Triggers

Last night I saw a post on Facebook. It was a share and it went into some detail about triggers.  So what is a trigger?

The triggers I am talking about are also known as trauma triggers.  A trauma trigger is an experience – whether it is a physical experience that causes the trigger, or whether it is something else, like a smell, a sound, etc.

I have several triggers; BO is the main one. I understand perfectly that some people can’t help it and that’s not what I’m reacting to per se. It’s a memory that has never been erased and work with psychiatrists and therapists has never helped.  If someone approaches me from behind I’m the same.  It took me a very long time to accept that certain things will be a trigger and it took a long time to accept I’m not to blame.  It took me a long time to accept I have no reason to feel ashamed of myself either.  A trigger is something that will invoke a reaction of some sort in someone. For me, I’m taken back to one night in August 1987. When it happens I prefer to be left alone, I abhor being touched and it’s rational to me to act like this because I’m in control. If you’ve been raped, sexually assaulted, abused then being in control of yourself is vitally important. For me controlling my life how I want and not being touched when something has set off a trigger is essential to my well being. I’m not being awkward, or a bitch, I need that element of control to feel ok again.  I’ve been called cold hearted, aloof, a bitch, you name it. I’m none of those things; I’m a victim of rape and just because it happened in 1987 doesn’t mean I’ve got over it, you don’t get over it, it’s always there. It’s defined my life and my relationships with everyone, including my husband and kids.  People who knew me back then can relate to how I react when I’m triggered. My husband can relate to it the best because he knows me better than anyone.  He came into my life at a time when I was completely broken and I was being triggered every day, he had to deal with those triggers and his initial reaction was to hug me.  That was the worst thing for me and he soon learnt that leaving me alone is my coping strategy.

So why this post?  Why am I bringing this harrowing topic up so much?

I’m seeing posts – not many, but there are more than I would like to see- from rape apologists and it sickens me.  I am seeing things on social media that I don’t want to see and these images/posts are triggering me.  I am not blaming the people who are posting these things (not the rape apologists because there is no excuse for their idiot behaviour) they don’t know everything about me because we aren’t close, or we have just become friends, or the posts are on a Facebook page rather than on a person’s personal page.  That’s the thing about triggers, it is usually something innocuous that sets them off and mostly these innocent things are not deliberate.  There is no malice intended by the person who has done or said something.

At the moment I feel like everywhere I go there is something triggering me.  This year I had a real bad reaction around the unwanted anniversary date of the attack.  Initially, I would freak out each year on this date.  But, as time went by I was able to let the day pass without feeling anything.  Then there was this year.  I felt the day looming ever closer and things were triggering me all of the time.  I got past it, easier than I expected to be fair, but ever since then I have been triggered on an almost daily basis.  I don’t know why this is happening, all I know is that at the moment it is like treading water, I am struggling to keep my head above water.  It isn’t just on social media that triggers are cropping up, every other program or film that I watch seems to have a rape scene or an attempted rape in it and I just cannot watch.

And then there is the whole issue of discussing sex in conversation.  I am not a prude, far from it, but I cannot discuss sex.  It’s a private thing and I don’t like talking about it.  Some people are only too keen to share and this is fine, just let me get out of the way first or leave the conversation.  This makes me come across as prudish or aloof, but that isn’t my intention.  I just want to not have to be part of that for my own reasons, reasons that don’t even seem rational to me at times.

You see, that’s the thing with triggers, they transport you back to whatever or wherever it is that caused the trauma in the first place.  To the rational mind that was probably something that happened a long time ago and has no bearing on your life now.  For me, that’s how it is anyway.  I have given up trying to rationalize the things that trigger me, I now just go through it and do whatever I need to do to get through it.

This post is intended as an informative one for people who are wondering why I’ve gone off at the deep end once again, but it’s also been therapeutic for me and that’s exactly what I want this blog to be about.

And with that in mind, I will probably bombard this blog, initially, with thoughts and feelings that I need to explore; and yeah, OK, that’s maybe what private journalling is about, but, sometimes it’s a way to let other people in without having to tell them face to face because you find it hard to broach the subject.  Once again, I have to say, my intention is not to offend anyone, but if it does happen then all I can do is apologise for any offence caused.

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