It has been a week now since my brother left from his visit here. My reactivity is finally starting to calm and settle down. But what a ride and what a lot of work (and agony) it has taken to get to this point. It feels like such a terrible waste of time, such a waste of my life when I could be doing OTHER living, to so often be triggered into the disruptions of a “traumastate” from events that have no present-day threat or trauma in them whatsoever. I HATE this!
But this Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is real. It is how my body was made and I was never offered an alternative. Nor do I have one now.
I have various descriptive images popping into my mind this morning about what being triggered feels like to me: Being a balloon filled with air — end untied — let loose I zip zoom spin twist and inevitably fall. Being thrown upon the back of a powerful bucking horse for the duration of the ride. Having a burn that even a few drops of water will hurt. Experiencing a unique kind of limbic right brain kindling that brings “emotional seizures.” Stepping over a threshold to find a floor that WAS there — GONE — and falling. Walking a shaking high tightrope wire in a hurricane with no safety net. Busy at a job and the ladder falls out from under.
Yet all the time I am aware that this is happening to me and I cannot easily stop it. (I believe my mother’s brain changed with her mental illness to keep her from being able to be aware of her own “traumastates.”)
I am called to locate every piece of information I have ever found, every tool, to work as hard as I can to settle myself down, to sooth and ground myself, searching for a glimmer of calm and following that feeling in any way that I can.
But these reactive states steal away the time of my own life that SHOULD be going on instead.
Repeated horrific early traumas and chronic threat and terror built me this way. As small and simple as my life is (much to my regret), I cannot avoid every trigger. How can I live that carefully and have any overall quality of life or well-being?
When the “traumastate” is triggered I am in a state of emergency. All my priorities have to shift and give way to just one: Make this reactivity STOP!
Was there any other word I needed to scream for the first 18 years of my life other than — STOP?
Just as my own experience of myself in my ongoing life was repeatedly interrupted by trauma in my childhood, my ongoing self-life continues to be interrupted every time I am triggered now. The sound of a door slamming, the shrill yap or loud bark of a neighbor’s dog, even the visit of my brother — nearly ANY disruption can create an anxious reaction that can so easily take off on a reactive diversionary track that shakes and spins me away from myself in my ongoing life.
How to get back to my SELF? I will never stop learning how to do this because there is too much “trouble” built into me. Living this way is a fulltime job — and no matter what good sports we survivors are, the truth is that what happened to us was a tragedy that causes a continuing tragedy for us and for those who love us for our entire lives.
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