Emotional Reactions and Fears Triggered in Times of Stress

low self esteem
the helmet after the crash

As many of you know, my 19 year old son TJ recently had an accident. He hit a deer head on with his motorcycle.  He split the deer in half, drenching him and his bike with blood and as his bike went down, something caught on his pants and they were ripped off his body, leaving his lower half completely unprotected from the harsh highway pavement as he skidded and tumbled for quite a way down the road.  His helmet saved him. His leather jacket protected his upper half which fared a little better than his lower half although he broke the bone in his wrist that is connected to his thumb. The cast which goes all the way up to his elbow and includes his thumb is cumbersome and his shattered middle finger on the same hand makes his left arm useless. Because he is a guitarist, he may have to have surgery on his finger. His lower half fared no better although there were no broken bones, he lost most of the hide off his butt.  His wounds were deep and had to be cleaned and bandages changed twice daily causing him incredible amounts of pain each time.  The first couple of weeks were really difficult around here both emotionally and physically.  

To make matters worse and even more emotionally draining, my youngest was starting in a new high school where she didn’t know anyone and my middle daughter was leaving for university all in that same week! I was trying to be there for everyone. My emotions were all over the place.  Fear, worry, and sleeplessness were my daily diet for the first couple of days. I couldn’t stop thinking about how lucky he was and how he could have died.  As emotional exhaustion set in for our whole family, I began to feel a few other emotions that I wasn’t as comfortable with. Although I didn’t define the feelings at first, I later realized that I felt abandoned.  I felt like no one really cared. And it isn’t that “no one” cared, because I got all kinds of email and facebook messages expressing concern and well wishes, it was that some of the people in my personal life didn’t care.  Some of the people that I thought I was close to, didn’t ask what happened or even how my son was. They wrote on FaceBook ~ “glad that TJ is okay”.  Why did they think he was okay?

Nobody visited. It felt like rejection.

But my feelings of being unsupported and abandoned went deeper than that.  

These feelings felt familiar but I just couldn’t put my finger on where they were coming from. I searched my thoughts and feelings wondering what was wrong with me. I wondered if I was justified in feeling angry and hurt. I chastised myself for having “expectations” of others. I felt alone and I felt unsupported. I was hurt that these certain people didn’t ASK what happened. I kept thinking that I felt like I didn’t matter and worse than that, it was like people were saying that my son didn’t matter.  It felt like we were alone.  I felt like I was embarking on a self pity trip. I started to feel angry.

I felt that way for a few days, going from hurt, sadness, abandonment and anger, blaming myself and trying to avoid self pity.

Then it hit me.  I had gone back to my old default mode; all my life I had been defined by other people.  If they didn’t like me, then I wasn’t likable.  If they were mean to me, then I had done something to deserve it. If they ignored me, then I was just not interesting to them. I always believed it was me. I always let the actions of others define me. I never realized that their actions were about them.  

When TJ was five he had major kidney surgery and we couldn’t get any of the grandparents to help us.  He was in the hospital in the city for a whole week, and the doctors told us it would be a brutal week and advised us to get some support in place. We had a 3 year old daughter that we had to get part time care for so we could be at the hospital. We were advised that TJ would need both of us there as much as possible. I was baffled that our parents didn’t care. My parents both lived out of town, but they never even expressed a desire to help. Jim’s parents who only lived a few miles away, left for the second half of their winter holiday 5 days before the surgery! It never occurred to me back then that this was not about me; their lack of interest and lack of support was about them.  I thought that I had done something “wrong” to cause our own families not to care enough to help out in such a difficult situation. I even decided that they must have felt that we were exaggerating about what the Doctors had warned us regarding how serious the surgery was, and that was my fault too… I had always been an “exaggerator; I had been told that my whole life. And in survivor mode, I always tried to figure out why it was my fault. So I accepted their actions as defining my family and I of not being worthy of support. In my mind it confirmed that I was unworthy of love and now WE all were not worthy of love.  And I wracked my brains for years to figure out what I had done wrong and what I could have done better so that we would be loved because NOW I was convinced that my unworthiness had transferred on to my children! And it was all my fault.

