Are you Okay?
Now being in my first relationship since learning of my abuse, I definitely come across some difficult moments.
The “Are you Okay?” question is a consistent area of contention between my partner and myself.
I am constantly asking if he is “okay” in the middle of our conversations due to any body language I read as frustrated/irritated. If I pick up that he aggravated, best believe I will be asking if he is “okay.” Now asking if he is okay is not the difficult part of our interactions. It is normal for someone to ask if someone is feeling alright. The hard part is trusting that when he says “I am fine” that he actually is fine.
I end up asking over and over again if he is okay and it get’s frustrating for him. He is not mean about it but he just requests that I trust him when he says he is fine the first time. He grew up with a parent that had the same issues I have. They had a hard time accepting “I am fine” as well. That repetition just makes my partner feel like he’s back around that parent again not listening to him express his feelings. He feels like his words hold no meaning because I do not listen to him when he tells me how he feels.
I hear him out and I wish I could let it go but it is equally as difficult for me as it is for him.
Having been raised in a household with a father that was emotionally abusive, and having been in a relationship with an emotionally abusive partner, I struggle with trusting the response “I am fine” when it is given by someone in my world. When I hear this response, I feel my anxiety spike, and paranoia and distrust begins to rush through my brain. Thoughts like, “He’s not really fine,” “He must be mad at me,” “He’s going to take it out on me later” flood my consciousness.
My first reaction after my partner gets upset when I repeatedly ask this question is to beat myself up. I get so mad at myself that I could not accept the first response as truth.
However, at the end of the day, getting mad at myself does not solve anything. In fact, the best way for me to stop repeatedly asking if my partner is “Okay” is to understand that this habit of mine is normal. I REPEAT, THIS IS NORMAL. I developed this trait as a way to survive. Having been in an emotionally abusive environment, I was punished for the way someone else felt. I had to be hyper aware of someone else’s emotions because I would ultimately pay the price for them not dealing with their own emotions. I just have to continue reminding myself that my current partner is different than my past relationship. That survival trait I developed is not longer adaptive to my current life.
I am normal, and I am okay.