I had two really good days in a row, so my ratio is improving! Then, I got very triggered by back-to-back situations that triggered the little girl inside. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I was so triggered. I just respected the fact that I was triggered and tried to pull myself through it.
The first thing that happened involved my husband. He is one of the pickiest eaters on the planet. I made a new dish (first new dish in years), and, of course, he didn’t like it. He wouldn’t even try the Spanish yellow rice because it “looks like it has cheese in it.” Despite my assurances that there is no cheese in Spanish yellow rice, he would not even try it. Then my son, who had been sampling the filling for the burritos all afternoon, followed suit, saying that the beans made him sick.
About the same time, I received an email regarding my new part-time job. This is for a well-known and respected company, so I am aghast at the extremely poor process involved in training new employees. My training was scheduled six weeks ago and is supposed to start in four days. I emailed my manager in the morning to ask if training was moving forward because I had receive no information whatsoever about it. She sent an email right at dinnertime that included the training materials and a laundry list of things that I need to complete before training. By this point, that only gives me three days to complete a lot of steps that I could have been working on over the past six weeks!
The email also said that I am required to observe a four-hour class next week without telling me which day. I emailed back that I will try to make it happen, but this is very short notice, and I need to know what the options are. I didn’t get into it in the email, but I have another part-time job, two blogs, and a child to juggle, not to mention other personal things that matter to me. Finding four hours of childcare, including finding someone to pick up my kid from school, feed him dinner, deal with his homework, and get him home to his father is not something that I just do with a snap of my fingers.
Yes, I know that both situations would be annoying to most people, but I doubt that most people would react with a panic attack. It made me feel like there was something “wrong” with me. I finally realized that the one-two punch of my husband’s reaction and the continued chaos with completing training at this new job triggered the years of being the “good little girl” but never “good enough” to avoid being abused because the demands that those in authority placed upon me were unreasonable.
For me to feel safe, I need to have clear and reasonable expectations. I can even handle steep expectations as long as I can achieve them through working harder and smarter. However, expectations that are illogical, constantly shifting, and/or unattainable (i.e. chaos) trigger the little girl inside and make me feel like something horrible is going to happen to me (more abuse) because it is not possible for me to meet shifting or unreasonable expectations. If I perceive (even subconsciously) any sort of authority combined with chaos, I have a panic attack. This awareness makes me feel a little more “sane” even though I am still dealing with being triggered. At least there is a logical explanation for my “overreaction.”
Photo credit: Hekatekris