Removing triggers

A year ago this month, I was filling in my family on my childhood trauma. A story I’d held inside for over 30 years. A story that shaped every aspect of my being, without me even knowing it. A story I turned around in my brain all those years to make it more bearable, without even knowing it.  A story that guided my actions, my choices, my partners…without me even knowing it. A story that I was terrified to tell, ashamed to tell…yet knew I had to tell, all at the same time.  A story that, once told, left me in pieces. Broken, jagged, seemingly irreparable pieces. It’s funny to read that, because I was obviously broken and jagged well before telling. I just didn’t notice. Well, no, that’s not true, either. I always noticed I was broken, I guess I just didn’t know why. I never knew how to connect the dots.  Now I know.

I grew up inherently knowing I was damaged. I knew I was not like other kids. I knew that joy, popularity, adoration, attention, love and the like went to other kids and didn’t come to me. I think it’s a little strange now, but I never wondered why it didn’t come to me. I just knew it wasn’t in the cards. It wasn’t my lot in life and I sort of accepted it as “It is what it is”.  Wow, writing this now, and knowing a child felt this way is actually quite sad. I still have a hard time connecting that child to me. I wonder why I wasn’t sad about it?  Maybe I was and I don’t remember. It’s easy to block things out that don’t feel good, especially being a kid like I was. I can remember trying to be invisible… a lot. Whether it was around kids I knew I didn’t belong with, or at family gatherings, or even when I was by myself…I tried to be invisible. Maybe it’s because if I became invisible on my own, it wouldn’t be as sad as the reality of being invisible to others? I know I always felt like a burden, and being invisible is probably the best way to not be a burden, right? I can’t say I’ll ever find the answer to that one…

I carried that inherent knowledge of being damaged right up to adulthood. And when you know you’re damaged, you are ashamed of it. Not sure why, but they seem to go hand in hand. Not fair, but what is?  By then, I had learned how to character play. From the outside, it looked like I had it going on! Friends, outgoing, social…complete opposite of that invisible girl.  Just on the outside, though. Hell, I carried that shit right up until last year. I dropped the charade and was honest about who I was for the first time in my life. It wasn’t pretty. But it was real. God, it was downright ugly. I can vividly remember people’s look of disgust when I got to the juicy part. Not so much my friends, because they didn’t personally know the players, but definitely for my family. It was like a “shock and awe” campaign.  Most of them looked down and away, with what looked like a slight wave of nausea across their faces. Geez, no wonder I felt ashamed. They only had to hear the story…I had to live it. Makes sense, doesn’t it?  I can remember waiting, terrified, to hear what they would say. Waiting for them to judge me. No one did. At least, no out loud. I’ll never know for sure what they think inside. The looks on their faces, though…

Everyone seemed pretty supportive, which helped ease that heavy load of shame. How one can spend their entire life carrying that shit around and not know it, I have no idea. But you sure as hell notice when it’s gone! The more I told the story, the more it became just that… a story. I was eventually able to tell it without crying, without trembling, without fearing being judged, without feeling nausea. I removed thoughts, scenarios and people from my life that triggered me and things started falling into place. The shame and doubt slowly became replaced with feelings of worth and confidence. I became empowered. I accepted things for what they were. No one was ever going to make me feel used or unworthy again! It suddenly seemed easy. And there, my friends, lies the mistake….

The problem with my technique is, you can’t remove thoughts, scenarios and people who trigger you. Sure, you can temporarily avoid them, but you can’t remove them. And when your triggers involve family, forget about it. And when your triggers involve family, you might as well forget about it. They find their way back, in one form or another. Some are more camouflaged than others, but they all find their way back in, eventually. Sometimes, they hide in people you would never guess. Removing the triggers is not what’s easy at all. It’s them sneaking back to you, that’s what’s easy. I didn’t even realize that’s what was happening. How could I not realize it? These feelings of angst, shame, rejection, fear… they are supposed to be gone. Empowered people don’t feel those things, right? For me, emotions almost seem like a trigger. When people or scenarios result in me feeling a certain way (typically unworthy or unimportant), I start to spiral. Weird, isn’t it?

I had a nightmare last night. The first one since last summer. I was home alone and I was getting robbed. Masked men were at each window. I can usually tell when I’m dreaming, but not with this one. Just like the ones I had last summer. Scary as shit and so freaking  real. In the dream, I knew they were going to kill me. I could see a scene of my father’s house, and all of my family was over there for a birthday party. I was trying to figure out how to get out of my house before the men got to me, and I could somehow hear my family talking at the party at the same time, about how dramatic I was being. Even though I was scared to death of these men about to attack me, I also questioned myself. “WAS I making too big of a deal about this?”  Jesus, I was embarrassed and ashamed, at the same time I was about to get killed. Sounds about right…

So, now I have to figure out how to get rid of this stuff….these feelings. I don’t want my head to be swirling anymore. I did enough of that last year. Intellectually, I understand all of this. I understand that I need to reduce my expectations and learn to accept things for what they are. I need to learn I can’t make people act or feel the way I need them to. That sounds easy enough. I actually have been able to do that for most of the past year. Suddenly, though, I’m finding that talent to be missing. I DO have expectations. I DO need people to treat me the way I need to be treated. It DOES affect me when they don’t. Shit. How do I get back to where those things don’t happen? I don’t want those needs. I had acceptance, and it’s gone.  I felt lovable and now it’s gone. And it hurts. And it’s confusing. And it’s scary. And it’s sad…

And the most ironic part of all this? If I heard this story coming from someone else, I would have the answers. Why is it so much easier to heal others and not myself?



