Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want ANYONE to go through trauma. However, MANY people have gone through it and more people need to be “trauma informed.” Many people, who haven’t experienced trauma through violence or a major event, may be not very understanding of the fall out that trauma survivors have to deal with. This has been my recent experience…let me explain…
My kids and I were subjected to over 23 years of domestic abuse, before we escaped. While we are now safe, and have been for nearly six years, we still have issues. I still have nightmares and agitation from it. My daughter, who is nearly 25, still has nightmares and agitation as well, in addition to her being diagnosed as bipolar. My daughter has always been a “daddy’s girl,” meaning she was the favored child of the three and has always sought his approval — despite me trying to explain she may never receive it from him as he is a narcissist. Her allegiance swings back and forth and she has been coerced to give up information about me to my former Abuser — which I don’t appreciate, but I do know why she does that — it does NOT make it any less aggregating. So, now that you know that backstory, I’ll carry on.
She and her fiancée and son left to go visit my Ex, as he now lives near the ocean. He paid for their trip out there and, according to her, showed them a good time and was not his normal “confrontational” self. He got to meet our grandson and everyone came home in good spirits. I was SO relieved. However, the night they came home, which was around midnight, I got a panicked call. She was crying hysterically and I had to calm her down to see what was wrong. She had apparently left her bipolar and stomach meds three states away. I told her to call the pharmacy the next day for a few days worth of meds, and have her Dad to overnight the meds to her. She cried that he wouldn’t, so [reluctantly] had to text the Ex…ugh. I asked nicely if he would do that, offering to send him the money to get that done. I received a text back stating that he would and not to worry about it, that he’d pay for it, but next time she’d be out of luck. I sent a quick “thank you” text, then called her back to let her know that was the best we could do. She thanked me, much calmer than when she initially called.
Unbeknownst to me, my BF could hear the whole thing, as I could tell when I went into the other room to be with him.
“What the hell was that all about?” he asked looking annoyed.
“She got scared about not having her meds and how her Dad might react. Crisis averted,” I replied. However, his annoyed look lingered. I was a little annoyed about that.
“I really don’t understand why you all still react like you do,” he began. “It’s been almost six years. You all are safe. You all need to just get over it.”
I honestly did NOT know what to say. This normally patient and understanding man had me floored. So, in my usual fashion, I said nothing. I needed time to think about what to say. I usually take a few days to formulate my rebuttal. But I do comeback and address things that are bothering me. That is my mandate to myself, as a trauma survivor.
You see, I get where she was…the amping up of emotions, hoping everything turns out just right, packing EVERYTHING to make sure everything turned out just right, constantly measuring the tension while visiting, and making sure things were left in good standing and then making the nearly 10 hour journey back home with a toddler. She was at her emotional breaking point from the stress and strain. I get it. I have personally been there and this is something that one simply doesn’t just “get over.” It lessens over time, but something can put you right back into reactionary mode.
A friend explained it well the other day, when I talked it through with her. She stated that experiencing trauma is like experiencing “phantom pains,” when a person has something amputated. That amputated item existed once, but your mind thinks its still there or still hurting or itchy. It lessens with time, but never quite goes away. I definitely LOVE this analogy.
So, now that I know what to say, I will talk to my BF, gently, about how his comment really hurt my feelings. He’d mentioned that I shouldn’t still be anxious or have occasional meltdowns anymore, so I know that we will visit this again. Just because he’s never experienced it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it just means he needs to weather through it with me until it passes, like he does my nightmares. He strokes my head and hair to soothe me, so I’m going to remind him THAT is what will still be needed on occasion and that I love that he does that for me, both physically and mentally.
No sense in being dramatic in overreacting to his reaction to my trauma. I’m glad he’s never gone through anything like that, so he has no real perspective and I’m not going to traumatize him — instead I’m doing my best to empower him! Love and light!