Talking It Out Is A Lot About Listening

Yelling and screaming are easy, but they don’t heal, because they mask what’s underneath.

I’m sitting in my warm house, not obligated to go anywhere today while Iceblast2018 churns outside. Or something. I didn’t get too much precip at my house, so I could probably walk outside without falling on my butt, but I hear it’s bad other places so I’m staying put. Plus I worked my side hustle delivering groceries the past two days, and it’s been intense as people have been stocking up before the forecasted doom arrived. The tips were awesome yesterday, but I didn’t go to bed till well after midnight and I didn’t sleep in.

After my massive trigger episode Sunday night I was not feeling very steady. It’s exhausting to have your brain wreck off into a trauma pit, and even more so to claw your way out. I did though, and I got stable by myself – no Xanax, no relying on someone else to fix it, no blaming anyone else for this (except the guy that did this to me). It’s really tempting to aim this somewhere else, want to be rescued, want to avoid, want to make it someone else’s problem. It’s not though, it’s mine, and I won’t heal if I don’t own this shit and manage it. No one can do that for me.

What David did for me was listen. I got an unusually early text from him yesterday, and since I was still in “everything is a threat” mode I was a little slow to warm up. He had no idea that I had been through a really bad night because one texted sentence was so loaded with trauma for me. I don’t carry a list of sentences and words that trigger me, because I’m not going to live like that. I couldn’t make a list if I wanted to, I have no idea until it happens. And him avoiding my triggers doesn’t help me heal.

What does help me heal is how ready he is to listen when I’m struggling to sort out what’s going on. I work really hard to stay blame neutral when I talk about what I experience, because that’s a fast way to shut down a conversation.  I’m not a surface-dweller, and neither is he. So we talked, and he listened a lot, and didn’t try to tell me what my experience should be.

I rolled into my regularly-scheduled therapy appointment in pajamas and a blanket-like poncho because I had too much else going on to get dressed, and I get to go to therapy in pajamas if I want to. I did want to, and I have a pile of laundry to do before I can leave the house in any semblance of real clothing. I talked about what had happened and what I wanted moving forward, and she was supportive of how I view myself and how I want to navigate what feels like near-constant triggers. My resting heart rate is pretty clear that I have a lot of anxiety right now. It was a really helpful session, because, again, it was about repairing the damage that I have, not trying to push this on to someone else to fix. No one else can fix this.

But someone else can and did talk to me for a long time on the phone, which was reassuring in itself, and brought sexy back to this situation with a “yes ma’am” that just about melted my panties off.

You know how warm fuzzy it is for someone you like to pay attention and remember the things you like and respond to? After working about 8 hours side-hustling, half of it in the rain and cold, I got a recording of “Yes ma’am” in response to something I asked for, and now I can listen to that sexy sound bite any time I want…

Dating with PTSD – When Communication Holds Trauma

It’s a horrible realization, and such a hard thing to battle through.

Dating again has opened up a whole new area of trauma that I did not realize I had. I have actually been abused and traumatized by communication, or the lack thereof.

Shit.

I have had it burned into my brain that if I don’t perform to expectation, if I don’t do what the other person wants or what works for them – with no regard for me – then I will be punished or abandoned. If I try to ask for what I need, I will get abuse. If I try to have a voice, I will get abuse. If I do anything that might assign any value to myself, other than an object of whim and convenience, I will get abuse. I will be manipulated through the withdrawal of affection, attention, acknowledgement or care. I will be abandoned or discarded without notice or explanation. There will be no resolution or discussion, only accusations, abuse and silence.

I had no idea.

One of the things that is so important for me to communicate is how I feel and what I need. If I am anxious, if I get triggered, if I am scared or uncertain, the best way for me to resolve that and mitigate severe anxiety/panic attacks is to have the space to talk about it or work through it so that I can understand what’s going on. Which is the exact thing that I have been taught will get me abused. It’s a horrible realization, and such a hard thing to battle through. Because the only way this gets better is to do exactly what I’m afraid of doing, and I have to not only look at my own scars, I have to show them to someone else, someone I am just now learning to trust.

Shit.

In staying with my practice of gratitude, I am grateful that I had the courage to start the healing process once I realized what was happening. I am also grateful he was willing to listen and be accepting.

But shit.

Standing in Line During the Holidays

Well Merry Christmas, Mrs. Watson. You made my morning.

I was at the Post Office early this morning to send a package to a friend. I would not under any circumstances describe myself as a morning person, but I had already gotten my oil changed and hit up Home Depot before the mailman rolled back the steel partition, and I wasn’t the only person getting business done early. Those December lines, right?