All those same feelings were coming back the entire week after TJ crashed his motorcycle.  I was letting the actions of others define me and my kids again. The problem wasn’t that some people didn’t care enough to call, it was that I felt worthless because they didn’t.  I felt that their inaction made a statement about me. I felt that if I mattered, and if TJ mattered, that they would have called.  I had to remind myself that the actions of others don’t define me anymore. With all the stress and emotion around my son’s accident this week, I forgot that truth, and I fell back into that old way of thinking.  My old belief system came back and I felt all that rejection and all that “not good enough” all over again. I felt all those feelings that asked “what is wrong with me?” and “why doesn’t “anyone” care.  Truthfully, lots of people care but whether they do or not does not define me. Whether they “show” it or not does not define me either. It may say something about them, but not about me. I am not defined by what other people do or don’t do anymore and in weeks like this one… I have to remind myself of that!

The way that I am regarded by others is not the proof of my worth and does not indicate any lack of worth either.

Sometimes owning my new self esteem and living in my new belief system is hard. Life is hard. That doesn’t change, but going back to the old belief system, as scary as it was, was a great reminder for me; I don’t want to live in that old belief system anymore!

Please share your thoughts and stories.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing


131 response to "Emotional Reactions and Fears Triggered in Times of Stress"

  1. By: Renee Posted: 9th October

    My “T” turned on me, I felt humiliated, filthy, and I had done so much good and healthy work to have it crashing dwon and made into nothing was so painful. Then I made my LAST appointment and this one was for ME not the abuse I had suffered. I grew balls and went in there and I confronted her and asked her WHY. My daughter was seeing a pediatric therapist, and the plan was she worked with my daughter then we would all gather and do therapy. Little did I know my precious daughter was doing what she always did, lie through her teeth. She told horrific abuses I commited on her and my oldest. Her therapist contacted mine and thats where the change came from. I asked my “T” if it would help if she spoke with my oldest, since she already knew her. She said she was sorry she beleived what my daughter was accusing me of.She made it sound so honest and true(my daughter). To this day my youngest tells the lies, it has effected every family relationship I have. Im to tierd to fight it any more. They will beleive what they want.

  2. By: joy Posted: 6th October

    Hi Patricia:

    I appreciate so much your words and that you reach out to me at this time of healing for me. I do agree with what you say; some do become doctors etc as they want somehow to help others who have gone through what they themselves knew as children; and yet are not yet healed themselves.

    In all my hurt and upset ..I came to think just as you wrote above.. That some just haven’t yet been healed of what they need to heal of and so something happens .triggers them and they lose it. or something like that?

    I loved my T and I feel so bad about the way things happened.. since I didn’t expect it.. I was coming out of myself ..had told all my secrets and felt I was making progress. Perhaps not going to win a race and am crawling like a turtle but am going forward..

    I think the fact that she said “I am not like everyone else, I would never do that to you” really made it sting to the core when she turned around and joined the ranks of those who heartlessly cut me off when I needed them most.

    I know. like you say. thats her humanity .. her own brokenness and I feel sorry that she is not able to give completely due to her own need to heal. I really had come to trust her. and i dont trust easily. it took time and now it’s back on the floor..trampled under all the upset.

    I keep lighting candles hoping for a miracle but perhaps the only miracle will be that which takes place in my heart. .I hope I can learn something .and not allow it to happen againg.. I think I am more afraid to trust . since the pattern of bad therapists is growing.



  3. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 6th October

    Joy, no you did not deserve to be treated so heartlessly by someone who should know better but obviously doesn’t. Just because someone has a degree is in a place of authority does not mean that they are healthy.

