Partners in trauma

This letter writer is having family issues and doesn’t want to drag her boyfriend down.

Separate your relationship from your trauma, says our elder. Then trust your gut.


Dear EWC

I’m in a relationship of six months and I’ve been going through family issues that have given me trauma and I slowly feel like I’m becoming depressed. My partner has also been a part of my journey and I don’t think it’s fair to continue to drag him through it. He says he loves me and wants me but at the same time with me not wanting to put him through it someone else may not want us to be together and they have a great power over his decision. I just don’t know if I should end it because one, I’m not sure if a relationship is what I want right now anymore but he’s the only person I have (I have no friends and family). He’s also been amazing and I love him so much but I can’t even bring myself to say I love him anymore and it’s not because of him or if he did something, things just don’t feel the same anymore since something in my family has happened…


Splotch replies

You are writing to the Elder Wisdom Circle because you would like to get an opinion from someone who is older and (hopefully) wiser than yourself. In other words, someone who has been there and done that and can express to you advice based upon our experience. I will be happy to give you my opinion, but you need to remember that I don’t know you or anyone else you are writing about. The only information I have to go on is what you have written. Having said that, here’s what I think.

You obviously didn’t want to share details of what’s really going on, and that’s perfectly OK. So, I’m going to have to guess a bit. You need to know that I am not a psychologist or doctor of any kind, just an older person who’s been around for a while. But I cannot help but think whatever is bothering you isn’t about your family issue or your relationship, it’s about you. Let me explain.

First off, a relationship of six months is virtually nothing. You guys haven’t been together long enough to really, really, really know each other. There’s no fault in that, but perhaps these guys really do want to be there for you. Of course, that doesn’t change how you might feel about him. If the thrill is gone, then it’s gone. At this stage of your relationship, it’s really about feelings more than thoughts. Feelings have no reason or logic, they are feelings. One feels what they feel and that’s that. But humans do best when they are in balance between their head and their heart. Try for that balance. In this case, the “head” part of the equation seems to me to be separating your problem(s) with your family (more on that in a moment) than whatever issues you have with this guy. So, like I said, try to get in touch with whatever it is that is going on with your relationship separated from your family issues. That would be, in my opinion, the best way to make any decisions.

I tried to think about what kind of family issues would cause you such angst. Again, you didn’t give me much to work on, so I had to let my imagination run wild. So, what are the options – parental divorce; mental/emotional/physical abuse; murder (oh I hope not). Then I came to the realization that I’m wasting my time. Why? Because it doesn’t matter what the actual issues are, they are obviously traumatic for you. A tiny bit about myself.

I am a combat veteran of the war in Viet Nam. What I experienced was trauma, and in my opinion, trauma that is the worst kind anyone can ever imagine. But it took me a long time to figure this out, I was wrong. Trauma is a personal thing. What is trauma for you may or may not be traumatic for me, and it doesn’t matter. Trauma, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So, I’m going on the assumption that whatever it is that’s going on with your family is important to you.

So, just like I had no choice but to deal with whatever it was that I was going through when I came home (and believe me, it was a lot), you have to also. Whatever it is that is going on with your family, you have to deal with it.

Now, I do not mean that you have to be the one to solve the problem. For example, if your parents are considering divorce, it’s not up to you to help them get a divorce, reconcile, or even help them make the decision. What is up to you is to find a way for you to deal with whatever it is in a way that you can handle. The thing that is important is you need to believe in yourself and trust yourself. Trust your gut. It knows what is right and what is wrong for you. Trust your gut. It almost always has the right answer. Don’t do anything that your gut tells you is wrong for you no matter who wants you to do it. Trust your heart but use your head. If you do that, you will be OK.

So, now to close the loop. Perhaps you need some time and space for yourself to figure out how to cope with whatever it is. Perhaps the time you devote to your guy is problematic for you… and perhaps not. I suggest that you figure out whether or not you want to have a relationship with this guy regardless of whatever is going on with your family. If the answer is no, then I suggest, for his sake, you cut him loose so he can find someone who wants him.

If the answer is yes, then I suggest the next step is for you to figure out if you have the time and energy to actually hold up your end of a relationship. If you cannot, then you need to tell him what’s going on, let him know what you feel you are able to give and what you are unable to give, and let him decide for himself what he wants to do.

I hope what I’ve written helps you, even if it’s only a little bit. I hope things work out for you. Feel free to write back to us if you ever need advice in the future. Good luck.

Article #: 461256

Category: Dating/Relationship

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