Today’s Trigger

So I was at Mass this afternoon. I play the flute (and rarely sing) in my church’s contemporary choir. The gospel reading was about The Prodigal Son. Deacon Dave gave the sermon. His whole thing was about forgiveness (or at least that’s where I think he was going with it). He started out talking about how many of us have been hurt in life. And then he goes into giving various statistics about sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence.

Now, I’ve been really sensitive lately. It doesn’t take much to trigger me. And his list of stats sent me over the edge. As he started listing things, I started to panic. After about a minute of this, I knew I couldn’t sit there and listen to anymore. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop the waves of memories.

So I walked out. At least our choir is situated near the door. Unfortunately, the way things are set up (we have sort of a “U” shaped formation where I sit in the middle of the entire thing), I had to walk around the guitar players to get to the door.

I walked out of the church and into the cold. I didn’t really have any idea of where I was going. I wasn’t aware of too much. I wasn’t completely dissociated, but pretty tootin’ close to it. When I got my bearings, I was on the other side of the parking lot, sitting in the Children’s garden. We have this small garden that has these small brass trees. Each leaf on the tree is for a child of the parish who has died.

Given everything that happened when I was a kid, it doesn’t surprise me that I ended up in that garden. A part of me died way back when.

So after I managed to calm myself down, I went to the bathroom because I couldn’t face going back in the church. I warmed up some and gathered my courage back up.

When I got back into the church they were playing/singing the offertory hymn. So I sneaked back to my seat and figured out where we were in the music. But my heart just wasn’t into it. I was still extremely anxious and was having a hard time concentrating on the notes on the page. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I got into the car and broke down crying. After dinner (which I had no interest in eating) I ended up hiding in the closet for an hour or so. I wrapped myself in a blanket and rocked back and forth. The closet itself isn’t deep, but it’s long, so there’s enough room.

It’s 3:00 am right now and I’m trying to avoid getting into bed. I don’t know that I can deal with it right now. But I’m getting one of my not sleeping headaches, so I know I need some sleep. Avoidance isn’t the answer… but it’s about all I can do right now.

7 thoughts on “Today’s Trigger

  1. hey Kat,
    im sorry i don’t really have too many words right now, i just hope you managed to get some sleep, and that tomorrow is a new day for you.
    There has been such a culture of stigma, of governments and churches not confronting these issues… och.. it just makes it very difficult to feel safe.

    i know this doesn’t sound like much, but teddybears is my answer… You always have a friend in a teddybear.

  2. MayPoles of life says:

    I am sorry this happened to you. May today be a peaceful day for you. I’m praying you are able to rest.

  3. I’m sorry that happened; glad there was a children’s garden for you, and a closet.

    I hope you have gotten or will soon get that sleep.

  4. As you know, I’m doing dream therapy for the very reasons you’ve stated. I can’t take the nightmares anymore. I can’t stand not being able to move, of needing to scream but can’t, of being trapped but unable to get out. The therapist has me re-write the dream so that I come out the victor. It is my hope that this will start to work for me. I’ve re-written only two but I certainly like the concept of it. Has your therapist ever suggested anything like this?

    One of the things I do now is use my aromatherapy as well as listen to Napster all night long while I’m sleeping. I have an aromatherapy pillow type thing that I warm before bed and I turn on my napster night list and set it on repeat. It’s not like I’ll be asleep for 8 hours or anything so the session doesn’t end it just keeps playing until I get up and turn it off. The idea is to have my scenes directed in places other than the fear I feel.

    It use to be the hardest thing in the world to walk in my bedroom and go to sleep. I’ve tried everything girl, and mean everything. I even started sleeping on the dogs bed (much to the amusement of friends LOL) I slept on the love seat, slept during the day, slept on the floor in the living room, here in the office, anywhere but the bed. Girl I know what you’re going through. I know the nightmares first hand and I can tell you now, IT GETS BETTER. The YUCK breaks from time to time and you get a breath of fresh air. It’s worth hanging on, it really is.

    I would have never, ever said that I sleep comfortably at night. I never imagined that I would go to bed in my room without turning around and thinking, I’ve got to be a fool I know what’s going to happen. Yes, the nightmares are still here but the anxiety is less because of some therapy work. My point is, use your coping skills and wait for your break. It’s coming.


  5. Me again,
    I use to bloody my knuckles at night so that it became necessary to put a foam pad on the wall to keep from breaking my hand when I punched and fought in my sleep. I’ve stayed up for days at a time trying to avoid what I was going to see. But you know what? It wasn’t necessarily the dream that upset me it was the way I felt when I woke up. I felt the same humiliation as back then. I felt like I had just been abused as an adult. I could feel it, on my body I could feel it and that is what made the dreams so bad. I couldn’t’ leave them in the bed. I couldn’t get up and take on the rest of the day without it creeping up under my nostrils and funking up my whole day. I was angry that I couldn’t do something as simple as rest. Why was that so hard? But it wasn’t the nightmares themselves that kept me from sleeping, it was the humiliation when I woke. Why didn’t I stop the abuse when I was a kid, why did my body respond from time to time and what does that make me?. I was such a frikin coward, balling up and taking punches like a punk. All that went through my head when waking…it still does but I combat it with messages from the here and now. I even put up a sign in my house telling me where I was, who to call for help and what to do when overwhelmed. That has helped a lot. I realize right now that is not an option for you right now but soon it may be.

    If I could have left the nightmares in bed or dealt with them only in therapy I wouldn’t have had half the problems I did with sleeping. I couldn’t handle how I would felt upon waking. The self blame was so thick, almost worse than the dreams themselves. It was like they tortured me during the night and upped the ante during the day. I still struggle with nightmares, don’t get me wrong, but I have many more coping skills with which to combat them.

    Let me sum this up, I’m saying I understand. I’m saying I understand and that it does get better.

    we wish you peace of mind,

  6. Ian…

    I think I’ll go get myself a teddy bear this weekend. And if I get strange looks, I can always say I’m shopping for a birthday gift for a niece (or whatever).

  7. Austin…

    Thanks for the idea of Dream Therapy. I will definitely ask my therapist about it. But it seems like something I can try on my own.

    When you talk about the dream not being the problem, but rather the way you felt when you woke up, the light bulb above my head turned on. There’s an element of fear but there was those horrible feelings from when I was a kid. I don’t know what to call them… but it’s exactly how I felt back then.

    Lately, the physical memories have been worse than the visual ones. But that’s for a future post I guess.

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