    Many people who become doctors, nurses, psychologists, teachers, counselors, therapists do so from a desire, not always consciously, to heal themselves. It doesn’t fix them unless they are willing to do the work on themselves instead of trying to fix others. I worked at two different group foster homes before moving to where I live now. I thought that if I could work with children who were abused that I could make a difference. I didn’t realize until afterwards that I couldn’t help those children until I faced my own incest issues and fixed me. I would be a much better parent to my own children and foster parent to those foster kids today because I am healthier now than I was then. I was unconsciously looking for ways to fix myself without really looking at my issues. It didn’t work. Some therapists are healthy and some are still trying to fix themselves without coming out of their own denial.

    Trust isn’t a given just because someone says they are trustworthy. Trust has to be earned. I am sorry that you have been so badly hurt. I hope that you have learned from the experience. The lessons we don’t learn will be repeated over and over again until we learn them.

  4. By: joy Posted: 30th September


    Thnk you for putting into words exactly how I fell. I have been hurt many times in my life but nothing so wounded my heart as this one. .Others were done by people who were not “professionals” people who were dysfunctional. this was done by someone who said she would help me heal. yet how she left me was more broken then when i Started by the very way she chose to drop me ..like i am some piece of trash or lifeless being without feeling .I am sure she treats her dogs better than she treated me. .You don’t traumatize the traumatized and expect they will fair well afterwards.. She has changed my whole ideal about those having phds being better.. I have received more comfort in my illness by those who have no degree..

    I am trying to slowly eat. .slowly convince myself I am not trash or some inanimate object like she handled me in the end.

    I am trying to breathe ..and quiet my mind and deal with the terrible heartless thing she did

    I didnt deserve it..


  5. By: Renee Posted: 30th September

    I can honestly say I know how you feel. Everyone says your strong and you will get through it. Yet you feel a lone, cold, empty, and just lifting your head takes all you got. You lay in bed and it gives little comfort. You wonder constantly when will this end? Will it ever end? Will I survive it? Where is the light at the end of the tunnel because where Im sitting it looks dark and scary.
    With that said I encourage you to go back to the basics. Breath, shower, try to eat. With that done give yourself a mantra to repeat to get through the day. I use to say ” I can do this, over and over. At the end of the day look back on your day and chose one pleasant thing you saw or felt that day, the sun shining, the cat doing something cute, ect. say to yourself, ok one day down and I made it.
    Sometimes we are so stressed, so scared you have to just go back to the basic of living. Thats ok, if that is the only thing you can do sometimes thats enough.
    Im here for you.

  6. By: joy Posted: 30th September


    Thanks for all you have said. little by little am going to get through this storm. RIght now I don’t feel strong at all : I feel trampled on, let down, broken.

    (( hugs )))


  7. By: joy Posted: 28th September


    If she felt she was not qualified after “over 20 years” treating people with trauma she shold not have taken me.She knew i was a person traumatized and had a lawsuit .. She knew I feel awkward when talking and am a mess when she took me on. I am sorry i take longer to untangle than others but she knew all this and said no problem . it hurt really bad because I trusted her .. like her . bragged on her promoted her.. she didnt ask me to but i was so grateful ..only those you realy care about can hurt you so deeply. My eyes are darkened from tears.. She told me distance was never a problem I believe she found something else for that time slot she gave after moving and it pays more than I can. I was interrupting her day. but I didnt choose the time ever . I just went along

    I am tryig to see it not my fault but I wish I would have known that the world lawyer or court was a trigger for her.


