Trauma Pt1 — Trigger
Earlier today, a vehicle described to me as a ‘minivan’ of a ‘grey’ color stopped outside the mailbox for some time. Dad said that he thought he heard light knocking on the door. In terms of answering the door, it seems if it’s a random person wanting to ̶r̶o̶p̶e̶ ̶u̶s̶ ̶i̶n̶t̶o̶ ̶a̶ ̶c̶u̶l̶t̶ preach to us about the good word of Jehovah or someone running a scam, then the door will get answered. Expected or unexpected visits from “family friends” results in an answer. People who are, or appear to be, my friends, get ignored.
It was described as there being potentially a person in the passenger seat as well, so I asked the two friends I could imagine showing up out of the blue…and neither were responsible for this.
As Dad told me these things though, I felt a certain annoyance of the parameters for answering the door. After he exited back out of the room, however, I was awash with panic. There are definitely people who have my address who dislike me and are the stalker sort, although with a majority of them many states away I couldn’t imagine them showing up — although one certainly has a friend in the area. Then there is my stalker. My abuser. One who instilled in me this PTSD. While I imagine he would have reached out in some other form if he wanted to bother me, I still don’t put it past him to actually just show up.
In the moment I tried reaching out to those friends. One wishes instead to distract me or offer logical solutions and my brain is not accepting of either of these at the moment. Reached out to other loved ones, including my Mom, who asked if I still had my anxiety meds, and is otherwise open to conversation, and offering thoughts and prayers. I will take them, both the medication and the prayers at this point.
Split the medication into fourths. Had not even occurred to me since I take it before bed and have written a number of things while waiting for its influence to take hold. Whether or not I can maintain some degree of sense with a fourth of a pill we are yet to see. Otherwise I poked around looking for tips to come back from dissociation triggered by PTSD, and was reminded that diaphragmatic breathing is a thing. That helped too.
It is…certainly something to be reminded that, although the bulk of the trauma has been something I have worked through, there are certain things that will trigger it unexpectedly. Trigger itself is a hard word to use since its overuse became a thing in online spaces, but I’m fairly confident my use of it is not incorrect. The triggering itself has become far more rare and for that I am thankful, but when it shows up it’s at surprising times. Today was one of those times. I recall there was another not that long ago, but frankly I don’t remember what it was now — whether this is a result from the meds acting or part of the ongoing Swiss-cheesing of my memory, who knows. Part of the problem is being caught unawares and unprepared, but I suppose that is the nature of triggers and PTSD. I certainly cannot speak with any authority on the functions leading to it.
I am now mostly grounded, but still a bit fuzzy. Not fully removed from the belief that I am in danger.
There are feelings you get about a person immediately upon meeting them. The gut feeling. Something I have a book on not ignoring, although found the writing style to be so meandering that I admittedly didn’t get through much of it — reminded me a bit of Tolkein’s style in everything that isn’t The Hobbit, spending ages going over the history of a hill that it takes the crew we’re focused on about a minute to cross. Don’t think I’m any better at that. But the gut feeling about Bill was one where I felt he would, in some way, change my life. Notably, it was that we would be involved at some point, although gut feelings following that were far more illuminating and I chose to ignore some of them.
We met at work when I’d been promoted to a managerial position for some garbage retail company and moved to another store. Bill is a 6'5" individual, although is proportioned in such a way that you wouldn’t necessarily pick up on his height if you just saw him in a picture without a frame of reference — some tall folks grow in a way that you can tell, some slight variation of shape and form, something I noted about the gecko I’m about to proclaim my emotional support animal.
Bill and I meshed well in certain ways and quickly became friends. Of course, fraternization amongst employees, especially when power imbalances are involved, is never a wise decision. I’d go further and state that most friendships in garbage retail settings should be avoided, however this does not encompass all scenarios. I have a friend from that store still who I purchased a piece of artwork from not that long ago. Still need to fix the frame and get that up on the wall. Digression. It was a bit different with Bill, and we’d play games together over Xbox Live. As the friendship developed we’d go driving to undesignated locations late into the night for nothing other than spending time talking, listening to music, generally just connecting. I would experience some degree of interest that always left me feeling uncomfortable and would back off for a bit.
