Post-Traumatic Stress Rears Its Ugly Head

Ships don’t sink because of the water around them. They sink because of the water that gets in them. – Unknown.

After the attack, when I would see Luke in the workplace, I would experience a rapid heart rate, hypervigilance, adrenaline rushes, feelings of anger and anxiety, and the urge to run away. I now know that this was my psyche trying to protect me. I began to experience a lack of focus. I began to see a therapist for help in managing the stress related to the incident. I strangely continued to engage with him about how the assault had affected me. I still thought he cared about my well-being.

Amazingly, I have learned since then that the emotional response of rapid heart rate, sweating, and feelings of anxiety can be mistaken for attraction. This is an important realization, because it helped me to look back and critically view my relationship choices in the past and handed me the tools to choose safely the next time. Yes, I have come to understand that I had mistaken these physical reactions for attraction, many times. As odd as that sounds, the responses that one experiences in fear can be similar to those of attraction.

Luke thrived under these conditions. I was not thriving. But I kept trying. It seemed that he feared an action like therapy would strengthen me, and perhaps I would report the attack at work. He would degrade me about “needing a therapist.” To him, I was appearing to pick myself up and regain ground.

He started a campaign to control, bully, harass, and manipulate me into not reporting, and so he engaged in creating a consistently harassing and chaotic work environment. At the same time, he attempted to assert a dating relationship that he perceived would control me. For a while, it did. I wanted it to be normal, and without the hostility. Luke knew as more time went on that my recount would lack credibility. He had done this before.

Luke created a classic narcissistic pattern of control by feeding his narcissistic mind with the idea that I was into him, and therefore unafraid. He ultimately thought that he controlled the truth as he saw it: “I was not afraid of him; therefore, it did not happen”.

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Comments 2

  1. So many of our responses are “automatic”, It seems hard to believe that we can miss-interpret the origin/meaning of our feelings. Takes such courage to work through the process to understand them clearly ❤️

    1. Post

      Thank you JMac! Are we listening to our instincts or are we thinking about a measured “acceptable” response after feeling the instinct? Courage is something that we can carry with us every day if we let ourselves.
      Think of it not as a burden but as a gift!

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