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#56667 - 06/30/05 10:51 AM Identifying triggers for the first time
riviera Offline
Member

Registered: 06/01/05
Posts: 59
Loc: Spain
***** Might contains TRIGGERS*****

Hi,

Since my boyfriend (I'll use his first initial from now on= M) started his personal journey to recovery he is having problems coming back home after work. Before he was always rushing home as we are very active and we always have plans for the evenings: go for tapas, watch a movie, play guitar, record music, go for a walk, internet, etc. But since the recovery started he finds this a difficult thing to do. Instead he wanders in the park nearby his job for about 1-2 hours. Sometimes he remembers what he did in that time and sometimes he does not. When he finally arrives home sometimes he is full of anger and sadness. Sometimes he feels lost, lonely and worthless (like last night). Sometimes he talks about it and sometimes he does not. Sometimes he cries ( I have just realized that he hasn't cried in a while). Usually he gets in this 'trance' state of consciousness or he dissociates. Sometimes he feels bad that I am waiting for him not knowing when he would come and in what state. The truth is that I suffer very much for him but I don't tell him.
He reckons he gets thoughts and this thoughts provoke emotions and then he feels that he cannot come home cause that means coming back to HIM and he does not like HIM when he is in that state (feelings of worthlessness, everything is a lie, doesn't know who he is,etc). This 'not coming back home' situation has been happening for almost 4 months and it is getting on a regular basis in the last few weeks. I don't take this personal. I know cause he has told me that it is not cause of me. But him. I know it is part of his recovery and he is just fighting hard to unblock feelings and emotions trapped inside for so long.At the same time he is suffering from stomach aches and other physical complaints.

But yesterday FOR THE FIRST TIME something different happened. We were going to watch a movie. He phoned after work at 6.30 telling me he was coming. He arrived 2h later feeling lost, lonely and completely worthless. Again he could not come straight back home. He said that sometimes he just wants to take a plane and disappear. But he does not do so cause he does not want to hurt me or others. I said that he can do that if that is what he needs to do but he should consider that it might be just another way of escapism that it won't make him feel any better eventually.

I said I was there for him and if he wanted to talk he could. He suddenly (instead of going in a trance) recognized what actually triggered those feelings. For the first time he has identified a trigger. They were at work two days ago talking about movies and then Mystic River came along. They all agreed that it is a good movie and then somebody said that it was very sad what happened to the child. He said that at the time when we watched that movie he was OK cause he had blocked out all the emotions, memories and feelings. But since he is opening it up all the emotions and some memories have come to the surface. Since then he has been fighting, not knowing till yesterday that the conversation about Mystic river brought memories and in turn feelings.
TRIGGER: He then told me that his perp used to cover his face with a pillow as he could not stand looking at him knowing that he was hurting this child. He used to apologized to him but still he would do it again. His perp told him that he should not be corrupting him but he could not help himself (he did not know what that meant at the time as he was just a child). According to M his perp told him briefly one day that he was also abused when he was at a Christian school. M said to me that it was the first time he was telling this to someone. At this point I am totally devastated and I feel very angry and I want to scream and run but instead I stay and listen and support him cause I love him soo much and I'd like him to see how special and fantastic he is.
M started to make connections between those feelings/ situations from the past and the present:

He realized that he hates when people change, when they betray others and themselves. He reckons is because his perp gained his trust during a long long period of time (taking him out, showing him about animals, countryside, getting him presents) and suddenly changed and became a monster. He said it is very difficult to understand why after so long his hero and best pal betrayed him and betrayed himself. He said that he cannot understand why a person who has been abused becomes an abuser. How somebody can destroy a child, a personality, a life after knowing what that is himself. He said that just the thought of it makes him soo sick. He just feels the need of protecting children and finds great that his family always trusted him to take care of their children. He finally said that he does not feel sorry for his perp as he destroyed him and killed parts of him being so young. Since that nothing is natural. Like the first time he had sex with a girl was not natural as it was not the first time for him. Then he said that he was having a very vivid memory of the pillow on top of his head and the perp saying- I should not be corrupting you... the sound , everything...

