His Betrayals Became My Triggers: reconciling the emotional neglect and abuse of a parent

As I heal my trauma and navigate what Complex PTSD means for my life, I am finding that my dad did way more damage to my psyche than I’ve ever given credit. Comfortably numb denial.

Recognizing the Trigger

Some of my most extreme trauma responses have been tied to his betrayals, manifesting in situations where I feel like I need to defend myself. Work situations that have crashed and burned. Small disagreements have turned into fights.

The adrenaline, the fear, the lack of focus, and the shakiness that comes with this trigger – it is so physical for me.

Then there is the self doubt, and deep need to prove my worth to the people involved that always come with. Always such intense and uncomfortable interactions that cause me anxiety in the aftermath.

Instead of knowing my worth and standing with courage in my convictions, I become triggered and go into fight mode when I feel like my integrity is in question (and that happens way more than I’d like to admit).

This has been a very challenging trigger to develop awareness of. It has been covered heavily in denial. Acceptance is equally hard – this is my dad who did this damage. As angry as I am – I still feel the child’s pull to my parent. Ugh, this primal shit …

Managing this emotional trigger when the lever is pulled is some seriously heavy lifting for me right now.


No Easy Answers

I wish there was something I could share as to how I am managing this trigger – but if I am honest, as many times as my therapist has pointed it out – it is only starting to really sink in.

I am only now, in recent days beginning to understand the magnitude of the effect my father’s betrayals have had on my life, on my sense of self, and on my belief in who I am and who I can be.

There is so much grief surrounding this awareness. My dad is dead, our relationship has been tumultuous to say the least, and leading up to his death it was strained and difficult – nothing was ever resolved.

I grieve his loss, even though I don’t want to. I’m so angry at him, yet I wonder if he’d be proud of me. I have to search for my own closure in the midst of confusing and contradictory emotions.

Still It Is My Responsibility

Despite the grief, the confusion, and the anger – I have to face this and find my peace with it. I have to figure out what these betrayals have meant in my life so that I can work to undo the negative thoughts it evokes in me about myself.

I will never feel justice in the sense that many of us think of it – but I have to search for my own version, my own closure. I have to learn how to accept these assaults against my psyche so that I can grow in spite of them. That is where my healing is, and that is how I will regain control in my life.

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8 thoughts on “His Betrayals Became My Triggers: reconciling the emotional neglect and abuse of a parent

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  1. Yeasssss yes. I’ve been touching on this in therapy and it’s pure agony. Even my own minor bending of truth in daily life can trigger me. I’m so determined to be honest and truthful at all time’s because I know how much lies and betrayals hurts.

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