The list of things I do as an adult that are similar to many other people that are survivors is daunting. https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/ When I started counseling, I did 25 out of 25. I’ve improved those numbers. I going to tackle some of these with information as to how I made my life better.
“[I] can’t stand conflict, loud sudden noises, shouting and screaming or aggression in any form. [It] triggers my fight or flight, instantly.”
I added fawning and freezing making it an uncomfortable 4 F’s. Fawning is doing anything to appease whoever is yelling to stop the sound. I discovered early in my married years that sound was extremely annoying for me. Our darling children experienced the trauma of their mother, ME, silencing their toys. Lolly dolly rattle came out with a bit of doll surgery. Turtle lost his plastic piece that made noise. As they grew they learned to play video games on the lowest sound setting or no sound at all. Computer labs I worked in were also silenced. I am still challenged by sound. The irony, due to childhood illness, abuse and a brain tumor wrapped around the auditory nerve, I am going deaf a bit faster than average. Some days not nearly fast enough. How did I learn to tolerate noise and crowds? I am thankful to my counselor with several of these techniques.
- Decide that I can walk away from a person using aggression and screaming to get their way. The difference between responding automatically and making a choice.
- Stand up for myself. This had me shaking in my boots. But it came down to calmly stating, “You may not yell at me.” My counselor had me practice during session several times before I was able to do this one in the moment.
- Analyzing other person’s behavior….this works for me because I tend to think more than feel. Pay attention to what they seem to want to achieve. What is their goal and motivation to use shouting and aggression to get their way?
- Many discussions with my counselor about the price I pay for “Peace at all Cost.” Helps that I am able to observe my Dad give up almost everything trying to keep peace by giving in to my mother’s aggression and screaming. I can see by example the negative impact of always giving in to the other person.
- Practice with safe loud sudden noises. Fireworks is my favorite thing to help get used to the exploding sound. I do take my hearing aides out through part of it.
- Give myself permission to be startled without beating myself up. It is OK to jump at a sudden noise. The difference is my response afterward. I also give myself permission to recover from a conflict.
My counselor joked with me about bringing me up to fighting weight. I exclaimed that I thought he was going to teach me how not to fight. Nope, he recognized the importance of standing my ground and picking my battles. One of my favorite memes online, “I don’t have to attend every fight I am invited to.” The main basis of overcoming this one is making deliberate choices instead of responding with a knee jerk on autopilot.