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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:33 am 
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I believe the experience of being triggered is pretty much universal to all partners. We see something that reminds us or, probably more typical in my later stages of recovery, we witness ogling and objectifying in our presence whether it’s from the car or in the supermarket, or the way our addict spouse reacts to an actress on TV. Well, I’m still getting triggered two years on, to the extent that I hate going anywhere with my husband.

What makes it worse for me is that he picks up on it and gets angry with me. Even when he’s the one in the wrong. And then i’ll be the one causing all the problems. OK, I don’t even call him on his lying and his denials. I/we can’t address this issue as part of his addiction because he swears blind he doesn’t do the scanning/objectifying thing. I’ve witnessed this behaviour so many times, and we are talking about someone who was hooked on porn for probably 20 years, so go figure.

I’ve been getting by just trying the live with it. Sometimes I witness it and think “what a pathetic way to behave” and sometimes I just feel pity for him — pity because of how deluded he seems to be, knowing myself how it felt to be objectified by men of his age when I was younger. But he’s vain and putting his behaviour into that context wouldn’t occur to him.

But sometimes it gets to me. Sometimes I find it upsetting, especially when it’s a woman who resembles his porn preferences, and I KNOW he’s doing that ogling thing in a trance with that stupid expression on his face. Sometimes I can’t just suck it up. Sometimes I feel angry about it, and I can’t always hide my feelings. He didn’t just masturbate to porn, he also used music videos and movie scenes with sex/nudity, lingerie videos, etc, so there are a lot of potential triggers because even the women he masturbated to crop up all over the place. The triggers I encounter when I’m alone still upset me but in a quieter way, with sadness, and feeling thankful that I’m alone and dealing with it without the added stress of him sexually objectifying someone, or their image, in my presence. When I’m with him, I admit I can feel such a deep visceral reaction accompanied by a sense of despair and hopelessness. And then he might notice and get angry with me.

I know this is a trauma reaction. God knows it’s been a traumatic time for many women in the light of the recent Hollywood allegations of sexually abusive behaviours and descriptions of predatory men acting out porn fantasy behaviours on real, living women. Facing up to my husband’s porn addiction/sexually compulsive behaviours was traumatic enough against a background of rejection and neglect. I need to get a handle on dealing with my triggers because nothing seems to help. Time isn’t healing. I know I could be “stuck” but I can’t help wondering whether my husband’s anger and lack of empathy or understanding of traumatic experiences and triggers is preventing my healing in this regard. Any advice greatly appreciated.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:39 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
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Blue - I hear you. First, it would be so much better if your husband exhibited compassion and empathy for you rather than anger. My tolerance for this unjustified anger is gone and I have communicated that to my husband.

Here's what I have done. Some place, like the beach during the summer, ice cream stores (teenage girls in shorts) in the summer, grocery stores anytime, any R-rated movie...they are off limits for me with my husband. I won't go to these places with him. Period. End of discussion. He can whine or get angry or do whatever he wants, but this is my boundary. My husband needs to display some empathy and compassion towards me about this, instead of making it be all about him. Becoming less self centered is one of the goals of healthy living. Caring about your spouse's feelings...that would be a good value to hold.

Also, if I'm triggered unexpectedly, I will either: leave the event or place or take a break (go for a walk, go to the restroom). This is hard to do in the car. That one, I have learned to calmly say "I'm being triggered by the way you are looking." My husband then needs to attend to me and help me get through this. I also have learned to look out the window and ot at my husband. Weird, I know, but I'm less triggered.

In other words, make your boundaries and don't worry about your husband's reactions. Do it firmly and respectfully, but we can just implement our boundaries. It's not up for negotiation. Believe me, it's taken years to get me to this point and I have to tell you it's liberating.

I still don't go out in public much with my husband. It's just too painful. It's different then it used to be. He doesn't ogle as much, but if there is a woman/girl around, he looks at the floor, or the wall, and it's clear he's trying not to stare. But it's weird. It's like being with someone who has no social skills, which is actually kind of correct.

What I really worked on was not being triggered when I am out alone. That took a while, but I realized I didn't want to lose my connection to women and girls. I felt SO protective of them! At first I was so relieved not to have my "icky" husband along who would ogle and fantasize about them without their permission. Ugh. But women and girls aren't to blame for my husband's acting out. He is responsible for his behavior.

