I walked into therapy today not knowing what was on my mind, but when I sat down and opened my mouth there was a flood of words describing this feeling of hopelessness that I’ve been noticing, and sometimes, regretfully, am overwhelmed by. The feeling isn’t with me most of the time, but when it happens, I am undone by panic attacks and I feel depressed about it.
Through the intensive process today, it became stunningly clear where and when I started feeling hopeless about the mundane. You see, my ex, he liked things done a specific way and when I moved in with him he assigned me tasks around the house that were to be done before I left for work for the day. The reason for every day……… “Don’t you care about our home? Don’t you want to take care of our home to make it nice to come home to every day?” I said yes but I felt every day was excessive but since I was 20 I thought that maybe, possibly I didn’t know right from wrong. There was a list for me on the counter when I would wake up in the morning, my tasks for that day. Vacuuming, Clean the mirrors, Dust the insides of CD cases (which were never used), Dishes, and Floors. I would run around like a mad dog trying to get everything done before going to my job. I always felt like I accomplished what was on the list when I left the house, it was spotless, but when I came home, even that first day, there was a note of how I had failed at my chores.
I took the note to him and was laughing about it because I thought it was a joke .. until I saw the vacuum cleaner sitting out in the middle of his office. He told me to pay attention, that this was to help me .. and showed me how to wind the chord for the vacuum in a certain way so that the end with the plug was at the top – for easy access. Then he showed me how I had barely any lines in the carpeting, explaining that he wanted to see clean, straight lines in the carpet. The dishes I had left to dry in the drain, but that was wrong because of water spots, they have to be dried immediately and put away, did I think he would want to see my dishes when he came home? At least I did ok on the mirrors, that was my thought as I went to bed and resolved that I would be better, do better. It never got better, the notes became more aggressive, I was yelled at over lines in the carpet, and physically assaulted over crumbs on the kitchen counter.
At the beginning of therapy I felt awful, that the little things I do around the house have been making me panic and feel hopeless. I didn’t realize how much he traumatized the mundane for me until today. These little chores, these simple activities …. they have been devastating me because he abused me over them, emotionally and physically. Vacuuming wasn’t to clean the floors, it was to avoid being called a failure. Dishes done perfectly … to avoid physical abuse. At the end of therapy, I felt mad, it’s fucking bullshit that he destroyed me over mundane tasks. MUNDANE tasks.
I was driving home and was sifting through why I have panic attacks sitting in the car at a red light. The stillness of the car, but motion of others, the waiting for the green light to happen, waiting, waiting, I always panic, I feel faint, and I’m terrified that I will die. Still, to this day. So I thought I would put it to the test, what happens if I don’t use the avoidance measures that help me and just embrace the panic at a light – see what happens. I did and I panicked hard. I was dizzy and I could barely keep my eyes open from the pressure that comes on so suddenly, but then it passed and I was fine. 20 seconds later my heartbeat was starting to get back to normal. 60 seconds later my breathing starts to come back to normal.
It’s the waiting for the green light, not knowing when I can expect it. I have the same terrorized feeling that I did when I would be on my way back to that house. Not knowing what to expect but waiting for what would happen.