Trigger warning – see subject. 🙂
A trigger (brief explanation) is something from our past that can set off strong emotional (or otherwise) reactions. A smell might be a trigger, whether good or bad. e.g. if grandma used to bake cookies every time you visited, that might be a good trigger to happy memories. If, however, grandma used to tie you to the hot stove as she baked them, well…maybe not so nice.
Facetious, I know, but it’s “how I roll”.
Now that we know what triggers are, how do we deal with them? Mostly, we first have to know that they’ve been pulled. When triggered the fight or flight response tends to kick in, which leaves all rational thought by the wayside. It’s the nature of the beast. If, however, we are able to recognize what’s happening as it’s happening, then we get to make decisions on our reactions.
I had a nice trigger pulled this morning. I wasn’t doing anything particular. I was just beginning my day and thinking about people I know and have recently met. Big-ass trigger. WTF, says I. Why, oh, why is this an issue? I can trace it back into childhood, but some things can’t be put into print. However, I can also add in the ea and how I was not allowed to have or make friends. All I may have had in the past were systematically removed. Any that came along were driven away. Well, maybe not all…but pretty much.
So, here I was, thinking about “new friends” and whop! Right between the eyes, I’m slammed with an emotional flashback. And then, memories flooded in…things I’d totally forgotten. But that’s good…because now I get to explore that piece of the puzzle that was buried in dissociation. So, now I understand the high anxiety that always accompanies me with new people. I can link the “what if” scenarios to abandonment issues. (and, btw…abandonment is not solely being left on the steps of a church in a basket)
My feline family have their own triggers. I may have posted (or may not) about my little boy darting out of the room because I whistled. I don’t whistle much any more, but it was a momentary thing. As he ran for dear life, the sound hit my own ears as well. ea used to whistle when he was up to no good. It was one of his tells. So, my baby remembered being hurt when the sound was in the house. He had his flashback, I had mine. I’ve since avoided whistling.
A trigger can be accidentally pulled. It can be purposely pulled if someone knows about it and wants to be cruel. Or, as I prefer, it can show itself as an opportunity to work through the wounds and start to heal.
Being aware that you have these issues is step one. It’s the hardest. But once you get there, allowing yourself the freedom to have a mini-meltdown or whatever it is that you need, is excellent. We are allowed to be human and allowed to have our “weak” moments. Quite frankly, letting it flow is not exactly weak…but that’s another discussion. Work with it. Ride it like you’re surfing. You already survived the trauma. This is just a video replay. It will pass and at the end of it, if you choose, there is a lesson to be learned and some growth to be had.