In today's episode, Jenny and Bryce answer a question about trauma and the fear of intimacy. If you've ever wondered why you back away from intimacy or connection, check out this episode!
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I've realized that I've got some considerable trauma responses (dissociative disorders) to work through, and it's heavy lifting. Feeling so out of body, and feeling so uncomfortable with intimacy can make romantic relationships really difficult to navigate for lots of reasons. Discomfort over physical and emotional intimacy can become so strong that a desire to escape (end the relationship) becomes overpowering. I find myself fighting this urge to bolt until the discomfort and pressure become too great, and then I break up just to have some sense of comfort and self-control again.
In a situation where intimacy alone can trigger strong feelings of aversion, I'm concerned that I can't trust my discernment about whether someone is a good, healthy match. In a scenario where PTSD hypersensitivity isn't an issue, it seems a person could trust their sense of intuition more reliably, and would use the "alarmed" feeling to recognize red flags or danger/caution. In a situation like mine where the "alarm" setting is always on, I don't have a good emotional litmus test for whether or not, and don't want to just rely on logic or rational assessment to determine the suitability of a dating partner. I need an emotional/intuitive compass, but mine doesn't offer a lot of clarity, and I end up feeling confused, unsafe, and distressed in most romantic relationships.
In the past I attributed this pattern of short, deeply uncomfortable relationships to the idea that I haven't "met the right one" yet. At age 40, I'm realizing the issue is likely more about my own comfort in my body than it is about the person I'm dating, in general. There's also a good chance that picking an emotionally "safe" person to date at the outset is also not working well enough, given my lack of unreliable intuition in this area.
What are some ways to think about this that I haven't considered? One strategy is to avoid intimate relationships altogether, another is to avoid them until I don't have any issues with hypersensitivity or panic (I realize I have a lot of healing work in front of me, I sometimes think I should leave dating until I'm further along this path). Neither of these seems realistic. Thoughts?