Trigger. For those of us who have experienced the trauma of infidelity (and make no mistake, this IS a trauma of the deepest kind), the word “trigger” now has a new meaning. It means that the smallest of things can send us back to Dday–or any other painful place along this journey. According to PsychCentral, “A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.” Suddenly, you are shaking or are mentally back to the place where you are reliving the greatest pain. A trigger is the reason why even after trying and trying to sleep, here I am typing this blog at 4 a.m. Fantastic. I am living the dream.
There are many things that seem to trigger me, and the most annoying thing is that I never know what it will be. It can be the seemingly most innocent thing, and then, WHAM. It is like I am time traveling back to two years ago. For me, it is things I never gave much thought to like Craigslist, previews for this week’s episode of Scandal. or the “joking” in our culture about no strings attached sex. It could be that someone mentions the wife must never have given him sex. Yesterday, it was reading a statistic on how women orgasm. Sometimes, it is simply when my husband tells me he is running to the grocery store because hell, that is when he would message her with their amazing sexting. Who sexts from the grocery store, and how the hell is that sexy?
Last week, I took my kids to an Easter egg hunt, and I triggered to the point of hyperventilating in the car. You see, the park where the egg hunt is located is literally right near the house they used to have the affair. I try hard to stay grounded and in the moment, but unfortunately, I do often avoid that road. I feel crazy to say that because seriously, what does the road have to do with any of it? It’s a cut through and sure would make things easier if I could just drive on it. Still, it is such a huge reminder of the deepest betrayal and how close to my house it was. Right. Up. The. Street. And so, home is our sanctuary right? Yet after infidelity, it isn’t. It is the place of fighting and questions, and insecurity, and fear, and worry, and…well, what I wouldn’t do to just have that feeling of home again. That safe, I can’t wait to go home feeling. The “I can’t wait to see him and get a hug” feeling is one I miss so terribly that I cannot even type that without crying. I hope one day to feel that way again. There’s no place like home. Ah, the irony of that statement.
There is no doubt that ending on that last sentence would have driven home my feelings right now, but as much as I wanted to do that, I am going to find some way to try to end this post in a more uplifting way. I hate every minute that I spend on these thoughts, and I resent every bit of sleep I lose, as he sleeps.
How do we come back from triggers? One of the strategies I learned was to ground myself in the moment–to try to think of five things I can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. It often pulls me back some now to do this. The other thing I do constantly (especially in the shower. Do you all think too much in the shower, too?) is yell “STOP” in my head. I try to force myself to stop thinking about whatever the trigger is and to force my thoughts to something else I have planned in advance to think about. For me, that is usually something about my kids. In the midst of the deepest nights, thoughts of their daytime antics has kept me sane. Whatever that thought is for you, go to it. Know in advance that you will switch to that thought and then try it. I think this strategy works for me more often than the grounding. The last thing I have been doing lately is more of a preventative measure. I have been spending ten minutes meditating every morning. By training my mind, it seems easier to pull my thoughts back to today and out of the horrors of the past.
I by no means am saying that any of this just happens so effortlessly for me or that I am not sobbing in the shower or in my car because I am. I just know that the triggers are fewer now and that they last less time than before. I hate that they happen at all, but friends, lets take our power back together. We can’t let these triggers win. What are you doing for triggers that helps? How are you doing out there? Leave me a comment and let me know.