Your chest is tight. A lump in your throat threatens to erupt into sobs. Your head is spinning; your heart seems to overflow its cavity, it is beating so heavily. There are words at the root of these sensations, but more than anything the emotions overwhelm: grief. Need to keep the lid on. And terror of being touched, psychically, emotionally, or god forbid, physically.
You are triggered.
I know this feeling too, too well…the sensation of energy gone chaotic. I’ve wallowed in it. Collapsed on the floor in tears when the dizziness overwhelmed me. Called in sick to work because I Could. Not. Face. People. The wounded child within was in full panic and it took all my adult consciousness to hold any kind of sanity. Those were the worst days.
Gurus have told me to order the terrified child to shape up or begone; to assert my adult mind forcefully; to shove the child down into subconscious muck and lean into the fear. Others have urged me to take the time I need, go gently, stay in bed if I need to.
I’ve bounced between those urgings like a shuttlecock, seeking a middle way. Reassured the child like a mother and pushed forward. Indulged in safe retreats when the terror was too great. Negotiated compromises and half-measures. Used distracting tactics to invoke happier, safer feelings. Breathed and meditated to calm the pounding heart and shallow panting. Occasionally – rarely – forcefully told the child NO! when her terror was pulling us into nihilism and self-destruction. And always sought for the root of the trigger.
Welcome to the world of complex PTSD.
I am feeling those sensations now, triggered by an innocent, well-intentioned miscommunication. The friend – I hope – was not offended by the boundary I set, as gently as possible, to prevent further misconstruals.
Why not use meds to manage this experience? Believe me, I’ve gone down that road, and it has not been a good one for me, for many reasons. I have found that – for me – the best solution has been to face my triggers supported by consciousness and Spirit connection rather than chemistry. To bear witness to the child’s default reactions, honor her desire to stay safe, and assure her that I can protect us now with better responses that will improve our life. To immerse in others’ stories of solutions to this experience. To substitute the words “diagnosis” and “condition” with “experience;” to look on the emotions with Reiki eyes, as energy being released. To use self-Reiki and meditation techniques and seek guidance continually from spirit guides. To remind myself that these emotions are aftershocks from long-past upheavals, that the (limited, wounded, human) tyrant who bequeathed them to me, from how many generations before him, is now an ancestor wishing me well. To roll with the swells, in dynamic balance, one moment at a time, always centering in my right to determine what takes place in my mind.
To affirm that the goal of this experience is to emerge wiser and more compassionate, better able to be a healing presence in the world.
To see some of the tools and practices I have found to deal with anxiety and panic, see my ebook, Defuse Your Anxiety and Panic Attacks: 30 Tools to Help You Reclaim Your Life.