Trigger is a very interesting word to describe a debilitating emotional response. That phrase sounded so text book, “debilitating emotional response.” Umm ok its more like instant and sudden death and I don’t even think I’m being dramatic here. These are some lessons and truths that I’ve learned about triggers-relating to sexual assault. Of course, I learned the hard way…
1. Triggers are not always simple. Ie graphic content, rape culture, victim blaming
How do you explain to someone that you cannot stand in the line because that man is wearing a similar blue shirt? How about that particular cologne or phrase that your attacker frequently used? Everything is connected to a memory, which is tied to an emotion waiting to strangle you, and sometimes you won’t see it coming…
How do I explain that certain Christian phrases make me physically ill and I literally have to avoid Bible passages? Church is triggering for me. Wow, that was even difficult for me to write, let alone say.
2. They are Impossible to avoid. I’ve tried. Trust me.
You can’t hide from them or avoid them. You literally have to feel them and try to remain grounded or in the present moment. This is extremely difficult but if you fight against them you will only increase their effects, and then a trigger turns into a panic attack, in an instant.
3. Trauma changes everything.
Just. Like. That.
4. Recovery is not a straight line and it’s not the final destination, because in reality the final destination doesn’t exist this side of heaven.
It’s a slow journey, and the only way to travel is one inch at a time, gradually increasing your stride. I know it’s a difficult journey but you have survived thus far and I know you can do it!
5. Recovery is in actuality many things:
Sharing your story
Being honest about your fears and anxieties
Admitting that you are hurting
It’s finding your voice
6. But the most powerful lesson that I’ve learned, is that when I speak up- inevitably others do too.
Whether it is writing a blog, reading a poem at a venue, or simply an offhanded comment. Once one person speaks…Someone else, who once thought they were all alone, speaks up too.
The truth is that we are not alone and the more we talk and reach out, the more we find each other…
And that was probably the most healing thing I ever did.