So Wednesday sucked. Really a lot. And my brain did what it does in order to cope. There was fallout. What i do now, rather than pretend like it never happened, is examine it with a critical (not unkind) eye, learn what i can from it, tweak my life where necessary, and move on. What went wrong was due to not managing triggers well enough to avoid certain coping mechanisms that tend to do more harm than good in my current life.
Let’s talk about triggers. I know it’s a somewhat current topic, but i’m not gonna get into the politics of it. Psychpedia says “a trigger in psychology is a stimulus such as a smell, sound, or sight that triggers feelings of trauma.” I was hit hard by 2 intense triggers at once, and i lost my grip on things. First, i had a doctor’s appointment. These are always difficult for me, but pap smears are by far the hardest. Second, i spend the day with family when i have something going on in the city, seeing as i live out of town and i no longer drive. My family has recently moved to a new home, and it’s in an older area of the city, where i endured some of the earliest and most insidious sexual abuse of my childhood.
I failed to anticipate the intensity of my reaction and i did NOT adequately prepare for the day. I was fully dissociated before i even got to my family’s home. Fortunately, i found papers that give me a general idea of how my appointment went. My doctor is very involved in all aspects of my health, so i can call if i need more information. My family realised i wasn’t quite myself, and they understand. Once i had some idea that i was struggling, i took steps to minimise any interaction i had with the young people in the house.
I’m fairly upset that they saw me in that state, and so right now my inclination is to hide. I don’t think i’ll be going anywhere for the next few days. I’m trying to manage the feelings of guilt and shame, and i know from experience that adding people to the mix will almost certainly cause an anxiety attack. Realising i was there-but-not-there is sort of like coming home from your normal work day, catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, and seeing yourself naked. You forgot to put on any clothes, and everyone you interacted with that day has now seen you buck-ass nekkid. They’ve now seen private bits of you that you’d never have shown them otherwise. I feel victimised all over again, but it’s neither their fault, nor mine.
It can be tough to work through.
I’ll be better prepared next time. Even this time was better than the last time. As soon as i got enough clarity, i took control of the situation as best i could. I left the home and waited for my husband to come and pick me up at a neutral location. Well, it was a playground that my mother had used as a drop-off when i was very young, but it was preferable to sliding around in a dissociative state in front of my family. I even had the presence of mind to leave my phone and my money at the house. That may sound counterintuitive, but it’s not. I’ve been known to disappear for days when i have the means, and although having nothing but the clothes on my back hasn’t always stopped me, i’m functional enough now that i figured it would be at least somewhat inhibitive.
This probably doesn’t help anyone else out there much, but i committed to writing more, and this is what’s coming out. My thoughts are still pretty scrambled, and that, coupled with this feeling of acute shame and embarrassment, is making it difficult to tie it all up in some grand pronouncement of LESSON LEARNED: Achievement Unlocked!
So next time i’m in that neighbourhood, i won’t act like it’s fine. It’s not fine. That time in my life was ugly and awful. I will have a conversation with myself about how it’s okay to feel whatever, but it’s not okay to do whatever. I can handle the feelings, the thoughts, the flashes of memory… I don’t need to be protected or shielded anymore. I got this. I can be in the moment feeling the feeling and thinking the thought and i’m not gonna die. I don’t even have to do anything particularly crazy. Heh.
I’m gonna go have a nap with Floofy McFlooferkins. I’m exhausted. Just trying to get something written that makes any sense (it occurs to me that this still may not, despite my best efforts) is like a mental treasure hunt through an obstacle course. I have to sift through a lot of chatter and dodge a lot of thoughts that i can get stuck in like quicksand. The best remedy is sleep and puppy shnuggles.
Thanks For Reading,
Love and Peace,