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.