The truth is that it doesn’t matter how long you are free…those damned triggers suck! They can derail you at a moments notice. Just when you think you are gaining momentum and peace you can find yourself curled into a ball wondering what just happened.
Trigger: an emotional or physical reaction to something in the present that is connected to your past abuse.
Being sabotaged by triggers is hard to get used to. Before I knew what a trigger was my emotions would take me on a ride. No notice was given. No bags were packed. I had to take that trip, and often times it was to a dark terrifying place.
Understanding what a trigger is and how it affects you is the first step in learning how to deal with them. You need to recognize them (all of them). Triggers can be caused by a smell, music, or a shared story from a friend. You may overhear a couple arguing or see a woman crying in public that can send you reeling off the page. The sound of a doorbell can cause your heart to jump out of your chest. It’s a hard reality to live with my friends.
I am hear to tell you that there is hope. You can work your way through them with great care. Most importantly though, you need to be gentle on yourself as you do. I find that once an event has triggered a bad memory my heart starts to beat fast and the adrenaline surges through my veins. My first reaction is fear. When this happens I have to take a deep breath and hit the pause button. This is when you need to think. Take your time, breath, and think. What just happened? Why are you suddenly feeling like this? Think about it. Most of the time now I can approach these triggers with cognitive thinking; however, that initial blow still feels like a sucker punch.
Once you name your triggers it take some of the power away from them and gives it back to you. This is really empowering my friends. We walk the tight rope everyday hoping that we don’t get pushed off. The truth is that there is no easy way around the triggers in your life. You need to face them straight on, shoulders back, and head up.
I still have my triggers and I imagine that I will for some time. They don’t disappear over night. I can say with confidence that I have learned to overcome some of them. This is monumental and gives me HOPE that I will conquer the remaining ones in my life. I try to stay positive and when I feel triggered like I did just last night I do my best to stop, breath, and think it away. You hold the power to face your triggers down. Take your finger off the trigger and let it go. Do not lose hope…I promise you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It might look different from what you had hoped for, but it is light. Embrace it.