Thursday, July 17, 2008

Just when he thought he was safe...

Gary and I had another talk about PTSD triggers today. He generally has an "I'm okay" attitude about everything. He has had enough therapy to last a life time. He's all better now. He knows we want him to make an appointment with his therapist, but I haven't been pushing.

Something happened yesterday, he didn't tell me what, and that is okay. He recognized the experience for what it was. Something happened while he was with his girlfriend and it brought back a bunch of emotions. The thing is, he says, he has dealt with what happened to him. It doesn't upset him to talk about it or anything. So he felt angry that he was having these emotions that he wasn't supposed to have. It was confusing for him to be feeling both the triggered emotion and anger about having to feel the emotion.

Personally I was thrilled that a fifteen-year-old can recognize the experience for what it is. Most boys his age would not, they would look for an explanation for their emotions in the current environment.

He didn't want to talk about the details. I told him that was okay, that many kids in care had had their privacy violated when they were little by people who were supposed to take care of them and then again by a system that was trying to protect them. I told him that I thought a lot of kids in care have trouble finding the right place in between total secrecy and total sharing, and that he didn't want to share what happened yesterday or what happened in his past that was okay.

He still wanted to talk about how wrong it was for him to be having these experiences after he has worked so hard for so long to deal with everything. I managed not to smile at that. I know that he has had four years of pretty intensive and directed therapy, but the kid is just fifteen.

So I talked to him about my triggers and dealing with the experiences. I told him that I have an extreme startle reflex which I have accepted isn't going to go away. I HATE that I do that. I embarrassed that I nearly jump out of my skin when I hear a sharp noise, but it isn't going away. I told him that some of what I did in my therapy, which I still needed in my forties, was deal with what happened so that I wouldn't get triggered, but a lot of it was learning how to deal with the experience when it happened.

He said, "I just don't get why it happened yesterday."

"You were safe."

"What? That doesn't make any sense."

"You know that I get out of taking CPR classes, right?" He did. I've already told him about the whole drowning thing. "I know that if I actually needed to do CPR, I wouldn't fall apart. It would be a real emergency and I would shove all that emotion down and deal. I fall apart in class because there isn't an emergency and so there isn't anything to stop the emotions." He got that.

"I don't know about you, but for me part of surviving the abuse was not reacting or feeling very much. Sometimes even 'going away' in my mind." He nodded. "So we didn't feel it then, and when we are reminded and safe we feel it now."

"Oh great" he said, rolling his eyes. "I'm going to call my therapist and make an appointment."

He is an amazing young man.


  1. He's so very emotionally aware.

  2. WOW- what a great kid- I mean to actually take what he has learned and apply it! just WOW.

  3. HE would make a great therapist some day.

  4. That kid blows me away!

  5. He really sounds like a great kid!


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