We are not yet sure of our plans for the holidays this year. With my hubby's permission, I am sending this out tonight in hopes of empowering any who may be in similar situations with the holidays so close.
This year I feel panicked at the thought of getting together with family. It isn't theirs, it's mine to own. This fear comes from several reasons. As I walked my feelings back, I was able to pinpoint where the worst fears originated. More on that in a second.
I want to go. I know I should go. I feel guilt and shame at the thought of being unable to go.
The fact that my hubby is completely supportive of where I am and was perfectly calm at my suggestion of staying home or even leaving town was powerful in and of itself. That we could decide something like that and be unified in our decision,without bringing in "what will people think" was huge.
And that was where I was the first 24 hours. Wanting to hide. I realized Thanksgiving is nearly here and we are intending to meet with family. I feared my inability to maneuver through inevitable triggers and shame. I am so raw right now. There is hurt swirling at the surface. With so much currently processing, will my emotions come out side-ways?
I am in transition; only part-way finished. It's like having one leg in a pair of pants when the doorbell rings. Can I hurry and get the other leg on and run to answer the door? I wish "putting the other leg in" of processing trauma could be sped along too. :) I can't stuff back into the facade. I can't wear the mask, yet I fear how I will react. I am not sure what this new Katy is like yet. I am not the doormat I used to be. Will I lash out? Will I be smothering?
By 48 hours after the trauma response I realized that I am at a cross-roads. If I force dropping myself in a highly triggering and potentially unsafe environment, I could back-pedal and lose ground in my recovery. I could be squashed. However, maybe...just maybe, if the opposite were true---if I could go into a highly triggering environment and have my husband create safety for me, that could be healing to me and our marriage.
My husband has been patient with me as I have processed through. This has been the biggest trauma response I have had in quite a while. It was one of the cascading kinds where in a split second dozens of "landmines" were suddenly exploding around. All because I simply stepped upon an unknown landmine in my mind. We didn't have the tools to take the steps in our communication we were seeking.
I was given a "blue card" a few days ago. It has given me the outline to be able to have the dialogue my hubby and I were stumbling to create.
Like many things discussed on this blog, these tools are applicable to multiple situations and scenarios. The blue care is not limited to deciding to celebrate the holidays in private or with extended family.
Here it is:
"When _______________, I feel _____________.
I want and/or I need ___________________,
and I am willing to do_____________________."
That's it, yet it has completely empowered me. At first I couldn't wrap my brain around the significance until I understood how to use it. Let me fill in a few ideas and maybe it will become more clear.
*In the past, my hubby shared details about our relationship with family that should have been kept private. These details were not at all or not entirely accurate either.
*When I have given one answer, family would get a different answer from Mark. Then his family would side with him.
I feel _________________
*I have felt intruded emotionally in our marriage. It hurt to have intimate details shared. It also hurt to be painted in such black hues and to be the "bad guy." I did not listen to my internal compass because of family members' responses to what was shared. I found out later that I had been spot on, yet was too spiritually disoriented to trust what I was feeling.
*I felt ganged up on in my own marriage as individuals were invited to participate where it was not appropriate.
I want and/or I need_________________(AKA what does safety look like?)
We need to be completely unified. To us it's:
*I need him to stay physically close. That this year we share the same conversations. I am not feeling left alone and vulnerable. I am not worried about not being completely unified by unknown conversations.
*I also need him to refer to "my family" often in the reference of himself, wife and kids.
*I need him to agree with me. Even if it isn't accurate or I am full out lying. It doesn't matter. I need him to side with me. We can work out details in private if needed.
I also need:
*A "get out of jail free card." I need to know that if at any time I am not feeling safe, we can leave. No questions asked. No blaming me. ("Katy isn't feeling good.") Just knowing this is powerful standing alone too.
And I am willing to do_________________
Go to Thanksgiving with your family this year.
With trauma, my responsibility is to bring to the table how I feel and what I need. I need to tell him what is triggering and what has lead to trauma responses and what I need from him to create safety. Then I hand it to him. He needs to pull me back to present by being with me where I am at in validating me and in affirming commitment to his recovery and our marriage and creating safety as asked. Trauma recovery is yet one more necessary area of clean-up in life after addiction. We are hopeful and are seeking to enjoy the journey and look to the future with excitement.