His perp would also asked him for forgiveness and yet he would repeat it again and again. He hates when somebody says sorry and then does it again.

He has also realized that when we are making love sometimes he covers his face with the pillow when he is close to having an orgasm cause he feels that he has no right to enjoy it. Even though he is enjoying it he feels he does not deserve it. He reckons is because his perp made him feel like he was just a piece of flesh...

All these yesterday made a big difference. It is a HUGE step. He has told me before about the abuse but never made connections with the present. He told about how he felt during the abuse for the first time... Now I have mixed feelings about it.
On one hand I feel good that he has spoken and in some way I hope this will take out some of the emotional stress he is going through at the moment. I hope I am doing the right thing: listening, validating his feelings, reminding him of the good things in our life, giving him the chance to talk and respecting that he might need time on its own. On the other hand I ask myself what is the next step. Is he really making connections or is he just reliving feelings and memories? I fear if he gets stuck there then what... and the consequences.
How all this sound to you?

I have bought him the book Victims no longer. Most of you have recommended it. It hasn't arrived yet but when it does I am not sure how to approach him. I fear he'd take it bad. Do u think that is appropiate to give it to him now?? Now that he is discovering himself??

Thanks for listening and for you advice
Take care
H


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#56668 - 06/30/05 10:08 PM Re: Identifying triggers for the first time
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Riviera

Quote:
I hope I am doing the right thing: listening, validating his feelings, reminding him of the good things in our life, giving him the chance to talk and respecting that he might need time on its own.
That's why he keeps coming home, you're giving him what he needs right now.

Maybe 2 hour walkabouts are a bit much? but if he needs this time then he's going to take it somewhere.

Quote:
Sometimes he feels bad that I am waiting for him not knowing when he would come and in what state. The truth is that I suffer very much for him but I don't tell him.
But you should agree between you about 'his space' so you don't end up worrying about him. Practical stuff like that is a responsibility that we as survivors should accept.

When I was at my low point I finished work at least an hour before my wife, so I would come home and sit in silence, no TV or anything, and just think.
I loved that hour to myself, and would get really annoyed if anyone disturbed it - even my wife coming home early.
I did some good thinking in those hours, as I still do.

I also go for walks on my own in the ancient woods that surround our home, and they are also peaceful ( I know all the 'secret' paths ) Again it's good thinking time.
Sometimes I carried a small notebook and pencil and note down things that come to mind as I walk, I found the notebook the other day and there's some deep and scary reading in there!

I like the movie "Mystic River", but I saw it, and bought the DVD, only recently.
I can understand completely how triggering it could be, especially to someone in the earlier stages of healing. But I think we gain strength from this kind of trigger because there's no way we can make it go away - once we've seen it we HAVE to deal with it.

My big trigger was the singer George Michael getting caught having sex in a Hollywood toilet with a stranger. He went on a big TV chat show in the UK and talked about quite openly.
I was so affected by what he said that I was forced to deal with it, I disclosed my abuse for the very first time a few months later.
George Michael might have saved my life, it's a pity he's a crap singer! ;\)

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#56669 - 07/06/05 09:41 PM Re: Identifying triggers for the first time
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
rivera,

I hope you and your boyfriend are finding some peace these days.

It's easy to fear change when most of the changes in your life have been negative-- but it sounds like there is a lot happening "below the surface" with your boyfriend.

When you see him making positive changes, even small ones, point it out to him. Sooner or later he'll catch on that change can be good, that personal change and growth can be great.

SAR


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#56670 - 07/07/05 07:52 AM Re: Identifying triggers for the first time
riviera Offline
Member

Registered: 06/01/05
Posts: 59
Loc: Spain
Hi SAR and LLoydy,

As usual your words are a great help and relief.
Things at the moment are very smooth. M has been coming home as usual lately. LLoydy, we did actually talk about his 'space' and how by him telling me nobody has to worry.Now he is also starting to express more openly things that he wants to do and making choices. I have realized that this was an issue with him. He would always let me decide about things to do arguing that he would be cool with whatever my choice was.

