Work puzzles

I’ve nearly been in my new job three months. Hard to believe, I know. I’m still enjoying it, which is good news. Two things puzzle me, though.

The first is the triggery nature of the work. I never expected that. I should have, because some of it is so obviously triggering – stuff like child trafficking for s*xual exploitation. Yea, I know, I should have seen that coming. Doh.

Some of the other content is triggering for me as well, though in ways I can’t explain. This week, for example, I was at a seminar thingy and we were watching a video interview with a girl in a far off place. She’s only 12, this girl, yet head of her household, living in the most dire circumstances. Hideous.

Just when I wasn’t paying attention, the triggery thing crept up on me, and I found myself spacing out and fighting back tears. I was a space cadet for the rest of the day, really weirded out. To the extent that when I was in a meeting later that day, I thought I wasn’t there. I was looking at this person, larger than life, like on a movie screen, trying to concentrate on what she was saying. I have no idea why that happened, but I hate it when it does.

The second thing that’s puzzling me is my performance review yesterday. It was all good, so nothing to worry about there. What is puzzling me is what my boss said about me. Things like:*

  • That I’m smart, and pick things up quickly
  • That I have good insights and offer good contributions, and that I’m strategic when I do
  • That I’m clearly well skilled at what I do
  • That I’m a good communicator
  • That I’m a good problem solver
  • That I’m good at pulling together resources and figuring out how best to get things done
  • That I’ve built good relationships with people in my team, and beyond
  • That I focus on outcomes
  • That I get things done

All good things, I know that. But things I don’t recognise as me.

Coincidentally, many of these are things my therapist has said about me, too. Who they are both talking about is just beyond me, coz it sure ain’t “me”!?!?

In completely unrelated news … I found this today. It made me LOL

* I’ve put these things here just for my own reference, not so you’ll tell me I’m good or anything. Just needed to clarify that.

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The Great Leap Forward

I am a political junkie. Or at least I used to be. But that’s not what this is about.

Not-so-Nice Guy came back on the scene a few weeks ago. He contacted me to say he was sorry for being such a “b*st*rd” (to use his word). Yes, he was.

Don’t get excited: he still is (and I can think of a few other expletives to add to his list, too).

This time around NSNG didn’t wait too long before pressuring me to do some Things I was entirely uncomfortable with. We discussed these Things. At length. Repeatedly. Ad nauseum. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. (The Things he wanted were s*xual, sordid and deviantly s*xual, but I’m not going into the details because I don’t want to trigger anyone – let alone me.)

I even said to him that it was the Things, or me. I didn’t say that to blackmail him, but because I realised this was a deal breaker for me. All I got from him in recent times was trigger after trigger after trigger. Looking back, I should have seen the signs earlier.

He knew a little of my past in this area, but still wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Then he accused me of trying to “control” him because I wouldn’t do the Things (and because I wanted him to make a time to catch up this week, before I go away for three weeks).

Finally I said to him:

“Well, if standing up for myself makes me ‘controlling’, then GO ME, I say!”

It’s only taken me a few decades, but I finally managed to stand up for myself. Can I just say that it feels GREAT! Better than great… just, well, GREAT! 🙂 I’m soooo proud of myself, and the Wonder Therapist is delighted, too. 🙂

I’m still upset about tossing him to the kerb, mostly because it’s bringing up all sorts of old messages about me being useless, a failure, blah blah blah. But rationally I know this is for the best. I know (and almost believe) that I deserve better.

I deserve someone who thinks I’m amazing… like this schmaltzy clip … I have no idea where to find it, but I’m starting to believe that I deserve it. 🙂

So that, my friends, is The Great Leap Forward of 2010. 🙂

The joys

*** WARNING: COULD TRIGGER ***

Oh, the joys of PTSD! Just when you think everything is going ok, something comes along and bites you on the a$$. Well, in the head, really.

I saw my therapist this week. I realised afterwards that I’d been holding on to a lot of stuff that didn’t start to come out until it was nearly time to leave. (Really? Bet that’s never happened before?!?!?!) Anyway, she told me she’s out of the office one day next week because she’s appearing in court against a man who raped his 3 year old child.

I didn’t realise this was a trigger, but it was. Who does that? I mean seriously, who does that? Who rapes a 3 year old child? And how can they sit in court and protest their innocence? That’s just so so wrong. That’s disgusting. That’s just… ugh.

I’m so not coping with that. Talk about triggery. Ugh.

I have absolutely no idea why this was such a big trigger for me. I wondered if there was some memory of my own surfacing, because I saw my bedroom in the old house. I can see the grey-green carpet and the orange-yellow curtains. I can feel the curly texture and see the wavy pattern of the carpet. And I started hearing things, or thinking I was hearing things, I’m not sure. I think it was my voice, or my voice in my head, I’m not sure of that either. I’ve never had an auditory experience like that before. It’s scary and freaky.

Here’s what it’s like when this happens.

It’s like the world slows down and speeds up all at the same time. Things start to spin wildly out of control inside. I’m flooded with emotions. I’m spinning uncontrollably but trying desperately to hang on to the present at the same time. Everything around me becomes more distant but larger than life, all at once. And if the trigger is really bad, like this one and the fishy one, I start feeling like a little kid again, even thinking like a little kid. It’s like I’m being transported through time and space. It’s weird and freaky and scary.