Put yourself first on this. Don't let anyone tell you you are irrational, or overly sensitive.

dnell


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:19 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:22 am
Posts: 163
I am still triggered by so many things, triggered by favourite love songs,seeing other couples closeness, all sorts of random things I would never have thought.
This after over two years since d day..the last d day I suppose,though I have had d days over decades.
I put it down to ongoing trauma..my husband is still in denial,no disclosure,no change in the underlying issues,we don't discuss,and as my counsellor said,I may never get the intimacy I need from him.
So I am still living with this issue,unlike something finite,a blip..this is seemingly never ending.
I am triggered by things he days,does, without warning I am triggered. The only thong is I sm now aware,and can distract myself, understand the feelings that once overwhelmed me.
I can't see how triggering stops,unless you forget the traumatic event..when that event is not singular and has been so long term
..


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 2:21 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
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Thanks Jenny and dnell. At least I know it’s ‘normal’ to feel triggered and that other partners are going through it too.

dnell, brilliant advice on implementing boundaries without having to negotiate them with the addict spouse, or even attempt to reach some sort of agreement about behaviours and consequences. Our boundaries should exist to protect us with regard to our own emotional health. So much talk about boundaries in the recovery literature and communities is a lot like implementing rules for the addict to follow but somehow I don’t think this is necessarily a solution that’s going to work. No, we have to do what’s right for us, as partners.

Throughout my own recovery, my husband has not shown much empathy and compassion. He feels shame about the consequences of his behaviour on my emotional wellbeing and my self esteem, but most of his regret is about his own loss, the time and opportunity lost because it was spent in addiction. He does mourn the loss of the relationship we were unable to have, but in all those years, like 15-20 years of porn addiction, possibility more, he never once stopped to think of the negative consequences of his behaviour on our relationship. He doesn’t understand why I am triggered in certain situations and sees it as me causing all this upset and trouble for him. And yet, if he was to admit his own triggers that fed into his addiction, I know I would probably have to take a deep breath and attempt to understand the situation from his perspective. I might not like it, but I’ve been through enough already and I know what I’m up against. I know that the most absolutely wrong reaction would be to tell him he’s causing problems. So, with the situation as it is, rather than what I would like it to be, or as I rather naively believed we were working towards, I need to accept that this is how it is and it’s unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Which brings us back to setting our own boundaries, as individuals and not as some kind of joint negotiation — because that’s just a non starter.

I’ve also found some resources online about c-PTSD, or type 2 PTSD, which is trauma inflicted by people rather than events. I am hesitant to label my own situation as PTSD, but it is one working model which actually acknowledges triggers, but more importantly, offers solutions and strategies to deal with them. Replacing unhelpful thoughts with more positive ones, and also dealing with negative self beliefs and bodily responses to triggers, thoughts and memories. So it makes sense to me, and there may be some value in doing some self-help work for now. One difficulty is the fact that you can’t heal from trauma if you are being repeatedly traumatised. That’s why it’s so much easier to go places alone, watch movies alone, etc, because I can recognise situations where I *might* feel triggered if my husband was with me but at least if I’m alone I have the breathing space to acknowledge it and remain calm. I see the young women as innocent bystanders and I know nothing is their fault. I was probably some other woman’s trigger in the past too, and oblivious to it all.

Jenny, the information I read about trauma is that it’s often too “big” for the brain to process as is would normally do with day-to-day upsets, like if a random stranger is rude to us, in which case we’d be saying “what’s that guy’s problem?!!” But by the time we get home and get it into perspective, and the dog comes to meets us and cheers us a bit, and we get on with the cooking or whatever, the upset evaporates. But when we’ve been betrayed, lied to, had our reality denied, had our feelings ignored and our efforts unnoticed, over and over and over again, and by someone who is supposed to care about us, we’re living with a constant level of upset before d day that is already stressing us even when we can’t quite figure it out. And then one day there’s this deluge of deeply upsetting behaviours that has gone on for years.... and then you realise you’ve been lied to and you’re still being lied to ..... and then denied the peace and safety to recover and make sense of it, well, how can you properly begin the healing process? Whether it’s the shock of the huge discovery or repetitive upsets of trickle truth, it all becomes too much for the brain to take in and process as it would normally do.

Jenny, I also get triggered in lots of different ways. Sometimes it’s a direct reminder of acting out but at other times it’s things only remotely connected. Sometimes it’s a reminder of my deluded naivety. For example, peppermints have been a trigger because I remember a time when my husband went through a phase of buying peppermints, and after d day it occurred to me that he might have been using peppermints to hide the smell of alcohol if he’d been to a strip bar, for example. Or he may have just gone through a phase of liking peppermints, I don’t know. But it’s strange how these ideas just seem to arrive.

