I hung out with a friend for a few hours yesterday. We were chatting, and somehow got onto the topic of abuse in families. She ended up disclosing quite a bit of her own abuse history. At the time it wasn’t too triggering (at least not consciously). I slipped so easily into detachment that it didn’t phase me much to listen to her talk about the generational and pervasive abuses. I teared-up a few times at the more horrific stories, but managed to remain balanced.
It’s been a slow build since. I’m noticing the body memories more intensely this morning. I had dreams that wove her stories with my own, and also included some random elements. I was as detached in the dreams as I was hearing her stories (I have to admit I didn’t really listen to what she was saying in an effort to keep it all at a distance). This morning though, the dreams are effecting me. The body memories are building in intensity, and that creeped-out, triggered feeling is growing. I’m doing my best to ground from it right now. I contacted Dr C and asked for an additional session this week. I’m not in crisis or too overwhelmed, but I also don’t want to get to that point before I see her again. L is working a bunch of extra hours this week, so I won’t really have her around to either talk to or try to balance with… you’d think I’d be better at self-regulating by now.
I just keep thinking about a concept De and I had been working on: conversation, not crisis. I want to be able to have a conversation around these triggers rather than simply reach out once I’m in a hugely panicked state. I know I can hold off the crisis for a while, but once I reach my limit, I go quickly from “functioning” to “wholly fucked-up”.
For some reason I feel a need to justify this decision to both myself and others. There’s this voice in my head deriding me for being “too needy” and saying I should be able to handle such a small trigger myself, without being so clingy and needy… I should know how to manage this myself. I shouldn’t be so helpless around this. I should be ok to go till seeing Dr C again at the end of next week. I shouldn’t start this pattern of neediness again so soon. She’ll get frustrated with me, L will get worried, I will turn into a hopeless mess if I give in at this early stage. my friend’s story shouldn’t be triggering. I have enough defenses that I should be able to get through this till I’m scheduled to see Dr C again… but there’s also this little worried whisper in the back of my head. It worries that trying to handle this trigger while still stressed from the move will be just enough to trip me into trouble. I don’t want to risk needing a higher level of care right now. I was at that point before I left, and I don’t want to get back there. I know I’m exhausted. I know I’m already stressing about so much. Dr C is ok with the extra time, so I should be ok with it also… the rational part of me is all about being overly-cautious at the moment, but there’s another part that fears reaching out and all it has meant in the past.
I’m scared of disappointing people by not being able to handle this. I’m scared of living up to the expectation that I’m just a worthless, hot mess…
So is this good self-care? Or is it being too needy? How do I know?