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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Reacting to Triggers

By Renee Sieradski, EA 

Recently I was reacquainted with an old friend, Betty. We hadn’t spent time in a decade. I knew her during my before and during my first year in recovery, back then I was a different person. A woman without  boundaries or clear sense of my reality, codependent, and learning how to grow up. 

As we were catching up, I was reminded of how verbally abusive she had been though I hadn’t thought of her as a major player I would have to recover from. But here she was, someone who didn’t know the real me today. Still, I found myself interacting with her as if I was a victim who accepted verbal abuse, a little child again. I regressed and was almost immediately triggered.

Oftentimes, my first reaction or feeling when I feel this way is frantic, or reaching for ice cream to stop my feelings of helplessness. I wish that wasn’t true, but it was especially after Betty made several indirect references to how much weight I had gained. 

I attend a 12 step meetings, but can find myself wailing in my car, having the desire to never see this person again, to run and hide from the perpetrator I am facing. When triggered I discount my reality based on old negative messages from my father. 

I would not have felt disempowered had I stood up for myself in the moment with her. But my inclination is to freeze and disassociate when verbally abused, especially when caught off guard, under stress, or over-tired. Betty literally showed up unannounced at my office, without warning. I was triggered for 36 hours after she appeared at my office. During her visit, I agreed to do some pro-bono legal work for her, and she will likely not be pleased with my work. 

After the encounter, I had to increase my attendance at meetings and find it comforting to tell myself it’s okay to be triggered. My sponsor has taught me the idea of radical acceptance. No matter where I am now, it will pass. Because of my severe PTSD, I’m prone to relapses when I encounter new situations. My therapist calls it a shame fever. He says fevers eventually break, naturally, once the body fights off the illness. My body will naturally handle this,  but in the meantime, I need to be gentle and kind to myself. I don’t have to decide right now whether to confront or not to confront her again. I must realize I am reacting because Betty’s words hit on tender wounds in my soul, and it isn’t all her fault. Actually, she gave me an opportunity to feel a deep raw wound and remember how I once was a vulnerable child who was mistreated. In turn I can practice extra good self-care and become a stronger woman.

Just because you’ve received a tax notice, you may not owe 

Here are some common tax notices you might see after submitting your return:
  • We’ve adjusted your return
  • We’ve made changes to your return
  • We have found problems with your return
For years, I’ve responded to tax notices from the IRS or states and 20% of the time, they are a result of errors on the part of the taxing authority. This means 80% of the time a taxpayer has forgotten to include interest income from a brokerage account or forgotten to include their 1099 income from that “small” side job.
Two out of 10 times, the IRS or State has:
  • mislaid a tax check
  • cashed a check and didn’t apply it to taxpayer’s account
  • charged a penalty and when taxpayer paid it, send a letter of a credit on account (Yes, really)
  • not credited taxes withheld by pass-thru entities
  • posted your taxes paid to the wrong year

In these cases, all it takes is a phone call, fax or a letter to the IRS/State explaining what took place and requesting your account be reviewed. Ask your tax advisor to send this letter for you and sometimes this may alleviate your stress just because they are used to doing dozens of letters a year and they will know how to word the letter in such a way to get the desired result.Don’t assume because you received a letter regarding your taxes, you owe the money, do some research.