Signs of trauma are often hard to understand unless you know what you’re seeing, or you know 100% of a person’s experiences. Here are some things to look for thanks to Help Guide dot Org.
Emotional & psychological symptoms:
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating
- Anger, irritability, mood swings
- Anxiety and fear
- Guilt, shame, self-blame
- Withdrawing from others
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Feeling disconnected or numb
- Insomnia or nightmares
- Being startled easily
- Difficulty concentrating
- Racing heartbeat
- Edginess and agitation
- Aches and pains
- Muscle tension
Here’s the thing about trauma, we don’t want to talk about it with new people, and when we do oftentimes, we scare them away.
“WARNING, WARNING, DANGER, DANGER WILL ROBINSON THIS PERSON IS A SURVIVOR WHICH MEANS THEY MIGHT SCREAM OR KICK YOUR ASS IN THEIR SLEEP.”
I swear to Christ we need signs, or sandwich boards or something, that reminds the world that just because we have survived trauma, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re not fit for relationships, but how do you know if you’re ready?
ANYONE and EVERYone who thinks they understand trauma will tell you that when you’ve experienced trauma, the “right person” will find you when you’re ready, but how the fuck do you know if you’re ready? No seriously, because I KNOW I’m not. I have 0 interest in being in a relationship.
Do I miss being hugged? Sure, but in my case, the hugs always came after the really awful treatment that showed me precisely how men felt about me.
The only time men hugged me in the past, it was because they wanted to grab my ass, or other areas of my body, that would inevitably show me that the only thing that mattered to them, was making me feel small.
It’s hard after thirty years to combine that with the idea that you deserve to be loved, or that there are people out there that you can trust, so how do you get into relationships that are healthy? You gotta be honest. Upfront.
“Hi my name is Devon, let’s hang out, have dinner, go for a walk, and oh by the way I’m a survivor of trauma and PTSD.” It’s uncomfortable, but life often is, and I have to be honest.
I don’t go through the details with every single person I meet, but I do tell potential guys that yeah, I’ve been through some shit. Maybe it’s because we’re talking about tattoos, maybe it’s because I’m throwing it in his face, but one way or another, I don’t hide it, predominantly because it’s not fair to potential suitors.
There is so much that comes with PTSD, and with trauma, that’s not fair to hide what we’ve been through from people who claim to want to be in their lives, they deserve to know what they are in for, and they deserve to decide if the issues that we face, are something that they want to deal with. Do you have to tell them? Absolutely not.
You are more than welcome to wait until you’re ready, but for me, in my personal life, it’s just easier to get it out of the way, because I DO have a lot of baggage.
Now that I think about it, there’s been a few weeks this year when it didn’t happen, but I do wake up in the middle of the night sometimes screaming, other times I cry, other times I go to lay down for a nap and I end up screaming at the top of my lungs, but I can’t always explain why.
Yeah that shit happens, and it’s scary, and it can be downright terrifying for someone whose never dealt with PTSD or trauma before.
So how do we move forward in the dating scene? Here are some tips:
You’re probably not going to find Mister or Missus right tomorrow, so in the meantime focus on healing. Focus on spending time getting to know yourself, what are your triggers? What are your de-escalation tricks and tips?
What works to calm your heart, mind, and soul? Focus on these areas of your life that are about YOU being YOUR best you FOR YOURSELF before you worry about having someone else around.
Maybe that means quitting smoking, maybe it means learning to run or walk again, maybe it means cooking for yourself so that one day you can cook for a family, whatever it means, focus on it, let your mind get creative and inventive and your body will follow, and then you can add your new skills to your dating profile.
You’ve been through a war. You have LITERALLY survived near-death situations that almost killed you, at the hands of someone you love, trusted, respected, and held in high regard. Are you really ready to open those wounds again? Are you really ready to trust that the next person isn’t going to hurt you?
Have you done EVERYTHING you can, to heal? And yes, that means seeking therapy, support groups, and a good group of friends who can be there when you fall and yes, you WILL fall, it happens.
The people that I love are all wonderful, but if I am 100% honest, some of them cause as much damage as they do support me, and that’s mostly because they just have no idea how it is that I have to be, in order for ME to function in a way where I am not ripping my hair out.
My behavior makes 0 sense to them, that’s okay it doesn’t have to, but I also have to accept that this means, some people can’t handle having me around.
Have your Check List Ready
Okay seriously, this one goes beyond “he looks like Captain America but he’s broody like Angel from the tv show,” it has to be more than what he or she or them or they look like. It HAS to be about who they are as a person because good looks are what got us into trouble in the first place, (or at the very least being drunk enough not to care.)
Do they laugh when they see people getting hurt? Do they make judgments or use words that are triggering? Do they push you around or tell you that you don’t want kids on the first date? Do they ask you if you want kids while you’re having sex? All of these are toxic behaviors that lead to more frustrating arguments in the future, in my case.
When you say “no,” do they reframe the question or demand in a way that might make you say yes even though you really want to say no? These are questions survivors ask ourselves when we’re around new people. Do you find yourself growing increasingly frustrated with how they belittle you, your ideas, your wants, or needs? Do they tell you that you’re not good enough before they even know you?
You already know what you don’t want, so when you’re looking for a potential partner, you’re looking for these signs, your job is to decide if your future potential maybe person, is worth educating, worth standing by as they learn how to love you, because you DESERVE to be loved, and while compromise is key, compromising your self-respect and your soul is NOT an option anymore.
Relationships are tricky, people who say they want you to be vulnerable often only mean it when it comes to how comfortable they are willing to be around you. The moment that you make them UN-comfortable, is the moment they push or shove you away because they are afraid. That’s okay, wish them well and carry on, baby it’s not about you. You did nothing wrong, but you can’t expect that everyone is going to understand your trauma, not only is thatnot fair, it’s absolutely impossible.
I may not know what it’s like to lose my legs, but I do know what it feels like to freak out because a plastic bag moved the wrong fucking way.
If you or someone you know needs more help than you can find on this site, please check out these help-line phone numbers from around the globe where you can get access to people who care about your safety.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall