Keith, This question made me think. Keep in mind that I speak only for myself and not for anyone else. Inside me is a world that no one else can enter. It is a world that I alone inhabit, many times as a child. At times it is quiet and serene, but never safe, because at any moment I can be swept up in a flashback of things that happened to me as a child. I hide then. I become the child then. I experience the whole thing again. I may be sitting in a room quietly and you will see tears running down my cheeks. Inside, in that world, I am fighting again to keep my sanity....to save my life....to save the life of my child.
Many times it isn't the entire flashback. Many times I just see his eyes. In my case, it was the eyes that I focused on. They were evil and fightening, so I see them sometimes just looking at me. And sometimes it's just a feeling of uneasiness, accompanied by nothing else....just a feeling that something isn't quite right....an anxiousness.
And it goes on constantly. My wife said once, "Do you think about it every day?" It was a difficult question, because I don't ever "think about it". It has become a part of who I am. I don't think about it every minute. Sometimes I can go for long periods without being "aware" of it. Work, play, a good movie, a good book, a great party, games....things that would claim anyone's attention, will do the same for me. But the abuse is a part of who I am....always.
So, when you say, "Share your thoughts.", it's not that simple. I may not be having thoughts. I may be having an entire experience that would be impossible to share. Saying, "I don't have to share." may be another way of saying, "I don't know how to share this", or "This is too painful to share right now." But the biggest one is probably, "I don't understand it myself. I don't know how to make you understand it. It's not a thought, it's a world and a frightening one."
And you're right....it's not fair. We expect you to be eternally understanding while we battle our demons. We expect you to understand while we sit and stare straight ahead, or don't answer your questions or are short with you when you ask out of concern. My wife didn't understand until one night, when I completely broke down and just cried like a baby for about ten minutes. I couldn't speak. I just had to lay there in her arms and cry. She said, "You're safe here." And I said, "No I'm not." And I wasn't. Somehow a part of me never feels completely safe.
Don't give up. He's trying. When he can, he'll tell you things. He won't tell them all at once. He can't. And this is not to absolve him of any responsibility here. He needs to understand how helpless you feel and how left out and how hurt that he won't let you help him. My wife and I try to work it out again every day. I don't come here when she's home because, when I'm writing here, she feels I'm in a completely different world. It is a different world.
I don't have the answers, Keith. I wish I did. I feel so badly for the partners of those who have been abused. But I have tried to explain my world to you. It may not be his...I have no way of knowing. But,if you understand that he's not just being secretive, or holding back, or any of those things it may help. He wants to share. We all want to get it out and let someone help us with the pain. Sometimes we just don't know how.
You are loved, Keith, but, with a survivor, sometimes that can still be a very lonely feeling.
It's wonderful that you love him enough to ask.
I'm healing now, and I wasn't sure I would.