He is not under so much emotional stress at the moment. Probably cause of talking about the trauma is helping him to process it and in turn this is relaxing his mind and body. We spoke again on Saturday while going for a walk in Madrid city center and he was so open and positive about it. On Monday he was a bit down as he read on google US the news about the kidnapper and sex offender in Idaho. But he phoned me at work and we talked for a while and after he felt much better.

My boyfriend's sisters are coming in 2 weeks time to Madrid to visit us. They are bringing their children and M is delighted cause he misses his nephews and nieces (as they all live in Ireland). We are all very excited however everybody knows that the main reason for this trip is M. He was saying yesterday that they coming means a lot to him. Again he thought they 'd let him down and now he is discovering that he can TRUST. He is nervous but at the same time he is looking forward to spending time with them and telling them who he is and what happened to him.

As you said SAR a lot is happening below the surface and for him to let them out is difficult but little by little he is making wee positive steps and I'll highlight those to him to make him see that all this (that sometimes is extremely hard) is taking him somewhere and that eventually he'll find happiness and peace of mind.

Still don't know what to do with the book (Victims no longer). Whether I should give it to him or wait till he mentions about getting some info about it.
What do u think?

take care
H ;\)


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#56671 - 07/07/05 11:21 PM Re: Identifying triggers for the first time
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Riviera

Quote:
He would always let me decide about things to do arguing that he would be cool with whatever my choice was.
This is a defence mechanism that many survivors use, I was an expert at this.
Even if I didn't want to do something I would agree to my wife's wishes, then I was the martyr - I was the good guy. And when I then sabotaged whatever it was I'd 'agreed' to do I would be in a position to take no blame for it whatsoever.
That was POWER, and that's exactly what I wanted.

I didn't have the confidence to say "no, I don't want to do that" - that required a display of self-confidence that I hadn't got so I substituted power instead, but my interpretation of power was based on my abuse, it was all wrong. So I used the wrong 'tool' and used it in a very negative manner to get my own way.

Sadly I went through this sequence late last night with my wife, and despite her knowing and recognising this behaviour I kept at it for over an hour and eventually made her feel guilty for asking to do something.
In my defence it was late, I was tired and I'm very stressed at work at the moment; so I didn't recognise that I was doing it until it was out of control, despite her saying "Dave, just stop now and talk tomorrow when you feel better" I carried on.

Today I've kissed and made up. \:\)

It's a horrible thing, and it's closely tied up with self sabotage.
There's a good web site by a woman called Penny Parks with an excellent article about this, if I can find it I'll post the link.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#56672 - 07/07/05 11:38 PM Re: Identifying triggers for the first time
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
I can't find the link, so here's the whole article that I had saved.

Sorry it's long.

Dave

Quote:
Self-sabotage

One of the problems sexual-abuse victims suffer stem from feelings of misplaced guilt, and these problems manifest themselves as self-sabotage. The problems of different victims are similar, but vary in as much that each personality devises an ‘individual punishment programme’. The one consistent feature is that feelings of guilt require punishment. Many victims, therefore, become emotionally bankrupt, paying a debt that actually belongs to the aggressor. The aggressor should be the one suffering problems that stem from guilt, since guilt about the abuse really belongs to him. Instead, the aggressor projects blame and guilt on to the child and the child accepts that projection as truth. It is like life imprisonment for a crime that someone else has committed.


