I have a problem with loud noises, especially voices raised in anger. Having grown up in a house where there was a lot of shouting and yelling in anger, as well as door slamming foot stomping, and other loud expressons of rage that were unpredictable, I get re-triggered and feel re-traumatized every time anyone goes on a rampage of angry yelling. (children, husband – which isn’t all that often) It sets off all my old patterns of reacting; first I freeze, then (especially if it involves my kids) I shift into protective Mom mode (if it’s my husband) and/or start yelling back or trying to be peacemaker. When it’s my kids I tend to shut down, or quietly ask if that’s the way they want me to treat them. At times I resort to slamming doors myself, or acting like a three-year-old having a temper tantrum (which is what expressing anger this way seems like to me).
I’ve written in my other blog, and maybe this one too, that I grew up in a house of secrets. Many things happened that weren’t shared. I learned to hide in order to avoid detection or draw attention to myself. My sister Anne has been trying to help me with ideas on how to handle my PTSD lately. Propanolol is one, a medication that blocks some of the excess (in my case) output of my sympathetic nervous system. We’ve also talked about EMDR, which seems like more of a pseudo-science, but I would love feedback about EMDR and how it has worked for others. My dream has been to take training or treatment in The Tara Approach to Healing Shock and Trauma http://www.tara-approach.org/index.html. I still jump at loud noises, flinch more often than I’d like when touched by people, (especially people who I’ve experienced yelling moments with) and at times am almost agoraphobic. It seems like something needs to change. In the past I’ve used alcohol or cigarettes to cope, and neither has been of much help. Especially since I’m on medications now that preclude it’s use, alcohol hasn’t been an option for quite some time. I already blame myself for my niece’s smoking, and don’t ever want my kids to smoke, so that’s not an option either. That’s a good thing, but feeling like a rabbit trapped in a hole isn’t working very well for me either. I’ve recently discovered a book and invite people who have read it to tell me what they think of it, The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Eron http://www.hsperson.com/.
I talked with my kids last night about the difference between yelling and verbal abuse. My husband may yell at times, (even I do once in a great while) but he doesn’t attack them; their being and who they are. That’s the difference between how my Father (who was brought up in an environment where I’m sure he was on the receiving end of some of it) handled anger and my husband does. I explained that their Step-Dad never yells “you’re stupid” or “you’ll never do anything right”, the soul withering sound bites that stay in a traumatized person’s mind for years, running in a loop like a hamster in it’s wheel – especially if the phrases have been repeated often during childhood. My husband also apologizes, and is trying to work on his temper. That didn’t happen for my dear, deceased Dad until he had his first heart attack. In addition, my husband is paraplegic, has been laid off twice in the past three years, and took on a ready made family at 45-years of age with no former parenting experience. He’s an incredible person, and the kids don’t feel traumatized, they just don’t like getting yelled at – how many of us do? (let me know if you are someone who does, I’d love to know what that’s like)
I ask for feedback a lot, and because this blog is a sort of “self-confessional” (and may sound like whining at times) I don’t always hear much back. I humbly ask those of you who might have a moment to write of your experiences, or point me to your blogs. I’m learning more and more from those blogs I’m following, and am grateful. I need to start a blogroll and don’t even know the etiquette of how you ask if that’s okay. (advice in that area would also be appreciated) My heart goes out to all the veterans of every war who have come back “shell-shocked”, the antiquated term for PTSD. It makes living 20 times harder to cope with when every loud noise seems like a threat, a potentially life-threatening threat. PTSD also tends to kill intimacy between both the person who experiences it, and the person who lives with them. As my husband apologized last night, and spoke from his heart about what triggers his outbursts and the ways he’s going to work on not getting triggered, I just felt exhausted and provided a very poor audience as his wife. It’s projection – I heard the apologies from my Dad for years and it didn’t change anything until he realized the damage it was doing to his own body. Even then we were never sure when he would “blow up” and despite becoming expert at trying to provide him ways to come back to himself, he was often so ashamed at his own behavior, or remorseful and self-pitying, that often family times were colored permanently with bits and pieces of that darkness. Home wasn’t a place you went to relax exactly, although when it was just one of us and not all five sibs with spouses and children in tow, he was able to cope much better. This isn’t a rant against my father, who is now deceased and I miss terribly. He was a product of his own childhood and the ghosts of our own familial past, our mutated DNA that gave us super-sensitive sympathetic nervous systems. (say that five times fast) A cousin of my Dad’s has done research and found out that his familial line had a tendency toward high intelligence, creativity, depression and suicide.
Thank you so much for reading, and for your replies. They mean so much. May you feel peace, and experience blessings every moment in the little things we so often forget to notice. The sun is rising in beautiful shades of orange and pink, as the birds greet the morning in song – this was always my Dad’s favorite time of day. Namaste’.