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#9231 - 04/23/03 12:25 AM The Night of Embarrassment - TRIGGER?
MrDon Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/08/01
Posts: 957
Loc: Deltona, FL
Here is something I just wrote about an experience I had last night. It may be a trigger to you but I don't know for sure. I would really appreciate any feedback anyone can give me on how to deal with this. I am scared and I have to face this instructor on Thursday night in class. I'm trying to maintain my boundaries but some days it is hard and sometimes it is hard just operating in this world. Anyway if you can read through it and have some insights on how I can best deal with this, I would be grateful. In case you are not aware of this, I am learning to be a massage therapist and that is what the clinic is about. I am a little over half way done with the course.


---------------------------


---------------------------


TRIGGER WARNING

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The Night of Embarrassment

On my last clinic, I had a client who after being instructed on what to do, decided she didnít need a towel to cover her up. She was laying face down when I came in with her undergarments still on. I asked her if she wouldnít be more comfortable and warm with the towel on top of her and she said she was perfectly fine with it.

A couple of things about myself before I go any further on this story of embarrassment. I am one that really does not see a woman as a sexual entity or it doesnít seem to bother me anymore working on them. I am more afraid of touching or doing the wrong thing than having any emotions or thoughts come out of working with women. If anything, I am overly respectful of them if there is such a thing. Another thing is that we are very new in clinic working with people off the streets. I am not normally a very self confident person where I can find the right way to tell a person to put the towel over them. I get a little shy in these circumstances. With that said, let me proceed in this story.

So I decided with her that this was not a problem to give her a massage and figured I would make it work. According to state law, if a client declines draping and the therapist is in agreement, there doesnít have to be draping. So I wasnít too worried about it. And of course I wasnít thinking about what would happen either when I turned the lady over on her back. (note: we tend to be a little nervous and scared right now which affects what we do as well.. with practice it should get much better though).

Anyway, half of the way through the session, my instructor came in and saw this. She immediately in a very respectful way to myself and the client corrected the situation. I did briefly explain to her what had transpired and she said that is fine, but in clinic, all clients are covered. Ok, now I know because no one had really said this before and I definitely will not make this mistake again. Just as the instructor was walking out, I noticed another instructor (who teaches my Anatomy class) was walking by and saw the incident. I felt very embarrassed at this point.

At the end of the class when we had our rap up, the clinic instructor did not bring this up in front of the entire class which I was grateful because I do get embarrassed about things like this very easily. The other instructor though was asked by her if he had any comments and he declined to say anything about anyone. I sort of sighed a breath of relief that day because I didnít want to be embarrassed. I am hard enough on myself and I sure donít need help from anyone to make matters worse for me.

So last night in Anatomy class this ďobservingĒ instructor said we have a few minutes before class officially starts and I would like to share some observations from what I observed when I walked through clinic. I knew what was coming and wanted to run but I was sort of frozen. Of course he started talking about the great things all of these people were doing that he observed and it made it all sound so nice. When he got to me, he brought up the incident in enough detail that the class got a good laugh out of it. Of course he had to say that the ladies butt cheeks were right out in the open facing up for all to see.
I was furious and that doesnít even quite capture my feelings at the time. I was so embarrassed. I could not believe he was even talking about this in our Anatomy class after he had the opportunity in massage class to share his comments. I felt it was inappropriate and unprofessional of him to do this and do it in a way that he did. I donít even know what he said after he made the statement about the butt cheeks, because I was long gone in my mind. Physically I was there, but mentally I was somewhere else.

It hurt deeply and I have about 35 more classes with this instructor. Somehow Iíve got to get past this because it will affect the remaining time I have in school if I donít. I had hoped to talk to my therapist tonight about it, but the session got postponed. I did scream and rant and rave about it when I got home though as it was still boiling in me several hours later.

You see, I was exposed to sex between my parents when I was around 8 years old. It was not something I wanted to watch, but was forced to watch. I grew up in a home that in addition to the abuse I suffered, I watched my mother endure all kinds of abuse from my father. He was very mean to her in so many ways. He would talk about her in derogatory ways to me and I was just a very young kid at the time. I learned more about her sexual side from him than I ever wanted to know in my life. My father was a sick bastard (but thatís another story).

