Hi Mamie Rose,
Sorry, it has been awhile. Tons of things going on. I have been thinking about you a lot though. Trying to decide how to express what’s on my mind these days, in a way that will make sense to everyone.
Sometimes things don’t make sense if the back story’s missing. It’s perplexing how to fit it all. I will think about it some more. and maybe find a way to work some of it into the about page or something.
The situation uppermost on my mind when I started writing to you was triggers. I’ve been experiencing them more and more and I’m not sure how to understand them yet.
Most of my abuse happened in the first twelve years of my life and from the beginning, it seems, I learned to immediately block out the memories. I don’t know if it was because I was very sensitive and couldn’t take much, or if it was because what happened was truly terrible. I have a feeling it was a mixture of both.
I’m gradually learning to allow memories to resurface and they are coming in small doses. Shadowy images mostly, along with new understanding of thought patterns that I didn’t think to question as a teenager.
Triggers are puzzling for me because; while I realize I’ve been triggered I don’t have the associated memories to help me understand why.
What’s even more puzzling is that triggers can present differently in similar situations. And sometimes they make no sense at all.
First, I have to tell you that most of my triggers are in relation to men. Not all. I’m still learning to identify triggers as coming from other directions. I’ve had one mixed up childhood, let me tell you.
Here are four trigger examples from recent situations.
One was in a small group setting and the man seemed friendly and harmless. He was across the room from me, not even close, and not interacting with me except to listen as I spoke up. For some reason, I suddenly had a fairly strong reaction to him, which made no sense. It left me wondering, why?
Another situation was a larger group. There was an ice breaker game in which we were supposed to go around the room finding people who could say yes to something on the activities list. Have you ever bungee jumped? That sort of thing. There were several younger men (younger than me, anyway) who looked like they didn’t want any part of this activity. It felt like they were left on the outside looking in – so, as I walked past them I stopped to ask if they were signing people’s lists? They both said yes so I gave them my list to sign. By sight, they raised more red flags than the first example and yet I could boldly approach them. I went home wondering how I was able to do that. Maybe it was because I felt compassion for them? Maybe it was because I was in control of the interaction?
The next example happened in a store. I was looking at electronics and the salesman came along after I’d been looking and thinking for quite a while. I had lots of questions and he spent a fair chunk of of time answering them. I eventually made a purchase and was to come back in a few days to pick up the item. The day I went back I found him kind of waiting for me. He just stood there looking at me, it was like he expected me to come over to him. I was triggered and couldn’t make myself approach a man who was obviously waiting for me to do just that. I had to get away so I moved around the store looking for some other things I needed, hoping he’d either go away or approach me. He just kept showing up, kind of hovering but not making contact. It was awkward all the way around and it was clear he was mad about my reaction. I thought about contacting him by email to explain what was happening and why but wisdom prevailed and I realized that it wouldn’t have helped the way I hoped it would. (bin-there-done-that). I had to make a third visit to the store a week or so later. He seemed to be eveywhere that I was, was still mad and didn’t speak. I can see what I reacted to. The negative vibes he was throwing off were not helping.
Here’s the last one, and I know why I was triggered on this one. Again, a public place, a man came in the door, saw me, and a look of appreciation crossed his face. When I was young, a look like that always meant trouble. I knew there was no danger for me in this time frame but still. ……… I wish I didn’t have such a strong reaction. It makes it difficult, if not impossible, to interact in a relaxed friendly manner (which would have been appropriate given the circumstances) when all I want to do is run the other direction. I was the one creating awkwardness, again.
So. that’s what going on right now. It has helped immensely to express all of this. It’s sorted it out in my mind a little better than it was. I still have many questions and much more to say but this has already gotten way too long. We will talk again soon. Hopefully.
Thanks for listening, I really appreciate it.
If anyone has insights they can share about this subject, I would love to hear them.