I was in a relationship at the time, whereas Bill had gone through a breakup. My relationship was living past its expiration date, my partner being interested in getting high and absorbing really stupid ‘news’ from unreliable outlets and not much else. Sexually we were fairly compatible, until we weren’t — this was selfishness and unwillingness to listen to what worked for me on his part, whereas I never stopped striving to make the most of our experiences. The timeline intersects a lot more than it ought to and paints me in the light of sticking around with something until something better comes along, although that’s not accurate. The relationship itself really did just stick beyond its actual time.
I had trust issues going into it based entirely off my own insecurity, and it is something I started to combat then and have been working on since. I am still insecure to this day, although I try to be better than it. Acknowledgement helps. Conversely, he would refuse to acknowledge his insecurity or a great deal of his emotion generally. Some of this could be emotional stunting as a result of former cocaine abuse, or just the way he was, or later the give-no-fucks attitude that went along with him getting off parole and jumping immediately back into the weed lifestyle. As our relationship changed over time, he became less and less trusting of me, and alongside our other differences it pushed me away.
So it was one day when I wanted to make plans with him and he refused, so I made other plans to hang out with Bill. My partner at the time then stalked me to see what I was up to. We had established that at any point that he did that, it would end our relationship, and so it did.
In my younger teen years I got into a relationship with someone who had 2 years on me. He played stupid games, hinting that he was interested in me without outright stating it — something I said to his face was cowardly and to just express what he felt. In some way, I appreciate the ovaries I had even then. It was a troubled and toxic relationship and when he started pushing me into sexual activity when I was not ready for it, everything really crumbled.
Home life then was not great, school life was miserable. I was getting 2–3 hours of sleep every night during formative years when far more is required, and I was at one of the lowest points of my life, feeling overwhelmingly suicidal. I wanted to leave notes to cause emotional damage to the folks who made my life hell at school, so had some sympathy towards those who’d done much greater damage there. It was one night during this where my first partner stole me out of my window to help me escape, although…it culminated in a lot worse as far as the home life went, including the removal of any protection over windows from the outside world, and my enormous window faced the street. I was grounded from literally everything, including my laptop, although I’d still stay up until 4am writing on it. My toxic ex was explicitly informed to leave me alone, but would slowly drive down the street til he got to my house, then would hit the gas to the stop sign. Stupid.relationship be “done” was what was relieving.
It was ultimately the first in the series of stalking, and he left me with about seven years of trauma before I stopped having nightmares about him chasing me down. Now if he shows up in dreams I mostly just feel like punching his face, if not literally then metaphorically.
Our relationship ‘continued’ exclusively at school, and he’d made me wear his class ring. Mom noticed this and pressed about it, but took my answer of it being accidental and just left it alone. That is, until one day, wherein he had me pressed up against the wall and Mom was coming to pick me up. While my memory can certainly be flawed, she’d barely put her little Fiesta in park before having barrelled out of the car and into the building, where she physically placed herself between me and him and told him off. Big Momma Bear, from my decidedly small mom. This strength led to me breaking off the relationship.
He followed me around school, and was physically threatening toward me. There was one day he chased me across town with his car and physically restrained me, bruising my wrists. Another where he cornered me in a classroom before school started and the teacher — another woman, very tall, very badass — picked him up and removed him from the classroom in front of his sister who just stared in horror. In retrospect, I owe her thanks for such an empowering display.
He stalked me though. In his car, in the school, everywhere. It was easy to do in a town of 1000 people. It traumatized me, and any behavior related to that has been expressed as a dealbreaker in my relationships since. So it was that day when my partner in my adult life stalked me to see what I was up to after he explicitly expressed not wanting to spend time with me that I broke that off. You knew the deal when you signed on for this mess, buddy.
Am I hungry because I’m hungry or because of the meds? Yogurt is the answer.