‘Something Terrible’

Most victims report feeling as though they are running from an unspoken fear-a fear that they are a monstrous person. They do not know exactly why they are so monstrous, because they have never had the courage to stop, turn around and say, ‘OK, what about me is so horrible?’ It is a fear that developed in childhood, so it is full of misinformation and childish perceptions. It is a feeling that ‘something’ about them made the sexual abuse happen. This idea is reinforced by statements by abusers: ‘You made me do it’ or ‘You wanted it.’ It is also reinforced if there were multiple aggressors.
Sexual abuse by multiple aggressors is not so uncommon, and there is a simple explanation for it. The aggressors have simply recognised a vulnerable child. Just as a paedophile targets a vulnerable child, so does the family aggressor. It is easy enough to recognise a child who does not have much, if any, parental support; a child who is not listened to; a child whom the parents avoid contact with.
Once a vulnerable child is available, the family aggressor can move in easily. He can be a friendly uncle who ‘loves kids’ and wants to take them somewhere all the time, or a friendly neighbour who offers to babysit frequently because he just ‘loves kids’. Any adult who wants to spend a lot of time with kids may be suspect. Children can be quite boring - their con­versation repetitive and self-centred. So what does this adult gain from the relationship? If the child becomes reluctant to go with the adult, ask why and listen to the answer! Too often, the child is told ‘Go with Uncle Charlie. You don’t want to hurt his feelings do you?’ The protests are lost - fear, guilt and a lack of knowledge keep the child trapped.
In my own life, I was sure there was something terribly wrong with me to make all those nice relatives want to sexually abuse me. As I grew up, I tried to put this ‘something terrible’ behind me. Once I stopped the abuse, I wanted to pretend I was normal like everyone else. I certainly did not want to talk or think about it - I might make something go wrong again - so I adopted the ostrich method of coping. Unfortunately, ignoring a problem does not make it go away. Since my childhood perception of the sexual abuse was that I was the one who somehow made it all happen, I was inwardly determined to be punished. It still never occurred to me to really examine what the ‘something terrible’ could be, as it was too frightening to face.


Sabotaging Relationships

‘DO YOU LOVE ME?"
As a young adult, I wanted desperately to be loved and cared for. I wanted to feel special and important to someone. I wanted to be called all the pet names I was never called as a child. I could not see it then, but I was wanting a partner to come along and parent me as I should have been parented as a child. At the same time, I felt very undeserving of all that I wanted, because of the ‘something terrible’.
I married an eighteen to a man of twenty-three. One of the big attractions for me was his easy-going temperament - he laughed a lot and hardly ever got angry. (In my family, people were often angry, and it seemed that laughter was rarely heard.) But even his easy-going nature became frazzled by my continual need for reassurance. One day in frustration he said, ‘Will you please quit asking me every half an hour if I love you?’ I was shocked:
how could he say such an unkind thing to me? I quickly found out he was slightly wrong-to my horror, I discovered I was biting back the question about every twenty minutes! No wonder he was exasperated with me. My problem was simple: I could not believe I was lovable. At the same time, I wanted to be loved, so I kept asking. Yet, nothing he could have said or done would have convinced me that he did love me.

JEALOUSY
Chronic jealousy over any time my husband spent away from me was a very destructive force in our marriage. I am sure it looked to him as though I wanted him with me continuously (except for work), repeating every fifteen minutes like a parrot ‘I love you, I love you.’ To be quite honest, that was pretty close
to the truth. -

EMOTIONAL TESTS
I would set emotional tests that a person would have to be a mind-reader to pass, sitting back smugly saying to myself, ‘See, that proves you don’t love me’ when he inevitably failed. I expected him to understand all my innermost thoughts and needs without ever having shared them with him. I was setting him up as the omnipotent parent who would have to fail to love me, because I knew that the ‘something terrible’ in me made me unlovable. I could not let anything good happen to me, because I did not believe I deserved it. Sometimes those thoughts would be distinct, but mostly I was acting on an inner prodding I did not question and certainly did not understand.

SEXUAL TESTS
Sexual dysfunction was not as great a problem to me as it is to many people who are sexual-abuse victims. I was not afraid of sex, nor repulsed by it. However, I used sex as another means for proof of love, which can be a big turn-off to one’s partner, as it was to mine. Of course, the more he backed away, the more I demanded, and then felt unloved and rejected.

The above are just a few ways in which victims can sabotage a relationship - ways to punish themselves for a crime they think they have committed. After all, why should someoneas bad, dirty or terrible as they think they are be happy? At the same time, they seldom see themselves as really setting up these circumstances. They seem to be happening spontaneously, and are viewed as verifying their feelings of being ‘bad, dirty or terrible’.


