Monday, May 26, 2008

Concrete Angel... can we rise above?

When you least expect it, some not-so-pleasant thoughts come rushing back.

A few days ago something happened at the school where I work. One of the male teachers has a very difficult class this year. I personally feel it's a combination of having too many behavioral problems in his class and his lack of classroom management.. but I guess that's beside the point.

I was walking between buildings when I saw two students huddled on the sidewalk with a stick. I called out to them and asked what they were doing. They had a small snake there and was poking it with a stick. Now if you're thinking what I was thinking, "It's a harmless garter (?) snake".. well, it wasn't.

It was a baby, but it was trying it's damndest to take a bite out of one of those kids.

So, I took the stick from one of the boys and told them to get Mr. XXXXX. I figured maybe he could find a five gallon bucket and place it over the snake because this just happened to be in a place where kindergarten students walked through.

I'm standing there with this mean and quite mad snake, holding a stick and keeping my distance just in case any more students wandered along... and suddenly the doors burst open and about 6 students rushed out.

They all rushed toward me like they were on a mission.. all babbling, "Where's the snake.. let's see it!" I held up my left arm and told them to back off, and get back to class. That's when their teacher... Mr. NoClassroomManagement comes out and YELLS at them. Now, when I say YELLS, I don't mean just raised his voice.. I mean he yelled.

Something inside me just froze and I could feel myself lean forward and cover my head. It was so embarrassing... I had this pissed off snake trying to bite me, I'm weakly holding a stick and then I look like I just had a brain aneurysm because I'm 'ducking and covering' certain that I was about to have the shit knocked out of me.

Then I have students asking me, "What's wrong!?" and Mr. NCM starts yelling even more at them to leave me alone.... and I feel like I'm back at home and my dad is screaming at me right before he started swinging and hitting me upside the head. I started crying and didn't even realize it until the principal was summoned and found me outside bawling like a baby.

I haven't had a trigger for years, and then suddenly I was thrust back to a time where I was around 12 years old... it took me by surprise so much, that now I'm almost afraid that it will happen again.

See, I don't really want the people I work with to know about my past. I just feel as though it's embarrassing as hell. I tried to explain it to one co-worker a few years ago (when I worked for a bank) and she looked at me like I was telling her these things, just to gain some sympathy or some such crap.

I wish that people would just realize how hard it is to admit that your parent(s) are less than perfect and in fact, sometimes they are almost monster like. Even though I know now that none of the horrible stuff that happened to me or my siblings was MY fault.. it's still embarrassing and I guess a small piece of me still wonders if maybe I had done "x" just a little differently... maybe it wouldn't have set him off.

Why in the world would a person share such horrible things with another for only sympathy? Hell... I would have taken a better childhood in lieu of living with this shit any day! Much as I know anyone who's been through similar stuff would as well.


Shiv said...

i'm so sorry to hear you were triggered after such a long clear patch *hugs*
There's not too much I can say that makes up for you having to go through that again, but I do get the impression the other teacher doesn't have the best approach to controlling the kids.
God I really am sorry you had to go through that feeling again :( I truly hope it was just a one off and things go back to normal.

Karen ^..^ said...

There are lots of times I get a trigger, only with me, unfortunately, I lose my temper horribly. I have always covered up my pain with anger, it seemed the safest defense, also one I am quite used to. When I get my feelings hurt, I get defensive, then irrationally angry. I have ended relationships during such episodes, much to mine and their confusion.

I wonder if the triggers will ever become powerless. It is a textbook case of post traumatic stress syndrome, but knowing that does not seem to have cured the problem. Lets just hope they lose power, and we gain power.

And we continue to hope. And get stronger.

As for the co worker who thought you were trying to gain sympathy? I can only assume she or he was projecting in some way. Perhaps that is something he or she would do, and so was assuming that is what you were doing. Either way it is a clear case of monstrous ignorance, and as you and I and anyone who ever suffered any kind of abuse knows, we would never make this shit up. Not for anything. Continue to try and share, and continue the group therapy of blogging. There you will find the assurance and validation you deserve, and also the camaraderie of others who have been there too. Screw the ones who don't get it, who judge and accuse. Fuck 'em.

Moonshadow said...

In a perfect world (first none of this would have ever happened to you, but after that fact), if you could talk to your co-workers about what happened, what triggered you, it might be a learning experience for the teacher that thinks yelling is the way to deal with children. What he is doing clearly is not right and can do damage, though he may not physically do damage, the psyche can be fragil.

Clueless said...

I am really sorry that you were triggered that badly and really had no where to go. When I was able to work, my situation was that people knew, but either did not care, were tired of accomodating me, were insensitive, or didn't understand. You would think that a bunch of social workers would know better, but I was an outcast. Thank God I had a couple of coworkers that I could go to. But, know in my life, except my therapist, really understands what it is like for me. That is one of the things that I like about blogging is that people understand...sort of like drop in open group therapy.

By the way, thanks for visiting my site.