Anyway the feeling embarrassed like I had been bad came out when this instructor observed me working on the client like I did. It triggered me pretty hard that day but when my clinic instructor treated us all with respect, I was able to hold things together. However when the instructor had to bring this up in front of the class (just like my father would have done to me), it triggered me so hard. Than when he made the comment about her butt cheeks, I thought I was going to lose it completely, but of course I was frozen that night and speechless. Just like a little boy that once experienced these same things.

A friend of mine that I talked to later about this told me to talk to him and I said, I donít know if I can at this point. It is my issue to work through and she said, yes but he would understand and be more careful. I told her I donít want people catering to me because of triggers I have. I am oversensitive when it comes to comments like this being made because of what I experienced. Right now I donít know if I can talk to him or not and it sure wonít be tomorrow because I will make sure I avoid him. Iíve got to think about all of this right now because this goes very deep. On top of it, he has the physique of my father with the grey hair and a similar age. Not a good combination!

Some days, I get so damn angry at the triggers I still face. I would love to be free from them and maybe one day I will.. just maybe!

_________________________
In order to journey to new worlds, we must first be willing to lose site of the shore.

The Mind Body Thoughts Blog
http://mindbodythoughts.blogspot.com/

Check out my relaxing piano music from the heart!
http://www.donshetterly.com

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#9232 - 04/23/03 12:38 AM Re: The Night of Embarrassment - TRIGGER?
Sick Puppy Offline
Member

Registered: 03/30/03
Posts: 300
Loc: Nowhere Land
Don, I am sorry you had to go through that, and I know how you feel. As survivors we often get triggered by things that were meant as jest or in fun. It's hard to explain to other people.

_________________________
And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly
From the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see


Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

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#9233 - 04/23/03 12:18 PM Re: The Night of Embarrassment - TRIGGER?
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Don
That's a horrible thing to happen, but perhaps he did it that way out of ignorance rather than something malicious.

I would try to talk to him and let him know that you were embarrased by his comments, and that you would rather he dealt with those sort of things personally with you. No need to tell him why, just say you'd feel more comfortable that way.

But don't let it eat away at you Don.

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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#9234 - 04/23/03 03:27 PM Re: The Night of Embarrassment - TRIGGER?
Mike Church Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/23/03
Posts: 3439
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Don I think that Sickpuppy and Lloyd have it right. You are a great massage therapist. Will the triggers leave. Yes in time and when you are ready. You did not know the rules at the clinic.

I think that outwardly you handled the situation well although inside you were a firestorm.

I think it was not done on purpose and that maybe a private chat would be appropriate.

I still remember you post about your first session and brother you are doing just fine and it will get easier over time.

_________________________
Mikey

IT REALLY IS OK TO STUMBLE. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT.

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#9235 - 04/23/03 10:21 PM Re: The Night of Embarrassment - TRIGGER?
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5780
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
Hi Don:
You are probably on to something when you recognize the similarities between your father and the instructor. We all get triggered by people who have been authority figures or abusive to us in our past. How we handle the triggers can make the difference between a revictimization and a victory in an old battle.

Your wrote:
Quote:
However when the instructor had to bring this up in front of the class (just like my father would have done to me), it triggered me so hard. Than when he made the comment about her butt cheeks, I thought I was going to lose it completely, but of course I was frozen that night and speechless. Just like a little boy that once experienced these same things.
This may be a great opportunity for you and your therapist to work out a game plan to address this, I believe. Just as it would be very difficult for you to confront your father without the preparation and resources you need to deal with a bully, you will probably do best with preparation and support to deal with the instructor in a way that leaves you feeling empowered rather than frozen and silent. That may have been the only or best action way back when, but now that you are an adult with better skills, knowledge, and understanding, you have an opportunity to change the outcome.

Ken


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#9236 - 04/24/03 10:07 AM Re: The Night of Embarrassment - TRIGGER?
MrDon Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/08/01
Posts: 957
Loc: Deltona, FL
Thank you everyone for your response. It has helped me a lot and I agree with what you are saying.