Bill took his chance not much later than that breakup. Having had a dream about him ‘trying’ to kiss me three times and me accepting it on the third one and it feeling like the correct route to take, when that happened in reality I went with it. But then he was trying to pull me over onto him and I did my best impression of dead-weight and kept myself positioned in such a way that he could not. Something about it just didn’t quite feel right in the moment. A gut feeling I later ignored. Regret.
It was around then that we started some degree of an intimate relationship, although I told him it was at best temporary and not to get too attached as I would likely find my way back with my ex. Furthering this was when Bill let me use his laptop for something, fiddled around with it (applying a keylogger to steal my Facebook password, I discovered much later) before handing it over. He had Firefox open for me and I found myself deleting over a hundred tabs of him having looked up his ex in every format he possibly could. Ultimately, I knew he was obsessive and stalkery. Folks can grow, I’ve done some stupid things like that before too. At the time though it reinforced how not-serious our fooling around was, at least on my end, and I made that clear.
It was odd when my ex and I also ‘got back together,’ although again not in a serious relationship. I was blown away by how much more comfortable it was to be intimate with him, not out of familiarity but situationally, he was ‘safe.’ It contrasted and showcased a heavy amount of uncertainty with Bill.
This time of fooling around with both folks meant different things with each one. With my ex I’d partake in whatever, with Bill we were limited to manual/oral because I didn’t…feel like having PiV with him. Granted we’d discussed these boundaries a lot, and one of the important aspects was that when we would have PiV, condoms were a necessity.
It was a messy time though. My interest in Bill waned as the multi-fooling in two non-serious areas bothered him a lot and his behavior became rather…alarming.
Not to say that whatever was happening was good on any level. I was overt about it, and either of them sticking around was their decision. They were allowed their feelings. Alarming behavior though…nah.
There were a few instances of spending time at Bill’s house where he’d ask if we could fool around and I said no, so he pulled himself out and jerked off anyway. Bothered me a lot. Some would call it a degree of assault. Probably, yeah. Didn’t quite bother me as much as one of the times we were intimate and he asked if he could stick “just the tip” in and although I said no, he did it anyway. No condom. I’m a little less conflicted on calling that assault since it definitely was on a couple levels.
I ended up ending things there with him, and when work stuff broke down — closing my store, my decision to leave the company, Bill continuing to work for them but at another location — we stopped communicating. Or rather I stopped, he kept bothering me. I don’t feel like digging through the letters he’s sent me (I am keeping them for posterity), but there is one where he exclaims that he “actually read a book!” as if reading for once is something to be prideful of if you are wholly capable of doing so but think it is beneath you. Read a book, motherfucker. Really read it. Absorb it. Be a better person.
The time between that and getting back together with him was interesting. I had a sale with the work I was doing at the time and seeing his name pop up on my phone from that sale bothered me. I was at my ex’s house at the time too and I read out the city, near ours, and he asked if I knew that person. I said yes, although was clearly upset as this was after I told Bill not to contact me.
I stuck with the ex for a bit after that. It still wasn’t a super serious relationship and we were aware it was more half of one than anything else, but we’d been in it for years and we at least got along, might as well. Sunk-cost-fallacy. It did slowly wind down over time, although I recall our last time having sex with amusement — namely, I got mine and he didn’t get his, which was a bit of a reversal on how that tended to go. We talked a few days after that and in a restaurant where children were very nearby he asked super loudly if the reason I had broken up with him was that he didn’t cuddle after sex, rather than actually listening to the incompatibilities we’d already discussed. Not listening would be, I suppose, just one of them.
Further confusing this entire mess, I’d had feelings for another person starting in 2012. Much of this took place from 2013–2015. Bill, of course, was well aware of those feelings, and it ended up playing a huge part of our actual relationship and him serving me a dose of PTSD.
I certainly hope that a more logical answer for the van exists, that it wasn’t someone stalking me, but maybe someone a little confused as to where they were picking up a friend or making a delivery. There is a culdesac off my road that is named the same thing and many of the house numbers are the same, after all.
But we’ll see.