Trauma is an unfortunate thing. Recovering from it can take months to years depending on the level of severity, and the individual who has experienced the trauma. Then, even when you think you’ve put it behind you, it can come back to rear its ugly head, seemingly out of know where – maybe a normal conversation suddenly becomes a knock-down, drag-out fight, maybe you’re in the middle of some light BDSM or playing out a scene that’s no kinkier than usual – and wreak havoc on your love-life and relationships.
Being in a relationship with someone who is trying to heal from trauma can be difficult – especially if the trauma is severe. However, just because trauma may have effectively changed a person and their way of life, it doesn’t mean your relationship can’t survive. The question is, what can you do?
Study Up on Trauma
We already know that when it comes to supporting a partner through trauma, knowing is half the battle. That means doing your part to understand what trauma is; how it affects human beings; what the common triggers, emotional states, and responses to triggers are; plus, what your partner’s specific triggers happen to be. For instance, if your partner is being triggered by what were once your standard open relationship discussions or scenes, you may want to avoid them for the time being.
Regardless of what level of trauma your partner may have experienced, and whether that trauma happened recently, or in the past, taking the time to understand what he/she/they may be going through is an important first step.
Once you’ve educated yourself, the next thing to consider when supporting a partner through trauma is communication.
How to Keep Communication Open
As you and your partners have the emotional bandwidth and are ready to begin opening the lines of communication, be patient, do your best move through whatever feelings which need to be moved through, and whatever you do, don’t try to talk them out of how they feel.
When conversations are happening, be willing to take a time out (or ten) if you or your partner needs time to recoup, or think about something else, or just spend some time letting their emotions flow. Work together to set guidelines and agree on what sort of conditions are necessary to re-approach the topic and begin the conversation again. Treat the situation like you would planning a scene or intentional realationsihp – make sure you have clear boundaries with one another. If you and your partner are on the same page about when it’s okay to communicate, these types of conversations will feel much safer for you both.
If you notice that your conversations start to become arguments, try to connect the dots and understand at what point the tone shifted, or what may have triggered the argument. Then try to create a plan to work around that trigger in future conflicts that may arise. Remember, the goal is to support your partner and keep your relationship alive.
When all else fails, or if you and your partner are struggling to communicate with one another, it may be time to get a mental health professional, like myself, involved.
Remember, you’re a human being too, and even though your partner may not be able to give you the best of themselves at this time, your feelings still matter. It’s important to feel like you have a safe space where you can discuss and explore your feelings and experiences as you endeavor to support your partner through trauma.
If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells, feel nothing you do changes how the relationship is going, or struggle to feel like yourself, I might be able to help. Use the tool below to schedule a free, brief consultation.