Q&A How Can I Apply What I Learned from a past Traumatic Experience to Deal with the Pain of Reminders in My Marriage Relationship Now?

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The question in week 4 of EMSO, “How can I apply what I learned from a past traumatic experience to deal with the pain of reminders in my marriage relationship now?”, has me somewhat stumped. I’m 64 now. When I was 21 my ex-husband refused to return our daughter to me after a weekend visit and then he disappeared with her. She was 1.5 years old. For 11 days I didn’t know where she was or if she was safe. By God’s grace, I was able to recover her from a about hundred miles into his home country of Mexico. What I remember from that time that she was missing was frozen numbness, I couldn’t function and those who loved me acted on my behalf. For years after I was haunted by nightmares and fears it would happen again, I felt little control. As she grew older I had plans set up with her in case he attempted this again (I think I traumatized her). For me, the pain of that experience faded with time as she grew older. I don’t know what I learned from that except that I’m a survivor. I went on to compete a masters degree in education and then married my current husband of 26 years when my daughter was 18, choosing someone of great faith and strong morals, thinking I’d be safe from betrayal. This trauma of his infidelity is not worse than the trauma of losing my baby daughter years ago, but it’s a very close second. What I think I learned from that first trauma was that reminders are slowly buried with the passage of time, all wounds eventually heal. As the years passed and my daughter’s father disappeared completely from her life, the feeling of safety returned. I’m not sure how I apply that to this current pain and accompanying reminders, as I sometimes feel like I just stuffed those feelings down. Maybe what I learned is that when I was without strength, leaning on those who loved me provided the strength I needed to survive. Maybe that points to the need to surround ourselves with community to help us along the way. Are these the answers?



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