Category Archives: The Tool Shed

Hiding

What it’s like inside my head…. Sometimes…

I am just on the other side of what I suppose would be called a PTSD wave.  One of the blogs here I follow asked about triggers and at first I said I didn’t have many.  But I’m realizing now that in fact… I have MANY.  They just aren’t obvious ones.  Because what happened to me happened when I was so young, the highly specific triggers are sort of vague – sensations, smells, that kind of thing.  Witnessing a rape scene in media (I just try to avoid consuming media with rape in it which, these days, seems to be just about every other friggin’ tv show or movie…) can send me into panic for days.  But the more subtle, insidious ones are things that are pretty normal.  For the most part, things that make me feel vulnerable, like I don’t have control, like someone else gets to say what happens in my life and I have to just sit and take it.

Just describing it makes me feel like a little kid, utterly powerless.

And this is the kind of experience we will ALWAYS have to deal with.  I’m not talking about people forcing me to do things that are harmful, just everyday things, like having a boss, having to pay my taxes, dealing with debt, dealing with cashflow management.  Normal.  Everyday.  Things.

The winter was hard, leading up to and following Christmas.  2014 was a really tumultuous year.  Hearts were broken, homes were moved 3 or 4 times, jobs were changed 2 or 3 times, really chaotic.  So by the time Christmas rolled around, I was basically a bottle rocket going off every 5 seconds.  I was encountering the need to be in control of things BIG TIME and since I don’t have control over every facet of my life, my oldest, most reliable coping mechanisms came up.

One is food, which I will talk about in another article I think, because the one I want to talk about here is Hiding.

When things get out of my hands and I can’t do anything about it, when I get scared or feel that someone is getting too close, or just generally I am being needled by daily triggers (you know, taxes and bosses and having to wait for busses) I go into this mode I will refer to as Hexadecimal.  Hexadecimal was a character on a popular mid 90s kids show called Reboot.  I related to her instantly because I felt like she had the same kinda crazy as me.  Total dissociation from my emotions.  For me it amounted to having a series of masks that I would build to suit particular situations while the real me retreated to the back of my head.  I call them The Auto Pilots.

The inside of my head sometimes feels like one of those horror houses with stairways to no where, doors that open into walls, halls that get smaller and smaller and smaller, rooms within rooms within rooms, endless underground passageways, locked doors with screams behind them and small little hidee-holes for safe places to hide.  Over the winter, I was slowly retreating to the furthest, darkest, deepest tunnel I had and leaving The Auto Pilots to run the show.  My closest friend finally said to me “I am confused, I don’t know how to be around you, I don’t know what you want because you never seem to be the same one moment to the next.  There’s no consistency and I feel lonely and unsafe.”  It took me a few days to really grasp what he was saying.  It is something I have heard many times before in my closest relationships.  I realized that I was hiding under the bed trying to be safe.  I realized that, because I trusted him, I could push him away, I could run away from him the way I could not run away from the things that were making me feel unsafe and know that he would still be there later when it was safe to come out.

The thing is, he IS the safe place, he is the place that I can go to and lean on and be vulnerable and he will help me, protect me and soothe me.  Even though he can’t make the scary things go away my responsibilities go away, he can help me feel safe in dealing with them.

This running away, disappearing, employing the army of Auto Pilots is the most reliable, most automatic coping mechanism I have.  So much so that I didn’t even know it was there until a few weeks ago.  After realizing what i was doing, of course it had to be dealt with.  I have been practicing reaching out to people and that practice came in handy as i was fianlly able to let down some o the defenses and just tell him where I was at, how I was feeling and, bless this man, he helped me cry.  I have started to come out from under the bed, have made a point of reaching out to friends, and the idea for this blog – which had been circling my head for some time – has finally settled down and crystalized.

Being seen is not only a means of dealing with this coping mechanism, it is in fact the antidote to it and is, for me, a huge part of healing these rifts.  So I am renovating, you could say.  Taking out walls, getting rid of useless stair wells, building beautiful sun rooms behind doors that formerly lead to nothing and, slowly slowly and carefully carefully, excavating the tunnels.  There’s a little baby girl down there trying to be safe and with time she’s gonna learn that she is safe, even when the world is scary.  ❤