I caught my first cold of the season and spent the last two weeks trying to take care of myself.
Between that and cramps, last week felt like an emotional roller coaster. And the triggers kept piling on themselves. The voices, the negative self talk, the memory fragments deisgned to shame me into self-harm or reckless behavior, and the pressure of feeling sick without knowing if I was sick or experiencing body memories made for a tiring week.
Emotion regulation is something I struggle with a lot. When my temper is loosed or my internal defense mechanisms get triggered, the words and tone of voice coming out of my mouth are harsh, blunt, honest, to-the-point, and designed to bring the indiviual’s weakest points or insecurities in his or her face. The tone of voice deep, loud, and commanding – aka harsh and bitchy to some – and does not take prisoners.
I don’t always remember what I say to people – usually this kind of reaction triggers a switch in alter personalities – in the moment. But I find out afterwards in dreams and dissociative moments. I also know this happened by the way people react to me afterwards. With coldness – silent treatment or the cold shoulder or chilly politness – and insulting rudeness whenever I try to talk to them or they have to talk to me. And they rale the anger out in smeaky passive-agressive ways like saying one thing and doing something else, spreading nasty rumors, making promises and not keeping them, lying, and trying to blame me for all of it.
That is some of what I have been remembering this past week.
On the flip side, I have also been remembering what my third therapist taught me about these moments:
1) I have a right to feel angry and express myself with assertive/ non-aggressive tone and language that is honest without being mean or insulting.
2) The language I used (my alters recounted my words and sometimes the other individual’s words too) was not inappropriate for the situation. My tone was not as modulated as I would have liked, but it was not aggressive either.
3) My body language does get confusing because I automatically go into a protective stance that can read as agressive to others. Plus my aura and energy spikes so I appear larger and stonger than my physical presence suggests.
4) I was taught to hold everything in and then trapped or baited into losing my temper/raging by my abusers as proof to everyone else how mean and unstable I was. They shamed me and taught me I was uncontrolled and dangerous and abusive and scary for no reason so I couldn’t ever be angry. I couldn’t control the feelings or the words or the violence that came with getting angry for a long time. And people used it against me because of the obvious guilt and shame every loss induced.
5) I am not the type of person who deliberately is mean or insulting to others. That comes out as a defensice mechanism to protect myself. However, I am perceptive and learned how to read people at an early age – survival skill. That skill comes into play when I lose my temper and put one or more persons in their place.
6) I am not responsible for how other people act or react towards me, but I am responsible for how I act or react to myself and others. That said, I do step up and try to make amends if I am wrong.
7) Often the people who call me harsh and bitchy are the ones who have crossed my boundaries more than once and did not listen the first, second, or many times I respectfully and politely let them know and reset the boundary. They don’t like hearing what I have to say or that I won’t take responsibilty for their part in what happened along with my part. Nor are they happy I caught them in lies, broken promises, and acts of trying to manipulate me. So they blame me, project on me, and treat me poorly to try and shame me into obeying their rules instead of sticking to my boundaries.
It’s a conundrum because I still don’t really understand the difference between friendly polite and friendly crossing boundaries well. Small talk is difficult and my opinions, when I give them, are strong. I also am not very subtle or smooth; I am blunt in my speech. And I don’t take insults well; in fact I tend to turn them around on the givers and piss them off.
But even know all of this, using emotion regulation coping techniques, realizing that I did not do or say anything shameful, mean, or insulting does not stop me from being triggered and sxperiencing the backlash that comes from expressing my anger and frustration and sadness.
When I get sick, my emotions are all over the place. My alters get scared. Do I have to take medicine? Will I have to go to the doctor? Am I safe? How will I tale care of myself? How will I sleep and rest with everything on my to-do list? How can I still get everything done to acoid punishment? Am I really sick or just being lazy like my mom?
And I start to lose control over my emotions and how they are expressed or communicated to others. That scares all of me because it’s when I am most vulnerable to getting into emotionally dangerous situations.
In spite of all of this, I have discovered that people in my new city tend to have very good or very bad boundaries. And interacting with them is teaching me a lot. Especially the people who judge me at face value and then get pissed off because I politely disarm their veiled insults amd condescending attitude by sharing facts and more detailed information to counter their assumptions. Only one time did that not happen; and I made my point by staring her down and politely refusing to make any purchases or sign up for store promotions. All I can say is that I will not be going back their to shop.
Thanks for reading tonight’s rant about struggling with emotional distress and emotion regulation.