Only 2 triggers

I’m sick. I am not deathly ill or anything. Just this viral flu-ey thing that I could probably muddle on with except that I don’t really feel like muddling on. I feel like resting. So I am resting.

It’s scary to do this. I have been thinking about that and several other things amidst the resting.

I am sick, and I want to take care of myself more for emotional reasons than physical reasons. Sickness is very triggering. There are lots of other triggers in my life that I can’t do anything about: there are power tools going all day, the Literary Club has an event coming up that I have been organizing in VP Ma’am’s absence, then VP Ma’am came back all atwitter because she suddenly realized she has money problems due to her husband’s death last year—he left her with a lot of debts and then died, depriving her of his pension, because there is no concept of spousal benefits here after a partner dies. Meanwhile, the interest is compounding.

Her being atwitter makes me stressed, because she randomly attacks me. She might have always randomly attacked me, but anyway I have put it together now. So I am constantly braced for it whenever she makes an appearance. She may randomly attack me now. I have no idea. It would not matter, except that it’s so triggering for me, to have someone feel actual malice for me. She has also asked to borrow a whole bunch of money. Unfortunately she knows I am paying for a college loan with savings I have in the US, and she has no concept of money for me, or that she is asking for an enormous sum. She has promised to pay it back in November, which is just a few months away, because I know financially that I am going to struggle quite a lot next year. I am making a significant sacrifice to come back to Country X in 2018 in hopes that this will help C, because for 12 months it will essentially make me unhireable. VP Ma’am said very lightly, “Oh, your sister is there. You don’t need to worry. You can borrow money from her.” But she has no concept that my sister has two small kids, works part time, just went through a divorce last year which is always expensive (and lost the house in the process), and loaning me money would cause my sister no end of stress. VP Ma’am seems to have no concept that in the West we do not merely transfer our problems to other people, and it is not acceptable for me to help VP Ma’am at the expense of my sister, and that I feel comfortable making a sacrifice for C only if this does not really affect other people too profoundly.

The fact is that actually I have no way to withdraw money from that account. There ought to be a way, but there isn’t. After 3 years, I have completely forgotten the code for my debit card (which is in the US). I am pretty sure it is written down somewhere, but I don’t know where, and no one has been able to find it. I have designated a friend as having Financial Power of Attorney and she has the documents to prove this, as does the bank, but they do not seem to care. I have been through all this because twice now I have had to activate a new debit card and the first time around, it would not work until we finally realized it was linked to a different phone number and all that needed to be done was to call from a different phone.

I did sort of tell her this, and she pressed me. The thing about Country X is that no does not really mean no. It means you need to get all upset and emotional so that I give in. It’s basically an extension of the tantrum, which you see in action here among small kids. The parent says no, the child tantrums, and the parent switches to yes. Meanwhile, Country X parents frequently complain about their kids being badly behaved. Well, why is that? Because no has never meant no, and your child spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to get no to mean yes.

So I am stressed about this, because I will have to tell her clearly no and I half expect a grownup tantrum. It’s nice for me that I do have this ironclad reason that the answer is no, and not just that the amount of stress loaning that amount of money to someone is not worth it, if you feel you can get the money you need in two months anyway.

Anyway, the fact is that I can’t really handle all the triggers at once. The hard part about being sick is that it is a trigger, so I get to try to process the trigger of being sick while feeling less than 100%. Also, they are using power tools again across the street, and so I am not really able to rest. I am able to lie on the couch with that pain in my stomach that I think is a baby screaming, trying to cope with that and be sick, but at least minus all of the other stresses. Not the Literary activity, not my students, not VP Ma’am’s random attacks.


12 thoughts on “Only 2 triggers

  1. Rachel August 12, 2016 / 11:37 am

    You have many triggers right now, it doesn’t surprise me you are sick. I’m sorry you are sick; physical anything triggers me. Even minor aches and pains, menstrual cramps, any “off-ness” in the body. It makes sense thinking of it in terms of your baby theories; little babies are entirely dependent and when they feel sick they just cry and cry and fuss and depend on parents to make them feel better. If we didn’t learn to regulate, and no one else cared for us when we were sick, it is going to be another time to feel the “badness” of something outside of ourselves. I don’t know if that made any sense.
    Mostly I just wanted to say I hope you feel better. And I hope she backs off about the money.

    • Ashana M August 12, 2016 / 11:49 am

      I have been thinking that my mother was very angry when I got sick, at least sometimes, especially if I was fussy and couldn’t be comforted. I really do think it indicted her ability as a parent. I have been thinking about it, because VP Ma’am usually criticizes me when I sick, kind of indirectly, as though she is trying to scare me into getting well. And as I was thinking about that, it made me think of my mom. My mom would have said, “It’s because you didn’t wear a jacket outside and you got a chill,” or “You got wet in the rain,” or whatever. I don’t consciously remember that, because I wouldn’t have wanted to hear that, let alone remember it, but I do think she had to make it my fault that I was sick, because she felt ashamed and angry. It couldn’t just be that kids get sick. It had to be someone’s fault, and she didn’t want it to be her fault. I do think shame was at the core of a lot of my mom’s behaviour towards me. Her mother had a different personality–more simply callous–but my mother was more like me, more traumatized, more flooded with implicit memories she couldn’t understand.

      • Rachel August 12, 2016 / 12:30 pm

        Our mothers sound so similar sometimes. If I was ever sick, my mom was livid. Absolutely livid that I needed extra attention or care (which my stepdad provided anyways). Couldn’t just be ‘my poor child.’ No, more like ‘that little bitch.’
        Your mother’s shame profoundly wounded you. Her inability to tolerate the slightest shifts in need or the unexpected set you up to also feel so frightened, when life turns and twists. And then create some story how you really ought to not be that way. So tragic. And unfair.

