Saying ‘no’ is good. I seem to rarely do it, but I’ve heard other people tell me this. I am kidding. Sort of.
I really find out just how good saying ‘no’ is particularly when I said ‘yes’ but really wanted to say ‘no’. Do you know what I mean?
If you are addicted to doing the “right” thing and making everyone happy, then I am certain that you know what I mean.
Case in point:
Someone made this on purpose! And some poor sod said ‘yes’ to eating it even though they would rather have endured a root canal without novacaine. There they are, smiling at the creator of this disgusting delicious creation, mouth full of cool, gelatinous edibles, and all they can think to say as something slime-like oozes through their back molars is, “Wherever did you find this recipe?”
I agreed to having lunch with my ex-husband. I should have said no. I ate the metaphorical aspic.
He was not mean to me. It was simply too triggering. It took me a week to process a two-and-half hour lunch. That’s not okay, but it’s informational. After a year of post-separation therapy, it was an unexpected means of taking my own temperature in terms of post-traumatic healing. I’m simply not there yet.
I thought I was. I overestimated myself. I don’t think it’s bad to overestimate oneself. That’s what gets us out of bed in the morning sometimes, but, when it comes to having lunch with a former abuser, it might be good to be prepared. Funnily enough, I thought I was.
What was my takeaway after the dust settled?
Know your triggers. I know his methods and wiles, but there is one thing that he does that triggers me. His victim persona is a punch to the gut every time. I didn’t realize it until we had lunch. When he plays the victim, I want to take a sledgehammer to something; or, go into my room and cry for a week.
Have at least one person in your corner who can remind you of what is true about your identity and your circumstances. This will make it so much easier to come out from under those post-traumatic triggered responses particularly if a run-in with a formerly abusive partner is the cause.
Take care of yourself. Do what it takes to practice self-care and self-soothing. The feelings will pass. They will! I promise. In the meantime, do what it takes to bring consolation and comfort to yourself.
Look out for ANTs (automatic negative thoughts/thought distortions). I got caught up in a slew of these last week, and it sucked. Your brain will always tell stories. That’s what it does, and, for whatever reason, it’s never an awesome story. It’s always a catastrophic story involving abandonment, sharks, plane crashes, and some sort of plot from Law & Order:SVU. Our job is to develop a mindfulness practice (I know, we are starting to get sick of that new buzz word) in order to stop the brain’s sordid and scary storytelling. This is one of the primary points of mindfulness. It is to learn to become aware of the brain’s latest plot twist, stop it, and then take control of it in the form of non-judgmental observations and containment. With practice, this becomes a skill, and we are no longer held hostage to the Stephen King/John Grisham/James Patterson/Nicholas Sparks writing collective in our brains.
Imagine saying no and then put that into practice. If you are not up to doing something because you know that it will cause you to have a setback or cause a triggered response, then consider saying no. I’m pondering this myself. I say yes to a lot of things even though I know that I might be triggered. I feel obligated, but, frankly, my distress tolerance might not yet match the occasion. It doesn’t mean that I won’t one day be able to engage in the proposed situation. It just means that I’m not there today. And, that is okay. After I had hip surgery, I couldn’t run for four months. I couldn’t even walk for six weeks. So, saying yes to a 5K two months after surgery would have definitely caused a setback in my healing process. It’s not so different when we’re healing emotionally and psychologically.
That’s what I learned last week. I sure hope it sticks because the idea of using aspic as a metaphor for anything again is…well…I’ll just say ‘no’ to that.