And then the inner critic starts up with her incessant criticism and sniping and negative talk. Ugh.

This happened a few days ago and I still don’t know why, damn it. And I had had such a good day too, when this happened. I’d felt pretty funky in the morning so I spent the day doing things I like – cooking, ironing, watching my favourite TV show on DVD. And then this. Days of this. Bleuch. I feel so broken when this still happens, and now I’ve slunk so low I don’t know how to get out of it.

I remember Back Up Therapist saying triggers and flashbacks are all the worse when you can’t figure out what they mean. Hell yea.

I’m still struggling to maintain a connection to the present. I’ve been quite dissociative for a couple of days. Flicking back and forth between the present and somewhere else, though I’m not even sure where. Derealised, depersonalised and forgetting things. I messaged my therapist earlier today but I had no idea what I said. I went to the supermarket and I have no recollection of what I bought, or why. I don’t like this one little bit.

The urge to SI has been stronger than it has been for months. I have French doors at the back of my house. I don’t want to go near them. I’m afraid I’ll put my hand through them. Or my head. Each time I smoke I want to stub the cigarette out on my leg. I’m too afraid to go near the back shed because that’s where the Stanley knife (box cutter) is. I went to the supermarket and all I wanted to buy was food that I know will make me sick.

I hate this trigger business. I hate the way it sneaks up on you. One minute everything is fine – the next, I’m “vortexing” out. I messaged my therapist earlier today to see if she could talk to me. I haven’t heard from her. Rationally I know she’s probably busy, but inner critic and inner child are going gang-busters with over analysis.

I’m so exhausted by all this. I’m not sure I can keep doing it.

Triggers and healing

*** WARNING: COULD BE TRIGGERING. PLEASE TAKE CARE ***

Thanks everyone for your support over the last few days. I’m still feeling pretty low, but doing ok. I spent today listening to nice music, reading my book, and putting fresh, crisp sheets on the bed to make me feel good. I’m hoping this will all help to turn things around – it has at least passed time.

I was playing around on the computer last night and got triggered. I was playing some of the silly games on one of those social networking sites – you know the ones. Anyway, a friend made a stupid s*xual remark that just tipped me over the edge. The trigger was nasty, but I didn’t lose touch with reality like I sometimes do. I was unbelievably furious… but I was able to do some thinking afterwards.

I got to thinking about why my views of s*x are so screwed up. I’ve talked before about my past, so I’m not going to dredge that up again here. I did find a website, though, that talks about s*xual healing after s*xual abuse.

The site talks about the sorts of problems survivors might experience “in the bedroom”:

  • Avoiding or being afraid of sex
  • Approaching sex as an obligation
  • Experiencing negative feelings such as anger, disgust, or guilt with touch
  • Having difficulty becoming aroused or feeling sensation
  • Feeling emotionally distant or not present during sex
  • Experiencing intrusive or disturbing sexual thoughts and images
  • Engaging in compulsive or inappropriate sexual behaviours
  • Experiencing difficulty establishing or maintaining an intimate relationship
  • Experiencing vaginal pain or orgasmic difficulties
  • Experiencing erectile or ejaculatory difficulties

Yep, that’s me. Most of it, anyway. I am afraid of s*x. I associate it with all sorts of negative feelings. I often dissociate during s*x. The Evil Huntress comes out; I do whatever it is I think I *should* do; and I end up feeling worse than when I started.  

I’m not sure why a conversation on a social networking site would bring this all up, but it did. Actually it’s pretty obvious to me now – the comments I received made me feel vulnerable; made me feel like I didn’t have a choice. Just like all those years ago.

The same website lists a whole stack of attitudes towards s*x. It says that when s*x is abusive, we get messages like s*x is uncontrollable; it’s an obligation; it’s hurtful; it’s something *done* to us; it done for one person’s benefit only; it’s unsafe and it has no boundaries.

I identify with all of those things.

What I have trouble identifying with is the list of “healthy” attitudes to s*x – that it’s a choice; it’s pleasurable; it’s nurturing; it’s respectful; it’s mutual, and it’s intimate. The website says we have a right to experience s*x in this way. That seems so foreign. Cognitively I understand it; I just don’t identify with it. But I’d like to.

I guess that’s possibly why I’ve been so focussed on s*x with Nice Guy. I think that’s what he expects. I’m still learning that it might not be the sole focus of his existence and that he has thoughts, feelings, etc just like I do.

Nice Guy is gentle, respectful, caring. I’ve never experienced that before. I’d like to find a way to enjoy it – to learn to heal s*xually, I suppose, so that I can.

More work to do with the therapist, I suspect. And another gut-wrenching, squirm-inducing topic to do it over. Sigh.

Guilt and confusion

So, it’s Mother’s Day here. I spent much of the weekend at my parents’ house which, as you know, is never a good thing for me.

My father was his rude obnoxious self, making snide remarks to me and calling my mother awful names. Why does he do that? I just don’t get it.

