Veterans, relationships and PTSD ...
Isolation is a big part of living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In my experience, the more people know about you, the more they seem to store for use against you at a later date, particularly in friendships and relationships. So the natural defence position is to distance yourself from people that would seek to do me harm on an emotional front.
In order to cope with myself, I had to venture into the darkness of my soul and face my demons; demons borne of necessity, injustice and survival ... and I had to learn to control them and not let them control me. I'm not always able to manage it ... but I do my best. I am as vulnerable as I am strong. Yet I try to live my life and contribute something towards society. One area that I still have problems with is when someone tries to hurt me emotionally. My natural defence is to close my heart off and protect it. It can take a couple of days for the steel shutters to come back down. Someone recently got very upset with this defence mechanism and thought I was pulling away my positive feelings towards her.
Not many people would choose to become involved with someone that has a mental health condition, let alone one that can make a person react violently to any perceived physical threat or danger. The danger radar is permanently on and so we react as if we were still on duty, all those years ago.
There are emotional risks too for both parties but they're compounded when you meet someone that doesn't take responsibility for their shortcomings on their own emotional front. Confidences exchanged in the security of a relationship can become weapons that are sharper than knives and cut your heart on a spiritual level.
I met such a woman two months ago and while I would never name her, I do feel that the circumstances need exploring because it might help you to avoid similar circumstances in the future.
We became very close quite quickly and we didn't live far apart, so we spent quite a bit of time together. At first she was very honest and said that this was her pattern - she runs whenever she's faced with the thing her heart seeks. As soon as she got too close to me on an emotional level, she started to subconciously sabotage the relationship and then put the blame for things going wrong at my feet. This isn't the first time this has happened and you can be as honest as you want with someone about your life but if your truth isn't respected and counted as valuable, then your truth is a weapon waiting to be used against you. Unfortunately this behaviour is particularly true of people that don't work on their own issues but spend their lives trying to 'cure' others.
Working on yourself requires courage, facing your demons requires strength and taking a chance to find your heart's desire requires a commitment to your 'self' ... that commitment being that you will continue working on your own issues and that you won't hit a loved one over the head with your baggage. The baggage handling role is a two-way street and in order for any successful relationship with a sufferer with PTSD there must be an understanding of the condition and an agreed upon mode of behaviour. Once the basics are in place, you can get on with the good times and hopefully, cope well with the slightly turbulent times, should any arise.
In my experience, the people to watch out for are the one's that use phrases like, 'I feel like I'm walking on egg shells around you' or they suddenly start to critique things you do. A definite association to avoid is anyone that is reticent to introduce you to their friends and acquaintances. If you're in a mutually respectful friendship or relationship, that shouldn't be the case. You should be able to recognise each other's patterns in time and be honest with each other at times that you need solo space. It's better to take a breather than end something prematurely that had the potential to become something special.
I'm writing from the perspective of myself ... an open soul that's continually working on himself. So please, don't dump your crap at my door. I don't mind working with you on your stuff, if you have the courage to do so. Just don't do what the 'healer' tried to do to me?
If you've been hurt by a previous lover or friend, let the pain go - write about it, sing about it, even rant about it - but only for long enough to get the emotional release out of your system. I used to talk to the Ocean about my pain - it worked for me ... I felt she heard and understood me. When you've released the pain, find the courage to forgive them and move on ready to try again with an open heart.