  8. By: joy Posted: 28th September

    What hurts the mmost is having had such a hard time opening up .. having emptied all my secrets out then having her drop me ..without warning. Without talking it over. I was led to believe all things were fine.. etc etc..I didnt see it coming. It has been so hard to trust people in my life because things like this happen. YOu really don’t know who you can trust. Now, with her have so much education I thought surely she would never hurt me. she told me we would work together .. .. never led me to believe dropping me was going to happen. 🙁 JOy

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th September

      They had to cut his clothing off. Thank you for your comments.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Yes it does hurt. What she has done is wrong. She never should have dropped you as a client like that. That is very very unprofessional. Please remember that none of this is your fault. What she did is inexcusable. I am so sorry,
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Vicki Posted: 28th September

    If you told them all that stuff about your son that you mentioned at the beginning of the article, I don’t see how they COULD think he was okay. But I learned all that stuff about motorcycle accidents being more serious than car accidents when I was in Paramedic School. I can’t relate to the information from a layperson’s viewpoint, b/c I just know it takes weeks to recover from almost ANY motor bike accident.
    And, after looking at the helmet, I’m surprised they didn’t cut it off him.

  10. By: joy Posted: 28th September

    HI Sophia: what can I say . my life has been a series of people entering into it grabbing my confidence, creating hope and then pulling out dasing everything to the ground: making sure they leave me feeling worse than when I first started with them. I feel completely broken.

    Thank you for mentioniong : using a book. I do have the book “courage to heal” and the workbook. I will take one day at a time and see what happens in my healing process .. I just know trust has been run over by by a bulldozer and now i need to see if I can get it back into shape.

    I don’t feel brave at all .but thats because am crushed in spirit. I still operate in my brokenness.. so one step at at time . I will try to reach my goals.

    Hugs: Joy

  11. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 28th September

    Robin, controlling people never want to let go of those that they think they control. In their eyes, it diminishes their power. Congratulations on standing up for yourself. With my dad who was a dictator, I had to run away from home at 19. If I had not gotten the courage to run away, I would never have gotten out from under his control.

  12. By: Sophia Posted: 28th September


    Wow, that church leader DOES sound extremely manipulative and it is great that you are able to see what is really going on. I reflect a lot on how many people try to use the power or spiritual or religious truth in order to feed their own power needs.

    Hugs, Sophia

  13. By: Sophia Posted: 28th September


    That is terrible that she just dumped you like that. I’m so sorry. When I said earlier that I admired you for being willing to speak the truth I was actually referring to your ability to say you are afraid. That is a good step, in my opinion. I don’t know if this will help you, but over the last year, because I can’t afford a therapist, I began to do self-therapy with the help of a book from a former therapist. As I began working through my issues (and I still have a long way to go), I slowly began to realize that even at those times when I don’t seem to have anyone else on my side, I HAVE MYSELF. I really feel like I can be there for myself in ways that I never was before.

    Hugs, Sophia

  14. By: Robin Posted: 28th September

    Hi Darlene and everybody,

    I just wanted to take a quick minute to share something that happened today. Sometimes it feels like ‘when it rains it pours’. Just when I was feeling like myself again after dealing with my mother I ran into an issue with a church person. This female minister that leads our singles ministry is having a girls getaway at her house this weekend. I decided that I didn’t want to go and I really felt like anything these “church people” want me to do, I don’t want to do just for spite. I want to break every rule and disappoint everybody because I don’t owe them anything even though I felt for a long time that I did. And this woman in particular is very controlling and behaves like she owns me because she’s older and I’m younger and so accomodating.

    So last week I emailed her and told her I wasn’t coming. She emailed back asking if anything was wrong and that she really wanted me to come. I didn’t email her back because i was overwhelmed with dealing with my mom and I didn’t go to church on Sunday because I was too depressed to get out of bed, again because of my mom.

    So today I received the following email:

    “I am making my appeal for you to please come and be a part of what has been planned. I am so very excited about our weekend this year and I want all of the ministry sisters to come and receive what God has for each of them. I believe that Jesus the Christ the Son of the living God presence will be among us as He has been before. Please don’t disappointment me I will be expecting your on Friday at 6:30 PM.