My mother spent most of her time complaining about my father. When I offered the “logical” solution of putting him in a nursing home (which is what he needs), she just made various remarks on the theme of: “It’s not that easy.”

I thought, “Bulltish it’s not, Mum, but this is your life.”

Anyway, none of that is really the point of this post. The point of this post is guilt – feeling guilty, to be precise. Or ranting and rambling about feeling guilty. And being confused about feeling guilty.

It struck me today that I feel guilty. I feel guilty because I no longer play the “good daughter” routine where my father is concerned. I will be civil to him, but that’s about it. I won’t engage in conversation with him, and I try not to look at him as far as is possible. Given how rude he usually is to me this generally means we say hello to each other, and nothing more. I certainly don’t make any effort, not like a “normal” daughter would. Thankfully, at least, this trip I didn’t have to sit through dinner with him – that’s always quite triggering for me.

Anyway, as I was packing the car to come home, I made the mistake of looking at him. He gave me that look – the look of a sad, frail old man. I hate that. It made me feel guilty for not feeling more compassionate towards him, and for not making the effort.

Now I’m confused and torn because as soon as this guilt thing hits, I start yelling and screaming at myself that I don’t need to feel bad for not being the adoring daughter – he’s hardly been the adoring father.

So… guilt and confusion. It’s a mess.

When I came home I settled in to some colouring. It didn’t solve the guilt, or the confusion, but it calmed me a little (even if it’s not William Morris; not even a real Roger Burrows book).

I also took some photos in the garden after the rain. 

I still feel guilty, and I still feel confused, but I’m better able to sit with those feelings. For now, at least.

Processing the memories

Back Up Therapist says that triggers do your head in when you don’t know what they’re about. That’s true. I can’t make sense of this latest bout of flashbacks and, yes, it’s doing my head in. It’s frightening when images you don’t understand keep jumping into your head.

My father’s hands keep jumping into my head, along with the fish. I don’t know what the hands are doing. Not in this context, anyway.

I tried to do some colouring today to keep myself calm, but it didn’t work – I just got increasingly angst ridden about using the “wrong” colours. I also can’t talk to anyone at the moment, so instead I drew this:

Artistically I know it’s limited (I didn’t have the pens or pencils I wanted and I couldn’t make the ones I do have draw the image in my mind accurately – it’s at least 10 or 15 years since I drew anything), but it’s helped.

They are my father’s hands. They’re big, and rough. I still don’t know what they’re doing but there is blood from the fish. I’ve locked the hands in a cage so they can’t hurt me anymore.

A friend commented on the lack of a discernible thumb – that’s interesting, because in my mind’s eye there isn’t a thumb, just a hand. And fingers that I can see in great detail. As crazy as it sounds, I can even feel them.

I’ll probably still need to talk about this, but for now the hands are quieter and not tormenting me so much. They’re still there, just not as noisy. I’m safe, I guess, now that they’re locked away. May be now I can figure out why they’re there. And hopefully I can talk to the Back Up Therapist about it next week.

Headaches, triggers and flashbacks

I’ve had a headache for the last few days. It feels like someone has my head squeezed inside giant pliers or something. I thought I was getting another sinus infection, but I also got triggered quiet badly last week and have been triggery, freaky, flashbacky ever since. The Back Up Therapist says this could be the cause of the headache. Oh, great.

She said that triggers can get worse if you just continue to fight them, ignore them, squash them and don’t deal with them. She said it’s like someone who can’t go near the scene of a car accident where a loved one died. At first it’s just that part of the road, or the light pole with the flowers on them… then it’s all light poles with flowers… then it’s all light poles… You get the picture.

I had to go out for a work lunch last week. The big boss decided we’d go Japanese. This isn’t great for me because of my food intolerances, but that isn’t what got me. We ordered Bento boxes with lots of stuff in them. The chicken teriyaki and the vegetables tempura were nice, but they also came with fish – LOTS of fish: sushi fish, sashimi fish, fish in dumplings, fried up fish, fish just about every way you can think of doing it. As I’ve said before, fish is quite a trigger for me.

As soon as I saw the fish on the plate, and dangled in front of me in a colleague’s chopsticks, I started freaking out. Flashbacking all over the place. I started sweating and shaking all over. I had to keep shaking my head to stop myself from vortexing out completely.

Ever since then I’ve been all flashbacky. Just when I least expect it memories of the fish jump into my head. It’s possible that I have more memories surfacing as my father’s hands have featured strongly too, though they haven’t ever before. I’ve even been smelling fish when it’s nowhere to be seen. Even sitting in the Back Up Therapist’s office I was getting flashbacks just talking about this.

I’ve never freaked out like that about fish in a restaurant before. The Back Up Therapist says I need to do something about this. I need to talk about what happened, may be do something creative to lay the fish to rest. I’m not sure if I can, but if I don’t, she said this will just get worse.

The Back Up Therapist said that if I was a little kid we would do something creative to symbolise dealing with the fish – like drawing them, painting them, making them. Locking them up in a box. Burning them. Whatever. But, she also said, that the first step for me needs to be talking.

Ugh. I thought I was done with talking about all that sh*t. And why would new memories start to surface now?