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kill the Pavlov in you.

I realized that trauma has a tendency to make one selfish. I call it "trauma-selfishness". This is a survival skill that is essential while with our abusers that quickly turns into a relationship breaker when you are with a safe person. What kept you alive in the past will tear up your safe-real relationship. 

Some of these things are:

Fighting for your needs to be met. 

    This was essential in the past. Abusers require you to fight your heart out to have time to take a shower. They expect you to demand your needs, so that they can re-activly abuse you, and still not give them to you. It could take me a week of whining, begging, crying, demanding (and getting hurt) just to get time away from kids to shower. Now that I am with a safe person it becomes the opposite. I have a knee jerk (trigger) body response to fight for my needs which induces a knee jerk anger from my partner. "Just fucking take a shower!" He may say, "I never have a problem with it! You just need to say something." Problem is, I rarely notice that I can. See, needing time to shower was a norm for me for years therefore it is Pavlovian for me to feel that I cannot take that time.

    My body, upon realizing I stink: 

"Shower you idiot." My mind scolds. 

"He will be upset that I once again need his help." I think. 

"Just ask." I decide. 

Maybe give the kids a show? Maybe wait till they are asleep? Maybe just put on deodorant? 


This huge debacle in my mind takes place in a couple seconds ~ and often not even HEARD by me. Its background. This is a 'program' that my mind developed to keep me safe. Dont ask, dont even feel it... just survive. 


This is just one of MANY examples of these programs we develop to stay alive. 

I used to fight to be able to join my x on a date. He would say, "If you are not a bitch, you can join but I doubt you can maintain a pleasant personality for a full round of golf." and I would have to put on a show, watch every sound I make and be careful to be exactly good enough or he wouldn't hang out with me again. I inevitably failed each time, and each time it was harder to convince him to let me "try" and join him out. 

Now I barely notice that I need to get out, I love hiding inside where I cannot fail. I barely notice I am lonely... 


These patterns/programs are everywhere and take a good while to unwind. 

What used to keep us safe can ever so quickly tear apart the relationship that grounded you into safe love. It is totally ok to tell your partner, "I need a shower, is now a good time for you to watch the kiddos?" It's not ok to expect total absolute yes's but know that they will help you. You can now ask... you can now learn what is normal. Reach deep down inside and start listening to your needs with the expectation that they are solvable. Allow your partner to help, no need to beg anymore. Tell the little scared puppy waiting for Pavlov to ring his bell that there is no more dinging allowed. 

Hugs, keep healing. 

1 comment

  • Jenn

    Thank you for this reminder! These triggers are scattered like landmines and can produce just as much damage.

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