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Can You Prepare Yourself to Deal with a Trigger?

Discussion in 'General' started by KT229, Nov 5, 2007.

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  1. KT229

    KT229 New Member

    I know that seeing my x-husband and going home will trigger so much in me that it is hard to handle. It's an unavoidable trigger. I have to take two of my kids home for Christmas. In the past, I've been able to just work through it. I pretty much know what to expect as far as my normal responses are to being there, seeing or being around him and having to leave the kids. I know that even the thought of being around him or just being there tends to shut me down. In the past the symptoms were manageable, but not last time. I was so sick that I couldn't even see my kids before I left. I cried for 500 miles most of which I don't even remember driving. Then there was the two months of pure hell afterwords... where I don't want to be around anyone, have so many flashbacks that it's almost impossible for me to keep myself together. I wouldn't say every symptom of PTSD but darn near close. I don't know why this next trip for the holidays has me so worried. Several times in the past week or two when I start to think about it... I feel like I'm falling apart from the inside out and not able to move. Can you prepare yourself for being around someone and a place that involves so many triggers? I don't know if the reason I'm so afraid is because of what I went through the last time I had to deal with him or if I'm really worried that I won't have it in me to keep myself together to get through this. Any suggestions?
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  3. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

    I can tell you from your last experience that is certainly something anyone would be worried about. There is not much worse than getting through a situation (child exchange here) and managing to get through it too for it to finally wear on you enough you breakdown. My fear would certainly be I am just getting worse, what is going to happen this time, is it going to be worse this time, who will help me if it is worse, and also I find it humiliating when people see me "crash", I want to tell my children bye and the guilt of not letting them see you like that to say goodbye... This is the exact reason you will see many people with PTSD or Panic Disorder becoming shut-ins and agoraphobic.

    Just know this happening once after being able to truck through it before is not a guarantee it will happen again. Though if you are extremely fearful it is likely to be a self fulfilled prophecy since fear is what sets so many off.

    It is very very hard to prepare for a trigger. I am not too sure you can prepare for an entire barrage of them until you are far in the healing process and I have no idea where you are in that. You can do what you can though to start trying to getting every fear and feeling you have out now. Try typing a list here so you can see a clear cut list and maybe we can help you come to terms long enough to just get through the trip. I assume right now you are just trying to stomach the exchange.

    Keep in mind you will need to continue to work on these afterwards too. Some triggers you may never get past but there is not much reason you can't learn to get past them for brief times like this.

    Also, I would suggest having good aftercare set up for yourself. Things that help center and bring you back to a better more balanced placed.
  4. KT229

    KT229 New Member

    I'm a bit overwhelmed just trying to put in words all of my fears. To sum the situation up with my x it was a matter of my life (literally) or my family and children. It would be one thing if all I had to do was deal with the past, like that is not enough; every time I'm around him, going home. I'm reminded of the fact that I gave up what I loved most in my life my family, myself, friends, my life. When I left him I thought the only thing left for him to do to me was kill me. I was wrong, he now tries to hurt me through the kids, and well he's got the upper hand. He knows that I love my kids more than anything. He could care less what his actions or words do to the kids as long as he knows it will hurt me in the end.

    The last trip began with me having to make a choice between being able to spend time with two of more four children that I hadn't seen in eight months or risking us all spending it together and it ending very badly. Just like when I left him I know it would be only a matter of time before I couldn't keep my mouth shut and things were going to get bad as they possibly could. The summer exchange ended with me being sick and not even being able to say goodbye. basically I've made the choice to protect my kids as much as I possible can even though it is destroying me in their eyes, and mine as well. I'm truly afraid of this man. I know I have the power to start an argument that would end for good. I know that as long as I'm cordial, compliant that this won't happen. So I fear that I'll be put in a situation again where I have to choose between them.

    Being there... It's like I'm dead walking into my life that kept going without me and knowing that I made the choice for it to be that way. There are just as many really bad memories to match the really good ones I have at home. I tried to focus on the good but it only makes me sad to think of those because I had to walk away from them. When I'm there it's like my whole life with him runs from one horrible memory to the next, sprinkled with a few good ones. At times I have a hard time remembering when I'm there that it is over, well at least that part. My heart aches for my family and my life that I once had there. As you can tell I'm having a hard time sorting out my list of fears here. There so many.

    I fear of what the kids will tell me this time about their father has said about me, and what he thinks and how my children feel about me. Knowing that I've spent my entire life trying to protect and hide them from the horrible things he did. He still tells them that I had no reason to leave him and what little they know or asked him about. He's denied and well I tried so hard to protect them from so much that I myself am guilty of lying to protect them. Loosing them even more.

    I've always had an aching feeling that this wasn't over with that one day it would be. I've never been able to shake this.

