Thursday, January 7

Thursday Thirteen #46: Triggers that push my buttons

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen triggers that push my buttons

1. Someone is being abused and breaks out of denial long enough to talk to me about it. She (for me, it’s only been women) recognizes what’s happening, is frustrated and sick of it and wants to escape. Shortly thereafter, everything is “fine” again until the next time.

Why it pushes my buttons: First of all, it’s frustrating to deal with the helplessness of watching someone suffer. It hurts to hear her tell of the abuse. I always want to help her get free. I’m supportive of that. I get really mad when she slips back into denial because I know it’s just a matter of time before I hear about the abuse again. This is the endless cycle that went on with my mother and I'm sure that's why I feel the way I do.

2. Trying to deal reasonably with an abuser in denial. Forget it. Can’t be done and it’s like bashing my head against a wall. Usually I’m a lot smarter than that. The most recent time was with He Who Shall Not Be Named for fear of making trouble for someone else who has to live there. Yeah. So I pointed out a simple little fact. Making breakfast and dinner for kids is a parent’s job, could be either. It’s not a mommy job or a daddy job. It’s an either job. SOMEONE has to feed the kids. Picking up and dropping off a spouse to work is also a no brainer when there is just one car. One spouse works, the other doesn’t. The other needs the car for whatever, say pick up the kids from school. So of course the working spouse needs a ride to and from. No work, no money. Support from non-working spouse to spouse comes in the form of other things, including:

a. Help with housework, especially since it seems to be expected from the host family. This type of support can be strictly supervisory when children are old enough to help
b. Defend spouse against put downs from others.
c. Encouragement & praise

Well, getting back to my point: an abuser immediately goes onto the defensive and instead of responding to the issue at hand, just begins to deflect by attacking.

Why it pushes my buttons: I’m already helpless to do anything to help my loved one or friend. I keep hoping that reason will prevail. It’s really frustrating to me (but what else should I expect?) when it doesn’t. Both my parents have or had abusive personalities.

3. Neglect or abuse of children. Let’s face it—kids didn’t ask to be brought into this world. It’s not THEIR fault that their parents got carried away in the heat of the moment or were trying to manipulate each other or wanted someone to love them forever or wanted someone to take care of them in their old age and all the other ridiculous reasons some people have kids. Children are to be cherished and nurtured. OK, so we can’t control everything in life and sometimes there is trauma. But then you get HELP and you make sure the kids get help.

Why it pushes my buttons:
again, this happened to me. I always wished someone had helped me. The ones who should have were my parents but they didn’t. I always want to reach out and help kids when I know they are neglected or abused. I feel powerless when I can’t.

4. Drinking. Any kind of drinking sets me off whether it’s excessive or just one drink to be sociable.

Why it pushes my buttons:
my parents had drinking problems and it made life at home a merry hell. I get very anxious being around someone who has a drink because I keep expecting the same kind of irrational, violent behavior.

5. When my kids make poor eating choices.

Why it pushes my buttons: I was super morbidly obese. I have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fibromyalgia, collapsed arches and arthritis all due to or aggravated by my weight. I had to have bariatric surgery to get the pounds off. The stats say that once someone is 100 lbs or more overweight, there’s a poor chance of keeping the weight off even if they manage to lose it. I’m afraid my kids are going down the same road as me. I can’t seem to convince them of that. I feel powerless.

6. Needing help.

Why it pushes my buttons: I guess it’s the old Christian work ethic. We used to provide charitable contributions and donate to food pantries. I don’t like being on the other end. I’m frustrated that I can’t get all the things I might need—like a haircut. It’s also got to do with having to depend on others. I guess the basis for that is my childhood. I feel like I had to look out for myself from a very young age and that depending on others is totally unreliable.

7. Not getting everything done.

Why it pushes my buttons:
I’m very harsh with myself. I feel like a failure if I can’t get everything done in a day. When I was younger, I used to drive myself so that I could get it all done. Now I’m not able to and so the stress is harder to get rid of.

8. Procrastination. It doesn’t matter if it’s my own or someone else’s. It’s got a lot to do with #7, not getting everything done.

Why it pushes my buttons: I procrastinate because I think I won’t be able to get it done or it won’t be right. That sets me up for the harsh self-judgment I put on myself: lazy, incompetent, etc. etc.

9. Speeding and tailgating.

Why it pushes my buttons:
my dad drove like this and many times I’d be in the back seat, praying and terrified, feeling trapped. It’s sort of become a gut reaction.

10. The “silent treatment”.

Why it pushes my buttons:
That’s how my dad managed his anger. One time he didn’t talk to any of us for three weeks and my brother and I hadn’t even done anything. My reaction to the “silent treatment” is a lot of anxiety, sort of like fear. I also get frustrated and angry because I’m experiencing it.

11. Verbal conflict. Often my kids will say to me, “Mom, calm down, we’re not fighting, we’re just discussing.”

Why it pushes my buttons:
To me, strong voices = anger = eventual violence

12. Not having a book to read when I go out of the house—I become extraordinarily anxious.

Why it pushes my buttons:
I think it’s based in anxiety. Having a book when I go out is a “security blanket”. It’s not just a matter of having something to do during a long boring wait. Books protect me from the scrutiny and possible rejection of others. Often during a lunch break at work, I’d sit alone and so having a book to hide behind was invaluable. Books protected me from having to reach out to others and face rejection.

13. Driving over bridges.

Why it pushes my buttons: I get panic attacks. They are so scary! The world starts spinning and I feel like I’m going to pass out. My heart starts pounding to the point that I can hear it in my ears. I feel like something awful is going to happen and that I need to get out immediately. Well—when I’m driving a car on a bridge that’s not going to happen, is it? Being out of control like that intensifies the attack.

These are all issues that I want to work on. Some are more critical than others and I’ll focus on those first. Many of them are rooted in being powerless or not in control. Here’s the truth of it: the only power or control I have over anything is myself and my reactions to what’s going on around me. That’s what I need to work on. I cannot change the thoughts or behavior of the abuser or the abused. I cannot save every child. I can’t control what drinking people say or do. I can only change how I respond to all that. Back to work.


Anonymous said...

Well...that entire list pushed my buttons. So...ditto.


Kim said...

What an incredible list! KUDOS to looking that honestly at yourself. WOW! I am right there with you on a number of those points.

And hey... GOOD JOB on the weight loss so far. Surgery or not it appears you did a lot of work pre-surgery to lose the weight and are continuing to do so now.


Mia Celeste said...

This is an intriguing and original topic. Thanks for sharing. I feel like I know you a little better. Happy TT!

Gattina said...

There are lots of things which we only start to understand why we react to them in this and that way and many things are related to what we have lived in our childhood !
My husband always shouts, but that doesn't mean anything, he is Italian, has a loud voice and can't whisper! When my son was little and his little friends came over he always said : "My dad shouts,don't worry,it doesn't mean anything" ! lol !

storyteller said...

Interesting list ...
They say knowledge is power so perhaps now that you've gotten all this out, you can make some choices about such triggers.

I'm shared my '13' this week at Small Reflections and am playing catch up on visits today because I was at my sisters yesterday making 247 tamales (about a hundred more than usual). I'm not sure what she was thinking when she bought the 'fixings' ... sheesh! They ARE however, quite tasty!
Hugs and blessings,

Norma said...

You seem to be very self-aware and motivated to make changes with that knowledge.

Grace In Small Things

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