Karate triggers me. Not the moves. I stand in and let my kids try to hit and kick me and maneuver out of my holds without any issue at all, despite their history of violence against me.
The triggers come when the instructor is describing scenarios. My kids are standing or sitting there, and I look at their faces and remember it happening to them, to me. I always think, if only we knew these simple moves back then, would it have helped? Probably it would have made it worse.
Blocking an attack from an enraged person sounds ideal, but abusers who want control over others often just become angry beyond belief, and that escalates the situation.
I did fight back, once. I feel awful about it, you know. I was in a headlock and I thought that was it, I thought I was going to be seriously hurt or he would try to kill me, my neck was such a vulnerable thing. I didn’t know what would happen to the children, who would care for them? I was angry, I had told him to just wait so I could feed my kids first. It was time for dinner, they were off schedule, and being off schedule at those young ages made for chaos. I just wanted to do what I had to do, and then deal with his paranoid delusional bull*&#! after.
I have to pretend to choke my children at karate, as part of the lessons. They know what to do. They desperately need to learn all of this. It is so crucial, that I am frozen by it. I am afraid that insisting they practice will instead burn them out on it, and then they will not learn at all.
I sit there watching them watch the instructor, and I try to weigh probabilities. How likely that they will need these lessons specifically for our abuser. How likely it is that we will be found. I feel a sort of desperation in karate lessons.
I look around the room and I wonder how many other kids are learning for the same reasons. No one can tell. How many are registered with state and federal government agencies to prevent kidnapping? No one can tell.
Of course we all get home crabby. Of course we come home tense. Of course we are squabbling and do not want any space, we do not want to be in separate rooms. Of course. We remember, we are fearful. We want to be together, we want to be safe. Probably we are all triggered at karate.
One of my shameful secrets is about food. Specifically, waffles. I am a waffle snob. I have said it, it’s in the open. I will publish this, I am tired of hiding.
Belgian waffles are obscene. I cannot eat them. They are too tall. The squares in which to put your fruit, your syrup, are too deep. I don’t want Belgian waffles. Abominations.
I want real waffles. The ones that look like Aunt Jemima’s. Short and businesslike, compact little squares, not deep enough to swim in, shallow for overflow. Not taller than my fork, turned on it’s side.
I cannot find a waffle maker for good waffles. I find Belgians, Belgian fusion, even, and this is a sin, waffle makers making no mention of Belgian in their designation or description, but are Belgian, nonetheless, unannounced and deviously so.
There is NOT a donate button on here. I just want to know where to find this waffle maker. A waffle maker that has never been to Belgium, and has no plans to go, and could care less about Belgian culture.
Thank you. I am at your mercy. I have been without waffles for 13 months. Sanity is now at risk.
My nightmares do not involve any exotic monsters. Just the monster I know. A real, a charming, psychopath.
In my nightmares I am back there. Not necessarily in the same time as when I was living under his watching eyes, but in his sphere. Controlled enough that I cannot have honest responses to his actions, for fear of consequences to myself or the children.
Last night it involved another, he was taking advantage of a wealthy older woman, in my dream. There were some similarities to the relationship he had with another when we got away. Both vulnerable women, both wealthy, and in both cases I had to keep my mouth shut and not announce my connection to him, hiding the fact of the children, of myself. Denying our own existence, denying our feelings.
This triggers me. I believe. This is a key as to why parenting can trigger my PTSD. There are so many times in parenting that you cannot have an honest emotional reaction. You have to keep quiet and mete out the consequences, not make a big deal out of behaviours you want to eliminate, etc.
When I cannot be honest, the act of holding it in, denying my emotional self, upsets me disproportionately. It infuriates me, to pretend not to feel. I cannot do it anymore. I did it too much.
It makes me feel helpless. I couldn’t help this woman he had taken up with in real life any more than I could warn the one in my nightmare. I feel responsible for this girl, who was beaten by him. Responsible for believing his lies about her, for not seeing past the smokescreens he threw in my way to hide his double life. For thinking, as he claimed AS HE WANTED ME TO THINK, that she was so fragile that she could not handle contact from me when I threatened to do what he would not, and tell her about him, about us. The guilt is crippling.
He has a public criminal record, now. I hope that absolves me, even if it does not stay the nightmares.
One of the lasting effects of gaslighting in my life is my mistakes with language. My abuser would teach me words that were wrong, that meant something slightly or entirely different than what he told me they meant. I am still finding out what I am misusing, and often it is embarrassing. I found out by watching a movie, even, and puzzling out by replay that what was said rapidfire onscreen was not what I thought was meant. For years he insisted that what he was screaming at his mother was “not your business”, and what he was really telling her was that she was crazy, sick. He gaslighted me, in gaslighting her.
(I hope she is alright. I am not there to hold him off of her, anymore. I worry.)
So these words and phrases are a part of my internal dialogue, and they might not mean what I think. That is so messed up, I cannot even wrap my head around it.