Someone asked me why I hate the snow this week. This was interesting because recently I realized why. My daughter posed the question a couple weeks ago, and while I was out of the room my husband answered her query. “Why does mom hate the snow so much?” “Well, someone hurt her in high school after they played in the snow, so I think it’s just too painful for her to remember it.” “Ooooh, that makes sense….. that’s sad.” She is absolutely right! It is sad. And how smart was my husband to make that connection that I never had… I used to like the snow as a kid… and then I didn’t realize I hated it, until I had kids and couldn’t stand playing in it with them. If you have read my story, you know that I did the work to heal from my rape. I have healed… but triggers are a real thing… and no matter how long it has been since your trauma- triggers can still affect you- EVEN if you put in the work towards healing.
A trigger is a reminder of a past trauma. This reminder can cause you to feel overwhelming
sadness, anger, anxiety, or panic. It may also cause someone to have flashbacks. A flashback is a vivid, often negative memory that may appear without warning. But trauma triggers are different than addiction triggers or the normal emotional triggers the everyday person experiences. When the everyday Joe watches something sad, they are triggered into sadness… But if someone with a trauma trigger is triggered, that prompts a recall of a previous traumatic experience. The stimulus itself doesn’t have to be traumatic… it may be only indirectly or superficially reminiscent of an earlier traumatic incident, such as a scent or a piece of clothing.
Someone may respond emotionally and physically to a traumatic event right away, while others may be numbed to its effect until many years later. Either way, there is no question that traumatic events have a profound impact on both the mind and the body.
Unfortunately, I have two events that show up out of the blue through triggers or not so out of the blue through re-experience…. I can go years without being triggered by something and then all of a sudden- a smell, a car, snow… who knows… I feel panicked and like I can’t breathe. I have learned to come down from that and ground myself. But my other trigger is different. My experience through Jake’s alcohol addiction has been hard. I learned the difference in the sound a can soda and a can of beer make. Now the sound of a beer opening makes me angry instantly. I'm on edge and on defense.
The smell of Vodka makes me tighten my jaw and grit my teeth. I tense up and again- get instantly in a horrible mood. I’ve tried to move past that, but I can’t. There are also tells when Jake has been drinking… I know when he has even if I don’t see it… It makes me go on the HUNT. I hunt for his hidden drinks around the house and 95% of the time will find it. I wanted to share this because I know that through this whole pandemic a lot of people are experiencing triggers or unfortunately experiencing traumatic experiences that will make them triggered for the rest of their lives. I wish I had known that I could be or would be triggered even after the healing process. I think there were a few more tools I could have learned to handle those episodes if I had known.
Everyone’s process to overcome their triggers or an episode when a trigger is fired is different. But don’t give up finding out how to handle the episodes. You do NOT have to be controlled by them. Why? Because mama, YOU are WORTH it! Together we can rise from the triggers of our pasts and become stronger.