• Quote of the Day
    "For most people, transformation is slow. It happens without you realizing it."
    Marsha Linehan, posted by Daniel

Meg

Dr. Meg, Global Moderator, Practitioner
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Sooooo my wedding is in a month! I'm getting worried because, 4 years after sexual abuse/assault, I still can't handle intimacy. And when I say 'intimacy', I'm talking about a kiss. I had my first flashback in ages yesterday after my fiance gave me a kiss on the leg (I was on a chair he was on the floor) and he was really hurt when I froze up and jerked away. I can understand that he would be hurt, it's not as though he did anything wrong. However, I really dislike the way that his reaction makes me feel guilty for something I don't know how to control. He says "what?!?" in a fed up kind of way when he KNOWS what the matter is, it's always the same thing... I've told him that I have flashbacks when he touches me sometimes, that it isn't his fault, and that I usually like a little bit of space afterwards. I have given him things to read that explain why it happens and he said he read them. It's like he needs me to reassure him every time it happens, but I'm not usually feeling much like taking care of anybody else as I'm generally pretty disconcerted by what happened myself! When I started counselling he said to me "so, are you going to be fixed by the time we get married??" as though my 'problems' are a huge inconvenience to him. The accusing tone that he uses just makes me feel so small and useless. I need his support and I'm really tired of his insensitivity, though I know it's unintentional.

I'm not really sure what the point of this post is, I guess I would just like some advice on what I can say to him that might help him to respond in a more helpful way. It is my understanding that problems with flashbacks are best dealt with by exposure to the trigger so that it stops being associated with the negative event, but I'm not going to be able to do that unless I know he will not get all frustrated and annoyed with me if I freak out. I am not going to put myself in that situation, it wouldn't result in anything good that I can see. Thanks in advance for your thoughts :)

Meg
 

David Baxter

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Meg, I would strongly recommend that you get some professional help with this - it isn't something either of you are going to be able to manage or to "fix" on your own and it isn't going to get any better after the wedding.

Find a therapist who has some expertise in sexual abuse and PTSD and ask that person to see both of you.
 

Meg

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Thank you Dr Baxter :)

The only problem with that idea is that there's no way he'd agree to go. We've been having pre-marital counselling with our minister. I talked to my fiance about whether he thought I should tell the minister (who I know well, we both are active members of the church) what had happened because I thought it was important. He didn't want me to...well, he said I could if I really wanted (gee I sound like I'm a pushover here) but his tone implied that he didn't want me to and I felt too insecure to do it without any support. I have been seeing a counsellor about the sexual abuse, but I have only got one session left with her (I've been going to a government funded service and so of course there's an enormous waiting list) and my fiance is not at all likely to come with me to see her. He was against my going there in the first place. I'm just a bit confused about it all!!
 

David Baxter

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Hmmm... none of this bodes well for the two of you. Any idea why he is so opposed to the idea?
 

ThatLady

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Sweetie, I don't like the sound of this. It seems to me like there's a big problem lurking in the wings, waiting to pounce on the two of you.

What you're dealing with is impossible to handle alone. You need help, and you don't need recriminations and put-downs. You need someone who is willing to walk hand in hand with you through the necessary steps to put the demons of the past behind you. From what you're saying, it doesn't sound like your fiance is willing to do that. It sounds like he's looking for some magical "fix" for his "broken" wife-to-be. That just ain't gonna happen. You're not going to magically transform just because of a wedding ceremony. It's going to take time, work, and cooperation.
 

Meg

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Lol ok now I'm even more scared!!!!

He doesn't approve of my seeing a 'secular' counsellor (I didn't tell him I'd been going until my third session when it was too late for him to talk me out of it because I knew I'd give in!), but he doesn't want me to talk about it to our minister either. I'm just so tired of doing this by myself. ThatLady, your comment that he's looking for a magical fix is precisely what I've been thinking for a while now. It's not that he doesn't care: he does. He's just not good at the empathy thing and gets impatient if I don't want to talk about it. "Speak" is not exactly an inducement to share this kind of thing!!! He acknowledges that he doesn't understand why I feel this way and that he doesn't know how to help. I'm a bit avoidant, and I really need someone to give me encouragement (translate as shove!) if I'm going to be able to tackle these things. I've been wondering whether I should go and talk to our Minister behind his back, though it would be a terrifying prospect and I really don't want to. What do you think of that idea? The other sticky issue with talking to the minister is that the guy who abused me (who is the same age as me) was the one who took me to that church in the first place. He's moved away now, but his mother still goes there. What a mess, I think I need a hug!!!
 

David Baxter

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The other point I would make in that a relationship, if YOU have a problem, you BOTH have a problem. Is this going to be a marriage where you face the stresses and problems of life together and find solutions together? or is it going to be one where he says, "I'm not happy. Do something and make it better."?
 

Meg

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We're a pretty good team on any other topic. This is the only area where our communication isn't good, but it definitely has the potential to spread. That's another reason that I want to tackle this now, because I realise that it could get a whole lot worse than it already is.
 

ThatLady

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This may be the only area where you have a failure in communication now; however, I don't see that continuing. Your fiance seems to feel it's perfectly all right for him to tell you what you can and cannot do, and what medical assistance you can and cannot seek. That doesn't bode for a good, sharing and shared, relationship, hon.

Sounds to me like you two need to sit down with this issue and talk until it's settled, one way or the other. If he can't see that you need his help, his understanding, and his encouragement to work through the issues of childhood abuse, you can bet your bippy there are going to be important matters in future that he won't be able to see, and that this one is not going to go away.
 

Meg

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Thanks again :)

I realise that these things aren't likely to just vanish, and I know that things could definitely get worse after we're married. I'm aware that he can be dominating, and that I am easily dominated. I guess that's why I posted really. I know what the problems are and that I need to do something, but nothing I've tried has worked and he won't do the therapy thing. I have no control over his behaviour, only over mine. I'm starting to feel like a bit of a lost cause, but does anyone have any ideas about an approach I could take to talking about this with him that might help?

Meg
 

ThatLady

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If you've tried to talk with him about the problems you're encountering in this relationship and he's not interested in discussing it on any other than his own terms, it might be time to look inside yourself to see if this is really the relationship for you, hon. You don't want to get "stuck" with a control freak running your life for you. There's little more miserable than that.

I think I might give him an ultimatum. Either he agrees to allow you to decide what's best for your life, and get the therapy you need with his blessings and support, or the wedding is off. Tell him, straight up, that you don't wish to be married to a controller.
 

Meg

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Thank you, ThatLady, I will give it my best shot! I appreciate your advice, thanks :)

Meg
 

ThatLady

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Hang in there, sweetie. I admire you for facing up to the problem before the marriage instead of waiting until you're hooked to a control freak! It's important to realize that someone who truly loves you will always want what's best for you, and will always be willing to do whatever it takes to see that you get what you need and deserve.
 

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