We have all heard of PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder). I am so thankful our awareness of this, although not perfect, continues to grow with better research, more willingness to accept how real this condition is, and so on.
I think something that is overlooked though is PTSD’s cousin, i.e. Pre-, as in Pre-TSD. (In some ways, I realize PTSD is the forefather of all Pre-TSD, but I think it is important to be aware of this specific aspect.)
Pre-TSD happens, as the name would imply, BEFORE the next event. It is the anticipatory rise in stress hormones and stress responses as you wait for the other shoe to drop.
This anticipatory rise is similar to the anticipatory rise in ventilation during initial movement of exercise. Breath rate and depth increase out of proportion to workload early on, as the body anticipates the exercise. (This rise can even happen while you are just sitting and thinking about exercise.)
Pre-TSD happens when you have can not completely disengage (because of circumstances) from a narcissist or sociopath. Of course, no contact is the best contact, however many can not be in a no contact situation.
Thus, the narcissist or sociopath remains in one’s life- wreaking havoc – or not.
See, that this the thing. For a bit, things may be calm, quiet, but you can’t relax. Why?
You are in Pre-TSD. You know the calm will not last for long, and you want to anticipate and “be ready”.
You are already vulnerable, so your defense, you reason, is to at least be prepared.
I live that in my life right now. You may remember my blog about my stepson’s bio Mom engaging with him in a traumatic way, only to call us up and say “Henry” was uncontrollable. She said she could not possibly take him to the vacation cabin and Henry did not want to go. So, she and her boyfriend went.
My stepdaughter told me recently that her grandmother will be visiting her Mom’s house and they are planning on going to the cabin.
Great, because it worked so well the last time.
Honestly, the specific situation is neither here nor there. The anticipatory energy, the Pre-TSD is always present, simply because we KNOW what may happen.
Is it is good to live in such an anticipatory, stress state? Probably not.
Changing such things, though, begins with awareness, acknowledging what is going on, and being able to articulate the experience.
If we can come to understand we live with Pre-TSD, perhaps we can then acknowledge how draining and exhausting this may be and perhaps create authentic ways to support and honor ourselves during these times.
Change does not happen overnight, but it never happens, if we are unwilling to acknowledge what is happening.