    Mama Pam”

    Can you believe her? It’s just like you said before, Darlene, whether it’s in the church or any place else the system is the same. When an abusive controlling person wants something from you and the first tactic doesn’t work, they threaten with a facial expression, a tone of voice, or in this case a strong expression of disapproval. And then she had the nerve to say that she loved me, and called herself “mama Pam”. I have always refused to call her that because I don’t feel that kinship with her. She gave herself that name. This behavior is *exactly* the way my mom treats me. My *no* is not enough for them. It’s their way or no way. Also like you, Darlene, I expected more from them, the church people. If I didn’t love God so much I would probably give up on Christianity. These people are the worst kinds of abusers and hypocrites and they use God as an excuse.

    I know that Darlene has many articles that deal with this issue, and they are coming to life for me today. I always wanted to be able to say that these people, who I really want to love, are not that bad, but the proof is in the pudding. I’m so disappointed in them always being so disappointed in me. I get the distinct impression that they don’t even like the real me. They only like the compliant do-gooder people pleaser. That doormat makes their life easier. But the confident, independent woman I’m growing into, they do not like.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th September

      Hi Robin
      This is awesome! I love your comments and how you processed this “event”. YES… there is some misuse of power going on there! Total manipulation to get you to do what she wants. I whole heartedly agree with your assessment of what is going on here and love your insights! I can “hear” that this is coming to life for you!!
      Thank you so much for sharing!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: joy Posted: 28th September


    I didnt have enough money to be worth her time of day . this is how i feel . when she was in her other location she alwayshad time the new job. she put me last even though she took me on before the new job. i am a poor mouse and can’t hold up enough green to be seen of valued


  16. By: joy Posted: 28th September


    ps: hugs and love back. Thank you for being here. for allowing me to be here and for all your support..some day i will be able to help EMB

    love and big hugs


  17. By: joy Posted: 28th September


    I so admired and loved her ( in the right way ) . I know her schedule is busy but i would have adjusted, done anything, to not be dropped. I had my therapy late at night…I allowed for the long waits for email.. I felt her new lifestyle was causing her .. difficulties. but she should have told me lets do less sessions . I would have been ok with that. even with once a month but just to totally drop me. .like all at once it has left me with my heart bleeding…She knew all about my case . it was nothing knew. .she knew i was slower to communicate that i was a mess but never said that was a hindrance to us going forward.. last night in less then 10 minutes she cut my life support and left me in an ocean .i have no one. . i trusted her


  18. By: joy Posted: 28th September


    Thank God you are here and for your blog i dont know what i would do right now .it’s a nightmare i cried all night! havent eaten my breakfast so shocked am i by this


  19. By: joy Posted: 28th September


    Its like i got all excited had someone to listen to care. i did my homework. yes i am slow. not bright as others but i did all i was asked everything.. except didnt drop the lawyer.. there is two people on the case. it’s not just me going against my employer..so despite any craziness the lawyer had I put up with it because my friend is also in the case.

    I am getting so use to taking abuse .. and hurt .. that i dont expect any kindness.. All along she said “i would never just have you come to therapy one day and drop you” ..well she did just that as I was telling her I must go to court on dec 7.

    I have relationship problems because i have been pulled in by a series of people who get me to total trust and then drop me..

    I told her and begged her i would do anything to improve and she was straight face and said no i am not continuing this. Said I need to learn to be more assertive and develope communications skills but I have never had anyone say they dont understand me.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th September

      Hi Susan
      Thank you for adding your excellent comments to this thread! It is really really great when the light bulb goes on; I have put SO much more into perspective this past few weeks through the deeper understanding that I am writing about in this post.
      Hugs, Darlene

      I know just how you feel.. that was my life before. This woman DID pull the rug out from under you. She did say she would be there for you and then changed her mind. Legally, that is wrong! I understand that you are putting everything through the grid of “if only I had not done this or that, she would not have left me” but the truth is that she left you and it sounds like it is because you didn’t do things her way. and please keep in mind Joy, this was a therapist. (not just a “friend”, but someone you paid for service from) She should NEVER have done this to you. Not at any time. This is totally unethical. I encourage you to keep reminding yourself as you process this that SHE is the one in the wrong here.. not you. Please try not to blame yourself.
      Hugs and love, Darlene

