I Used To Be Terrified Of The 'Baggage' I Would Bring To Relationships

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By Ashley Allison

When I became old enough to start dating, my biggest fear was what guys would think if they knew the “baggage” I had from growing up.

Of course, we all have some sort of “family problem” or “unbelievable” (but still believable) experience that has happened to us.

But bringing trauma to the dating scene — whether it’s current or from the past — takes a whole new approach.

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However, this is what I have come to learn about myself and those around me. Who knows, maybe it’ll help you too.

We don’t talk about our trauma instantly.

Many people in my life didn’t know about my PTSD until years after I was diagnosed and began writing about it. This is because opening up to someone time and time again about these things is emotionally taxing and utterly exhausting.

You’re not just trying to protect yourself while explaining the situation, but you’re also trying to gauge how that person reacts when listening to you. This is something that’s meant for books and movies, not real life.

Because of that, it will be a lot for someone to take in, especially if they’re not used to these types of situations.

We have triggers.

Sometimes we’re able to tell you what sets us off, whether it’s a smell, a phrase, or even a simple motion. Other times, we have no idea that the thing you’re doing at that moment is about to send us spiraling down the rabbit hole that we try so hard to stay out of daily.

So be patient with us since, more often than not, we know how to deal with it and will tell you what we need.

If it means we need a few minutes to collect ourselves without you in the room, please try to understand. We aren’t trying to offend you; we’re just trying to collect ourselves and avoid someone else seeing our complete mental breakdown.

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Listening is better than trying to come up with an answer.

It drives me crazy when someone tells me they’re so “sorry” for what happened to me. Yes, I appreciate that they’re concerned, but it’s in the past, and nothing they say will change that.

Females with trauma do not want to be treated like a charity case! Unfortunately, that’s how we feel when someone tries to explain why things might be the way they are.

Point blank: Just shut up and listen. If you want to validate our feelings, that’s fine. But don’t try and tell us how we should or should not feel at that moment.

Consistency is key.

We’ve heard all the empty promises before. That you’ll stay no matter “how bad” it gets. That you’re “different” from the last one. To us, they’re just words until you’re consistent time and time again.

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To say we have trust issues is an understatement, and time will prove us either right or wrong. It’s not that we don’t want to believe that you are different. But given our track record, it’s just how we are.

We see things differently.

There’s one positive side to the s*** we’ve been through, though: Seeing multiple sides of the story. Nothing is as it seems, and we get that.

Things happen in life that we can’t always control, so we take it with grace and move forward. Sometimes we even pick up on the most obvious things that people don’t tend to notice. Being hyper-aware of our surroundings can be a plus on occasion.

At the end of the day, we don’t expect you to fully understand what we’re dealing with. After all, no one possibly could, even if they went through the same thing.

Everyone processes trauma differently. But do know that if you are looking to date a girl who has been through some things in her life, I can guarantee she will be the most loyal and kind-hearted girl you’ll ever meet.

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Ashley Allison is a nurse, author and writer for Unwritten who focuses on relationships, health and wellness, and family. For more of her content, visit her author profile.

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.