      • Ashana M August 12, 2016 / 5:23 pm

        The thing I keep going back to is that she wanted help. She was in therapy for all of my childhood.She didn’t want to be like that, but it used to be that borderline was seen as kind of a hopeless diagnosis.and if the patient could be kind of stabilized and not constantly suicidal or psychotic, then that was the best that could be done, so she wasn’t given the care she needed and I suffered because of it.

        Your mom really could not see you. She couldn’t see your needs were not intended to antagonistically. They weren’t intended to cause her more stress. You just needed her. I have these moments of paranoia, that I have noticed VP has also. She is always worried someone has cheated her or taken advantage of her. It’s just fear running wild in the mind. It sounds like that happened with your mother. She couldn’t see you, because there was this fear of being used or exploited or taken advantage of running wild in her mind.

      • Rachel August 12, 2016 / 8:52 pm

        Interesting she was in therapy, I hadn’t picked up on that before from your writing. It is very sad how “borderlines” used to be treated and viewed. Just perpetuates the self-hatred when no one expects you to really change or feel better in a lasting, deeper way. Sad for her, and very much for you.
        Antagonistically is a great word, that really sums up how I often felt. That I was antagonizing my mother by being in her presence. I sort of understand it, I feel that way sometimes about the dog I live with. I often get the anger of “she is in my way.” Then I catch myself “wow, this is a DOG. Just wanting my attention.”
        I have the same paranoias about being taken advantage of. This stuff gets so entrenched.

      • Ashana M August 13, 2016 / 4:40 pm

        I don’t think I had mentioned the therapy. I don’t think it helped. I am struck sometimes by the lack of curiosity about it and also the lack of resolve. As a teacher, I think, there has to be a way to do this. There has to be a way to get through to this child, to get them to learn or to get them to behave. And my mother’s therapist (and mine) didn’t have that. It was like, well, it just takes a long time and it will happen when the patient is ready. I don’t get that attitude of complacency about it.

        One difference with the dog is that she isn’t your dog. You were your mother’s child. It’s sad.

        I have noticed the paranoia for me comes on the heels of other triggers, so when I start feeling it rise up, I look at what happened within the last 5 minutes. Was there a departure or separation, did I think about one, did I just hear a power tool start up, was a car idling, was someone chewing gum next to me, did someone take a picture of me or near me? I didn’t used to have any idea what my triggers were. That kind of brain search would have just pulled up other anxieties, but now I can do that and then think that at least some of the reaction I am having is about the trigger and put it in some kind of context. It’s not like no one ever tries to take advantage me or manipulate me as an adult,
        but if there is a context for it, that dials down the reaction. The downside to this is that it doesn’t always mean nothing is happening in the present. They do coincide. I was waiting for the bus at the start of midterm and happened to cross paths with the matron, and I saw a flash of something in her eyes, and I dismissed that, because I was in the midst of an enormously triggering experience (separation from C). Well, she was furious, and she took it out on C. But now I kind of have it. I know what furious looks like, even when someone very quickly suppresses. I’ve seen it, I was able to stay present enough to process it and to remember it later when C told me what the matron had done, and I can match up that look of fury with the look that VP Ma’am gets just before attacking me. The next time someone gets irrationally furious at me, I’ll recognize it. That’s probably something I couldn’t have done before. I would have been too dissociated to put those pieces together and to have the memory to link together with other memories. It wouldn’t be something I could put into the situation as one of the pieces of information about it.

      • Rachel August 15, 2016 / 9:44 pm

        That is really smart, to consider what else has happened in recent history, when feeling the paranoia. I am going to keep that in mind for myself. The context really does help calm, not sure why, but I do see in myself also that it does.
        Yes exactly, the complacency of therapists “they will change when they are ready” is something I find wildly untherapeutic and passive. I don’t get it, I have never taken that approach with people, nor found it helpful in my personal therapy. It has such a shaming feeling to it (in my opinion). Shaming people for their struggles and difficulties.

      • Ashana M August 16, 2016 / 5:18 pm

        One thing I realized is that the paranoia does not mean that nothing is wrong. It means I am very attentive to it and whatever could be wrong is ratcheted up about 10 fold in intensity. Realizing something triggering happened recently or is about to happen lets me ratchet it down a little in my mind or at least take a pause before assessing it if that’s possible–like, just note, that could be a problem. Let me think about that again in an hour or a day or whatever after I am a little more reasonable again.

        The thing about “when they are ready” is it just seems unbelievably lazy and incurious. I have a hard time grappling with the lack of curiosity about why it’s not working. I can’t relate to it. As a client, it made me feel terribly helpless. When am I going to be ready? Is there some way of making myself ready? That really made it harder for me. But actually there was a huge amount I could do and was not aware of.

  2. desilef August 12, 2016 / 8:58 pm

    I am so sorry you’re dealing with so much. I would like to tell VP Ma’am that your illness is highly contagious so she would go away!

    • Ashana M August 13, 2016 / 4:22 pm

      They don’t have the same sense of how diseases are spread, so it wouldn’t be much of a deterrent. They are mostly superstitious about illness. (They believe conjunctivitis is spread through eye contact and seeing a snake can make you sick. I’ve heard an even weirder one than that, but I can’t remember it.)

  3. Cat's Meow August 13, 2016 / 1:52 pm

    Wow. So many triggers. I hope that the illness at least goes away soon, so there is one less.

    • Ashana M August 14, 2016 / 6:00 pm

      It did. Now on to the next batch. 🙂 It seems like life is usually like that. 🙂

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