A few months ago, there was a circumstance that I had a really strong emotional reaction to and that I am still thinking about and having a strong emotional reaction to.
I was at lunch with my boyfriend and his family. I said that I had pain in my shoulder. My boyfriends’ dad said “[bf’s name], what did you do to her shoulder?” To which he responded with some words including “hit her.” (he has never laid a finger on me)
Immediately in the moment, I thought oh no, my mind is going to latch onto this. And latch on it did. I ruminated on it for days and probably weeks, making myself feel really anxious and afraid. I couldn’t/can’t believe he would say that and I can’t wrap my head around what it means for someone to say something like that. I couldn’t believe he would say that about me. I made it mean he might be abusive, that he doesn’t respect women or me.
I do have a pattern of being hyper-vigilant about being hurt by my partner. After a particularly traumatic relationship in my early 20s, I became determined never to end up in a relationship like that again. I would scan people for evidence that they might be abusive or trying to hurt me. It was so so painful to live like that, and now it’s coming up again.
Now that I’ve moved in with him, I’m thinking about this all over again. I don’t want to be thinking about this or feeling anxious and afraid. I spoke to him a bit about it and he apologized and said it was a stupid joke and he would never do that.
My own reaction to these words seems really huge compared to the facts. When my brain goes down this path, I end up in a really scary place of thinking I can’t take my own mind and catastrophize even more, imagining myself in a hospital or completely desperate for help.
I am sort of able to see that these are thoughts. I’m able to see that I am sitting at my desk right now, there is no immediate danger in my direct experience. I feel hopeless and overwhelmed and confused and worried.