The Past

i realize tonight – maybe not for the first time, but still with a sense of shock – that when someone can’t find something, it creates a panic-y feeling inside me.  i feel it in my stomach and my chest – a tightness, a churning feeling – and i have an urgent need to FIND whatever it is  – and find it quickly – right now!!

i have not been married to my first husband for over 15 years.  He never hit me, just got explosively angry, screamed and yelled and cussed, and still 15 years later, i am mentally cringing because someone can’t find something.  Their keys, their purse, their glass of water  – doesn’t matter what it is.  The panic fills  me.

No one would ever know that.  i am the epitome of calm.  i barely know it myself.  But there it is.

i whisper about it here.


15 thoughts on “The Past

  1. vanillamom

    hmmm…how does one move past that? Sometimes the animal brain just takes over and runs with it…and all logic just gets dumped overboard. Sending hugs and calming waves of peace…


    1. sofia Post author

      Yeah, i don’t know how you “move past it” forever, but i think knowing that it’s happening is the first step. Then when i notice it, i can remind myself that it’s ok, that i don’t need to panic. But i may have to do that forever.

  2. monkey

    My stomach still cramps when someone expresses disappointment with me, and in the face of expressed anger? My inner child cowers, but like you, no one would ever know. Warm hugs, sister of my heart.

    1. sofia Post author

      Thanks, Fury – no, for sure we can’t, and we don’t have to either, change the way we feel, or even try to change it. Recognizing that is really helpful.

  3. greengirliam

    It seems so random to me, the things that will leap out of the past to grab us while others don’t. I think that’s part of what makes us vulnerable to them, the unexpected and random of it.
    I admire how wise you are in how you deal with yourself. Peace.

    1. sofia Post author

      Thanks, Greengirl – you know, this is a thing that i know a lot about, which doesn’t actually help much in that moment, but sure does afterwards. Thank you so much

  4. LadyP

    Dear Sofia
    You know very well that you just discovered a trauma trigger.
    A friend of mine once told me about her sister throwing a teaspoon in a kitchen sink, which made her instantly panic. Sister said: “Oh, you know that sound too, ha?” Their father was a binge drinker, and would slap their mom around, when he got angry. Apparently, the teaspoon in the sink, was the signal of coming abuse.
    When we’re afraid and our world is threathened, senses sharpen and we register little signs, in order to be prepared for next time. As Nilla said – animal brain takes over.
    Embrace you trigger – it helped keeping you safe once. You don’t need to seek cover anymore.

    1. sofia Post author

      I know, and that’s pretty cool, isn’t it? That i don’t have to brace myself for the ensuing verbal abuse. Thanks for the support, Lady P!

  5. jadescastle

    You are so self-aware that it is almost hard to think of someone being verbally abusive at you for years on end. You know the skills already to move through this. i think that is the key. We can’t move *past* it, but we can breathe, still ourselves, acknowledge it, and move *through* our past traumas. It’s interesting how sound and smell in particular can become imbedded and induce a reaction. On Friday, they are doing some kind of work outside our building. There is a repeated sound of tires screeching and my stomach responds by taking flight, due to the last car wreck, where we went airborne in my brother’s attempt to kill all of us together. Or at least our mother. i sat with it, forced my blood pressure down, and lit scented candles to incorporate more feelings of being here and less reactions to being in that car. A couple of weeks ago, a glass ashtray broke, and i immediately blurted, “i’m sorry” though i had nothing to do with it and knew that. It sounded like a please-do-not-hit-me voice and i felt a sense of shame, for how plain it was that i had been physically abused. It took me awhile to move through it. i actually accepted responsibility for the broken glass, even though i knew for sure i hadn’t done it. Fortunately, Sir Raven is marvelous with these situations. She’s a real pro, seeing how many glasses i have broken over time on accident. i do hope that you are able to share this information with your Sir, so he can be aware. i keep thinking of the miserable mandated group therapy meetings where presenters would come to the domestic violence shelter and inform us that 20 years removed, they still are triggered. At the time, i hated hearing this. Now, i’m grateful, because it lets me know that the initial anxiety is natural. What matters most is that i take control as soon as possible.

    1. sofia Post author

      Yeah, i think being able to recognize what’s happening and deal with it without blaming oneself for feeling it is super important. {i think that’s what you’re saying, at least in part…} For real, there is no shame in having experienced what we went through and no shame in being triggered. i suspect that being able to recognize that is helpful. i appreciate you sharing your experience here.

      And you know, i didn’t think it was verbal abuse, i thought he just had tantrums, and i learned how to shut him out {um, dissociate a bit} so it didn’t bother me. Shrug. We grow and we learn, thank goodness.


  6. Wordwytch

    It’s hard. Sofia, I’m right there with you on that panic. Routine helps. Always put things in the same space, etc. On the other end, be systematic on the search, and the whole time, think…”There is nothing to panic over!” I know it sounds dumb, but it works for me. It’s been 10 years since I mentally walked away from the ex. Yet, there are times that the “bad tapes” zap me a good one.

    Lots of love and hugs!


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