Finding Center Again

When certain emotions are triggered (usually emotions that are, in someway, connected to fear), I can struggle with self-regulating my emotions and staying in functional adult mode. I think it’s pretty safe to say this can be attributed to the various traumatic events I’ve experienced throughout my life.

I’ve been working on this for some time now and, for the most part, I can regulate pretty well. I think, now, it’s the unexpected triggers that get me the most.

Yesterday something happened that triggered me or rather jolted me out of my functional adult and I lost my ability to regulate my emotions. I won’t go too into detail with what happened because that’s not the point of this post. I was involved in a conversation that triggered a lot of different emotions over the span of about 5 minutes. A sense of fear, anger, panic, a feeling of broken trust, confusion, hurt, and in some ways a sort devastation all washed over me. I didn’t know what to do with it all, so I shut down. I shut down until I could begin to process everything.

I knew in that moment that my functional adult took a backseat and my adaptive child took over, as she has a tendency to do when an emotional threat has been triggered. She steps in, shuts down, disconnects and puts emotions on lock-down. By the time she is done, no emotions get in and no emotions get out…depending on how big of an emotional threat has been triggered. Yesterday’s trigger felt pretty damn big.

The moment I was away from the situation my adaptive child started working overtime. She was going into lock-down mode. No more caring, no more letting people in, no more opening up, no more feeling. the beginning of complete disconnect was setting in. But first, it had to be made known that I was upset and why I was upset.

During this whole emotional whirlwind, my functional adult was fighting to gain control again. I knew that disconnecting wasn’t the healthy way to go. I knew that my adaptive child had taken over and that I needed to find my center again.

And then it wasn’t long and my wounded child came along. I began to feel guilty for being upset with what had happened. I began to feel like everything was my fault and that I messed up. I became afraid that I was going to lose this incredibly important relationship because I had gotten upset and expressed how I felt and why. My wounded child has an incredible fear of being a disappointment, of not being good enough, of not being wanted or loved. While my wounded child is adorable, she is also full of fear and sadness. I apologized for having upset or hurt this person, if I had, by expressing what I was feeling.

After several hours my functional adult has taken control again, mostly. I’m still upset about what happened, but I’m no longer in disconnect mode. There is still some lingering fear around what this will do to the relationship. I’m hopeful that it will be water under the bridge.

Recovering for developmental trauma is not easy work. It is hard work trying to maintain a constant awareness of my emotions and where they come from; it’s learning to stay in my functional adult and to manage my adaptive child and wounded child; it’s learning to swallow my adaptive child’s ego and admit when I over react emotionally; it’s learning to love and care for myself, wounded child, and adaptive child; it’s learning self-regulating; it’s learning that I am not responsible for all things that go wrong; it’s learning to believe that I am capable, I am worthy, I am lovable, and I am good enough; it’s learning that I don’t have to apologize for feeling hurt or upset about something, as long as I express my feelings in a respectful way. Recovery is basically a complete rewiring of the brain.

For me, once the trigger has been pulled it can be very hard to find my center again. It is a process to say the least. While this was a pretty big emotional trigger, it has been easier in some ways to work through. I know in my heart that this person never had any intent to hurt me. Even so, the process to get to where I am now from where I was yesterday has been long and emotionally exhausting. I’m still working towards finding my center again, but I’m a lot closer than I was yesterday.

I plan to devote time, during what is left of my weekend, to finding my center through sitting in silent contemplation, meditation, and yoga.

I’m learning that recovering from developmental trauma takes time, practice, compassion for one’s self, and patience. I’m learning that I’ve come too far to give up now. I’m learning that there are going to be triggers, even from unexpected people, and that it may take time to get back to center, but if I can keep an open mind, an open heart, and an awareness of who is in control that I will always be able to pull myself out and back to center. In time I may even be able to manage all triggers and remain in my healthy center.




This Life is Mine

As of late I’ve been encouraging myself to own my story. To stop talking about it as though it is someone else’s story that I’m telling. To stop dissociating myself from my story. It’s much easier said than done. Having said that, I’m very aware that I will be unable to fully heal until I’m able to own it, to feel it, to mourn for it, to cry for it, and to process it as the reality that it is rather than be so passive and dismissive of it.

I’ve spent a lifetime being someone I thought I was supposed to be. I’ve spent a lifetime creating failure through self-sabotage. I’ve spent a lifetime feeling that I’m not good enough, I’m not worthy enough, I’m not lovable, I’m insignificant, that I have no voice (at least not one worthy of being heard), that my feelings don’t matter, and the list goes on. While I’m now told that these beliefs I’ve had about myself, are in no way true, I still struggle daily to believe otherwise.

