Because I’ve been through so much abuse, I unfortunately am triggered all of the time. It is really hard to deal with it. Up until yesterday, though, because I was so dissociated, I didn’t always notice or understand that I was triggered or what triggered me until after the symptoms of it passed. And, much of the time I couldn’t trace back the the trigger to know what actually triggered me. I wasn’t very in tune with myself and present when I was triggered.
Whenever I was triggered, my head would spin out and all of my parts would start talking. The noise in my brain felt infuriating, and it felt like my head and thinking was going around in circles. Because of this, it also felt like the world itself was circling around me and that everything was moving really fast. I was quite scary. Derealization and depersonalization would either set in or worsen, and I would feel like I was floating due to dissociation. Sometimes I felt the emotions that were associated with the trigger, and sometimes I didn’t feel them at all. And, when I felt my emotions regarding the trigger, they didn’t feel real because I was so dissociated, and there was such a confusion of emotions that I really had no idea how I felt in terms of the emotions that I was feeling.
But as I said, even though I felt this way my brain would go so out of control that I couldn’t understand what was going on. And, if you asked me how I was feeling, because everything felt so jumbled I didn’t actually know. I remember that I had a counselor who I saw for two years up until about a year ago who would ask me what emotions I was feeling and stuff like that all of the time. When I answered it was only a guess, but because she kept using this technique over and over again I was afraid to tell her that I really didn’t know the answers to her questions. David used to ask me too what emotions I was feeling when I was in this triggered state, and again for years I would just throw something out there based on how I thought that I must be feeling, but eventually I told him that I actually never knew the answer to that question and basically was guessing. I never felt safe enough with my counselor to say this, though, because she was so pushy with me.
I was triggered yesterday and for the first time my head did not spin. Instead, I felt my emotions around the trigger right away and was able to recognize them. I initially felt fear and panic, which moved into anger, and then back to fear. My body was actually shaking because I was so afraid. I felt uneasy, and unsure. And, this all started happening immediately after the trigger, and for some reason I knew right away what social interaction had led to these emotions.
I recognized that what the woman I talked to said triggered me right back into feeling like I was in an abusive situation and likely a trauma. I put up a post in one of my Leaving AA groups about my trip to Seattle and how I feel like I’m getting back to pre-AA functioning. A woman somehow interpreted this wrong and put a comment saying that “her life is so much better too since she stopped drinking”. Now, nothing in my post had anything to do with that. It was about re-experiencing life after AA. And, this comment is a common one in AA and 12 step groups, so it triggered me right back to it.
I tried to respond to the woman about this but I don’t think that she understood what I was trying to say. I also felt like she was assuming that she had more sobriety than me or something like that, you know the typical AA behavior of giving the newer member patronizing “advice”. So finally, I just said that I actually have 14 years of not drinking but that 12 were in AA, which was not fun. She never replied to that comment.
I’m blown away that someone misinterpreted my post that much (it just doesn’t make any sense) and that they didn’t have the sensitivity to stay away from AA phrases and talk in response to my post. It’s quite frustrating, especially because it is a trigger to me.
After all of this, it took a few hours for my uncomfortable emotions to pass. I played the Sims 4 for awhile, laid in bed for a few minutes to regroup myself, and watched Revenge on Hulu. I tried to tell myself that these emotions will pass. Still, it was strange and uncomfortable for me to fully feel my emotions in a less dissociated state.
I’ve wondered for years what caused my dissociative symptoms to worsen after I started having the memories. Was it the memories itself, the integrative therapies that counselors pushed onto me, or just an after-effect of being abused and being in cults? After yesterday, I feel like some of it must be because my emotions had grown so big due to such things as suppression that I could not deal with them in an associated state. They were just too large. I assume that the reason why I’m beginning to feel them and dissociate less is that I have worked through them enough so that they are becoming tolerable to me today. I feel like this is a pretty big deal. It’s also nice to be more present for myself and people and animals in my life.
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