Kyle said he wanted me to write about my experience as the wife of a child-abuse survivor who suffers from Complex PTSD. I decided to jot down a few things I have been learning. They’re good reminders for me and maybe for other care-givers/family/partners out there.
I need to remember that…
1. I can identify/anticipate potential anxiety triggers like certain environments, sounds, smells, topics, or situations but it’s unrealistic (and unhealthy) to think I can avoid every trigger that could possibly affect Kyle.
2. Taking care of my partner means taking care of myself. Caregivers are notoriously bad at this but Secondary Trauma Syndrome is a real thing. I need give myself time to rest and heal, too, whatever that means for me today.
3. A partner, spouse, or loved one should be a crucial part of a support system not the ENTIRE support system. I am not Kyle’s therapist or doctor or paid professional. I’m his wife. And I don’t have to figure this out alone.
4. PTSD is not an excuse or waiver for bad behavior, rudeness, aggression or abuse. I will never keep myself in a situation where I am not emotionally or physically safe. This is also something Kyle has insisted we agree on.
5. I can help “ground” or re-focus Kyle by asking simple questions that deal with the immediate space and sensations (ie. where are we right now? what day is it? what city do we live in? what does this jacket feel like? what color is my shirt?). I’ve also discovered that sometimes familiar songs sung loudly can halt the progression of a panic attack. “I’m a Little Tea Pot” works really well (I do all the motions).
6. I can rely on God to continue to heal Kyle’s heart, little by little, day by day.
PS: One more day to enter to win the coziest, softest autumn scarf you ever did meet!