I was wearing a beanie with my university’s logo emblazoned on the front, and the woman in front of me, for whom I had held the door, was wearing a jacket in the same color. Which I didn’t notice at first because I was on my phone, already avoiding eye contact and any conversation. When I’m with strangers in public, my default is Do Not Engage. Rude? Maybe, but I still get triggered by weird shit and I like to avoid that, especially at the start of my day. The two women in front of me were already engaged in a conversation soaked in negativity, and I was still thinking about the gorgeous sunrise I had witnessed while driving around town. No thanks, leave me out of it.

My hat was too much temptation, and the woman in front of me asked if I had attended the university I was promoting on my forehead. Yes ma’am, my first degree was from there. She told me her husband had also graduated from my school, and we started talking about football and coaches and salaries and fun things like that. She knew her stuff, and was interested in me and what I do. It made the line pass quickly, and she had her turn and slipped out the door to head home before I could tell her “Merry Christmas”.

Well Merry Christmas, Mrs. Watson. You made my morning.

 

Me Too

The women who have spoken about questioning their perception of their experience? Me too.

One day away from my second trauma anniversary of the week (both 4 years ago), my resting heart rate is back down to where I’d like it to be, I’m still losing weight a bit at a time, my hormones seem to be more balanced for the first time in about 5 months and I was able to say without hesitation yesterday, “We don’t blame victims.”

Praise God.

With the number of celebrities stepping forward to say that they have experienced sexual harassment and assault, including rape, with the national conversation opening up about longstanding acceptance, even expectation of this behavior, and the long silence of victims who were afraid to lose their jobs, their credibility or more…Me too.

My hope is that light will be shed on the issue as well as on the perpetrators of sexual violence. This is something that lives in darkness and secrecy, and dies in the light. I also hope that we support those who choose to speak about their experiences, and we support those who do not. I’m one that doesn’t care to talk about it, but I think it’s important to say “Me too”. I experienced years of harassment and assault – I was groped and grabbed and propositioned by men who acted like they had a right to me. Like so many other women I didn’t make a big deal out of it, smiled, stepped aside, and learned to avoid them. I’m thankful my experiences weren’t violent, but that’s another thing I hope people come to realize. Harassment and assault aren’t always violent. They aren’t always blatant or loud, they are very often manipulative, and they are designed to maximize blame and shame for the victim. The women who have spoken about questioning their perception of their experience? Me too. I get it. I’ve been there. I don’t have to be there any more, again, Praise God.

For those of us – women and men – who have felt like we had to stay in the shadows, not take the risk, not lose our jobs, not lose our credibility, not lose whatever else we have at stake…I hope the current conversations about non-consensual sexual interactions provide you the opportunity to heal, to feel recognized and heard whether you choose to speak or not. I hope you get to see that blame and shame are not for you, they are for the people who perpetrated this. And if you are ready to share, I hope you have a safe space to do it. For me, it’s enough to say “Me Too”.

 

Don’t Make Me Hurl My Queso At You

I don’t often experience rage with anxiety, it usually comes from being triggered.

It’s TRIGGERED day 3, and I’m about to go grab some tacos with a friend, which means queso will happen, which means my simmering rage will have a possible outlet of hurling queso at an unsuspecting citizen. And I really like queso so it’s not like I say that lightly.

I’m about 2 weeks away from my Wreckiversary, but since I didn’t have trauma anniversary anxiety last year I was assuming I wouldn’t this year. I have been going into rage mode every evening for the last three days, including today, under completely different circumstances, so I’m a little stumped. I don’t often experience rage with anxiety, it usually comes from being triggered, which has seemed to be happening fairly frequently lately (to the point that I’m marking a calendar).

When I say “rage”, let me explain: all the emotion of rage and desire to verbally spew what is in my head (rage at everything and everyone without a specific target or circumstance that I can identify), and none of the action. As my therapist has noticed, I am very controlled. Plus I don’t want to be mean or hurt someone else. And it would shock the hell outta people because I don’t exhibit anger. Again, I’m very controlled.

I have been out and about in the evenings a lot lately, and I tend to stay home because I find it more comfortable. I’ve had obligations, and one of my homework assignments is to not take care of others, but rather to spend that time taking care of myself since I frequently compromise my well being to do things for others (I am not the person you have to remind to be nice or kind or help out, I am the person you have to tell to leave others to their own problems and stay out of it and don’t bring food because there will be plenty anyway).

I thought maybe my busy schedule, social and otherwise, was the culprit, but being at home tonight wasn’t keeping the growing rage at bay either, so I did the only thing a girl can do. I called one of my friends and went out for tacos and a long chat. It worked.