  20. By: Susan Kingsley-Smith Posted: 28th September

    Good morning Darlene; I caught this post in (of course) the stream on FB and can totally relate. When my life was falling apart I made the mistake of allowing and inviting my “family” back into my life. Mind – I’d walked away and done my best to stay away. But when the church turned on me, rejected me and shunned me, then my in – laws literally told me to stop telling these lies about their brother (my abusive husband) and then I was incapacitated by the “medicine” the psychiatrist gave me, I lost my job, my children started acting out their own emotional pain from their father abandoning them, my house went into foreclosure, my husband was stalking me when I finally got a restraining order….well, I believed deeply that something was wrong with me – not that something was wrong with the way I was being treated when I had asked for help and support.

    I knew things were difficult for you and could only imagine how deeply your levels of stress your were feeling around all that was going on in your life over the past weeks….Its good to see you talking about it and I’m so sorry that you did not have the support from those who it would have meant the most to have it from. I know how those old feelings can crop up and color todays experiences and its no fun to go through it but its great when the light bulb goes on, so to speak, and we can put things into perspective.

  21. By: carol Posted: 27th September

    thanks darlene, the sad thing is i speak and think about it as if it happened to someone else and now it dont hurt half as much. but i know i have to get to the bottom of this properly befoe i can truely say i have gotten past my past and can live for the future.
    i dont rage bout how i was treated anymore that has past but it left me in a kind of limbo where i was healed on the outside but not on the inside, mmm. and apparently i have so much i should be angry about but i havent the energy to waste on hating stuff, i need it to go forward so i try and let hate go. one less emotion to disturb my weird and wonderfull life

  22. By: joy Posted: 27th September

    she dropped me when i mentioned the court date. I am no longer a believer in therapy!

  23. By: joy Posted: 27th September

    I am joining the ranks of those who have been hurt by therapists. i was such a believer ..i spilled my whole story out then to be told she is not going to work with me no more.. All i did was mentioned the court date. .yes the lawyer was not perfect but i have acontract with him I cannot drop him because I dont like him . I got dropped when I needed help most!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th September

      OH MY GOSH ~ that is horrible! And extremely unethical. In fact I believe that therapists agree NOT to do things like that. I am speechless. I am so sorry that this happened to you.
      Please keep sharing. Get it all out.
      Again I am so sorry that this happened.
      Hugs, Darlene

  24. By: Vicki Posted: 27th September

    That’s why I only had one kid: and my emotions were still all over the place. B/c I planned on the NORMAL stuff happening during her growing years, I didn’t expect a plane-load of total assholes to run a Japanese-style kamikaze raid that would kill her dad and plunge me into a world roughly 10,000X WEIRDER than the one that existed when Alice followed the hare down the rabbit hole.
    Suddenly, I was utterly and completely alone in everything I did with her b/c people like my mom wanted me to tell her to snap out of it and get on with her life, which really was my mom’s most honest attempt to help in the situation. It’s just that it didn’t really help, not that it ever helped me when she said it to me through the part of my childhood I was allowed to spend with her.
    I haven’t really lived anywhere, to be honest. I mean I lived in 3 separate places, and how’s that supposed to help a kid know where she really lived? Every time they ask in those keepsake books to talk about growing up, the book always expects you to have done it with one person. Certainly not two, and DEFINITELY NOT three. So I always leave it blank, and it becomes annoying that the only thing people think will sell is stuff where you lived with the same parents for 18 years. I don’t too many people who have anyway, b/c they usually never want anything to do with someone who was rejected twice and then put in an orphanage and, when the staff said I was ready to leave, told there’s “nothing back home for you.”

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