Trigger Warning: This post deals with triggers, and as such, may potentially trigger others.
This post is a really heavy one for me. I have struggled with where to even begin with this topic as it’s a work in progress so to speak. It’s difficult when you work on triggers and you have to wait 2 weeks between a counseling session and the next to fully resolve things. I have attempted to put an incomplete memory in a locked box in my head, but the lock is rusty. I’m finding it difficult to not want to try to work on things by myself, and that’s not a great idea, especially because the trigger I discovered turned out to not be as simple as my walking down a crowded aisle of male stockers talking and laughing trigger was. This second trigger I chose to work on turned out to be a complicated one.
If you’ve never heard of feeder memories, they are memories that do just what it sounds like, they feed off each other. Unfortunately, they don’t always do this in obvious ways. One moment you are thinking about a specific memory, and it makes you feel this physical sensation, then you ask yourself, when’s the first time I felt that way? Another memory then pops out and could lead to another and another and well, it can connect to a LOT of things. The huge issue here is that if a trigger is connected to several feeder memories, you can’t fix how you react to the trigger by therapy on that one memory. You HAVE to go back as far as needed to start at the very beginning and work one by one on EACH feeder memory. This can mean a very lengthy therapy course just to help with one seemingly small trigger.
I’m going to try to talk a little bit about my trigger, but it might leave whoever is reading this feeling very unfulfilled because I can’t fully elaborate on everything for the sake of my own mental health. My hopes in telling you this small bit is to maybe help others understand a little more about triggers and how complicated they can be.
My trigger had to do with being disbelieved about something very minor. No one likes being made to feel like a liar, and I think everyone would have felt a bit annoyed, but in me, this triggered a bawling crying reaction with the anger and a physical sensation (of which I later figured out) of not being able to breathe. Later that same night, I found it extremely difficult to sleep because of the negative thoughts in my head and the inability to be able to prove myself right. I asked myself when the first time I felt like that was, and I was able to picture a childhood memory. It was a little foggy because I was probably 5 or 6 at the oldest, but I remembered very key details of the first time I had felt this exact way. Going to be a bit vague here because this story involves others, but basically it was a situation as a child where I was blamed for something I didn’t do and it caused a lot of familial drama. In therapy, we focused on this moment, and I honestly believed we would get through it, and there would be no more issues, but I was very wrong. As I focused on the physical sensation from that moment and was asked about the first time I had felt that, it brought me to what to me I thought was a silly little moment in my childhood that I never really thought about. Then while thinking of THAT moment, my brain took me to another situation. This situation? Well, since I am supposed to be keeping it in the locked box, I am going to choose to keep it hidden so to speak for now, but suffice it to say, it was a traumatic event but not one I had really thought had any effect on me, but as we started to delve into it, I found out how wrong I was. Now I think back to what triggered me in the first place, and it truly astounds me. I had a very passive aggressive open reaction to others about it, and I don’t even know if the one who triggered me even realized they did it. I was very angry and upset at the one who triggered me to a point way out of proportion for the situation honestly. The reason I felt that way was not their fault at ALL though, but at the same time, it wasn’t completely mine either. The thing with triggers is that they come from a place where you didn’t have closure, where you didn’t work things through correctly. In my case, this particular trigger seems to be connected to ALL childhood incidences where I felt a certain way because I was a child and my brain didn’t understand things at a mature level so things were implanted in my mind from THAT point of view. While the adults around me didn’t do anything horribly wrong necessarily, they also didn’t address those situations in the way I needed so I wouldn’t later harbor these feelings inside of me. I find myself feeling very guilty in a sense because of the way I have acted toward others when I have been triggered. I know it’s not their fault. I know I’m reacting in an unhealthy manner because my brain is not 100% healthy, but I still feel a sense of guilt for acting that way anyways.
On a positive note, I am learning that I need to have more forgiveness and understanding for others in how they may react to me because of their own triggers. I’m not the only one that has triggers. I’m not the only one with these feeder memories. When others react in a way I don’t understand and I feel doesn’t seem right, I want to try to give them a little bit of mercy and realize this person may be dealing with more than meets the eye. Maybe their anger is not because of me but because of something that happened to them when they were 5 years old. Maybe this anger is bringing on a tenseness in their back that suddenly brings them back to a moment of a car accident or when someone kicked them. We never know what others are going through. I guess it just pays to be a little bit nicer to others regardless. You never know when you might need that mercy given back to you.