I lived on hyper alert for a very long time. I was vigilant at scanning my surroundings; picking up on any change of tone or body language. I believe now that this was a part of growing up in a home that had drugs and alcohol present. The problem with this over-alertness, however, is that I never knew how to come “down.”
After a few years, I started to realize that while drugs and some unhealthy people were no longer present, this survival skill still was. But I didn’t need it anymore, even though sometimes my mind and body felt I did.
It would reveal itself in simple conversations with people. I would feel deeply triggered, and really wanted to explode. It wasn’t about the conversation, it was reminding me of something much deeper.
It may have been a well meaning friend, asking about my haircut.
Or my child, not saying “thank you.”
Or even that sweet lady at the register, shoving too many items into one bag.
Small, irrelevant interactions with others— left me drained.
While I wasn’t exploding, I was self-imploding. I was holding all of that energy inside. There was an internal conflict happening. I “knew” I couldn’t and shouldn’t blow up, but I didn’t have any way of releasing that built up tension. All that vigilance and hyper activity left me feeling like a deflated balloon at the end of the day.
Now a days, I don’t leave everything in. But I don’t explode either. I have other ways of decompressing. Ways that are helpful, appropriate, and honest.
It may be a simple “I need a minute,” or “can we talk about this tomorrow?”
It may be a minor statement like “lets put some groceries in this bag, too…”
If it’s with my kids, I may TAG-in dad. (this is when I am at my max, and need to step away).
What I love about this, is that it allows me to still take action. I no longer feel like I am waging a war inside myself. I feel empowered.
Now… I have to continue to be honest here. I am imperfect. Sometimes I still do explode. But I know this isn’t who I am, and I extend myself grace much quicker. It’s just an old part of me that no longer is needed; a skill that if leave alone long enough, and replaced with something more beneficial, will die off.
Hoping this gives you some encouragement today. How are you doing? I would love to hear from you.