Trigger warning: abuse, therapy, PTSD
So yesterday my teacher – Mr. Math, let’s call him – who is usually very very easy going, cursed at a student and said he was going to keep us all after class (at the end he changed his mind and only kept the people who were actually being disruptive).
At this point it occurred to me that Mr. Math was going to grab me and throw me and when I tried to use logic and tell myself I had never seen him do that and teachers at this school don’t do restraints, I thought that I had also never seen him curse before, and the logic just didn’t work. I also became unable to ask for a break, ask to use the bathroom, or ask for clarification on a math problem. I reverted back to the singular goal of Don’t Make Adults Mad or Something Horrible Is Going to Happen.
Last week, when I had a panic attack, I asked to take a break and a teacher pretty much let me hide under her desk while I ate lunch. It was horrible – I kept thinking I was an awful person and I was going to die, I kept going hot and cold and hot and cold, and I could feel my heart beat making every single specific bone shake – but I talked myself through it and asked for help and did everything right because I was able to hold on to the fact that the adults were not going to hurt me and so my goal could be ending the panic attack instead of making sure adults didn’t hurt me.
I think I figured out why it didn’t happen this time:
I have, subconsciously, lists in my brain of things certain people do, when they like you or are angry with you or get worried about something or excited about a particular subject, etc. I also have lists – again, subconscious and deeply ingrained – of things certain classes of people do: police officers, teachers, little kids, adults.
When Mr. Math did something that was not on the list of Things Mr. Math Does When Frustrated, I, subconsciously, went to the list of Things Teachers Do When Frustrated. This includes throwing kids, pinning them to the ground, screaming at them, “You’ll be crying by the time I’m done with you!”, Etc.
The switch from list to list when Mr. Math acted out of character was not illogical. And it just doesn’t make any sense to me not to have violence on the list of Things Teachers Do – violence is a thing teachers do; I’ve seen many different teachers do it many different times.
Maybe the problem is to categorize violence as something Special Teachers/Therapy Teachers/Behavior Modification Teachers/Special Ed Room Teachers do. I will be attempting to modify my database using this sub–list.
There is also the problem of thinking that even nice people are going to make an exception and hurt me because I’m weird/bad/etc. This was basically what I was told and for a long time pretty much every adult I was around hurt me or threatened to (there were a couple who, thinking back on it, actually might have been safe people, but I thought they weren’t hurting me because I wasn’t being Bad) so I have to remind myself pretty much constantly that we are playing a different game now. It’s not dodgeball, it’s basketball, and if I get hit by the ball, it’s probably a mistake.
(My list of Things Adults Do is a pretty big problem though.)
(However, it seems like I don’t count writers as adults, so this is good.)