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When being angry every day is something you take for granted as "normal"

Old 01-21-2012, 11:31 AM
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When being angry every day is something you take for granted as "normal"

Here is my "normal" state of mind, on a daily basis, that I have learned to see, dismiss, and accept as "just the way I am":

Angry, irritable, compulsively complaining about others (whether they're people in my life, outside of my life, politicians, or whoever happens to pop into my head).

Complaining about situations (*any* situation...if it's a positive situation, I feel compelled to point out any potential flaws; it's been pointed out to me that I am a very negative person, and I've always just shrugged it off or become defensive).

Constantly feeling like someone, somewhere (just throw out a name) is disapproving of me, and I am outraged by this.
And, of course, controlling everything and disapproving of everything and everyone, down the minute detail.

Nice, eh?

So, when I'm having an extra hard time (which I am right now...it's almost just too much for me right now to get a handle on my learned behaviors), it's confusing to me.
Am I being triggered by all of the realizations I've been coming to, and experiencing a sort of backlash effect?

Aaaannnnd....at the risk of offering up TMI, "once a month" my brain gets *extra* special neurotic, thanks to the mysterious effects of female hormones. Yes, very special indeed.

I'm catching glimpses of how my brain basically just sits in a swill of negativity, and how my behavior has become enslaved to my need to feel not only approved of, but actually "better than", due to the relentless undermining of my self-esteem that I received in my childhood.

I want to do more journaling. I have written down a few pages of the most noticeable behaviors and triggers that affect my life on a daily basis, but I'm not entirely sure where to go from there.

Right now, I feel as though I'm wearing a hair shirt (itchy, uncomfortable, irritated), and my husband has been the primary innocent bystander for these feelings, although he does seem to understand that I'm going through some "stuff", so I don't think he's taking it too hard. I think that he's just very happy that I'm seeking help and trying to change...

I've mentioned before that I've been given (and am grateful for) a lot to digest when it comes to fully realizing my patterns, and I still feel pretty overwhelmed and confused.

Basically, *everything* and *everybody* is a potential trigger for me, all day every day, and it's hard to take all that in.

I have some other things on my mind right now, so I will probably add another thread related to some of the specific issues I have when it comes to coping with other people's behaviors that trigger me, but they seem to be the types of behaviors that would probably be genuinely exasperating even for people who are not ACAs (but then, I wouldn't really know that for sure).

I feel like I needed to just get all this off my chest, and if anyone has anything that they want to share or add, or helpful tools and advice to offer, please do!

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Old 01-21-2012, 12:39 PM
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Boy do I relate. As I sit here trying to read this, a snow blower is going off outside, the tv is on and my husband is cleaning up making a lot of noise. He started asking me questions about a toy for the cat, I answered, he asked again and again. I snapped at him and then realized that I was fried from the noise and also wearing a "hair shirt" LOL. Apologized and tried to calm myself down. I can't take noise when I am trying to think. I know (!) that stems from childhood all too often concentrating and being taken off guard by my A Dad attacking me and beating me for no reason. So I grew up being hyper aware of footsteps and noise of any kind.

Your comment about basically everything is a trigger is similar. My sister once said to me that she didn't care about what thought of a mutual (bad) friend, that I always saw too much and she wanted to like them anyway. I find the worst in any situation and feel like it's really discernment to keep me safe. But I have learned to calm down. Can't say how just the years coming and going, what choice is there but accept and go on.

You are becoming very aware all at once. Mine was more year by year. Some workbook or counseling might help keep it from overwhelming you.
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Old 01-21-2012, 12:55 PM
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Your comment about your sister's response is very much how my husband sees people. For the most part, he chooses to overlook any negative traits and focus on the positive. I am skeptical because, like you, I feel like I am being discerning for my own safety. I don't want toxic people in my life, but nobody's perfect...so, I suppose I'll figure out how and where to draw that line when I'm ready.

I'm glad that you can relate to my post, I felt so relieved after posting it! It felt like rambling and a little bit of ranting, but it's nice to get it out there and let go for a minute.

Big hugs if you want 'em, and hoping that our "hair shirts" can be taken off and replaced with something more comfortable today.

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Old 01-21-2012, 01:38 PM
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Plath,

I am not a religious person, I am not a person you would find in my grandmothers pentecostal church, speaking in tongues or handling snakes, but the thing I consider one of the biggest sins, the one I chastise myself for all the time, is not being grateful enough for all that I have. I survived a terrible crash, I believe with all my heart that I was saved that day for a purpose, and that if I do not make the most of each day and be grateful for all I have, then I am wasting my gift. I get a little preachy about this and that is wrong too, but I believe in this so very passionately that I cross the line.