Sabotaging Success

Sometimes a victim may sabotage a job that is going well, or perhaps a promotion coming up. She might be a student with ability and a good academic record, but with finals coming up she becomes ill, irritable, anxious, suffers from severe mental block, etc. so that her final results are lower ‘than they should be. Victims are not necessarily aware at the time that they have any responsibility for what befalls them.


Sabotaging Health

Some victims use illnesses or phobias to punish themselves. As they are frequently ill or fearful, they cannot enjoy life to its fullest - sometimes to the point that they become practically, or completely, housebound. Self-mutilation is another punish­ment victims can display. They may disfigure their bodies by cutting themselves. They may claw their skin raw, bite themselves or bang their head repeatedly against a wall. The anger that a victim has never expressed to her abuser or mother comes out at full force at the only person she knows how to punish herself.


Partners as a Punishment

Many victims choose a partner who has punishing behaviour of some type. They feel it is all they deserve. Sometimes they never question staying with the partner, or they may keep a fantasy of a loving relationship in their mind but never actually go out and look for one. If they change partners, often it is for another punishing type. After all, that is what feels ‘normal’ to them. (An excellent book describing this experience is Robin Norwood’s Women Who Love Too Much.)
Other victims may choose a partner who is very much a father image - someone older, established and mostly domi­neering. (This can be someone like the victim’s own father or someone who is fatherly in the more normal sense.) The ‘child’ within them is still looking for a supportive, loving parent. Maybe a victim will find a partner who is for some reason­perhaps through race, religion or class - not acceptable to her parents. This is a way of indirectly punishing her parents. One of my white clients had married a black man and came to me quite distressed. "I can see I originally married my husband to get back at my parents. What should I do now?’ Her ten-year relationship with her husband was very solid and positive, so I suggested that, if her marriage was a happy one, then it did not matter how it got started - she should just enjoy it. If she had chosen her partner for negative reasons and was miserably unhappy, she might think about a change, but in her case what started out for ‘sabotage’ reasons had turned out well.
Some female victims marry abusers. (Many of those husbands may also have been victims themselves.) When abuse of their own children starts, it is almost impossible for these women to face. It brings back all the pain and guilt they have never come to terms with. They may project all those aroused feelings of guilt, pain and anger on to the child, accusing the child of ‘asking for it’ as they are secretly afraid they themselves did as a child. Their life seems to be spiralling downwards. Skilled family counselling by professionals trained in this specific area can be particularly helpful at this time.
However, not every victim chooses a damaged partner­some find a loving, supportive person who can be instrumental in assisting them back to emotional health.

Taken from
"RESCUING THE INNER CHILD" By Penny Parks.

Condor Press. Human Horizons Series.
ISBN. 0 285 65089 0 - Paperback
ISBN. 0 285 65084 X - Hardback


_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#56673 - 07/08/05 07:56 AM Re: Identifying triggers for the first time
riviera Offline
Member

Registered: 06/01/05
Posts: 59
Loc: Spain
Thanks for the article.
It is very interesting and I think that this is a major issue with M considering that his perp used to apologize for his behaviour but still argued that he couldn't help himself... adding even more guilt to M as a child. M feels that he has to sacrifice somthing for the people he loves. He always says that he is glad it was him and not any of his brothers/sisters as they could have not been able to survive. Considering that his perp for a long time was like a father to him before the abuse started. When this happened the betrayal was a HUGE issue to deal with.

The other day he mentioned that the abuse happened 2/3 times a week for several years. The feelings of guilt, shame, etc. accumulating through time plus the fact that he never told anyone contributed to this behaviour...
Today I asked him whether he was joining me and my parents for lunch and for the first time he said that he was staying at home to play record music in his PC (as he recently got a studio)... and didn't say: Ok if you want, or I am really sorry or anything like that...
I think this is a good start \:\)
Thanks again Lloydy
take care
H


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