Failing again

I had a bad experience with personal training yesterday. And today I am once again triggered, dissociated, with strange flashbacks happening as if through a glass. I feel terrible.

I shared with the trainer that I’d needed to cut her program for me in half and she was not impressed. Then I asked for lower weights, and could only do plank for 15 seconds, where she wanted 30. She said I’m not building strength or making progress. I felt like a failure. And still, even with my cutting back some of her prescription, I’m wasting my Sunday in bed with flashbacks. I just think the whole philosophy of personal training is at odds with what I need to do. Progress, effort, don’t be lazy, try hard….I don’t need that. I need an amount of exercise that doesn’t trigger my dissociation or flashbacks. That’s what I need. If I find that amount, I actually feel somewhat better than usual, but can still get some sleep at night.

I’ve used up my paid for hours now, so it’s a good time to quit. I’m sad because it’s yet another thing I wanted to do and where I failed. But I cannot keep losing days to this. I must see my son today, I haven’t seen him for weeks. That involves a fair drive, a fair amount of time. Today that will mean I didn’t cook for the week, didn’t vacuum or clean. As I had all those hours staring out the f’ing window. I just can’t manage anything that triggers me. It’s not as if I can work through it – it doesn’t come clear enough for me to know what it is. I can guess. But that doesn’t help – it’s a repetitive loop, ready again to be triggered out next time, no matter how much I try to feel it.

I feel hopeless right now, I have to admit. I just cannot function beyond bare survival. It is so unfair.

But today, I must get it together to at least see my son. He’s too handicapped to come to me – I have to go out to him.

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17 comments
  1. cardamone5 said:

    I am sorry you are feeling bad. The trainer does not know your issues, which is why her expectations are more than you can handle. You have two choices: you can tell her, and take the chance she will not react well, or work out on your own. Maybe discuss with Ron.

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah….I’ve already told her I have sleep issues from exercise, and need to go slow. She understands, but she also doesn’t. I guess she sees her job as making progress, same as I see mine…..I just can’t keep doing this.

      Thanks for commenting Elizabeth

  2. Cat said:

    You didn’t fail, Ellen, you seen it through the paid sessions and I tend to agree that it might not be productive to continue. It sounds as if you need something that will energise you, even if it is brisk walks on weekends. Cooking and planning for the coming week sounds important to how the rest of the week progresses. I hope your trip to see your son goes well.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for the support Cat. Well, not sure I’ll make that trip to see my son. Maybe. Cheers

  3. I don’t think you failed. You learned some things from it. Now you can work out on your own more effectively. You know how much you can do a little better without getting triggered. You know pushing yourself to do more every week is a disaster, that it’s better to just try to stay within the range of what you can handle, and then it’s actually pretty nice. The trainer doesn’t know about all this. She only knows about strength building, that you have to do more all the time, that pushing yourself is how you gain strength. It must be like failing in front of your father. That’s so hard.

    I think it gets better with triggers when you do a few things: when you exercise control over the trigger to the extent that you can (so stopping when it gets uncomfortable, not overwhelming, just uncomfortable–you can start again when you feel a little better) and when you focus on self-soothing during it (rather than on deciphering it). That is what has helped me with triggers. It takes a long time though. The bathroom, for example, is a lot better for me. It’s hardly triggering at all now. But I think that might have taken 6 months.

    It’s really frustrating when a little bit of overwhelm ruins the whole next day, and then that impacts your whole week.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks so much for understanding – it means a lot. Yes, that is how the trainer thinks. And I feel so at fault for not measuring up, I override my limits. Which are so very low, but still, there they are.

      Those are great tips. I’ve been trying to offer that hurt part that gets triggered out comfort, which I think I learned from you. I don’t know what I’d do if I were severely triggered by something so necessary as a bathroom – it’s great to hear you made progress with this. I totally understand the time involved – it’s a long slow process. Just persisting a little at a time.

      Thanks, your comment really helped.

      • I’m glad we can help each other. Take care. These things are so hard.

  4. I too learned that I can’t set my goal by someone else’s agenda. My pace for progress is measured in years. I believe a snail could out do me….but I am not racing a snail only myself. I also found the demands of a personal trainer not helpful. The person always asked too much too soon and became frustrated for not meeting their agenda. I finally reminded myself that I needed to set my own goals as small as they were I could attain them in my time frame. I like the picture of all the different animals including fish lined up in front of the principals desk….a lot of animals would feel like failures if the only goal was to climb a tree. In your effort to gain strength it is not just muscle tone. Your challenge is past and present colliding with no clear indication of the actual point of contact. I have done like Ashana…..inch by inch for me I froze in terror if someone grabbed my wrist. Happened more than once accidentally with terrifying trauma for me. I had no memory of why I felt that way. I am still not sure. I learned to over come the terror by wearing bracelets. The first day the bracelet lasted about 5 minutes before throwing it across the room….I slowly upped the time. After several years there is no terror for me if someone touches or grabs my wrist. I’m not thrilled. I still tend to keep a bit of space between me and others but I am no longer terrorized. I believe that you recognizing that their goal was not healthy for you was a tremendous success. I hope you had a good visit with your son.

    • Ellen said:

      I really enjoyed reading your experience on this and the image of the animals lined up. πŸ™‚ Makes a lot of sense. I am going to continue exercise on my own for a while, and just stay at this same level for as long as I need to. Interesting how you tacked the wrist problem – so systematic.

      Thanks Ruth!

  5. S.G said:

    I also don’t see that you’ve failed. You’ve tried something and it didn’t work out, that’s something new you’ve learned, you’ve learned about yourself and that’s never a failure x

  6. Your personal trainer is rather a nazi. I get the whole pushing for results things, but at your emotional wellbeing? Things take time and routine and you’re meant to enjoy it not dread it. Sounds more like a case of a bad fit. If you intend to pursue the PT route I’d find someone with a gentle more caring background. Not the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket! You poor thing. Go and have a chocolate cake and relax before your visit with your son. I really hope you’re able to take care of yourself as well x

    • Ellen said:

      Actually, for a trainer, she’s nice enough. After all, she doesn’t really know the details of what I go through – I’ve just left it at sleep disturbance, which messes up my life. She’s not nazi-ish, though it’s funny to think so. It’s just, I can’t make any progress whatsoever, and she’s not going to understand that I need to stay at the same gentle exercise level for maybe a year. She’d probably feel she wasn’t doing her job if she let me stay at the same level week after week. She doesn’t understand, but I don’t think any trainer would, unless they were very unusual. It’s like going against the heart of personal training.

      Thanks for suggesting the cake πŸ™‚ and for your comment.

  7. I agree with everyone who said you didn’t fail. You didn’t! Making a wise decision to cease doing something which isn’t working for you is a success, in my books. Well done.

  8. manyofus1980 said:

    You did not fail Ellen, you tried, thats what counts. You gave it your all. Well done you!

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