Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dear Stranger - it's not you, it's me...

Dear Stranger on the interstate - I'm sorry I almost side-swiped you. The person driving the 18-wheeler truck who passed me on the other side, looked over. You know, that happenstance glance that motorists exchange every once in awhile. Only he was a 60 something year old, bald, except for long mullet, santa clause looking black gruffy bearded guy. Driving a truck. Like "him". It scared me and I instinctively swerved in your direction. I'm sorry.

Dear person in the library - I'm sorry I screeched when your child dropped his book with a LOUD bang. I wasn't mad or upset at him. I just was startled.

Dear Client - I'm sorry I yanked my arm out of your grasp. I know you were just grabbing my wrist to get my attention because I didn't hear you and it was so loud in the hall. I didn't mean to infer you were someone to fear. I'm sorry.

Dear Elderly Grandfather-like gentleman in store - I'm sorry I snapped at you when you wanted to give my child a dollar to buy some candy. I'm trying to teach her not to take things from strangers. I'm sorry that your, probably good intentions, were thwarted.

Dear X - I'm sorry I looked at you in horror when you introduced yourself as J__ and that your spouse's name was J__, that you liked to ride motorcycles, go camping/hiking and garden. One of those factors would have been fine - maybe even two, but all together there were too many similarities. I'm sorry.

Dear Client - I'm sorry I jumped 10 feet when you patted my arm. I know you are old enough to be my grandfather and you meant it as a way of saying "thank you." I just don't do well with touches that I don't see coming. I'm sorry

Dear Cashier - yes I heard you say, "Can I help the next person in line?" I ignored you. The fact that you had no teeth and were chomping gum made me panic. I'm sorry.

Dear Other Client - I'm sorry I didn't laugh it off when you said that your children wanted to know who this "girl named __(me)___ is that you keep talking about and how old I was?" I know you meant it as a joke and were just making conversation. I'm sorry.

Dear Colleague - I'm sorry you think I'm stuck up because I won't go to lunch with you. Really, it's not the eating in a public place that bothers me so much as the car ride to get there. I don't do so well in the passenger side of cars, alone with a male driver. I'm sorry.

To beer-bellied; toothless; bald, but with long mullet hair in the back; unkempt looking; long, scraggly, dirty gray/black beards; gum chomping; grease stained fingers; shirt-less; short short - but otherwise innocent and nice 60-ish year old men everywhere -- I'm sorry. It's not you, it's me.

Dear Friend - I'm sorry I won't go out for a girl's night with you and leave my daughter home alone with your husband. I know he is a nice guy. But I just can't...

Dear Husband - I'm sorry I elbowed you (hard) when you tried to snuggle the other night in bed. I've asked you not to touch me from behind. I'm sorry I shudder when I pass you in the hallway after I'm coming out of the shower. I'm sorry.

Again, it's not you -- it's me...


fotoface said...


Lynn said...

Dear Husband,
I'm sorry you think brushing your teeth for ten seconds means they are clean. I'm sorry I am obsessed with oral hygiene. I'm sorry that my father wasn't. I'm sorry that I was so depressed and devastated this morning that I didn't brush my teeth and the taste of not having clean teeth brought one of those sickening flashes of memory. Yes, it was the taste. I'm sorry that I now know the root of my obsession and I can't even tell you about it. I'm sorry that I told you to go brush your teeth when you tried to kiss me. I don't know how to tell you...

Dear Enola,
I'm sorry that I am so shut down that I can't deal with my own blog and have come over here and dragged my crap with me to yours. I'm sorry that you also feel sorry.

Enola said...

Lynn - I emailed directly to you. But my blog is yours -vent away.

Anonymous said...

Oh, triggers triggers everywhere! They can't be helped, the world is full of hidden triggers, like land mines you try to avoid.

I found myself nodding as I read this post. Especially the loud noises/arm touching/coming up from behind you triggers. It's sad to have to live this way, sad to feel as if you owe the entire world an apology because you have over reactions to the smallest of gestures/movements, etc.

Beyond that, I don't know what to say. Too many of us know exactly what you were expressing here. There are no quick and easy solutions. No magic wands. It's so unfair that we must live our lives this way--I don't even know how we survivors manage to get out of bed in the morning.

We must be a stubborn lot!

beauty said...

That last comment was from me, I didn't get a chance to type in my name before the comment published...

Tina said...

You know, I am sure it feels a little better that you are apologizing somewhere for the "misunderstandings" you may have caused.

But, you know what?

You don't need to be sorry. You feel this way for specific reasons and sometimes, people need to learn to either give you your space or learn when they are overstepping their's.

Don't be sorry for what makes you uncomfortable - it is understandable (although most people don't know) and you should not have to apologize for things making you jumpy.

the clanberries said...

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~Sister in Survival~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~Sister in Survival~ said...

Hi Dear One,
I, too, am isolated by what my experiences have done to me. It is so much easier to attach to no one, to just be alone, but the loneliness is stiffling.

I could so identify with the comment about the man you didn't want to ride with. My need to protect "me" makes me seem aloof and cold.

Gentle hugs, my friend!

Take care,

Lynx217 said...

Dear Stranger on the Street - sorry I ran away the moment I saw you, I know you probably meant no harm, but I don't trust anyone.

Austin said...

Like other readers I shook my head in agreement repeatedly.

When I get in a car I HAVE to know I can get out. I absolutely have to know I can get out which means rain or shine the window is down a bit.

Lord, Lord, Lord and people wonder why we can't just "get over it." Because the lessons we learned were beaten into us from so early on. They sculpted our thinking our way of seeing the world. To get over it would be to make the whole world disappear, or the people that trigger responses in us anyway.


April_optimist said...

I found myself nodding at so much of this. The good thing is that as we reclaim our strength, our power, we become less sensitized. We begin to know, on a gut level, that NOW we can protect ourselves. We still will not take chances in certain situations--such as choosing not to leave your daughter with your friend's husband. We will always be aware of dangers that may not be. But we do become less sensitized.

cerebralmum said...

I found I couldn’t write a comment the first time I read this. Partly because you had said everything already, not just for yourself, but for me, and partly because I needed time to think through the issues that it raised.

Not only was it painfully honest and confronting, but it is a kind of “format” for those of us trying to understand the way the past effects us now. Dealing with child abuse as you grow older is like archaeology. So much is buried and identifying all the debris is hard.

Thank you for reminding me of some things I still need to be aware of. Just because I stopped digging, doesn’t mean there is no more to be found.

Patricia Singleton said...

Enola, awareness is the first key to healing. Awareness of why we react the way that we do is very important. It took me years to get from where you are to where I am today where most of those things don't still affect me. I will occasionally see someone who looks like my father. I am no longer frightened of that person but I do initially keep my distance and see if I can figure out if it is physical appearance or is it abuser signals that he is giving off. Yes, I usually recognize the abusers and also I usually recognize other incest survivors who don't even have to share their stories for me to know. As another incest survivor, I just "see" things in another incest survivor's words or behavior that tells me they are one too. I don't think that trait is just in me. I would guess that most incest survivors probably recognize other survivors and abusers. Thanks for writing this painful article. You are speaking for so many others. Have a glorious day.