This actually starts with me being caught by a scam. It involved an email from a woman I know slightly here at Kendal. It involved a request to buy 3 $100 iTunes for her grandson. I said I really couldn’t do it and hoped she could find someone else. When the reply was “I need you to do this for me,” I thought she was really desperate. I wondered that she couldn’t find anyone else – she didn’t actually say that. I don’t know her well enough to know whether this was characteristic of her or not. I liked her and thought she was a good person, but we never did more than say hi in the hall. I was surprised that she was so insistent, but excused her because she was clearly too desperate to be “nice.” But I am not familiar with the realm of iTunes gift cards, so I asked for more information. My computer person was helping me, and she said we could order them online and found the site. So I sent “Anne” the link. But she said she couldn’t do it. Again it crossed my mind that she could send me email, how come she couldn’t get online. But I didn’t pay attention. So I went out and got the gift cards, I had to ask a friend to come with me for moral support — it was that hard for me to do. (This is the sort of thing that no one understands if they aren’t also dealing with PTSD.) I bought them, but the instructions to scratch them and photograph them and send them to her in an email were really beyond my capacity. I don’t have an iPhone, can’t take pictures with my camera and send them right out, I would have to photograph them and then download them to my computer. Again it felt like too much to ask, and again I let wanting to help override my feelings. Fortunately I met her in the hall (again a sense of shock, isn’t she supposed to be in Vermont? Why can’t she get the internet if she’s right here) and said “I got your cards, I can give them to you.” She was horrified. “It’s a scam,” she said, and she was clearly upset about it. The oddest thing was I felt great relief at hearing that it was a scam. She said she would pay me back. We both hoped that since I hadn’t scratched the card that I could return them.
Journal for Saturday, August 10
Yesterday was a really horrible day. I don’t know what happened — well, I do know the sequence of events — but I don’t understand. I finally thought to ask myself “What does that feel like in your body?”
First the events: Registered the car just fine — I still need to mail the registration to Eleanor, I would have done that yesterday if I hadn’t been blasted. Then I went to West Lebanon Feed & Supply and got a harness for Mocha. I hope it will work. Then I went to Price Chopper. I didn’t expect to have any trouble. But they wouldn’t refund my money. She pointed to a thing on the receipt that said “all sales final.” She said I could call iTunes. I burst into tears, left the store in tears, drove back home in tears. I was very careful driving home.
I parked the car. I put on my sunglasses so people couldn’t see my eyes. Got back to my room all right.
Made a 3rd cup of tea, and then did a small puzzle “Fishes” because I couldn’t write and I didn’t want to deal with the computer. I think I had to be non-verbal for a while. The puzzle was perfect.
I can’t even remember when I first started noticing what my body felt like. I think it was in the car coming home.
— I just realized. This all happened during the hour when I should have been talking to Erica, but she’s gone for 3 weeks. —
What I was feeling was the same kind of unpleasant skin prickles that happen on my skin when I’m hot, except that they were inside my skin, and there was nothing else. I felt like a bag of empty skin. Then I started to feel like I had been hit in the face by a fierce blast of wind, and stopped dead. It didn’t push me anywhere, it just stopped me dead. I think of the “deer in the headlights” metaphor.
Actually it’s not a metaphor, it’s one stage in trauma: arrest, and then freeze.
Went to Kilowatt Park with Dulany & Toby. I told her I had been upset by the scam. She was very understanding and kind. She said of the scam “I would be very angry at myself.” I realized that that was easily possible for me, but it didn’t feel right.
I realize now that I was “stopped dead.” I was stopped in that moment, stopped in my life, and only the thinnest wraith could go on.
When I saw Anne in the hall and found out it was a scam I felt relief. I felt relief because my sense of Anne as a good kind person was not wrong. But then when I couldn’t undo what I had done, I got blasted. Now I see that what the scammers had accomplished was to make me distrust my judgement of what kind of person Anne was. If I had trusted my judgement of what kind of person Anne was, I would have seen through the scam right away. I did not see the little red flags that went up at various places.
My failure to trust my judgement, and pay attention to the red flags, is part of a process called “gaslighting,” where a person is made to doubt their sanity, their own perceptions. As a victim of my mother’s “mis-representation” of me, I am very vulnerable to doubting myself.
O God I feel so much better. Thank You, Inner Teacher.
It was when I “couldn’t undo it,” that the freeze — collapse? — hit. That makes me think of mother, where no apology was acceptable, there was no way to make amends.
My body didn’t collapse, but my psyche did. That’s why I felt so oddly weak the rest of the day. It wasn’t dizzy, it wasn’t hypoglycemia, it wasn’t light-headedness, I was able to walk. Yes, I think I wasn’t present in my body, though I didn’t experience being somewhere else, like floating overhead.
I think I am actually dissociated more than I realize. Because I don’t experientially leave my body, I don’t realize I am out of my body, I just feel weak and incapacitated.