Developing a relationship after domestic violence / rape has been (for me) a critical part of the growth phase of recovery.
Now… finding someone…
not just willing to accept my emotional baggage…
but also, to want to connect with me and ask to learn more about how I tick, and why.
The biggest question though is, are they safe? Are they now? Will they be later?
I have learned so much about myself, my PTSD and triggers. I’ve been off radar from alot of people and my usual haunts as I learn what makes me.. the new me… ticky-tock. There are days I feel naive as a child, and other days a warrior.
Controlling sensory overload after a trigger time pulls me back to present time faster (I plug my ears and go to a calm place in the house). After a trigger, the body is on a high alert. Lights bother me, sudden movements and noise startle me. My skin crawls when I’m touched. I’m agitated and nauseated.
I’ve moved into a new place, not even thinking it didn’t have a rear exit because the vibe in the house felt good. But a certain sequence fell into place here of sights and touches, and it took me back to a place I was terrified to be in. Now the house feels like a prison and I feel like a sitting duck and there is no escape route. You can burn sage (I heard) to clean a house of ill spirits, but I don’t think sage will work on this.
No matter how silly or crazy it feels… if my gut says someone is not a safe person, then they are avoided at all costs. If they are in my presence, I ask them to leave. If I can’t get them to leave… I leave.
Intuition (or gut) is something we all have- an internal whispering of knowledge and wisdom- a wonderful spiritual survival skill to harness and use to warn us of bad tidings and steer us the right way. We all have it. Even primitive animals have it.
Case in point– Recently a man followed me for a two blocks from the bank to my work as I walked back. I literally halted in midstep and took a deep step sideways, forcing him to go around me. That day someone might have guffawed seeing me behave like I was in a Monty Python skit from The School of Silly Walks, but to me it was a safety measure. He frightened me and all my instincts said he was not safe.
Who knows if he was following me? I don’t know. It’s a tourist trap I live at. People just randomly roam everywhere here. They stand in the crosswalk blocking traffic, picking their noses here while they stare at clouds.
Sometimes the PTSD gut magnifies small issues, and other times it is dead-on. I know someone who seemed safe, that I got close to. Even though the warning signs whispered, I kept thinking, “Oh you and your paranoia.” And I shut it out. It turned out, the person was not as safe as I thought. In fact, my instincts rang true. The person confessed nearly everything I suspected, and even more that I did not want to know. Suddenly, I felt very unsafe… and very stupid.
Today I feel like Joan of Arc wielding steel against the unsafe. Tomorrow I might feel like a Mouseketeer back in naive la la land that everyone is bright and cheerful and sings perfectly.