What abruptly angers you deeply over and over? What sends a sharp pang of immediate sadness or despair? What steals your peace for hours, or days? Think about it for just a second before continuing.
These are your triggers.
And yes, every single person has them. We survivors just typically have a few more than most. Did you know that we can break the cycle of abuse by instilling boundaries, and yet also hold onto the cycle by allowing old triggers to keep their grip on us for a lifetime?
It can be anything from seeing a name on a text message pop up, to a certain type of car, a smell, a type of post on Facebook, a comment from a stranger, a holiday, (which is nothing more than a date on a calendar, I remind myself often). It could even be something as simple as getting ready to leave the house for errands. The list goes on and on. Triggers are such a personal thing, catered to each individual survivor and imprinted on us like a tattoo. It’s also not an easy thing to reverse- the scientific fact is that our bodies have been trained to have an overactive adrenal glands, and to go into fight or flight mode when these particular things occur. They typically come from tremendously bad experiences, and it always takes more time to repair damage than it does to inflict it- so please don’t be too hard on yourself. It took me a while to figure this out. I thought I’d cut contact as needed and magically be cured.. but the truth is that this is only where the real work begins. If we want to thrive, we can not wait for the waves of anxiety, sadness, or anger to subside and then continue along as if they never happened until the next one. If you choose that path, you’ll only be thrown reeling by the same things over and over as if riding a proverbial hamster wheel. We absolutely must process and analyze what shakes us to our core so that our bodies can release those involuntary, and irrational reactions we have. I know, I know, “But I can’t help it, I have no control over the anxiety attack!” I get it. I’ve been there. I promise that my internet isn’t to invalidate anyone here. I just wanted to say that there’s hope for getting through the worst of it.
Please note that negative feelings and reactions are perfectly normal and absolutely accetable for survivors- the trouble comes when we realize that we’ve fallen into a repetitive cycle that we can’t get out of. The bad news is that you really do have to rewire your brain for the waves to subside. The good news is that you can take it one trigger at a time. I’m not saying it’s easy- but I also consider it to be one of the most vital to our wellness.
The question is, the next time it happens, will you stand up, ground yourself, and sort through it in hopes of lessening future blows? Or will you retreat, and avoid, or distract yourself while you wait for the feelings to subside? In order to do the necessary healing work, you will have to meet that trigger in the moment, dissect the why, and then validate yourself.
The only way out is through, and the only person who can do it is you. If a recovering broken mess like myself can manage it and feel noticeable improvement, I have full faith that you can too.