When you are in one of these moods then I want you to just be quiet for a minute and to think about the things you have, you child and husband, that you have a roof over your head, enough food, you have all your arms and legs (unlike some of our veterans returning home) on and on we can go, but this takes just a second and you will find this is kryptonite for negative thought.

Also some remiders:

I am strong

I can succeed

I can learn from it

I am lovable

I am attractive

I can handle it

I can choose who to trust

I can choose to forgive

I am okay just the way I am

I am smart

I can trust my own judgement

I deserve good things

I am worthy and worthwhile

I am a good and loving person

I am important

I deserve to be happy

I can choose to forgive

I now have choices

I am beautiful inside and out

You are all these things and many more, you have a family and friends that will be there for you.

Bless you,

Bill
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Old 01-21-2012, 01:45 PM
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I don't have much of an issue with anger, but I do with negativity. I also get ultra sensitive to a lot of people or a lot of noise. I tend to get irritated, and it seems like my mind just gets overloaded with all the sensations.

I have all kinds of things that have helped me with my negativity. It helps me with depression and anxiety which is the way that I react to problems. I'm not anywhere near cured, but I'll share them with you:

The Feeling Good Handbook
It has journaling exercises and ideas how to change the "self-talk" in your head.

Learn how to meditate, guided meditation CDs, free audios, podcast, blog, instructions
I do some of these meditation podcasts. I haven't tried the one for anger, but I use the ones for "letting go," and "Stillness in the mind."

Zen Page-A-Day Calendar
This has a Zen saying for each day of the year.

ACOA Daily Affirmation
I found these online at thesobervillage.com

Take care! Bluebelle
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Old 01-21-2012, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Kialua View Post
I know (!) that stems from childhood all too often concentrating and being taken off guard by my A Dad attacking me and beating me for no reason. So I grew up being hyper aware of footsteps and noise of any kind.
Thanks for sharing. That helps me realize why I am so sensitive to noises and touch.
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Old 01-21-2012, 01:48 PM
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Bill,
Those are great affirmations!! Thanks for sharing.

Plath,
I'm glad you started this discussion.
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Old 01-21-2012, 02:09 PM
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Thank you all so much for sharing!
Bluebelle, I will look into the affirmation tools and books that you mentioned, thanks!

Bill, I do go back and forth between knowing, deep in my heart how very blessed and fortunate I am in this life, right now.

I have also been through some tragedies in my early twenties, and I am so grateful every day that my son, husband, and parents are still alive.
I have also been very, very poor most of my adult life, and I work in a homeless shelter for women, so it doesn't escape my notice that we are so fortunate to have employment, food, and a roof over our heads, as there are many, many people who do not have those luxuries.

Much love to all of you, and thanks. I do feel better for posting, and I'm grateful for your responses.

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Old 01-21-2012, 06:22 PM
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My husband is a talker. I'm a transcriptionist so I have on a headset and I'm transcribing. He will try to talk to me while I'm working; headset on and all. I don't think he's even aware of it. If I'm reading, he's talking. As I am typing this right now he is talking about Chipotle's and how he can go for a burrito. I do get snappy when there's a lot going on in the background. Why? Because I am concentrating, and I am very focused in what I'm doing. It takes a lot of mental energy for me to get to that level of concentration. So when I have to have pull myself out of my concentration I do get snappy.

For me it has little to do with my childhood but more to do with the dislike of being disturbed when I focused.
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Old 01-21-2012, 07:11 PM
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Well...the "hair shirt" has become slightly less obnoxious, but I'm still feeling a bit extra "trigger happy" today.

I think that it makes my recovery even more difficult when I am forced to deal with other ACAs in my day-to-day life who activate my triggers even more than just day-to-day life already does. But I think I'll reserve that topic for a new thread, as it's kind of its own sort of monster.

After I posted this thread, it was a bit easier for me to look at people and their behaviors (we went shopping for baby clothes, books, etc. today, and there were some people who normally would have really got under my skin, but I was able to shrug it off reasonably well) without reacting.

BUT, when I got home, I had to deal with in-law stuff (the price of having a babysitter who is actually a very loving grandma, but a somewhat obnoxious mother in-law).
I can never tell how much of the triggers/behaviors are mine, and how much are hers, or if I'm imagining things, etc...I just want the feelings of irritation, rejection, and subsequent resentment to go away.

Anyway, as far as being triggered by loud noises or people yelling, I don't have that too much, although they can be inherently nerve wracking.

