Trigger…

I am taking a break, I swear! However, today I had something happen at work that really floored me. I don’t know whether to call it a response to a PTSD trigger, or if it happened solely because I’m unable to trust men in general. I’m going to run it past you, for your thoughts.

I was waiting my turn at the employee computer to clock in after lunch. The man who has been my friend throughout everything, jokingly said something that normally wouldn’t affect me. “Get the freak out of my way!” Maybe it was his tone. I know he was kidding, yet I poised myself to be ready for a fight in an instant. I’m not a violent person, and would have never reacted that way, normally. I stared him down, and I’m sure I made him uncomfortable. I definitely made myself uncomfortable!

This particular type of scenario never happened during the relationship with my X-monster, so I don’t know what to attribute it to.

This is really nothing. I’m just really curious why I reacted that way to a statement from a friend who was joking with me. I told the girls around me that he was just playing and everything was ok. In my normal way of being, there would have been no other reaction to his playful demands, than a pop on the arm, or a toss of his hat. I would have walked away laughing. Today was, well, nothing short of uncomfortable.

What do you think?

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12 thoughts on “Trigger…

  1. Sometimes, I’m just edgy. For example: I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. I hate going to the dentist. It puts me on edge with everything else. Once the appointment is over, I will probably curl up with a book because I’ll be pretty much useless for everything else after being so wound up. Some days, you don’t feel like joking around. Then again, here you just made your declaration to not be pushed around anymore, and someone tested the boundary. Your subconscious does not know the difference between real and make-believe. Maybe it’s a good sign that your subconscious is taking your boundary seriously. Next time, you’ll joke back. It would only be a problem if you permanently lost your sense of humor.

    1. That could be it. I have a boundary…more like a survival instinct now, which recognized violent “anything”, It could be that it’s so raw, there is no balance. I reacted to the tone as if it was a true threat. My friend is NOT that threat.

      As things continue, I hope and believe that balance will come, too.

  2. Hi: He is a friend but what he said was not friendly. Even in jest, after we have been through an abusive situation and we are learning a new way to live, I think we tend to over-react a bit. I think it is healthy what happened. It means you have gotten stronger. It means you recognize unkind comments and are strong enough to stare them down and take care of business, even from friends. It is like a new skill…..we get better at it with practice. Even friends will learn not to mess with you. It is all good. I see it as a victory.

  3. weareonebyruth

    It could be a PTSD response to a particular phrase. My counselor said something that was encouraging. Unfortunately, it was word for word what my abuser said in a very different situation. It was a trigger. By definition a trigger is a small thing that registers a big boom. Give yourself a break and if you want to give your friend a brief explanation reminding him that at one level you recognized he was kidding but it hit a painful spot. You’ll learn to recognize them and process your reaction faster. If you feel it is still bugging you write down all the little reactions you had before, during, and after the incident. I suspect the reaction came so fast it surprised you as well as him.

    1. I will think about talking to him. I recognized my response was me, over reacting right away. It just shocked me. My concern about it is that he saw the response and stance and might feel uncomfortable around me. I’ll watch his reaction to me today and consider talking to him privately. Thanks Ruth!

  4. Let me preface my response with an explanation. I was involved in an abusive marriage several years ago. It ended with him impregnating a teenager and for me a suicide attempt. It was violent, both physically and mentally/emotionally. It left me entirely broken. Before this period of my life I was deeply into my own spiritual growth. During the period of abuse, and for years after, that part of me died and it was like my breath was stolen from me. I’ve since come to realize what a tremendous gift the whole thing was for me because it jettisoned me back along the path to understanding and to liberation. Isn’t that what we’re all ultimately seeking? Liberation from the pain and suffering? None of us want to hurt anymore.

    After reaching a point where I could reflect over those years (and myself) in an objective way instead of a subjective way I realized this was about not only myself, but all abuse victims, and this may explain your reaction to your friend. We go through a period post-abuse of two things: 1) anxiety, and 2) rage. It’s a natural response but because these emotions are so overpowering and all-consuming we don’t know how to handle them appropriately. This leads to the second response, and one so subtle many don’t even realize it exists. Because we have become so accustomed to being externally victimized, and because we’re consumed by these two very powerful emotions, we begin victimizing ourselves internally. We mentally become both the abuser and the victim and are using the illusion of our abusers image to do it.

    This can go on for years, even a lifetime, if it’s not recognized. We obsess over the past, over our abuser. We lose ourselves in the halls of memories instead of proceeding with our healing and our lives. We even kid ourselves that all these memories, and the obsession with self-psychoanalysis, are going to be constructive to our healing process. For a time they are if viewed objectively. However, this is the time we can’t be objective. Liberation from the anxiety and the rage cant happen until we realize what we’re doing to ourselves.

    I had to realize that memories are not real things. Memories are also not accurate. We like to think they are, but in all honesty, they’re not. Our memories are distorted by the opinions and judgements we build around the actual experience. We’re not able to view an experience with the eyes of reality because we judge them based on past experiences the moment we experience them. So we romanticize them, either in good ways or bad ways. Holding onto these memories, the anxiety and the rage, is like drinking poison and hoping your abuser will die. The only one you’re hurting is yourself. I learned not to trust my memories and cast them aside like pebbles in my shoe. Why carry them with me? They’re over and done with and I don’t need the aggravation.