I had a dream last night that hit me like a ton of bricks within the first 5 minutes of waking this morning. I’m unsure if there were 3 separate dreams or if they are all part of the same dream. What I do know is that several of the same emotions connected all of it.

*Names have been changed*

The first thing I remember about my dream is Steve. He was back in my life,
we were sexually active, and I was back on birth control. I felt a sort of
numbness about this and what little emotion I was feeling was shame and
guilt. I was going against my own wants and needs, against the person I
strive to be; I had no explanation for why I was doing this to myself.

End of that segment of the dream. Steve is no longer part of the dream in
anyway (again, I’m not sure if it is all one dream or 3 separate dreams)

I am at some house waiting outside with a woman whom I am in a relationship
with (at no point does this woman ever have a name). She is younger than me
(at least in real life, but I’m not sure how old I am in the dream), she is
shorter than me, slightly darker skin than me, she has dark hair, she is
thin and in good shape. We seem happy together.

While we are waiting outside a truck pulls up and a couple of guys get out.
They seem a bit like some “good ole boys”, which has me a bit unsettled, but
the unknown woman and I seem to know them and are friendly with them. It
wasn’t until they arrived and got out of the truck that I had an awareness
that we were waiting for them to arrive to tell us the gender of the baby
the unknown woman was carrying. It was like I knew what we were waiting for
the whole time, but it wasn’t clear until they got there.

The guys reported that she was going to have a baby girl. We were both so
elated. We embraced each other and cried tears of joy. She already had a son
and now we were about to have a baby girl. The situation in the dream was
that she had her son with her ex and the baby girl was also her ex’s, but
he was no longer part of the picture at all. So the kids were our.

Note: In the Steve segment, I was on birth control. In this segment I was
elated to be having another child with this unknown woman whom I seemed to
have deep feelings for. End of this segment of the dream

Now I’m at a wedding (I don’t know whose wedding it is, but I’m a member
of the wedding party. I never discover who the couple is during the dream.)
The venue is a huge beautiful mansion. Most of which seems to go unused.
At the wedding are some people I know. My mom, one of my sisters, the
Unknown Woman (not pregnant and we have no children in this segment. We are
in a relationship though), Stephanie (an ex in real life), Tina (a real life
co-worker), Carol (another real life co-worker), and Dave (a real life guy
I’ve known for several years). There are also several people that I don’t
know at this wedding.

At one point, I see my sister talking with someone. She is on a level about
5 steps up from where I am standing. I can’t see who she is talking with
but she looks to be talking to someone who is on a level below her. To my
left there are a set of about 5 steps going down. She is talking with
someone standing down there (it is a loft like set up, hard to explain).
Then I hear the voice of the person she is talking to. It’s my mom. I peak
down the steps, but I can’t see her. I stood there for a moment, completely
unnoticed. I walked up the steps to where my sister was standing, then we
were all on the same level.

In this segment of the dream it seems I have relations with the Unknown
Woman whom I have real feelings for, Stephanie, and Tina. In the dream
I have no feelings for Stephanie or Tina, but I am still having relations
with them. At no point in my dream are there acts of intimacy with them,
but I have an awareness throughout this segment that there are things
between us.

While waiting for the Unknown Woman to finish in the rest room, David
appears in a stairwell off of the area I am waiting. I feel uneasy with his
presence and it feels like I am betraying a friend by conversing with him.
The conversation doesn’t last long with David and he never appears in the
dream again.

I wander into a room; it is mostly empty. There is a chair, an over-sized
chair I think. There are also some boxes in various places throughout the
room. Otherwise it is a large empty room. The Unknown Woman appears in the
chair (I can’t say if she was there when I walked in or not). I walk over to
her and say, “we should find an air mattress or something and sleep in here
tonight. The room is empty, we should be undisturbed in here. We could talk
and get to know each other better.” We both laughed a little at the idea,
I sat down next to her in the chair, she leaned into me and I wrapped my
arms around her. We sat talking for a moment about how we wish we had more
time alone together (I’m not sure why we didn’t and I don’t discover why
during the dream). After what seems like only minutes people enter the room,
it’s time for photo’s of the wedding party. The Unknown Woman and I make
our way to the patio with reluctance of having to leave that moment we had
together (that is the last time I see the Unknown Woman).