17 thoughts on “Removing triggers”

  1. I’m so sorry for your pain. And just now, I’m right there with you. Triggered the other day. And because I’ve got Kundalini energy surging through my body, the trigger has left me barely able to function as my body shifts and processes eons of pain and crap. So freaking miserable right now.

    1. I hope you’ve found some peace since he wrote this comment. I’m sorry for your pain, as well. I have a feeling we are going to be saying this to each other back-and-forth for the rest of our lives. The good thing for me, is that I’ve realized I am bouncing back a lot more quickly nowadays. And I have faith that it is because I continue my process of inner work. And I know that is something that you do as well, and you will reap your benefits soon, my friend…

      1. I just reread your post. (By the way, I’m doing much better now after a week of hell, thanks.) Part of this past week has been a massive influx of light energy to the entire planet (Lion’s Gate Activation), that brought up all sorts of “stuff” for people to take another look at. (Trump and the North Korea thing. White supremacist incident). Yes, there are still little bits and pieces of you that might be struggling with your past, and your nightmare brought it up full force. But one of the significant things in the dream for me, was that you were in your own home and your family was in your father’s home. You were not in the same home as they. The significance of our own home is HUGE. You have separated out from your family energetically. That is big progress. And the larger part of you knows that you absolutely were not being overly dramatic. Keep talking to that younger part of yourself, reassuring her that you’re safe now and have her back. Sometimes, our stuff will come up again for us to reassess and see how far we’ve come.

        1. Yes, I have definitely separated from some of my family. Or maybe they have separated from me. It’s hard to tell. I was looking at it as showing that they were ignoring my feelings. Ignoring my safety. But maybe it represents me surviving on my own. The bad guys never did actually end up getting in my house. Maybe it represents me being able to protect myself?

          1. For sure, they were ignoring your feelings. You didn’t feel safe. That younger part of you might still not feel completely safe. And yet, you are safe. And you are surviving on your own. Look at your life in the here and now when you get dragged into the past. You are doing it, making it, surviving.

            Instead of reducing expectations, it sounds like time to speak up for yourself. And that can be scary. Maybe your therapist can help you with phrases to use, or ways to let your needs be heard. They might not be met, but they certainly can be heard.

            In any case, you’ll find peace again. It might take some time, but you’ll get there. All sorts of things are in big flux right now.

  2. I’m sorry you are in so much pain. That was me last year too. My psychologist used EMDR to help me with my childhood trauma. I am now able to remember the incidents but they no longer trigger any emotional or physical response.
    She also taught me a few neat techniques to protect myself from the effects of being around emotional vampires and my narcissistic mother.
    I hope you find the help you need and deserve.

    1. Thank you. I have an amazing therapist who has helped me come so far in such a short period of time. I know that these setbacks are going to happen, but I also know that I am now resilient and have strength in areas that never existed before. I can remember incidents without feeling anything, but when I am made to feel a certain way, it just triggers me. This one wasn’t so bad, and nothing compared to what I went through last year, so I’m looking at that as progress. Sounds like you and I have a lot in common. I’m sorry

  3. I’ll second the psychologist, whatever method works. Sometimes we need tools, truly useful tools for current scenarios that trigger old responses. More than the advice you’d give a friend, you need tools.
    I absolutely understand the idea that you can’t connect child you to present you. I’d further add that this is often what it means when people say you were “robbed of your childhood” or “never had a childhood.” I’ll look at my kids at ages in which specific incidents happened to me, and I’ll get so awed, so angry, that I was never like them. It only lasts a heartbeat before I find myself thankful, hopeful, that their lives have been and will be better.
    I also relate to people not even being able to hear it without embarrassment, or even wishing they didn’t know.I remind you, every time we speak out, we empower ourselves and others like us.
    Some people may get lost in the shuffle. You don’t have to cut people out or make a drama, you can just misplace them, lovingly, with care, until you’re in a better place to deal with them. I hope you can make your way through this, you’ve come a long way already.

    1. I love that last part. Part of me feels guilty for cutting people out. But you’re right, I can just misplace them, lovingly, with care, until I am in a better place to deal with them. Perfect?

  4. Having been a therapist for many years, I can relate to the question, Why is it easier to heal others, and not myself? The closer we are to a problem, the harder it is, because of those dang emotions! But you are in the healing process, just by writing about it. In addition to the EMDR and other tools, here’s one for people with good imaginations (like writers.) Rewrite the script of that dream you had. Start anywhere you want, maybe with the masked men around your house. Create anything you want and need to happen and write it down. Maybe someone comes to help you, a guardian angel, or an ARMY of angels, with bullhorns or something. In anyway you want, you can make those masked men run away as fast as their scrawny legs can carry them. You are safe now. surround yourself with people or things that feel safe to you – in the dream, and in life. Your needs are legit. And yes, empowered people do feel these things.

    1. First off, I did not know you were a therapist (I think)! Second, writing is exactly what got me through this. Not writing on here, and my blog. Writing in my journal. When I write there, I don’t have to worry about what people think or how they will interpret it or what it sounds like. It just works. And third, I am just reading this now, AFTER I wrote my post today about angels?

      1. Wow! I love that angel thing. They are working! I just retired from my counseling career after 30 something years. It’s easy to slip back into it. Maybe I’m not done. 🙂

  5. Jami, I’m sorry you’re finding things hard right now. I relate to a lot of what you say- struggling to connect your memories as a child to your present day self, thinking you’ve dealt with things and then have them resurface. I think the reality is this healing process is not simple or straightforward, although I wish it was. It sounds like you have made amazing progress in the last year in being able to face up to things and share with your family. Praying for you as you continue this journey.

    1. You’re right, it’s not simple or straightforward. Amazing how easy it is to forget that part, over and over again, as I travel this journey. Thank you for the prayers?

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