Triggered! Again.

TRIGGER WARNING: References to physical abuse with language that could be considered triggering, but no graphic descriptions. 

And she’s been triggered again, folks.

I was helping my mom yesterday for the second day in a row, and she was gushing on and on about how my evil sister’s going to have to show me how to operate her car, which will bring the two of us closer together and even put us in close proximity for the first time since said evil sister may or may not have pushed our mother down the stairs. (The jury’s still out on that, as is my mom’s memory.) That was three-and-a-half years ago. After 2018, the year 2020 was a cakewalk for my family. Covid? Schmovid!

So then my mom went off on a tangent about how our new insurance agent’s name is Megan (that’s not my birthname, but it’s close), and I sat there helplessly.

“And I told her my daughter goes by Meg,” she said. I smiled grimly and kept waiting. “And how I used to have an [M-word] for a daughter.”


“I should get going,” I said. “I’ll see you later.”

I came home and was angry, but I used all the techniques in my books. Could my mom be free of ulterior motives here? Could she be senile or confused? So I very calmly called her on the phone and complained.

“I thought you’d be proud of me,” she said. “I was bragging to her about how your name is Meg now.”

“It reminds me of being abused,” I admitted.

“Well, who abused you? I don’t understand. But anyway, I’ll try not to say it again.”

“That’s good. And you also asked me if I wished my cousin, Andy, a happy birthday.”

“Oh, right, sorry.”

“And when I said no, you had to dredge it all up again by asking me why.”

“I can see how that would be upsetting,” she said. “I’d forgotten.”

(Andy’s hated me ever since I reported his wife to CPS for having Munchausen’s by proxy and repeatedly dragging their kid to the hospital for faked reasons. My mom was pivotal in destroying my relationship with Andy at the time, but she now claims to have forgotten it all. A likely excuse.)

Regardless, I didn’t lose my cool or anything, so I emailed my mentor to brag about it, as I felt very successful. He wrote back thusly:

Let’s address your rather trivial [gripes] about child abuse……

Hmmm …. do you think you might be being a bit hard on your mother for having the audacity to use the name that she gave you? I understand that it triggers things for you, but it doesn’t for her–so she can hardly be expected to make the connection.

Yes, yes, yes ….. I know you’ve told her over and over again but would not a “listen, Mom, I don’t know how many times I’ve asked you not to use that name in my presence, but could you lift your game a little in that department?” It is not as if she is doing it on purpose to upset you. Is it? (actually I don’t care what you say. The answer is: no, it is not). What is the purpose of your anger, in this case?

And your cousin …. why not wish him a happy birthday? What have you got to lose?

I possibly need to point out that my use of the word ‘trivial’ was sarcastic and self-effacing (why do I feel the need to explain such things?) but I do think you have to stop blaming people for your reactions. Your reactions are your responsibilities and no one else’s. Stop asking for special treatment.

Sorry, was that harsh?

And I was deeply hurt. Fortunately I’m not easily shamed. It’s more accurate to say that there was outrage. I wrote back and described how I feel like I’m being spanked all the time still, and how it’s in my cellular memory, and how I can never outrun it. I can’t wear thin pants. I can’t raise my legs in bed to tuck my blanket under my feet. How hearing my mom say M-word makes me hear, in my head, “[M-word] Elizabeth, I’m going to spank your bottom,” over and over again. How I can’t ever use the word “bottom”. How I always  have to say, “Look on the lower shelf,” or, “LuLu’s resting on the lower step.”

While I didn’t act out in extreme anger, that’s only because I know my mentor means well and was being particularly ignorant and idiotic. Not to mention thoughtless and insensitive. And boorish. He’s usually much nicer. But if I were reading this blog post, I probably wouldn’t believe that.

I slept quite poorly and feel hungover and tired. My dad and I took a walk, and I ranted and raved the whole time about how both my mother and my mentor have triggered me, how I’m still triggered, how I keep hearing people saying, “[M-word] Elizabeth, I’m going to S your B,” (I was speaking in code for a few reasons), and how I wanted to lash out at everyone.

“You need to keep reading your self-help books! This is exactly the sort of intense anger you’re trying to avoid,” my dad lamented. “Why’d you quit reading them?”

I shrugged. “Because it was yesterday! I can’t read continuously! I’ll read more later. Geez.”

So to recap, I’m angry at the world, I’m triggered, I’m feeling hopeless, and I’m out of solutions.

12 thoughts on “Triggered! Again.

  1. (Hug). Can’t think of anything else to say, but wanted to send you a hug and my support. It’s got to be hard dealing with family / mom on a regular basis. Mine live in another state and I block my mom out as often as I wish. For example she texted yesterday ans I ignored it and am considering just not texting back period.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds as if the histrionic side to your mom is really coming out to play. My guess would be that she doesn’t actually how it’s triggering you. To recognize that would be to recognize how badly she damaged you, and it doesn’t sound like she wants to go there. What she does know is that when she brings it up, it creates drama. To the histrionic side of her, the fact that it’s negative drama probably wouldn’t make much difference. Like the introversion trait lets people gain energy from alone time, the histrionic trait lets people gain energy from drama.

    I think saying to your mom what your mentor suggested would probably be counterproductive. You can’t control being triggered by her, but from a behavioural psychology perspective, if you can work on just up and leaving without giving her anything at all to let her know what’s going on and how she’s triggered you, she will slowly start to learn subconsciously that bringing those things up won’t produce any drama for her, so she’ll find new things to move on to that are more likely to give her drama. It’s kind of like training a dog; you have to train it over time that there’s no connection between bad behaviour and getting your attention, since to the dog, attention is attention, good or bad.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s genius, and I’ve sensed it about the histrionics coing out to play too, so you’re probably right. She’s been less narcy and more hissy. yeah, my mentor chronically gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, which I used to do, but now I’m more likely to suspect my mom’s up to no good. I’ve tried your approach, and it works as well as anything! The other day she said, “Your grandmother [my mom’s mom] was always hard on you, wasn’t she?” Like that’s going to head anywhere GOOD?! So I flat-out lied and said, “No, of course not.”

      “Oh, but she didn’t understand you.”

      “No one ever understands me.” (More lies.) “It’s no huge deal.” Because you’re right. She has to be misdirected, but so smoothly that she never guesses she was getting to you in the first place. Thanks so much for commenting!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A big difference between narcissistic and histrionic is that the narcissistic side needs positive attention, and the histrionic side just needs attention, positive or negative. It sounds like, at least with this, she’s leaning towards the latter.

        In the example you mentioned, even the “no one ever understands me. It’s no huge deal” gives her a bit of a bone that she could try to run with. If you could do a slick segue from her initial response into something else less annoying and not related to you that she likes to get dramatic about, I think you’d be golden.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, it’s treacherous trying to find the right path, but at least I’m not triggered by being misunderstood, so there’s that; but you’re right, because she’ll take it and run with it to places I’d rather not go. Very true! AAUGH!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Gosh, your mentor’s email was tragical! As if your mum alone didn’t cause enough chaos! So sorry you had to deal with all this and that your mum isn’t even able to understand how it triggers you. Hugs. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!! I think my mentor means well but doesn’t understand the realities of trauma always being in your head, you know? Like he hasn’t experienced it so it’s easy for him to think that people are using trauma to get special treatment. [Massive eyeroll.] But he does mean well! Although it’s not hard to see how it doesn’t appear that way!!

      Liked by 1 person

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