I was recently asked, can someone with PTSD love? The answer is yes, but. The love is there, but it is buried deep under layers of pain, fear, and anxiety. Those layers can be so thick that post traumatic stress disorder sufferers may not feel anything and those they love will certainly not feel love from them either.
If someone you love has PTSD and you want to know if he loves you, be prepared to wait for an answer. He needs to heal first. With the right treatment and his hard work, he can get better. But finding the right combination of treatments for his particular symptoms is not easy. The longer the trauma continued, and the longer before he is treated, the longer it will take to heal.
Love is frightening for someone with PTSD. Love does not make sense next to the trauma he has suffered. How can he delight in a child’s smile when images of mangled bodies flood his mind? How can he think romantic thoughts, when he has witnessed sexual violence? Yet these two extremes exist in the world. Love and Hate. Joy and Fear. The task at hand is to figure how to fit the two together so that life, and love can go on.
If he has been traumatized enough, he will feel very little physically. A high tolerance for pain is frequently reported with a long history of abuse or the need to ignore pain in order to survive. Both situations that can lead to post traumatic stress disorder. No one wants to feel when the only thing to feel is pain. So he goes numb It is not a conscious choice, but it will take a conscious choice to thaw away the icy shell that prevents him from feeling.
What you really want to know is will that thaw ever come? And can you stand to wait around for it? When your lover can look through you, it is indeed a cold day. You will need a strong support network if you are going to get through this.
If he was loving and giving before the trauma, he can become so again. Right now, he is struggling to make sense of the awful things that happened to him. It is difficult work. Post traumatic stress disorder treatment takes time. It is hard to bring together the opposites he has experienced.
There is amazing beauty and breathtaking joy in this world. And there is savagery and terror as well. There are things that should be feared. He knows cannot see the beauty if he is always watching the shadows. Healing means finding the equilibrium that will allow him to enjoy the beauty of this world while protecting himself and those he loves from harm.
If your relationship was troubled or mediocre before the trauma, it is possible, but not likely, that your love will blossom under this shared burden. Not likely at all. If he was fearful, angry, belligerent, and disrespectful to you before, well, why were you with him? Do not be bullied now into staying now if it is not right for you.
If you want love from someone with PTSD, be prepared to wait. Make sure you take care of yourself, because he will be not able to offer much to you. You will have to love without expecting the same in return. You will have to give, knowing you may never get anything back. There are no guarantees, but there is always hope.
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Stay or Go: Loving or Leaving Someone with PTSD