but as things progressively worsened and I felt more and more neglected, I stopped doing things for him. I no longer cooked for him or did random nice things for him. I no longer had the desire to be a good wife. I was the opposite in my relationship after divorce. I DID EVERYTHING. I had unconsciously believed that my divorce happened based solely on my failures as a wife. I believed that had I paid more attention, did everything for him…that he wouldn’t have left and I would still have my kids. So, I left no room for error in my next relationship and I ended up tearing myself completely down and feeling emotionally and mentally depleted that I had nothing left to give. I ended the relationship in truly the worst place I have ever been in my life.
Triggers. We all have them. They may not be from major traumatic life events, but they are there and if not properly worked on, they will slowly turn you into the worst possible version of yourself. He and I were two triggered people with trauma we hadn’t addressed, and we tried to blend that into a healthy relationship. We were two people who were selfish in the relationship and used each other to mask our own issues. It ended…and it ended terribly. It’s so easy for me to blame him for it all because my emotions and perspective are valid. I did feel used and felt I never got anything in return. However, he has his own perspective and emotions… and they are just as valid as mine. He felt I controlled everything and that I abandoned him. It’s valid, to him. It took being in my lowest of lows for the light bulb to go off and for me to realize how triggered I had been during our relationship, so I went and started therapy. I made it my own goal to not enter another relationship until I processed through my trauma and learned how to respond to my triggers. Along the way I have become the best possible version of myself and I am fully prepared to enter another relationship understanding my own needs, how to communicate, and how to respond when feeling triggered by past experiences. Getting to this place has been brutal. I have been faced with hard questions and I have had to take a deep dive into my emotions and experiences and understand how they impact me. But man am I thankful for who I am now. I love who I am now.
I am sorry for the person I was. I am sorry for the damage I caused due to my own negligence in addressing my issues. I am sorry for all the things you felt denied, because I wasn’t healed. I am sorry for the way I triggered you. Thank you for the lessons you taught me. I know those lessons came at a high price. I wish you the best in life. I truly do.