I wonder if, in the face of those harsh reminders, his presence actually becomes an additional pain, an addiitional trigger, enough extra pain to push me over the edge into protective mode?

For me, anyway, it's not about wanting him to see how much I hurt. My tendencies are stiff upper lip and stifle, and it requires a huge effort to let him know, even in the blandest possible way, that I am hurting. I have no trouble talking to him about problem stuff, or discussing just about anything under the sun, except for my pain.

Go with God, also.

A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.
~ English proverb

Neak's Story