Last weekend was a tough one for me. I was feeling triggered and vulnerable and I kept hearing that voice in my head telling me how much of a failure I was. My emotions were all over the place and I felt like I had no control. I was weeping uncontrollably one second and behaving like a total tantrum toddler the next. Welcome to the wonderful world of the recovering abuse survivor!
When I woke yesterday, for the first time this week, I felt that the turbulence was quieting down. Finally I felt like I was back to just being me. That first day is always a little fragile still. So, I decided I was going to take good care of myself, do some jobs I was looking forward to and some easy wins that would give me the satisfaction of crossing things of the list.
After walking my partner to the station for him to commute to work, I figured I would pop into the supermarket for a few things (easy task to tick off from that to do list). The sun was out, so it should have been a pleasant 5 minute walk. Instead, it was one of the longest ever.
The Longest 5 Minute Walk
As I walked out of the station I got the attention of a 16 year old girl. Oh man, look how fat she is! She “confided” to her friend. She then continued to cycle up to me, talk to me about how fat I was, cycle off for a good giggle, stop turn around, do the same again, take out her phone to take a photo of me, and have another laugh.
Meanwhile, my head was exploding:
See, you are the object of ridicule! Why do you even kid yourself that anyone could ever love you, you lazy, fat excuse for a human-being!
It was all I could do to keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep breathing and not to collapse on the spot.
I just about managed to get home, and reach out to a fellow survivor for support.
The Invincible Triggers
Of course she was not telling me anything I didn’t know. Of course I know that this whole things says more about her than about me. Yes, I know.
Here is the thing though: weight is a sensitive trigger for me. My mother has called me fat my whole life, and even used to comment that I was so huge as a baby, that people had been surprised I wasn’t twins. Being called fat is the same as being called lazy, unworthy, a failure… All the things that any of our abusers will have made us feel in one way or another. Let’s just say it brings back all the wrong memories.
All survivors have those types of triggers. In fact, sometimes it can be a smell, or a song, or seeing someone in the street who looks just like our abuser. And in that instant, we feel like the ground begins to shake. We lose our footing. We are in free fall. Yet nobody around us can tell the difference. We feel utterly alone with the overwhelming pain of the moment.
Remember then, that you are not alone. We are all in that moment with you. Keep breathing. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t be afraid. You are loved.