    I know it’s not easy to reach this place, but we all eventually exhaust ourselves with this new game of self abuse. We grow weary of the hot rocks of anxiety and rage we carry burning our hands. This is the time to put them down in the road and leave them there. There comes a time to let the memories and self-analysis go. These are nothing more than barriers to liberating yourself from the pain and moving forward.

    Sadly, many enter into other relationships before they reach this stage. We turn others into our abusers while still abusing ourselves, and please realize this is even worse. This buries us even further in self delusions. I learned, post-abuse, the wisest thing to do was marry myself; to not dive into another relationship to salve my wounds. I had to salve them myself. I’ve remarried since and I’m very much aware the scars are still there, but they’re nothing more than scars. Sometimes they pinch, but they’re just part of my skin, they no longer dwell as living things seething and writhing inside of me. I can blow the pinching off as the scar and not worry about what caused it.

    I realize this is a long reply and I apologize, but I see so many wounded people suffering and I can’t help but to want to reach out. This suffering can be released, but you have to be willing to realize you are abusing yourself. You have to be willing to STOP to be free.

    I think maybe what you’re ready to take a break from is not so much the blogging, but the self-torture. No need to blame. Neither the abuser nor yourself. This is a game that’s wearing out its welcome now. Set it down, take a deep breath, and spread your wings. You CAN be free.

    1. Great advice, Jean! I am sorry you endured so much pain and abuse. Its a lie that we say to ourselves, when in the wake of abuse, “no one understands”. In fact, there are MANY who understand and have been through it too. Its liberating to know we don’t have to carry the burden or walk THROUGH the mire (not IN) alone.

      I understand what you are saying about being self-analyzing, I think. I agree that staying stuck in the memories is self-defeating and creates worse things for ourselves and others.

      I can’t say I understand everything that the all-encompassing realm of “healing” is. I know that this process takes on many shapes to come to the final step. Ruminating about the abuse (for a time) is necessary, though we HAVE GOT TO get out of that when we are able. That means, after we have finally come to even a slight place of understanding what we had been through. I understood I was psychologically raped. That part was easy. I understood the man was evil. That was also easy. The part that was so difficult to understand, was that he hated me..I mean HATED me…from the beginning, but fought hard to keep me around. He would love bomb me and then turn around in a matter of minutes or hours, back at the hatred, abuse and attacks. he didn’t just attack the exterior, but the psychological aspect as well. It was hard to wrap my head around the person he is. I couldn’t get myself to understand it or him. “people like him, just don’t exist!”…Ahhh, but they do. He and people like him, exist. It DID happen, and I had a part to play in it too. It’s not my fault that I was in that place, but it was the weakened areas I have had, that created a weaker target. One that was too weak (in many areas) to get away with the fist show of a red-flag.

      It’s also important to recognize those areas about yourself that put you (in this I mean I, as well as other survivors) in the abusive situation and KEPT you there. We don’t like the abuse, and never EVER set out to BE abused. Something else kept you there. The next phase I met was the analyzing. I recognized the areas that both my abuser took or shook beyond recognition, and the areas that I carried which were unhealthy ways to deal with the majority of my life. I also recognized that it was a generational thing, that created my incessant victim status. I deserve to get past that part, too…but especially that part.

      I do believe you could be onto something, with recognizing that some emotions are so “over the top” and at the surface, there is no balance to them. That I have understood and recognized for months about myself and my own emotions. They are still bare and raw in several areas.

      In the art (or curse) of introspection, I am able to recognize when each step has run it’s course. If it hasn’t fully run it’s course, I also am able to recognize when that particular step needs to CHANGE course in order to continue and end. That’s where the break comes from. Changing direction, but the goal is the same. It’s my internal pang that tells me it’s time.

      Above all, I’ve learned to trust that.

      1. Until I went through what I did, and no “sorries” necessary, I had no idea how many people had experienced very similar things. It seems to be more pervasive than is even comfortable to admit. It’s unfortunate more focus isn’t put on HOW to love and how to forgive and what these things mean than is put on these hideous satires and reality shows and societal violence. To be loving and forgiving is considered a weakness but in reality it is those who are strongest that can do so with the most grace. May we all find that space in ourselves!

  5. Perhaps he was joking or perhaps your radar kicked in and read something not consciously clear…many of us have been subjected to hostility disguised as ‘jokes’ – whatever it was you were not having it, and that’s okay…you took a stand and like you said – erected a boundary…hopefully he’ll get the clue. Love your blog and have suggested it to someone. All the best to you!

    1. Thank you for this. The way I am looking at my responses as a whole, in regards to red-flags or intuitive bombs going off; I might be incorrect in my perceptions, but I would rather be incorrect and safe, than find out later that I was right all along but didn’t listen or ignored the warning signs. I’d rather be safe and wrong, than in harms way and right. Does that make sense? I appreciate you spreading my blog onto others 🙂 Between you and others like us, we can get the word out!

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