However, I noticed something odd about a year ago, when my husband lived in a lower apartment unit and the woman upstairs would walk around in high heels every morning as she got ready for work. Every morning, as I would hear her click clacking around on the floor upstairs, my body would tense up, I would feel stressed and irritated, and anxious.

It took me a few months to realize that, as a teenager, my mom went to work before I went to school, and my bedroom was always in the basement. Hearing her walk around upstairs in her heels meant that at any moment, she would be busting into my room to give me orders about what I needed to do that day, and berate me before she left for work. I guess that was part of her morning ritual, but it caused such an ingrained reaction for me that I still feel it decades later.

Well anyway, I'm so sick of feeling so negative about everything all the time (look, even that statement was negative).
I know that, as ACAs, it is often very difficult for us to feel deeply and genuinely happy, as we are positive that something will happen to crush that happiness.
This, and trying to make myself feel worthy by making other people look bad, are some burdens I want to be relieved of.



Oh, and Bluebelle, we went to Barnes and Noble today, but I forgot to write down the stuff you mentioned! I'll have to write it down (I don't want to access this site from my phone, for my own weird privacy reasons) before I head to the bookstore next time!
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Old 01-22-2012, 12:19 PM
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Plath, when you say triggers what do you mean exactly?

I know what a trigger is in reference to addiction, but I don't what it means in regard to this situation.
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:08 PM
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Ms. Timmy

In my case it could be someone who is making to much noise, kids trash talking each other, (calling each other dumb, stupid, ugly) which we don't allow in our home, someone being critical of me (which makes me revert to that frightened child), someone being disrespectful (a clerk at the store or a customer service rep on the phone), I had made a comment to the ref at my daughters softball game last summer and another parent told me to "shut up" now that is like a red flag in front of a bull for me because if I ever talked back at home I was first told to shut up and then it was followed by the literal boot in my a$$.
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:45 PM
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Ha! Okay, I think I might understand here...

I the FB posts I mentioned in the other post. When I see happy families and parents and kids with smiling faces, all the time, I start judging my parenting skills.

People telling me (not asking) what to do is a good way to find themselves cursed out.

The kids, too. I remember when my older daughter called her younger brother a liar, whoa! I lost it. I was called a liar a lot.

Anybody getting "cute" with me. Like you, I see red. I'm working on that one, but it's tough.

You know, I'm looking at this and I'm guessing that this stuff would make anyone a little angry. BUT my reactions have scared people, and have gotten me in hot water.
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Old 01-22-2012, 02:29 PM
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Yep, like that.
Bill explained it well.

Like everyone on here, there are certain behaviors that other people can exhibit that immediately "trigger" a reaction from me--fuming silently, making snide comments, or outright being blunt and/or rude, relentless verbal attacks, etc. Those are my reactions to my "triggers".

I don't get myself so much into hot water anymore, at least not legally speaking, but I am still capable of acting out on my triggers/behaviors in ways that make it kind of difficult to explain myself or make amends.
And, it looks crazy to other people who are not ACAs, so that just adds to all the guilt and shame factors already in place.

My mother was totally OCD when it came to cleaning the house. She would constantly berate me for not doing a good enough job, not bothering to put on makeup, not having my room clean enough (what teenager does??).

So now that I have a mother in-law who reminds me of my mom, and makes snide little comments about how my brother in-law's wife doesn't keep her house clean (i.e., "Her idea of clean and my idea of clean are very different"), I feel *extra* pressured to keep my home *extra* clean, especially if she's coming over.
I already feel that pressure, as I have a baby and I want him to live in a safe, sanitary environment, but yeah...just one of the many triggers I get to live with, look at, examine, and hopefully figure out how to deal with.

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Old 01-22-2012, 04:09 PM
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Plath, My mom was completely OCD about cleaning the house, combing hair, putting on make-up, etc., so I understand that trigger!! She would become very angry about my room being messy and would scream and throw things. She would blame me for her problems and say that if I had never been born, her life would be easier. I am triggered very easily by someone commenting on my not being tidy. It makes me very upset and frustrated. It makes me feel like there is something wrong with me and inferior. I think it makes cleaning/organizing that much harder for me. I feel like I do it wrong.

My mom was so OCD about needing plates that match, having serving dishes, curtains that match, etc., that I'm the opposite. I guess I've rebel in that way. Almost nothing matches in my house.
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Old 01-22-2012, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by bluebelle View Post
Plath, My mom was completely OCD about cleaning the house, combing hair, putting on make-up, etc., so I understand that trigger!! She would become very angry about my room being messy and would scream and throw things. She would blame me for her problems and say that if I had never been born, her life would be easier. I am triggered very easily by someone commenting on my not being tidy. It makes me very upset and frustrated. It makes me feel like there is something wrong with me and inferior. I think it makes cleaning/organizing that much harder for me. I feel like I do it wrong.

