I live right on the MD/PA line. I am closer to shop in PA than Maryland, so I’m there a lot.
There is this one road, and on this road is 11 restaurants, a huge movie theater, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s (of course, they are always next to each other -weird really) Hobby Lobby, a mall, Petco…oh, and a Sams Club.
You have absolutely everything you need in two miles.
I’ve shopped there for years.
This is where they would go to eat dinner.
They hit most of the restaurants there. What the hell he was thinking? I don’t know. Even though it’s in another state, it’s very close to our community, and I’ve run into people I know or work with almost every time I’m there.
I asked him once, a while back, “Did you ever worry you would be seen?” He said, “I was a nervous wreck the entire time.”
I’ve nicknamed the road “lovers lane.”
He told me where they ate, and it was literally a line of restaurants down the road.
Some days, it’s trigger hell. Others? I’m absolutely fine. I refuse to stop going there, because they are not ruining that for me.
Our daughter went to the movies on Sunday. We dropped her off together. We came to a halt and back-up right by the steak restaurant they went to.
I felt it coming on. My heart starts slamming against my ribs, my fingers tingle, breathing becomes shallow. Damn it. I need to fight this off. Breathe. In. Out. This is stupid, you’ve been here 100 times since dday, why now? Do the 5 things technique…quick.. it’s taking over…
5 things you can see: ok ok ok… the red camaro symbol above the gear shift, my bracelet, the personalized license plate in front of us… clearly they are a dogrumer… his hand on hers when she orders a steak, he’s so happy she eats meat, his loser wife is a vegetarian, nope nope nope, get outta my head, look, there’s the fucking Perkins right across the street, a family restaurant you took your whore to…
This isn’t working. I can usually grab onto the 5 things and make it through pretty quick..but not today.
Let’s move on to 4.
4 things you can touch: I touch the dash, my watch, I panic, I can’t find something that will pull me out of this, I look at his hand. Reaching for him, touching him, will often ground me… not today, that hand touched her. Fuck that hand.
Can’t even focus now. What was the third thing to do? 3 things you can hear.
Nothing. I can’t pull anything in other than the sound of them laughing together and still talking about what I loser I am because I don’t eat meat.
I’m done. I can’t even go on. I also know in the back of my traumatized thoughts that they did not talk about me at all and I’m being ridiculous.
If I’m not trapped in a car sitting next to him, I can usually accomplish the flood control with a walk.
The light finally changes. We move. We literally go by two more of their restaurants to get to the movies. My daughter is in the seat behind me, earbuds in and humming to her music. She has no idea what I’m going through. That’s good.
We drop her off and go eat. Not at one of theirs. I hope. He says, “What’s going on?”
I was honest. “Sometimes, it’s not easy to be here. Some days, it’s no big deal at all.” He nods. He knows I will randomly struggle coming here. He knows I call it Lovers Lane. He looks at me and says, “you didn’t need to come, I can drop her off and pick her up without you.”
I said, “Nope. I know she shops up here, I was coming with you.”
He gets pissed off. “You didn’t need to say that. Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it needs to come out of your mouth.”
In other words: he’s uncomfortable now, and it’s my fault.
I say nothing. Tension is thick now. How can I make him see this is just not about him at all?
That realization hits me for the very first time since all of this has happened:
It’s not about him at all, it’s about me.
He should not be getting pissed at me because I struggled through a trigger. Him getting angry is a reflection of his own feelings about himself, he’s the one that brought this on. He’s the reason we are going through this, and he’s not faced it. So it’s easier for him to get mad at me than face what he’s done. I have no time for all that while I’m in the panic of a trigger, or after I’ve pulled through. That’s on him.
On the way back through to pick her up, I said, “Shut up and listen to me. Don’t say a word, don’t cut me off because you’re uncomfortable, just listen: I do all I can do to control the flood when a trigger hits. What you need to understand is it’s not about you. You always make all of this about YOU. This is what I AM feeling, this is me. I’m not mad at you, I’m not mad at her, this is just what I am going through. I’m not punishing you or taking digs at you! This. Is. Not. About. You. 99% of the time, you don’t even know that I’m experiencing it when it happens.”
“I’m not asking you for anything. I’m not asking anything of you. I’m going through it, and that’s on me.”
I point at the steak place we are in front of, again, and say, “I see that place, and I think you loved taking her there. Because she eats meat. I feel like she’s a better partner for you, you were happier with your meat eater. I will never be enough for you and I am not the type of person you would like to be with. All these stupid thoughts slam through my brain, and I can’t stop them.”
He said, “That is absolutely ridiculous. You really think that?”
I say “Yes. But when I get myself to the other side? I see that it’s ridiculous. I’m not going through this to make YOU feel punished or ashamed, or whatever. This is just about me.”
I hate triggers. This is also the first time I’ve talked to him about what the thought process is when they happen. How jumbled and insane it feels and how hard some them are to pull out of.
What I need to do is stop calling it lovers lane. I need to take them off this street and make it about me and my favorite place to shop. I need to change the way I view it.
It’s not about him, it’s about me.
This does work for me most of the time….