    Fear of not being able to handle all of the memories. Not being able to get myself home. I just know that every time I see him or even be near where he is the flood of emotion I experience can't be put in words. The aggravation I feel that when we do actually talk I'm super nice (which pisses me off because he doesn't deserve nice... he deserves jail) I fear the complete shame I feel after I see him. It's like the entire world can look at me and see what he's done. I fear the complete helplessness that I feel when I'm around him. I don't want to relive over and over and over again what he did to me. I'm afraid that I won't be able to see my family because I won't be able to handle seeing him. Let's just pile on the Holiday thing on top of everything else, and ta da... I'm a wreck. I know I'll have to work through this. I don't want to. But there's no avoiding it.

    I'm already feeling all of this to some degree. The past few months has darn near wore me out. I just don't know if I can handle all of this, the holidays, and now with the new realization of how f'd up I really am.

    Ok so here is what I know. I know I'm going to have to drive around a thousand miles both ways. Trip up I'll have two kids with me. This helps me to keep somewhat grounded. My driving though... it worries me a little. As I tend to get more upset the closer I get to home. If I can see my other two kids right away before spending anytime there I might be able to get through that. Leaving. When I leave at least from what I can recall, I don't recall much about the drive for the first few hours or so. I know I must stop for gas, etc. but other than that I'm pretty much a wreck. I usually have to stop halfway or so. I know I'll be upset. Just how upset. If I'm as sick as I was over the summer I'm not sure how I'm going to drive. I'm afraid that I won't have it in me to keep fighting this. Then there is the trip back in 2 weeks or so when I go to pick them back up.

    I'm trying to think of something that will help me "center and bring you back to a better more balanced place". I think when I'm working through all that emotion, memories, etc. I barely have the desire to breathe much less push myself back into life. Does that make any sense. I'm sorry to babble. I know there is no quick cure here and I've barely made it through the front door of the healing process. I'm still trying to write the trauma outline from the workbook. I just know that this is coming up I'm already having a problem with it and if the symptoms were as bad as last time added on to the whole holiday thing. I don't know if I can handle it. Thank you veiled for posting such a quick reply. I know I say this time and time again. But knowing I'm not alone, and that there are others who struggle and have advice here is a lifeline for me and I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to reply. Everyone that takes the time is making a difference in someone elses life. At least that is how I feel.
  5. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

    Sorry for the delay, I am having my own PTSDy issues presently. Does not sound like you are in the best place healing wise to throw yourself onto such a trigger alone. Just not now. You will later. Is there any way you can get a companion to help drive? Keep you focused or be there when you cannot?

    I will say drugs and driving are not a good mix but I used to hit curbs and go off the road when untreated and full blown symptoms all the time. I would and do get a high/drunk feeling with anxiety and panic. For me xanax makes me feel sober and I did not drive erratically once on it. The rare tries now I manage to stay on road without meds :)

    These are all short term patches. But it may be enough for you to ride this out and keep on healing. Right now it sounds with what you have to deal with with where you are you need the band aid. I am not going to pump you full of shit and say where you are describing yourself you can find a quick fix, but you may be able to put one of these patches on long as you just use it for this.
  6. Seeking_Nirvana

    Seeking_Nirvana I'm a VIP

    I have an insight about the way children think, maybe? If your x says bad things about you to your kids I really feel that your children will make that decision for themselves based on how you treat them now, and in the future.

    I'm not sure if your parents were divorced, but if they were do you recall taking sides? If you did, I bet once you were older you seen both of them for who they really are (human and angry at each other) and ignored the irrelevant things, provided they both were good to you.

    I can't imagine some one telling my son a bunch of bad things about me now, but in the past when he was younger a relative of mine bad mouthed me every chance she got, and as a result he didn't want anything to do with her and still doesn't. He even called her on it when she was saying negative things about me, and started crying telling her he doesn't want to hear bad things about me. She had to call me and tell me what she said to him, and to come pick my son up during a visit because he didn't want to be around her anymore, and they had a very close relationship from when he was 2 years old up until that point which was 11 years old (He is 18 now and doesn't put up with people saying bad things about me. He is the only one that can bad mouth me LOL in his opinion). He had all he could take and the relationship ended because she couldn't keep her mouth shut, and she knows it's her fault.

    I've heard of similar stories where children get sick of the bad mouthing and end relationships with the parent doing the bad mouthing.

    I understand that your children are only one aspect of this big pile of triggers, but I hope that this story I told you has helped ease your mind a little with respect to your children hearing your x bad mouth you. Children learn to see through parents and their bad mouthing, and will figure out how they feel about you on thier own, based on how you treat them. IMHO

    I trust you will get through this better than you think. Good luck!
  7. jkd

    jkd New Member


    I had two things I thought would help: a witness and protector, a friend, which has already been suggested, and a "safe harbor" which hasn't.

    Do you have enough money to get yourself a hotel room nearby where your ex and kids are without having to be with them? It seems to me that a lot of the problem might be just that you have this huge stressor, both the anticipation of the ordeal and the drive both prior to and immediately after the stressful event.

    If you can't swing a hotel room, can you take some "time off" and go with a friend or supportive relative on a walk away from the situation for a least a bit? Five minutes will help. An hour is better.

    Many times, I've found that I can lesson my PTSD triggering if I can step back a bit. My preferred method is reading, but that won't work in the situation you describe.

    I hope this helps...God bless!

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