Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Memories Are Triggered

I went to Costco today with my list and a few list items for friends. More and more I'm trying to reach out to see what people will need. I want to see everyone well stocked before the election and, honestly, the days between the November election and the January inauguration. I believe they might well be fraught with unrest and potential interruptions.

Shopping isn't easy or fun anymore. Costco always was something I had to gear up for. It doesn't overwhelm me, but it is stressful. We've been moving more things to pickup or delivery to reduce my stress. As far as feeling more secure, Costco has set a strong tone all along about adherence to masks, distancing, etc.

Still, as I made my way through the store, I felt this terrible tension building in my head, jaw, and neck. It soon began feeling like I'd been forcing myself to smile too hard, for too long. I started to wonder if I'd tightened the ear loops of the mask too far or the metal bridge of the nose too tightly. My glasses felt like they were digging into my face and skull! It hurt all along the under edge of my jaw and down my throat, wrapping around my neck.

My heart was pounding in response and it felt hard to breathe. I had intentionally chosen a heavier mask to be inside of a store for a while, but one I've worn before without a problem. It finally struck me that I was having some kind of anxiety attack!

Around this time I spotted the weighted blankets on display, something they had the previous year but had sold out of them by the time I went back. I grabbed one and added it to the heavy cart. I also bought a thermal, long-sleeved shirt!

All the while I just told myself, "It's just anxiety, nothing is actually wrong even though it is hurting. Breathe. Just wrap up what you're doing and get home."

I wanted to scream while ripping off the mask and my glasses.

"Just get to the car, then you can pull it off. Just a little longer."

I nearly was crying by the time I got to the car and loaded it up with the mask still on. I managed to get in and get it off. I set my glasses on the seat next to me and took deep breaths while rubbing my jaw and neck.

There's an interlude I'm recording below the content warning, do not ever feel the need to read these. I'm writing them more for my own processing and healing.

Once I felt settled enough to make the mercifully short trip home I set off. I wondered if I could just leave everything but the weighted blanket and go crawl under it. By the time I got to the house I could process some of the stuff I'd bought. I remembered there was one thing requiring refrigeration!

Then I crawled under the weighted blanket and Bertie came to lay with me. I reminded my child self that I was coming on a "rescue mission" to release her from those memories, which was soothing to the trauma energy. I was able to half nap with Bertie until CK got done working. We figured out a really easy dinner for me to make each of us and had a night that helped me feel reconnected.

⚠️Content Warning: Child Sexual Abuse⚠️

⚠️Content Warning: Child Sexual Abuse⚠️

⚠️Content Warning: Child Sexual Abuse⚠️

⚠️Content Warning: Child Sexual Abuse⚠️

⚠️Content Warning: Child Sexual Abuse⚠️

As I sat there settling down to drive home, I felt this sickening lurch of energy move almost sideways through me. I realized I had been experiencing a somatic flashback from age 6, the memory of being orally raped by my Mother's boyfriend. The incident was stopped by my having an asthma attack.

All the pain along my jaw and throat, this act. The back of the neck and head pain; his hand forcing my head to stay in place.

I couldn't breathe. He suffocated me in this act. I thought I was dying.

This is the next memory I'll get to in my trauma therapy. Today feels like a proximity alarm just went off. I've never had such a clear recollection of this horrible memory before today.

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