While out on the patio, Carol calls me over to talk with her about a
co-worker that sits 2 desks down from her at work. At this point I notice
that Tina is standing by my side while I’m talking with Carol. I don’t
recall what Carol was saying, but it had a negative vibe. While Tina is
present during our conversation, I pay her no mind.

End of Segment

I’m in my bedroom (my dream version of it anyways). I notice there is a TV
on a table or dresser in my room and it sits atop a DVD or Blu-Ray player.
My first thought is that I can use it for my Yoga DVD’s. The following
thought was that Stephanie would be so happy that we can lie in bed together
and watch TV. In this segment I’m in relationship with Stephanie. My aim is
to make her happy regardless of what I feel, which was not much of anything.

End of Segment

I’m in my shower, alone. I close my eyes and lather them with soap, just
my eyes, not the rest of my face. With my eyes lathered a feeling of fear
comes over me. A feeling like I’m not alone. I rinse my eyes and open them
as quickly as I can. The room is darker than it was before I closed my eyes.
I peak my head out from behind the shower curtain to see if anyone is
standing there. A feeling of relief washes over me at the realization that
there is no one there. As I turn to resume my shower, I catch a glimpse of
the mirror out of the corner of my eye. I pause with fear and stare at the
reflection looking back at me. It was monstrous and terrifying. I leapt out
of the shower to run, but it was then that I realized the monster looking
back at me was, me.

I was fear stricken. I looked so terrifying. My hair was long, black, and
gnarled. The bones in my face seemed larger and looked as though they would
pop through my skin at any moment. My eyes were dark and deep. My skin was
rough, splitting, and colored with areas of dark blue, dark purple, and
grey. The more I stared the less afraid I became. “No! This is not real.
This is not me. This is a dream. You’re dreaming. Wake up!”, I said to the
hideous face in the mirror. I began to wipe my face with my hands in an
almost slapping manner, “This is not who you are. This is not you.”, I said
again, to myself, as I frantically wiped the hideous mask off of my face.
Once I had cleared my face of most of the monstrous mask, I fell to the
floor. I sat leaned against the outside of the tub/shower. The water was
still running. I was spent, exhausted, overwhelmed by what had just taken
place. I placed my hands under the running water. I noticed I was wearing
what looked like work gloves. I was confused as to why I had them on and
where they came from. I also noticed that I was wearing my work fleece.
My gloves and fleece were getting soaked. I didn’t care, I kept splashing
water on my face. I needed to cleanse myself of all of what I had just
seen. I felt like I needed to completely submerge myself in water to free
myself of that horrible mask and image. While I could’ve climbed into the
tub and done just that, I didn’t, I sat outside of it and continued to
splash water on my face.

I wake up. End of dream

Upon waking up, while the dream lingered, I didn’t give it much thought. I tried to shrug it off, but was mindful of the uneasy emotions I was feeling from it.

My typical morning routine is to wake up and check Facebook. This morning was no different than any other, or so it seemed.

This was the first thing I came across on Facebook this morning:


Could The Universe have sent me a clearer sign? Probably not!

After I read this, I took a moment of silence, to close my eyes, and to reflect on the dream I had just awoke from.

I felt deeply for the Unknown Woman, but I betrayed her and myself by being involved with Stephanie and Tina, whom I had no feelings for, but they were both happy.

I betrayed myself with Steve in the first segment of my dream. I didn’t want to be with him, but he was happy.

While I could hear my mom, I couldn’t see her. I could only see my sister. My presence went unnoticed. I felt invisible, set apart, I didn’t belong. It wasn’t until I sought out my mom, from where my sister stood that we were all on the same level (I haven’t worked all of this part of the dream out yet, but it feels like something runs very deep there).

As I laid silently in my bed with eyes closed, I realized that throughout every segment of my dream I carried with me guilt and shame. I realized the hurt and fear that came with wiping off that face/mask in my dream. I laid there in my bed sobbing at the realization that I matter, that I’ve been hiding behind some hideous mask/face that is not mine. I sobbed because this life I’ve lived for 38 years hasn’t really been mine at all. I sobbed because of the freedom that comes from finally having this awareness.

It’s time I take off the mask that was given me. It’s time I start owning my story. It’s time I stop running madly and stand still instead. It’s time I stand still and allow myself to “feel my own weight and density”. It’s time I wear my own face. It’s time I start living from my heart rather than from the false thoughts I’ve believed about myself for so many years.

Now is the time I become myself without regret, without hesitation, with pride, with courage, with determination, with an open heart and an open mind.

I see you and I hear you.

This life, this life is mine.