Betrayal traumas may not threaten death or physical injury, but can be damaging to well-being, relationships, self-concept, and beliefs about others and the world. Such traumas represent a mismatch between what “should be” (e.g., people do not intentionally harm one another) and what is (you have been harmed by another person; DePRince & Freyd, 2002). Freyd and colleagues have suggested that the most complete definition of trauma includes events evoking intense fear, social betrayal, or a combination of both. Both fear and betrayal can be described either as continuous or categorical dimensions of trauma. A trauma can be said to either involve betrayal or not, but can also involve varying degrees of betrayal. The degree to which an event is traumatic may relate to the degree of fear and/or betrayal involved.
(From study by Jennifer J. Freyd for the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation)
If you look at a list of PTSD symptoms, i have experienced most of those. However, almost anyone that has gone through trauma experiences these symptoms. The difference, according to my therapist, is that my symptoms are not decreasing. It's not that i feel helpless or hopeless all the time. But i am still experiencing major "triggering."
Sometimes symptoms appear seemingly out of the blue. At other times, they are triggered by something that reminds me of the original traumatic event, such as a noise, an image, certain words, or a smell. When i trigger, i experience flashbacks, as if the event is happening again. It's not just the emotional distress either; there are literal intense physical reactions like a pounding heart, nausea, muscle tension, sweating and shaking. For example, the smell of egg rolls will leave me curled on the floor in a tiny ball in physical pain as if i had been punched in the gut.
Triggering had gotten less and less often. i was feeling pretty confident in my recovery.
Then i started dating seriously. i got a guy friend. And i realized that the trauma was deeper than i had thought. i triggered more often. i was in situations that i hadn't experienced since my divorce.
Thus i discovered the complications of dating post divorce, and even more so, after having been married to an addict.
The guy is up late doing homework (ON THE COMPUTER!) and panic mode sets in. All of the emotions from my ex telling me that he looked at porn instead of writing a paper resurface. AS IF IT IS HAPPENING TO ME ALL OVER AGAIN! Que complete emotional breakdown complete with vomiting, checking my phone every few minutes to see if he has texted me, shaking until i ache and all the guilt of feeling like a broken and controlling freak.
Luckily, i have an amazing therapist. He is going to be working through the trauma using IRRT therapy. The idea is to help disconnect situations from the emotional trauma. In other words, help to reduce the triggering.
Luckily, i also have an amazing guy-friend. We talk. A lot. About everything. And then talk about it again. And again. The guy told me that he wanted to have a transparent relationship.
It is both vulnerable and empowering at the same time.
Mostly, it is comforting to have someone who isn't perfect. Because i'm not perfect. i let him see my imperfections, my panics and my triggering. So far, he is ok with them. It goes both ways.