The other day I found myself in a situation that I think I HAD to be in. As a result, I think I experienced my first REAL challenging trigger.
I need to step back for a second…In September of last year, I decided to stop seeing my counselor. I wan’t NEAR ready to stop seeing her, but finances just wouldn’t allow for it, even with her working with my fee to keep it as tolerable as possible. She bent over backwards for me, in doing so. I was never diagnosed with having PTSD, but if I was able to continue seeing her, I’m completely convinced that I would have been. I have read quite a few articles about this disorder, though one in particular (seemed like someone was writing my life on paper) solidified the fact in my own mind. Sooo…here we are.
Time for a game plan… #1, all I know is I don’t want a ‘repeat’!
First, I want to thank those of you that helped me get my focus back on track. I have a direction to go again, in my healing process. Judy brought up a much needed point… “Boundaries”
Whether this stems from being raised in a co-dependent atmosphere, with a seemingly co-dependent roll-model or not, the fact remains I have had a problem dealing with negative emotion directed at me. After leaving my abusive situation, this issue has grown exponentially. I need to get a handle on it, that’s for sure. I believe that this fear, in and of itself, is at the root of everything. I’m afraid of standing up for myself or voicing discontent with how someone might speak to me, or act toward me. This has been an issue during most of my life, to some degree.
When my x would do or say something that was in DIRECT VIOLATION, I would try to talk to him about it. It would take me a few days to gain enough courage to confront him, but when I finally did, I was hit with gaslighting, manipulation and anger. He would shut me down, turning all ‘eyes’ on me. It wasn’t him at all. The thing about this is, after getting hit with it EVERY time, try as I did to keep him from getting inside, he still did. I actually questioned everything that I KNEW was going on. I second guessed my own perceptions because his were (though they were LIES) still realistic-sounding. I fell into a pattern of second-guessing myself, and everything I knew. He stopped me from speaking out. He also put a psychological stopper in my ability to be at ease in public situations. I was silent in the relationship, after all. I was silent everywhere. Fear based silence. I allowed him to take my boundaries and invalidate them, entirely. Couple that with an already low self-view, and you have quite the pile of poopy, now.
He took ALL power away from me that I had…at the time.
I do realize this now, and the LAST thing I want to do is reaffirm the lies he set so deep in my own psyche. This last year after leaving that situation, has been spent silencing HIM! The direct assaults on my dignity, the lies about my mental state, and so-on. Positive affirmations, thinking, and input were the ticket there! But they weren’t the ‘magical’ cure-all. I had to pointedly learn what the lies were, and decidedly move my thoughts in a better direction I (either verbally or mentally) would TELL MYSELF which was bullshit, which was his input and not my own, then decide to replace it with my OWN POSITIVE ONES at that exact second. This was a pretty easy exercise for me to put into place. The difficult thing about it is being patient. The negative input was pretty continuous for a while. “Garbage out” I got the mentally audible lies taken care of, pretty early on. They were the obvious ones. It’s the deep-rooted ones that are causing me to be afraid to validate my OWN boundaries, that I need to squelch.
This is going to mean taking pretty much the same steps I took in the beginning, but with more active attempts and as much of a direct approach as I can muster. This one is going to be a battle for a while, I think.
So, what do I need to set for a game plan?
As with most emotional and psychological healing, the first step is recognizing that I have a problem… Okay…I’m there. #2, recognize the root of it. There are several but with one new, BIG root in the middle. I choose to visualize a time when I was doing landscaping in Arizona:
One job we were doing, the man who owned the housing project requested a Thornless Mesquite tree in the front yard of a model home. These are pretty hard to come by, generally. My boss happened to find one growing in the desert that didn’t have any rhyme or reason for why it was there. Just one. It might have been part of someone’s yard at one point, but non-the-less it was there. He chose it for the yard of the model home. We set out one day soon after, with shovels in hand, and tylenol for breakfast, with a plan to safely dig up and transport this firmly established tree. I swear we dug for 8 hours! The thing about desert plants and trees is they all have a main tap root. Desert trees’ tap roots grow straight down, in search of a water source. They are long, thick and strong, almost like a second tree. I think we dug down about 6-8 feet, before we realized that it just wasn’t going to end. Out came the ax. We broke that tap root, thinking that a hefty dose of vitamin B1 to the tree after transplanting, would keep it from going into shock. Stupid thinking, I know… Within a couple of weeks, that tree died right there where we planted it. Why? WE SEVERED IT’S MAIN VEIN! We severed the root.
The monster has a tap root. One that he uses with cunning skill. Gaslighting, manipulation and brainwashing. He uses it to grow that tap root straight through what makes US strong, healthy trees (I know…bear with me). It’s like a parasite that uses all life energies around it to survive, while sucking that same life force dry from living things around it. The damage he caused also has it’s own tap root. Separate from him, it’s developed into it’s own ‘living’ breathing entity, in a way. That’s what gaslighting and psychological abuse creates in the survivor. It’s it’s own seed, that grows when we ‘feed’ it. Another thing, with the tap root firmly placed, you can cut the tree without killing the tap root. Often times, a new tree will grow from the root. The only way to kill it entirely, is to sever the tap root. See where I’m going with this?
Caving into the impulses to hole up, or loose our grip entirely, only strengthens the parasitic seed, so carefully placed by the Narc or Psychopath. How do we “chop” that root? DON’T FEED IT! Sever it completely! For survivors, this is a little more difficult than pulling out an ax and letting it do the deed. The ‘AX’ for us is in our habitual responses to scenarios that conjure up the fear, or needing to beat feet out of that place. Change our response. Change our views. The fear first starts as a momentary thought or a type of breath we take. We need to learn to recognize what triggers trigger the PTSD triggers, then respond in kind with a more healthy reaction. It’ll take a little more time for me to learn these steps, and how to best direct my responses to situational input. With practice this should get easier.
Whatever we “FEED” grows stronger. Eventually the tap root that is left by such a deplorable parasite will whither.
Looking forward to this new direction.
I would like to hear from those of you who have grown past this point in the process. Any advise?
- Altering memories & crisis plans (crazyinthecoconut.co.uk)
- You don’t need to be a soldier to suffer from the dark, heavy weight of PTSD (thesun.co.uk)