Triggered Part 1

A friend who I see regularly took me on a walk last week and asked me how I was doing. I told her I missed my post on journeywithbri.com and I didn’t think I’d make the next post either. She assured me that you, my readers would forgive me. I smiled and attempted to hold back my tears.

Her quick reassurance was a precious treasure to me. At times, I still become overwhelmed and am surprised to receive love, communication, affirmation and forgiveness. I lived without these qualities and others for years.

Experiencing them now regularly from family and friends is an unexplainable gift.

The truth of why I wasn’t able to post last week is because, I got triggered

It was really bad timing since I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Even worse, I was triggered multiple times within a short time span.

Are you confused? Not sure what triggered means?

Being triggered can vary in intensity and is when I feel as if I am back in the abusive environment.

The National Center on Domestic Violence describes triggers on their website www.nationalcenterdvtraumamh.org as, “Traumatic triggers come in many forms. A trigger is a reminder of past traumatizing events. Many things can be a possible trigger for someone. For example, what seems like an “ordinary” request such as, “make sure the children are ready for school on time,” can be a trigger for a survivor whose abusive partner terrorized and punished her if the children were late for school.”

I am grateful to be in a place of healing where I am able to recognize and identify when and how I am triggered quickly.

Last week, I was tempted to withdraw. Instead, I was intentional to seek out multiple women in my support system here where I live. I meet up with them individually and was honest about the good and the bad of what I was remembering and feeling. I also gave myself time to rest and kept all of my previous commitments.

Sometimes, I can see an upcoming event or situation that will be a known trigger. And I’m prepared before hand. Other times, they come as a complete surprise and overcome me.

Dealing with triggers is a necessary aspect of healing and surviving Domestic Violence. It takes courage and resiliency to overcome them. There have been many times I have worked through a trigger in the presence of other people and no one knew. It doesn’t necessarily get easier, but the farther I come in my healing journey the less significance they have in my life.

Victims are encouraged to create a system to follow in a trigger with their professional counselor. Here is one of the systems that works for me. If you are struggling through a fog and are overwhelmed, try these steps. Then please seek out a professional to help you tailor one for your unique needs.

Here are 10 steps to follow for when you are in the moment.

  1. Breathe deeply.
  2. Focus on your breathing. Count to 3. Inhale through your nose 1-2-3 then exhale out your mouth 1-2-3. Repeat until your body physically relaxes.
  3. Do not keep talking or thinking about the moment, problem or your feelings regarding it.
  4. Think or talk about what you’re wearing. What is the weather doing? Sunshine or windy? Distract yourself.
  5. Take some time away. Do an activity. Focus at work. You are in control of your mind and choices.
  6. Later, depending on the trigger its self and the intensity of it I’ll write what happened and briefly how I’m feeling or seek out my support system. This may be a step to skip and only do much later if you feel the moment coming upon you again. If so, go back to step 1. Deep breaths.
  7. Take as much time as you need.
  8. When you’re ready, identify and label the trigger and how you felt. Anger, scared etc.
  9. Process with a trusted individual (I recommend someone of the same gender as yourself) in your established support system. If you do not have this set up yet, find a counselor or call a hotline. But please, be intentional about creating relationships around you with the goal that these men or women who are in your life regularly can recognize when you’re triggered and can step in if needed to help you through your process.
  10. Encourage yourself. You are safe have just taken the power away from your abuser.

Most of all, be encouraged! I can tell you that eventually the time between triggers lengthens and the time during a trigger shortens. I’m not sure if they will ever completely stop. But, I can tell you that what use to trigger me doesn’t usually affect me now. Some, I’ve just overcome. Some still affect me. And new ones can still happen. Don’t condemn yourself. Being triggered and struggling to process through grief, disappointments and trauma is necessary for healing and moving forward. Don’t be scared to face what you’ve lived through. You are in a different life now. But please, do not struggle through this alone.

Above all, give yourself time. Because time heals. Time can give you different eyes to see through. Time may or may not change how you feel. Time allows you grieve. And, time propels you to forward. Time is a gift.

Now, I look back on time and smile at how far I’ve come. I’ve lost so much weight I look like myself again. And many of you have commented on the joy you see radiating from me in my pictures. But, during the time of being renewed it wasn’t going fast enough. I wanted to get away from the label of abuse survivor and lose weight quicker. I wanted it all to be fixed right then. But, what I needed was the time and so will you.

If you are struggling right now, it’s O.K. Let yourself grieve. Work your process and just keep putting one step infront of the other. God is always with you. He will never leave you. Let HIM be your all in all.