There’s the You I Love, and Then There’s…

Whether it’s this particular point in time or that we’re not a good fit regardless of time, my boyfriend lashed out at me in a way that surprised and hurt me, and that I didn’t find fair. We’ve had a lot of problems in the last few months, including communication problems, which don’t seem to be improving.

We’re both trauma survivors of different types, and it has been a hard combination to deal with, particularly as the ways we cope are different and not often compatible. That, coupled with how hard I push myself to heal and how hard he thinks I push him (not clear yet if it’s pressure I put on him or pressure he feels because of me), we wound up in a shouting match after he went radio silent for a day and didn’t appreciate my views on that.

Just let me know what’s going on, I can’t read your mind and no, I don’t feel assured that the reason doesn’t involve drugs and/or alcohol, honestly. The past doesn’t stay in the past when you keep repeating it.

It’s hard for me to know if what he said is really how he feels, because we’re back to not talking after he blew up at me again for wanting clarity on what taking some space entails, but he made some statements that don’t sit well with me.

close up of fish over black background
Photo by Chevanon Photography on

“You need to stop being so pessimistic…it’s like dating two people, the one I love and then (statement left unfinished)…You put expectations on me that are completely unreasonable…You pust way more pressure on me than you ever put on yourself…” and a lot of bringing up other people, which I’m not the least bit interested in when we’re discussing our own relationship and the problems that are between us.

And the people who do know me and have for years will tell you without hesitation that I put way more pressure on myself than I ever have or will put on anyone else.

I don’t see myself as two people. I was evaluated for bipolar disorder when I was diagnosed with PTSD, and I showed no indication of it, nor does my trauma history support the diagnosis. And I don’t have that experience. I am the same person, no matter what. What does happen, and what is a constant problem for me, is that sometimes I am public-facing me, and sometimes I let the mask fall and am the me that often struggles to maintain my sanity and independence, such as it is. I don’t see that as being two people, rather being a multi-faceted person who places high value on successfully relating to other people and who chooses not to show the darkness I live with because I don’t always want to be reminded of it myself. But when I don’t have to put that kind of energy into my appearance, I don’t, because I don’t have that much energy.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. I worked at a gallery for several years, including when the car wreck happened and for about three years after. My employer put a high priority on customer service, and when I was on the sales floor I was “work me” – charming, helpful, sparkling and knowledgeable. I frequently engaged with customers in long conversations, and I took pride in being a bright spot in the day. It made us money and made me look really good to my bosses, and I really enjoyed it. But that was a snapshot of me, not the whole me. A man asked me to dinner one day after talking to “work me”, and I am not kidding when I say he was disappointed to find that outside of work I was quieter and a little more reserved. He ghosted me after dinner, and I know it was because he thought that the snapshot of me he had gotten of me at the gallery was the whole story, and that’s the story he wanted. Well, no, I’m a human, not a Barbie.

Now that issue seems to be coming up again – and I frequently communicate how I’m feeling to my boyfriend so that he knows what to expect and doesn’t get blindsided – it is hurtful and disappointing, because this is after more than a year, not just a date. I don’t get to walk away from this, and I fight as hard as I can to beat it. But hey, if this isn’t for you, I get it. I don’t want it either.

We aren’t pessimists. We aren’t two people that you can separate into a person you love and a person you don’t even like. We aren’t simple, we aren’t your problem to fix and we don’t need your bullshit and lack of compassion. I am a human with a traumatic brain injury that is overlooked and ignored most of the time, even by the people closest to me, because you can’t see my injury and you choose not to engage in the communication and behaviors that will help me heal. And that’s not on me, that’s on you, because I am doing the best I can, and frankly it’s enough.

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