Triggers and Hope

I used to think that triggers were woven into the fabric of my life: evidence of permanent brokenness.  I lived in constant fear of triggers.  I tried to go to support groups but it was too difficult.  I feared what was on TV and in books and the news.  The slightest thing would debilitate me: my mind would be hijacked and all I could do was feel and see horrors of my past.

At some point I had to return to the town where I used to live.  I couldn’t avoid it any longer.  A part of me was tired of avoiding it because it had such power over me – this place and these memories – and I wanted to face them.  One of the first times I went I almost caused a car accident because the shutdown hit me full-force.  It was frightening.  When I’m there I feel like I’m in a place that I know well and yet at the same time is altogether foreign to me but each time I go it has gotten a little better.  Improvement has not happened quickly or easily but I am confident that the triggers in that place will continue to have less power over me.  I’m slowly becoming more able to find beauty among what was once ugly, hopeless darkness.

I confess that books and shows and the news are something that I am still very careful about though it is not so much driven by fear but self-care.  I am more willing to accept that it’s OK that some things are difficult for me to see and hear and presently too overwhelming.  Recovery is a journey, after all.  What was once a land mine may soon become a pot-hole, a painful twinge instead of a complete hijack.

I know that I will still get triggered throughout life but I have hope.  I try to breathe.  I am more able to listen to the wise voice inside of me that says “This is ‘now’ . . It is not ‘then’ anymore . . . You are safe.

This is my hope for you: that as you go on your healing journey you encounter fewer triggers – fewer land mines.  I pray that you aren’t thrown into the painful past (or difficult aspects of the present) so wholly and that you are somehow able to regain your breath and find a haven in the reality.  Find peace that you are in the “now”: here on your journey bravely putting one foot in front of the other one minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time.

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