In the future I might branch off these entries or label them slightly differently. Next week I am starting my trauma work. I’ve become stable and able to emotionally regulate enough that I can actually move forward in my treatment where we are going to try to unchain my traumas. I don’t think there is anything specifically triggering in the first part entry, but there is talk of fear, fighting and freezing. The second part is appropriately labelled.
“We need to teach you how to fear again.”
Apparently because I lived in fear for so long, my brain actually doesn’t process it properly anymore.
Yes, I feel fear, I’m not fond of scary movies and other stuff, but other things I just don’t process or I go immediately to survival mode.
New therapist asked me how my vicious marital art was going (Krav maga) and I burst into tears. This was 100% surprising to me.
“I had to stop. We got the part where I had to start fighting back, and I froze. I couldn’t move! I couldn’t believe that I’m THAT person.”
“He’s re-traumatizing you, you made the right choice to stop!”
“I don’t know why I feel so upset now. When it was happening I smiled and laughed at myself. I felt nothing. I felt numb. I felt okay about it. The same thing happened when they wheeled me into surgery and they didn’t have the operating table set up right. I smiled and felt the same thing.”
“That’s your body getting ready to die. Your experiencing the highest level of terror. Your brain numbs out everything so you won’t feel the pain. Like when an animal lays plays dead to protect itself.”
“I remember someone sending me an article about primates, and how they smile when they are afraid. I wonder if I do the same thing. If I make it less serious, than it isn’t all the bad, I get through it.”
Now, I totally remember the sparring differently. Now I remember being afraid. I know that wasn’t my teacher’s intention, he’s actually really super cool, and I’m sure if I knew what I was feeling and said stop, he would have backed off right away, but I couldn’t process what I was feeling. So I laughed.
And now I keep thinking of all the times I felt that way. How terrified I was of my ex, and my doctors and I just got through it by numbing it out and smiling through it. How, I didn’t know what the feeling was and when I did know, I just forgot it’s name. Like I didn’t want to know or accept that I was afraid. I just deleted that information, but it got saved to my body.
After talking about it, I went home and did a lot of self care. I didn’t let it ruin my day, but my scar (surgical incision) and surrounding organs really hurt. It’s like they saved all that information and show me how it feels through pain. It only lasted 2 days, and I did try to take care of myself, I often just choose to ignore the pain, but focusing on it made it go away. (I’ve been told this so many times, but my avoidance behaviour makes me ignore it.)
I stated this out loud at the group mindfulness session where we had to focus on our bodies and feel what it was feeling. As soon as I actually acknowledged the pain, it was gone.
“And you’ve been bullied, and have been told the way to deal with it was to feel nothing. We can fix that, we can teach you how to fear again.”
“Well the theory was if you didn’t fight back or ignored them, they went away. It never worked, they just got meaner, but I choose to rarely do anything because I knew it was a waiting game. I’d be out of there, and into a better life and they’d probably suffer, which most of them did. Many became addicts after high school, so I ‘won’ by waiting.”
On being bullied. (TW: hate crime, homophobia, transphobia, sexual assault, anger)
My Dad and I had many conversations this weekend about my life. It was largely annoying. He was mad at me for not fighting back. How we could have buried them in the backyard and other movie type solutions which never work. I explained I didn’t want to go to prison or have an assault charge. It was easier to wait. He tried to make me feel bad about not fighting back. That I was bad for not telling him, but he’s the one that told me it is a weakness to ask for help, so why would I ever ask him for help? He had no answer for this, just that I must have done something to loose him. I did nothing wrong. And I was ashamed.
I know by Hollywood standards, I am no hero for not fighting back, but in my mind, I am a good person because I have lived through hell and have not lashed out at a single person. Do I deserve a cookie? No, but it takes a lot of effort to be hurt and not hurt back. It’s not weakness, it’s strength. But in the eyes, of so many people, my being kind and compassionate will always make me weak. I should have risked the assault charge or got kicked out of school. But that’s not who I am. To them, I’ll always be the coward that never fought back. I don’t hit people, who don’t hit me first and largely it was verbal, except twice it wasn’t, but I didn’t know how to deal with that. (Oddly, very similar to my relationship with my ex partner.)
I won’t be seen as the person that realized the risk of a physical fight wasn’t worth it. Who calculated that getting into physical fight would actually escalated the bullying to an unmanageable level. Not the person that learned that people are stupid, they will hate you because they are insecure and scared. If you are curious, people hated me because they believed I was a trans man, trans woman, and a lesbian. (yes, all of those things at the same time) I never argued differently. Weirdly, I spent most of my teen years perceived as non straight person who was completely straight (I consider myself gender fluid, but have no interesting in obtaining a man’s body, though for shirts it would be nice). I didn’t act differently. I was me, and my friends knew me, but the outside world was so certain I was something else, and so ready to hate me.
I was sexually assaulted twice because it’s funny hold the lesbian while a boy forcibly makes out with her, have him tell him “I love you” (I still cringe at the words) and then to get girls to flirt with you in their underwear in the locker room because you are actually a man. One of many reasons, I hate being touched and am completely uncomfortable with intimacy. Also, one of many reasons I don’t consider myself human, because if these are humans, I don’t want to be them. Also, why I hate mixed gender groups (not because they fall in love as that scientist worries about :p ) because I worry they will turn on me.
And I felt nothing when it happened. I was very politely in turning down the flirting girl, because I thought maybe she did like me, but no it was to humiliate me. I hate talking about it, because to male therapists I’ve had to explain why it is sexual assault. If you need it explained to you, piss off. I’ve had my first therapist tell me to my face that it wasn’t a real problem and other people have been through worse. (New therapist will probably get it, because she’s not stupid. Old therapist kinda of got, it and realized he really fucked up. First therapist can burn.) I felt nothing, smiled, tried not to cry and left his office. I laughed and made myself feel nothing and forgot about it. But the body always remembers and touch feels likes being scalded for so many other traumas.
So I learned that people are largely horrible.
I’m sad, but I’m okay with being sad, because it’s reasonable thing to be sad and angry about.
And now, I know I freeze in a fight, so that would have never been a solution.
This will probably never be me.
But apparently, I am going to learn how not to freeze. I’m gonna learn how to feel a normal amount of fear. I’m going to start up that part of my brain.
I also went and saw Mad Max. It was surprisingly good.