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#402825 - 07/07/12 09:44 AM Its working!
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4223
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
I had a terrible trigger yesterday. The details are unimportant but I said something that I thought was perfectly neutral, factual, and non-threatening and it was taken wrong twisted and misinterpreted into something completely opposite to my intent.

I found myself subjected to a backlash of anger that I was totally unprepared for and was unable to understand. It took me back to my early life and the worst episodes with the step-father. My gut clenched up as though a fist was squeezing it. My lungs felt pressure as though the air was being pushed out of them by a heavy weight. My head was spinning, vision closing in, and ears ringing. I was dizzy, disoriented, and felt like I was about to pass out.

In the past, that moment would have precipitated an episode of absolute withdrawal and shut-down on my part. Id have become disconnected and depressed and it would have taken me days to come back to my normal level of low-grade depression.

This time, I had enough knowledge to stay present and hold on and see it through. I reminded myself of where I was and that I was in no danger. That the events that I was being reminded of were long past and had no power over me anymore. That the others present meant me no harm. That this was a case of miscommunication and that it could be straightened out in time. I slowed, deepened and timed my breathing. I visualized a comforting, pleasant, relaxing time and place that I had previously identified as a good go to memory. I tried to consciously relax my muscles and assume a more relaxed posture. I tried to focus on the words and goals of the other person so that I could understand the true purpose and meaning of their statements and try to understand the underlying fears, concerns, and emotions motivating the misunderstanding (empathize). I was able to stay present and continue the discussion without breaking down or physically or mentally fleeing. Within an hour I felt much more stable and composed actually more so than the other person appeared to be.

The issue is not yet completely resolved, but I was managing my anxiety and functioning at an adequate level. We can finish coming to an understanding when both of us are more calm and objective. The rest of the day I was still feeling shaken and subdued but nowhere near the level of nearly paralytic dysfunction that was my previous pattern after such a trigger.

Just wanted to share a small victory.
How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#402828 - 07/07/12 01:09 PM Re: Its working! [Re: traveler]

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 3785

Great to hear. You highlighted something that I think is important. People do not realize how there actions affect people, I have learned no one knows what is in someone's past that can set off the memories of the abuse. People do not want to accept that their actions can trigger such an event--but it is the reality of the abuse.

Glad to hear you were able to keep it in check and stay in the present.


#402841 - 07/07/12 07:17 PM Re: Its working! [Re: traveler]
DannyT Offline

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 645

That's awesome. Thanks for sharing. It's so amazing what happens when we allow ourselves a choice in our response rather than just letting the chemistry of our minds drive the whole show.

Kevin, I got something totally different from this than you did. To me the important thing is recognizing that other people's actions are all essentially neutral. it's how we choose to respond that matters. People's actions are not the trigger. It's our choice of response that causes the problem. Of course we should all try to be kind to one another, but I think we have an equal responsibility for our reactions.

One of the most interesting things here is that Lee thought he was saying something totally neutral. The other person perceived this neutral thing as an attack and went off. To me this means that no matter how hard one tries to phrase things just right so no one is hurt or offended, one can't really predict how that other person will choose to respond. I think a lot of people let their issues make the choice of response for them. I think we owe it to one another to train ourselves to be safe with others and to always respond decently no matter what our issues or the power of the trigger. Once we see the trigger for just that, it doesn't really have the same force.


#402896 - 07/08/12 09:56 PM Re: Its working! [Re: traveler]
bodyguard8367 Offline

Registered: 05/16/12
Posts: 1159
Loc: ""

Edited by bodyguard8367 (02/27/14 12:11 AM)
Edit Reason: SILENCED

#403280 - 07/11/12 03:29 PM Re: Its working! [Re: traveler]
Robert1000 Offline

Registered: 06/27/12
Posts: 453
That's awesome, Lee! Good job. You know you do that once, and it's a miracle. But when you do it twice, it's the beginning of a pattern. Keep up the good work.

#403291 - 07/11/12 04:43 PM Re: Its working! [Re: traveler]
iambubba Offline

Registered: 04/24/12
Posts: 31
Loc: Canada
"Just wanted to share a small victory."

I think its far from small. Nice job Lee smile

#403322 - 07/11/12 07:52 PM Re: Its working! [Re: traveler]
Casmir213 Offline

Registered: 05/14/09
Posts: 851
Loc: Northeast, USA

I went through a similar experience recently. Felt attacked for something I had said, which to me seemed innocent enough. Regardless of the why's of what happened, I think getting some control over my reaction to it is what's important. We can't always control what happens to us, but we can control our reaction to it. The tendency to blame myself is very strong. So naturally when someone has a problem with something I said I will instantaneously accept total blame for it. At least that's the way I used to react. I'm learning that just because I feel a certain way when someone is attacking me doesn't mean that is the truth of the situation. Like yourself, I looked back over the situation from a more realistic perspective instead of the well worn perspective of "It must be my fault" or "I'm a bad person". I agree that this is no small victory. Great work on defending yourself against that "old way" of reacting.


Edited by Casmir213 (07/11/12 07:59 PM)
I see recovery as a lifelong journey rather than a final destination, a journey, though, which can have many successes along the way.

WoR Alumnus - Hope Springs, OH, October 2009

My avatar is the farmhouse at the Hope Spring, OH WoR. It's a nice place.

#403352 - 07/12/12 12:29 AM * [Re: traveler]
Smalltown80sBoy Offline

Registered: 03/26/12
Posts: 2217

Edited by Smalltown80sBoy (04/28/13 10:08 PM)


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