My mom was so OCD about needing plates that match, having serving dishes, curtains that match, etc., that I'm the opposite. I guess I've rebel in that way. Almost nothing matches in my house.
Eeewwhh! I have the cleaning trigger, too! Whenever I hear dishes crashing in the sink, cabinets being slammed, crap being thrown around the house, or someone doing some serious busywork cleaning while I am not.

My family was very passive aggressive so that's they way they would communicate that they wanted you to clean. Wait a minute, that's the way they always communicated about everything. The silent treatment was another popular one.

I think this is why I have the tendency to cram the truth down people's throats and have NO problem telling them exactly how I feel. Sometimes there are things people just don't need to know
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Old 01-22-2012, 08:46 PM
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Bluebelle, I'm sorry that your mom was like that...but I did have to laugh a little to myself, because I have also rebelled a lot against her OCD cleaning stuff.

Mostly when I was younger and didn't have a marriage and child to consider, my apartments always looked like a homeless person lived there. I would not clean unless I just got some sort of crazy burst of energy, which would happen about once every three months, hahah.

I smoked inside my apartment, and it was seriously gross. I never did dishes. In fact, I avoided cooking altogether because it meant doing dishes.

I still do that, actually. My husband is in charge of the kitchen, and I do all the rest of the stuff (except that he can do his own laundry...my son gives me enough to do to fill a day and night with).

Although I keep a nice, clean house now (now that I'm a mother instead of a workaholic), I still find that I take *forever* to get ready for anything, and I'm usually late. That's also the result of "rebelling" against my mom's crazy freak out episodes about getting places.
Ah, such is life.

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Old 01-23-2012, 12:23 PM
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Plath, It's good to hear that I'm not alone. My place isn't as much of a disaster as when I was younger. It's the same as you--I now have a bf, and I used to have step-daughters in the house. I still get triggered if someone starts cleaning or if somebody says something to me. However, my bf knows this is a trigger for me, and understands that it's an issue. He's not super tidy either, which is either good or bad depending on how you look at it. I have somebody come over every two weeks to do the major cleaning. That's one way I've learned to deal with it!!
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Old 01-23-2012, 12:40 PM
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What is the best way to explain a trigger to someone?

My husband is a highly organized neat-nick (he's a quality control manager...ugh). Like everyone else, I never clean crap unless I have to. But now that I have a family and a husband that's the way he is disagreements have come up over housework a couple of times.

I think have found a good place in the middle for us, but whenever I get too messy he flips and whenever he gets too neat (and does that busy person cleaning thing) that causes me to flip. He wasn't raised in this country and the things I consider neurotic he considers normal and "the way it is". I look at is he's still trying to prevent mom from yelling by keeping things neat and in order. But again, in his culture these sorts of things are normal.

What is the best way to explain it do you think?
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Old 01-23-2012, 01:03 PM
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Whoh...that's kind of a tough one, isn't it?

Cultural differences can be a touchy thing, even with spouses, I think...

If I were in that position, I would explain to him that there were certain abusive patterns of behavior in my childhood (cleaning obsessiveness, criticism, etc.) that had a damaging effect on me as a child, and that I still react to those ingrained feelings like someone has literally pushed a button.

The reason that I still react to these "triggers" (or some may refer to it as "pushing my buttons", etc.) is that it was literally ingrained in me as a child.

So, as an adult, it's not like we can magically wave a wand and say "oh, I learned this repeatedly throughout my childhood, but I'm just going to hypnotize myself and forget it immediately".

Push this button, and this (fill in the blank) automatically happens in my brain. To me, that's what a trigger is.

It's something that we've learned to fear or loathe, or react to in an unhealthy way, and we react on autopilot without really thinking about how we're reacting, or whether it's reasonable.
And, like everything, of course it takes time for any of us to un-learn those reactions, or to consider how we react before actually doing or saying something defensive/rude/angry, etc.

So maybe he has triggers of his own, but he assumes that his reactions are normal? I've noticed that it does little good to point out to people if I think they have "triggers" or "buttons" that can be pushed and cause them to behave unreasonably...they'll either figure that out for themselves or they won't, I guess.

At any rate, you can tell him that maybe that's the way that things "just are" with his family and accustomed lifestyle, but that things are different for you, and maybe you could work on a compromise of trying to meet in the middle?

I don't know whether or not this is helpful, I hope it is.
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