The Duffer's Diary
Oh Hello, Misplaced Trauma-Based Anger
Riding the Trauma Feels Rollercoaster
Originally published on Medium 17th December 2020 in The Venting Machine
I had one of those misplaced anger moments that are common to people who have experienced trauma or are PTSD sufferers. Thanks to a lot of healing meditation that is helping me weather the storm, I’m getting better at assessing my feelings when they arise and am getting better at recognizing them for what they are. Anyway… I was thinking about a frustrating circumstance at work regarding HR and Occupational Health (I’m off sick at the moment so it was completely one of those “heated discussion in my head” situations) and I imagined that I was in an argument with the involved parties.
I’ve found that since I’ve been referred for treatment, you mention those four magical little letters and people try to diminish my feelings about all of this, which is frankly, quite irritating. I understand that there are many misconceptions about the mental health conditions arising from Trauma and PTSD, but I’m not really up to educating people about it at the moment. I just need their help.
Being referred for Trauma-based treatment has been a lot to take in, especially as it appears to have been the root cause of a bunch of emotional and physical issues over more than a decade. I’m navigating my way through to a point where I am finally listening to my body’s profound and unsettling responses to external stimuli and as well as my own thoughts, while consciously choosing different strategies to work through those automatic physical responses that drag me onto the psychological dung heap and roll me around.
The situation that I imagined was this, in the purely fictional conversation that I had constructed, I felt that I wasn’t being listened to. Rage took the helm and angry “fake” me lost it and shouted at the people in my scenario. My face flushed, my heartbeat was thundering in my ringing ears and I could think of nothing else. It is the pure fury of a person who is trying to recover from being completely and consistently disempowered, who has been in denial about it for a very long time and also uncomfortably, feeling those old feelings anew because the genie decided that it “didn’t want to live in the bottle anymore” and spilled all over my life.
I (internally) bellowed: “YOU try being cornered in rooms for hours, while someone shouts all of your perceived short coming at you! YOU try dealing with someone who loses their temper and threatens to kill themselves on a weekly basis all “because of you”! YOU try pretending everything is fine when you are breaking inside because of some new badly thought through idea that you have to go along with and be grateful for! YOU try being married to someone who flips out on you because you breathe in, or you aren’t tall enough (?!), or because you can’t do the shopping because you have a chest infection! YOU try living with someone who threatens people to the extent that they start throwing bricks through your windows! Who rings you at work multiple times a day and start arguments! AND these are just the bits I feel comfortable to share!!!”
My upper back and shoulders beginning to hurt was the sensory feedback that poked me into conscious presence in my body, in the now. There was a dull throb over my left temple.
I’ve never managed to take a step away from these feelings before, and today, it just happened on its own. What came to me was this. At no point during *any* of my interactions with anyone, have I expressed that howl of helplessness. I’ve talked about it in a particular way, thinking it would help. I’ve turned the events that can be milked for comedy value, into just that, little routines that deflect from the horror, and created a figure of something that vaguely, darkly resembles “fun”.
I’ve tried to be reasonable and measured in my retelling of the tale, despite the internalized roar of feelings that I’ve drowned out, telling myself I was “getting over it” and it’s “all in the past”. The problem is that eventually, trauma decides on its own that it’s going to muscle its way front and center, no matter how much you try.
I realized that making these people truly understand what I went through was basically irrelevant. That’s not their job, they don’t need to “get it”, they just need to help me get back to work in an effective way, something that feels some way away at present. This isn’t helped by waiting for treatment and waiting for workplace support systems to be put in place.
What they don’t need is to be the focus of my anger, even in a fantasy. I’d used my imagination to construct a fiction where I could just let it all out: the shame, the fear, the self-loathing, the fury. Imagining that this would help them understand when understanding isn’t what required. Healing, radical self-care, love, self-acceptance, and lots of therapy are what’s needed, and may I be strong enough to bless myself with the patience to meet this head-on.