I’m definitely going to try some self help tools. I know it won’t change my husband’s behaviour and it won’t have any impact on his lack of understanding, but I will at least (in theory) find ways of handling my own feelings and reactions.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:03 pm 
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Blue, despite being outraged for you having to tolerate anger from your partner for your hurt feelings due to his actions, I am not surprised at this as I too get anger from my partner for this (why can't I move forward, put it behind us etc etc) and for my (completely reasonable) lack of trust in what he says! Sadly I now try to process these feelings in a journal and don't expect any helpful reaction from him. I don't think I need it now either. It would shake my foundations if he actually turned around and gave me care and compassion instead of childish defensivness!
I think I shall keep on being triggered as the years go on, but I am noticing it starting to get less hurtful 2 years in, just getting used to it seems to make the emotional blow softer over time. Each time I find myself heading that way I try to redirect my thinking to my own plans, anything that has no connection to my partner, and this starts to become a bit more automatic over time which gives me hope. But so many things trigger me to varying degrees, his actions, electronic devices, communication issues, even things that remind me of the circumstances and events around D Day. The biggest thing I struggle with still is the feeling of being watched, both at home and in public places, although even that has dulled a little. I am starting to realise how much this is coming with me for life. I'm 2 years in. I can also see good from it now, my own self awareness and development has made leaps. I am surpised how long this all takes, the gradual unravelling of it all, the clarity, but am reassured by the continued but slow movement in a better and stronger direction.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:48 am 
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I think journaling has been a life saver for me, I find its like releasing a pressure valve,and helps me understand myself and my emotions , I certainly have never been able to get emotions support from my husband, on any level really, but this is a no go area with him.
I don't see me not bring triggered,although the pain and length of negative thinking has lessened over time. And as posted,I am less triggered when on my own.
I do find I am still trapped inside the trauma, as I still have clues that husband prefers self e to real intimacy with me. That is ongoing,and I feel it will never change.
That opens me up to thi gs that trigger me, the feeling of grief or envy or recalling how things are versus how they are for others.
In truth, sometimes I feel triggers would only stop if I was in a truly loving intimate relationship..even a look,a gesture from my husband can trigger me, a word. there is no escaping that. Though I am less affected as I grow more reliant ob myself and not on his reactions or actions.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:55 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:08 am
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Thank you for your replies, mugggle and jenny. Since looking at the worksheets for PTSD triggers, I’ve realised that it’s not so much the event itself that creates the problem, not that it’s exactly easy for us at those times, but the feelings and emotions that those events stir up. It takes me back to the feelings I felt at d day, and in the years before d day when my husband had a porn habit that I couldn’t stop, and the punch in the gut when I saw it with my own eyes. All those feelings of rejection, abandon, feeling ugly and unwanted, forgotten, diminished, my self esteem at rock bottom, etc etc. I feel those things all over, like it’s all playing in fast forward and I’m getting a concentrated shot of toxic negativity straight into my body. It all happens in a split second, so fast that I’m not consciously aware of my thoughts, but I sense those feelings and all I know is that outwardly my mood just sinks. Inwardly I’m feeling like worthless shit and angry and despairing over my powerlessness. It’s like getting a hit of d day all over. (Yeah, I know.... pick a d day! Any d day!) So that’s what I’ve learned from the PTSD/triggers exercise. The difficult part is catching those thoughts and then come up with better alternatives. I guess this is why it’s so much easier to learn these skills when we go out alone or watch something alone.

It’s true, we really can’t depend on our partner’ support, understanding or expect any kind of encouragement with this. Well, maybe those magic unicorns might but to my knowledge nobody has ever met a unicorn with a porn/sex addiction. Only we know how it feels because they never experienced the pain of rejection and the dwindling feelings of self worth that we did. They may experience their acting out triggers whether it’s an image or a difficult emotion they want to escape from, but our triggers are trauma triggers and when we’re triggered we experience emotional pain, so it’s an entirely different experience of “triggers”.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:27 am 
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That is so true, I can be feeling strong, I have come far,counselling,I know logically I is my husband who is flawed,and was before we met..but in those seconds of bring triggered..all those emotions you describe and the pain do flood over me, I can stop them easier now as i understand what is happening,but the emotions are still deep, and yes, there are vivid flash backs,and the gut wrenching feelings of felt worthlessness,rejection..and loss.
Sadly I am triggered even if he talks to another woman..i will automatically feel he prefers her,and feel rejected,not secure, doesn't help that he is very charming to other women,praising and offering help..whereas I don't get that false mad I plainly see he has put on, he doesnt get it that these feelings come without warning,that its years of his behaviour that have affected me. Now I can see my triggers for what they are..and not react to the emotions. But as fir stopping a trigger,impossible at present,they hit ne without warning


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:41 pm 
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Yes, it’s a toxic combination of powerlessness, rejection and loss and it all stems from someone else’s behaviour, not ours. I was busy at home today when I was triggered by my own thoughts, in particular about a woman my husband worked with last year. There was a magazine article a few months ago where one of the stores they were working for on this particular project was mentioned and I really resented him mentioning this store at the time because my thought at the time was “oh, he’s thinking of her”. And I think I was right, but I said nothing because I didn’t want to fall out.