Tory said...

I cried when I read this post. Oh, I so know what you are talking about, and it is an embarrassing and humiliating thing to do in front of your family..never mind a bunch of other people..I am so sorry you had to go through that.
This is classic Post Tramatic Stress, as you probably already know. It can be treated very well with the proper tharapy. But it won't go away on it's own.
My own flashbacks are one of my biggest problems right now, but I have hope that it can be treated, not overnight, but with a careful and thoughtful counsellor. True, it sometimes takes awhile to find one, but they're out there.
Big Hugs and prayers.

Untreatable said...

Triggers suck. Over the years I have been able to identify some of my triggers which has taken some of the power away and in a way helps to see them coming. The old theory of you are no longer a defensive child really does not help for what ever the reason for once that trigger is set off that is exactly what I am until it passes over. Take care

DF Hutch said...

I had to laugh when I read your blog (I'm your newest fan as of Dec. '08). It's not funny in a slap-stick comedy kind of way, just in a 'I can relate and if I don't laugh I cry' kind of way.

I read the responses to your blog. I appreciate them all, Untreatable's especially.

Untreatable's blog reads, "The old theory of you are no longer a defensive child really does not help ... once that trigger is set off that is exactly what I am until it passes over."

I agree.

One of my two worse triggers rendered me blinded by tears and walking aimlessly (due to the uncontrollable tears in addition to the zombie-like state where I hit rock-bottom and began spiraling from there into a state of emotions I don't think there exists a psychiatric term for yet) cross a busy street where I was almost hit by a car (driver had to swerve to avoid me).

This was the least jarring of the two worse triggers-to-date.

The worst involved me face to face with an intruder in my 9 year old daughter's bedroom. I stood there, staring at him--this intruder--not defending or developing a strategy to defend my 9 year old (still in the bed at this point) or myself because of my brain's translation of the event. I should have reacted the way I see them do it on T.V. or the big screen. You know, the woman is confronted by an intruder and screams and provides parental protection the best she can muster while assessing the situation to determine if its potentially life-threatening or not--if the intruder is poised with a weapon, is bent on rape/murder, or just hoping to steal material goods--and react accordingly.

Instead, this particular trigger instructed my mind to translate the situation as: it's show-time. you're a little girl, again, and your father is making his regular pre-dawn visit to your room to steal some more of your innocence. As you know by now, no one is going to save you, including Mommy, and becasue of your father's very powerful political position within the family, you'd better do as you always do--cooperate and hope for a speedy break-of-dawn, at which time he will resume to his other role as respected head of family and community member, you will proceed through the day, including school and other regular kid demands and maintain a supportive attitude/front for the positive image your family insists on promoting as a cover-up for the real deal...and then do it all again tomorrow, pre-dawn, next scheduled bedroom visit.

Long story...well, long, this was the worse trigger. Worse than the near miss with me and the car.

Still, I laugh.

I laugh because the intruder thought I was the crazy one. He, examining me and my seemingly non-reaction, gave him pause and rendered him was perplexed, I think. I think HE was thinking about how I didn't initially respond the way a "normal" person "should" have responded to finding him--a half-dressed (boxers and t-shirt, only) strange man in my daughter's bedroom in the wee hours of the a.m.

I must have blacked out. At that moment, what felt like minutes, I was instantly transported back to my own childhood where a barely-clothed (to eventually UNclothed man "hanging out" in the bedroom of a little girl during the wee hours of the morning only meant that it's showtime where I am the performer and my father is the participating audience, demanding his money's worth!

The fact that my father died about 15 or so years ago made the whole incident--the blackout spell--even more confusing and elongated, and confused the stranger in the process, I'm sure.

The present collided with the past and trapped me in a state of trying to wrap my brain around how my father managed to resurrect himself from the dead, number one, and b) how I managed to be simultaneously a grown-up standing face-to-face with him, yet a 9 year old little girl in the bed awaiting his sexual abuse. I could see myself lying right there in the bed. Yet, I was standing as an adult a foot or so away from the bed, with my father--my abuser--who was, for some reason paying more attention to me--in my adult state--more than me--over there, lying in the bed in my little girl state. And everyone knows, my father prefers little girls, so why...

Anyway, this "trigger" lasted long enough for the intruder to make the intruder wonder why this crazy woman wasn't screaming or reacting the way a non-crazy woman would be.

Surreal. To say the least.

These triggers come and go and are unavoidable, it seems. I decided to just manage them best I could and hope that I find myself alone when they happen (I, too, hate having to explain my sudden tears or jerks to co-workers:). This trigger management strategy is not so sufficient, though, I learned, upon having become a parent and protector of my own little girl. Now, instead of upset, I am angry and disturbed. My worse triggers have rendered me ill-equipped to protect my child during some instances where she really needed me in one fashion or another. How can I help my child when I am suddenly, involuntarily transported to my own childhood state of vulnerability. I hate that part most.

It's just like Untreatable said...