I don't think he maliciously made the comment because he has no clue that I have any issues related to this. However I do think he used poor judgement in how he brought this up and the timing was absolutely horrendous. This should have been something that was discussed in our wrap up meeting that day when he was asked if he had any comments, not outside of the clinic class or outside of the main instructor.

I don't plan on sharing much with him about why it really bothered me other than to try and let him know that it did and that I feel it was poor judgement on his part. I plan on bringing this up with the clinic instructor as well because it was disrespectful to her also.

Some in my class that know me could tell that it really hit me hard which they shared with me last night. They did tell me that everything he said after that point was very good because I blanked out.

I had hoped to talk to my therapist about it but our appointment got postponed for two weeks and so I will need to address this alot sooner than that because these are small classes and it would affect too many things otherwise. I actually think that by addressing it, this will help empower me over being the little kid with no say in what happened. I will be careful to protect myself and keep myself safe as well.

Don

_________________________
In order to journey to new worlds, we must first be willing to lose site of the shore.

The Mind Body Thoughts Blog
http://mindbodythoughts.blogspot.com/

Check out my relaxing piano music from the heart!
http://www.donshetterly.com

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#9237 - 04/24/03 03:28 PM Re: The Night of Embarrassment - TRIGGER?
Cement Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 740
Loc: Southern California
I admire you greatly, Don. Always have, because you have taken on visceral challenges.

I am not sure how you do it in the first place! You should be very proud of yourself. I hope you are. I am proud of you and for you.

To me, it sounds like the instructor was trying to handle the situation in an offhanded, almost humorous manner. I do not think that was the right way to do it, but it was the way he knew how. Separating our triggers from the missteps of others is a real challenge.

but boy, did I love what Ken wrote:
Quote:
How we handle the triggers can make the difference between a revictimization and a victory in an old battle.
You have notched up many victories, and you are an inspiration to me. You handled yourself well, and I know this will be a learning experience for you.

Peace,
James

_________________________
And let the darkness fear our light.

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#9238 - 04/24/03 03:34 PM Re: The Night of Embarrassment - TRIGGER?
Cement Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/05/02
Posts: 740
Loc: Southern California
If you must share with the instructor before therapy, I think you will want to avoid any language that the instructor might find critical. It could make him defensive and could trigger you again.

I would stick to the idea that the comment made you uncomfortable and that you do not wish to feel uncomfortable in the class.

I think this will give him the opportunity to help you feel more comfortable.

I know it is not great form to give specific advice in a post, but without a chance to see your T, I am throwing in my two cents.

and frankly, when have I ever hesitated to throw in my two cents?

Smiles,
James

_________________________
And let the darkness fear our light.

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#9239 - 04/24/03 04:15 PM Re: The Night of Embarrassment - TRIGGER?
MrDon Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/08/01
Posts: 957
Loc: Deltona, FL
James,
I actually thought I just vegetatated out or spaced out and didn't think I handled it very good at all. Maybe I need to rethink that and of course I usually am pretty critical of myself.

I feel personally that I need to say something because this will hinder my learning in there as well as other things. I have class tonight and I will probably just tell him that it did make me feel uncomfortable and that the phrase about the butt cheeks was something that I felt was inappropiate. I will probably also make the statement to him that this should have been said in our wrap up meeting of clinic with the main instructor and not in this classroom setting. To me it was a boundary violation.

Thanks James. I appreciate your input.

Don

_________________________
In order to journey to new worlds, we must first be willing to lose site of the shore.

The Mind Body Thoughts Blog
http://mindbodythoughts.blogspot.com/

Check out my relaxing piano music from the heart!
http://www.donshetterly.com

Top
#9240 - 04/25/03 12:24 AM Re: The Night of Embarrassment - TRIGGER?
MrDon Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/08/01
Posts: 957
Loc: Deltona, FL
Well I went to class tonight but I couldn't say anything... nothing would even come close to coming out. And I could feel the slight awkardness in the air....

I'm sort of pissed off at myself for not being able to say anything.... feel like the "speechless" little boy.

Don

_________________________
In order to journey to new worlds, we must first be willing to lose site of the shore.

The Mind Body Thoughts Blog
http://mindbodythoughts.blogspot.com/

Check out my relaxing piano music from the heart!
http://www.donshetterly.com

Top
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