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Wedding Woes

They can't know what they don't know

Dear Prudence,
Two years ago I moved to a new city and was quickly welcomed into a pre-existing group of friends. Within a few months, several of them were involved in a violent incident that gained national attention. They are understandably traumatized, and many of them experience symptoms of PTSD. They’ve all sought therapy, but still talk about the event in detail once or twice a month. The problem is that I was involved in a similar violent incident in my old city that I haven’t told them about. It’s really upsetting to hear them talk about their experience as it brings up memories of my own.

I don’t want them to think I’m being insensitive by asking them not to talk about this incident with me, and I don’t want to have to explain my past to them either. Can I politely excuse myself from these conversations without alienating these people I really care about? Would it be better to tell them why, or would that come across as insensitive or trying to one-up them? I’m not sure what to do.
—Don’t Mention It

Re: They can't know what they don't know

  • Why not tell them that you had a similar experience? And that it makes you uncomfortable to relive the experience?
  • I've been in this situation - unknowingly I had PTSD before mentioning the situation to my dr - and if possible, LW should excuse them self from the conversation. Use the bathroom as an excuse, I've done that. Gives a few minutes to let the conversation go on and you can calm yourself.

    That way if you come back and there's a separate group of people you can look at joining that conversation instead.

    If it's consistent, mentioning it to them might be helpful.
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  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    edited January 11
    change the subject?

  • I feel sorry for LW, b/c I think it's apparent they want to be supportive of their friends, but in this situation cannot do it.  And that's okay.  They can excuse themselves; I do think they need to somewhat prepare that it might come up that someone asks why it keeps happening.  And I think it's okay to say, "This conversation is triggering for me and I'd prefer to not be engaged."  If the others are also in PTSD counseling, they'll understand this verbiage and hopefully be respectful of LW.
  • Trauma counseling. 
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