Vulnerability

I’m experiencing a hard shut down, triggered by vulnerability. “Vulnerability refers to the inability (of a system or a unit) to withstand the effects of a hostile environment.” [Source: Wikipedia.] I recognize my vulnerabilities as triggers for dissociation, panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares, or any other symptom of anxiety, depression, or PTSD. My triggers for the defense mechanisms that serve to protect me are these vulnerabilities:

  • Specific Trigger Dates:
    • New Year’s Eve — Partly due to losing SSDI and partly due to a horribly triggering event that began this blog
    • January 11 — date my divorce became final
    • January 15 — my dad’s birthday
    • March 1 — my oldest son’s birthday
    • April 11/12 — date of first rape
    • April 14 — the day my dad died
    • April 27 — my youngest son’s birthday; memories associated with giving him up for adoption
    • May 2 — the day I left my husband and son
    • August 11 — date of second rape
    • September 11 — the day we, as a nation, were traumatized
    • September 23 — KR broke up with me
    • October 20 — KR told me about his affairs
    • November 26 — the day I moved in with KR
    • December 3 — marriage anniversary
  • Suicide Attempts (Possible trigger dates):
    1. August 9, 1996
    2. April 12, 1998
    3. October 14, 1998
    4. December 4, 2004
  • Holidays that I recognize as being triggering:
    • Easter
    • Mother’s Day
    • My birthday
    • Thanksgiving
    • Christmas
  • Certain strong emotions, e.g. rage, grief, terror, contempt, disappointment, despair, hopelessness, disrespect, humiliation, frustration, overwhelm, shame, confusion, and shock.
  • Confrontation, arguments, fighting.
  • Harsh or negative criticism and judgement by others, feeling persecuted.
  • Acts of aggression and violence (hostility). I’m horribly sensitive to media coverage that is gruesome or hateful or violent, etc. Coverage of stories regarding rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, or even sexual harassment can be triggering for me.
  • Exhaustion — whether it’s physical, emotional, mental, or all of the above.
  • Feeling exposed, out in the open, insecure paranoia.
  • Injustice. Feeling taken advantage of or inequality.
  • Abandonment.
  • Rejection.
  • Loss of safety or insecure environment. Threat of homelessness, starvation, or abuse make me catatonic, totally checked out.
  • Feeling misunderstood, unheard, or not believed.
  • Lack of consistency, routine, or structure in my daily life.
  • Change — big or small, I don’t do well with change.
  • Healthcare — mental health or physical health, either one. I still, to this day, have “institutional” type nightmares; and I never stayed at any psychiatric facility for more than one month. I have no faith left in the medical community, no faith in our doctors to actually listen, hear what they’re being told, and understand that I know my body better than they ever will given the brevity of time spent with patients. I have no patience left for psychiatry. I’m right there on that cliff of anti-psychiatry, ready to jump off. I don’t even have any trust left to give to another counselor or therapist. I have absolutely no cause to believe that corporations (pharmaceutical, healthcare related and insurance related) will grow a conscience and do what is “right” for the American people. And absolutely NO confidence in our government to protect us from their predatory greed.
  • Sex — everything about sex is triggering for me, everything. Some sexual acts are more triggering, like oral sex or anal sex (I would rather be tarred and feathered than do either); but even straight-up, vanilla, missionary position sex can cause hyperventilation or dissociation during sexual encounters with my boyfriend unless I focus on my breathing to control the physical and emotional pain I feel (and I mean, really focus on breathing, consciously aware, mindful breathing). The physical pain I feel during and after intercourse is almost as bad as the emotional baggage that prevents me from enjoying it, and sometimes that physical pain lasts for days afterward. It’s not just the actual sexual acts that are triggering for me, but also the pressure I feel to “perform” or fulfill KR’s needs. Any sexual touching triggers my startle reflex even on a good day. Waking up to KR snuggling or touching me in this way is a huge trigger! I can’t watch porn because it disgusts me to the point of dry heaving. I can’t even allow myself to feel “sexy” because in my mind, that would warrant sexual attention that I do not want. Sex was a huge issue for me long before the rapes, from the moment I lost my virginity. The rapes, sexual assaults, and sexual harassment I’ve endured throughout my adult life only further complicated this matter.*

*UPDATE: I plan to continue updating this list of triggers. I’m only now, after 23 years of on-and-off-again-therapy, beginning to recognize what triggers me.

 

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