On triggers and being human

Yesterday, I was trying on and off to help my youngest daughter with one of those dreaded…

…close your ears if you don’t want to hear a swear word…

Middle School Projects.

Yes, it’s the P word that causes me to flinch and freeze.

The only words that are possibly more dreaded to me than this are…

Research Paper…

…that’s a pretty bad one too, but I can say it without whispering because both my daughters finished theirs for this school year.

I know teachers that are also parents who also hate when this time of year rolls around, so I cut myself a little slack for it.  My youngest is a great student; she’s self-disciplined and works hard.  Somehow, this dadgumnabbit project was just put off.  Naturally, I blame myself for not getting the ball rolling sooner (it was her first one like this).

The problem was trying to pour water from an empty bucket.  My bucket has just been drained down to a trickle, and the trickle of me was being used for only triage.

Yesterday was the last day to work on it, and it should have been more streamlined and simple, but I could barely keep dragging myself to the table (or in this case, the kitchen counter) to help with it.  When she wanted to ask me questions, I looked sort of like this:


I hope the rest of you know that look… because yeah… that was me dealing with it.

By dinner time, this Healthy Meal on a Budget, replete with photos, information, and the health food version of pizza, fries, pop, candy was dragging out all over the kitchen.  It didn’t help that I’d brilliantly (not) decided that it may as well be our dinner that night.  So I’m sure lots of people eat their supper meal around 9:00 p.m., right?  I HAD to recruit her father to help (and he did, but he was only a notch above me in energy).  Periodically, I’d just walk away briefly, put my head down, take deep breaths, then go back to it.

I tried to WILL myself into peppy, cheerful, decent mother energy.  Epic fail.

I’m guessing some of you would say that I’m just human, and that everyone has bad days or bad patches in days.  I know that you’re right.  My rational mind says it must be so… yes, even ‘others’ experience this.

My beleaguered, frazzled, and drained self tries all the sane self-talk, but somewhere inside is another voice.

It says, What kind of mother are you?  Do you remember when you were recently critical of him?  Maybe he was just being human like you are now.

I almost fight this innate desire to be fair, to be just, to be compassionate and non-judgmental.  Why?  Because every time I get distressed that’s connected with him, I have to sort through it.  What’s happening?  What’s going on here?  Why does something feel off?  That was wrong.  Was it wrong?  I’m upset.  Should I be upset?  I’m frustrated. Is this a codependent issue?  Do I need to make a choice and take action?  I’m hurt.  Am I misreading and judging him too harshly here?  That just made a problem for me.  Doesn’t everyone make mistakes?

Yeah, it can be dizzying when you get this kind of brain spin.  For so long, I tried to err on the side of caution and give him the benefit of the doubt.  That worked well for him.  A little too well.

After about a quarter of a century of this, I swung to the other end of the spectrum.  How dare he!  Zero tolerance.  (oops… I think I’m still kind of close to zero tolerance)

Now I’m trying to find truth and balance.  I don’t want to be a reactive person, but I have triggers.  My whole being feels like a massive trigger zone some days.  I think that’s because almost every memory contains that specter of abuse and pain, so it’s hard to ever feel safe and relaxed.  I don’t know what relaxing in love feels like, except when I used to rock a baby, or doze off with my dog near me.

By bedtime last night, it was difficult to not view myself as bad, and to view him as someone who has to put up with me.  One window of my being weak, tired, cranky, impatient… human?  Is that what it is?  Do I get to be human that way?  Or am I just careening through my life with a huge log in my eye, smashing in his direction?

I woke up about 4:51 a.m. and went out to tackle the late night mess left in the kitchen for about an hour.  The bright side is the quiet time to blog early.  I heard someone joke that the mind isn’t always a safe neighborhood, and it’s better to take a friend there.

Good morning, friends!

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2 Responses to On triggers and being human

  1. I love the photo! I feel like that in the morning and my daughter, who lives 2,000 miles away and who I give a wake-up call to in the morning, sounds like she feels like that when I talk to her!


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      I felt sorry for my daughter needing my help when I was so tired and frazzled. I didn’t even want to deal with me until I recuperated a little. When I reach that point of grumpy and impatient, laughing at myself is the best medicine!


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