Anyway today I had this feeling of dread that they’d be in contact for some reason and then I had these ideas about going through his notebook to see if he had her “work” number and ripping it out. As you say, dealings with any woman can be triggering but this one in particular was triggering because he became so personally invested in this project to a very unsettling degree. I was glad when that project was over because he was exhibiting an unhealthy degree of workaholism (yes, another addiction to switch to) and our relationship was suffering as a result. So obviously it was enormously unsettling for me at the time and I was really uncomfortable over this ‘working’ relationship. When he mentioned that store in that article it was like he was picking the scabs of my wound.

So, today I’m busy and these thoughts come up and suddenly I’m triggered. I’m feeling angry, I’m imagining they were attracted to each other and still felt the same, and that if they were back in touch for “work” reasons, maybe they’d have reasons to meet up, and did he have her number...”where is it? I need to check!.... I’m gonna rip the page out! .... no, I’m gonna make HIM rip the page out and rip it into tiny pieces .... but what if it’s not in his notebook? .... does that mean he doesn’t have her number? .... where else could it be? .... oh, hold on, this is crazymaking. This is not good for me.”

At this point I took action and identified my thoughts and feelings, and then I talked myself down. I acknowledged that the way I was treated was not right and not fair. But at least I can treat myself better. And I know I deserved better, and still do. His actions have hurt, and they still do. I can’t control what he does, but at least I can give myself the reassurance I need. As I said all this to myself, I held myself as a loved one would do. Now, I’m just a beginner at this and I’m not sure if I’m getting it right, but I was able to calm myself in mind and body, so that’s a good start. The other thing is that I was alone, I was at home, and the trigger was my own thought process. It won’t be easy if I’m triggered when I’m out with my husband. The way I see it is that I have to start somewhere and it’s better to try these trigger techniques in a safe environment. Besides memories are huge triggers.

So this is how it is for me. Learning to deal with trauma triggers can’t change the past and it can’t change how my husband chooses to behave. But with luck and consciously trying to take control of these triggers I might be able to control my own feelings and thereby make progress in my own healing process.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:01 am 
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Yes, I am the same
We have a quiz night coming up at work...our boss asked if we could be on his team,..we said yes,
Then at home husband said the gm had asked him to ge on his team earlier in the week and he had said yes to him too.
I am triggered..because usually husband says he isn't interested in the quiz nights..but seemingly he had been asked and accepted..without a word to me, our boss asked us while in the meeting room..what if he had asked my husband when I wasn't there,said tell your wife..i know in the past he hasn't passed things on,or has turned things down on my behalf,without even telling me,or passing on the message.
Sounds petty..but its about the secrecy..the total disregard for me..would ge have told me about him and quiz night or told me he was doing work late..
Also now I am triggered because i wonder who else is on the gms team..would it be the office women..the ones he flirts with,or the one he said he was infactuated with..
And what will happen on the night..i am not sure of my reaction if he actually says he will go on gm team..and leave me on the other team..will I exolide or do ,say something if I have to watch him with her instead of being with me.
All this whirls through my mind..
It's ridiculous i know,and I think now the feeling us not of rejection in a live way,but a feeling of humiliation ..and anger if that happens..and my brain thinking what I would do..
It's hell,if I told husband this ge would get mad with me,say he is fed up with my whining..etc
No way could he understand that this is a result if the long term abuse he subjected me to.
I feel part if the triggering is a deep need to be able to talk to him and feel he understands ,part of the trigger is my brain feeling anger at the way I cannot resolve this at all. Part of me is saying I don't deserve this,I am not living how I should be..but not being able to do that.
I do know,however,that I don't get the deep feelings of love,need,and jealousy that I used to ,where in the feeling of need for my husband only seemed intensified during these triggers..these days its more a pain of knowing I have lost out on true live,contentment,security and trust..its about me..not about feeling I desperately need HIS love..


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