There are times in life when we get rather rude reminders of our past pain.
Last week, I had one of those reminders. I got a nasty-gram in the form of a text from an ex. Sigh. I read it and the mild-PTSD kicked right in; the shaky hands, dizziness, panic sweat…the whole shebang.
But, for the first time, I came back to myself quickly, like, almost immediately. It was awesome! How the heck did I do that? Well…
I put the phone down and walked away for a minimum of five minutes. I took that time to remind myself of where I am now. Chiefly, not under the same roof with this person, so I did not have to desperately defend myself to no avail. This is no longer my life. I also used this time to think of where this nastiness is coming from. You know, the timeless Urkel question, “Did I do that?” I got real with myself and asked if I did do something wrong here that required an apology or remedy. I realized that this was an attempt to pile shit that isn’t mine on me. I tend to be very hard on myself, so if I do something wrong, I’m the last one on the planet to forgive it. So, I don’t have any issue with going, “Oh, my bad. Sorry.” Lastly, I thought of how to respond. I did apologize for upsetting him. Because I was unaware that what I had texted would upset him at all. That is all I said. Why? Because my second tip is…
Don’t engage. Just don’t do it, man. There is no point in picking apart the tirade and pointing out why he’s wrong, sentence by sentence. You are not going to “win”. You just aren’t.
My third tip for you is to contact someone supportive. I talked to friends and vented a bit. Friends are your best defense against the dreaded gas-light! Like I said, my mild PTSD kicked in, and part of that is immediately second guessing myself. Friends can help you distinguish between the ugly picture of you that has been painted by someone else, and the real picture. And while not a perfectly filtered picture, the no filter picture of you is quite lovely.
Why am I even writing about this? Well, while I did avert the crisis, it was like walking into your kitchen and seeing an elephant in there (not that an elephant would fit in my kitchen, but I digress). You see, my second act has been in full-swing for about six and a half years now, and the unpleasantness of the text last week is not a normal event in my life anymore. Besides the PTSD, an event like this triggers old memories, like a mini-haunting of a sort. Unfortunately, when these events trigger me, I will always have to process them.
I remembered that despite my ex thinking that dumping me would solve all his problems, it actually solved all of mine. The loss of that relationship sent me straight into an unexpected epic second act- full of fun, laughter, adventure and friends. Now, is my life perfect…Hell No! Nobody’s life is perfect. I have stress and strife. But, I am living my best life now. So, while the text from Hell was upsetting, the reminder of how far I’ve come, was not.
I’ll always be sad about the end of that relationship. Mostly because it really and truly did not have to be that way, and despite my best efforts, it did end up that way. As sad as that is, I am beautifully blessed and maybe a reminder of that, especially in the COVID-crazy-time, is exactly the kick in the pants that I need. I mean, it got me to sit down and write this today, didn’t it?
And if all of the above fails, might I suggest some sage…