Triggers – a personal story

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I’m no expert. I have lived with triggers all my life but didn’t know they were triggers until I was in my late 30s.

It was a body memory evoking trigger [that lasted] ten years

What is a trigger in terms of a psychological phenomena? Wikipedia describes:

trauma trigger is the subjective attribution that a psychologic stimulus caused someone to recall the memory of a previous psychological trauma, although the stimulus itself need not be frightening or traumatic and can be indirectly or superficially reminiscent of an earlier traumatic incident. Trauma triggers are related to posttraumatic stress disorder(PTSD), a condition in which people often cannot control the recurrence of emotional or physical symptoms,[1] or of repressed memory.[2][3][4] Triggers can be subtle and difficult to anticipate,[1][5] and can sometimes exacerbate PTSD. A trauma trigger may also be referred to as a trauma stimulus or a trauma stressor.[6]

Remembering times in my past where I had been mildly dissociated. I surmised that I may have been triggered and didn’t know it. Then there were the blackouts with substances and then without substances where triggers were most definitely involved, but impossible to identify.

I told myself that my body felt safe

One of the first pervasive triggers that I experienced lasted during all my waking hours for ten years. It was was a body memory that evoked triggers but in the beginning had no emotion attached to it and then there were fleeting feelings of sadness, grief and moments of profound depression. After those feelings passed the one that remained was rage. It was always there in the background.

The body memory was related to sexual trauma and PTSD symptoms. The specific body memory was a sensation in my jaw that someone was trying to open my mouth and I was resisting with all my might.

One of the difficulties with triggers are identifying that I have been triggered.

I told myself that my body felt safe enough to remember the trigger. Each time I noticed the body memory trigger its physical sensations and accompanying emotions I told myself that my body was releasing the memories.

One day after ten years I woke up and thought: “Something is different.” When I first acknowledged that the body memory had ceased it came back immediately. Within a few days it disappeared. It returns occasionally but is no longer a fixture in my life.

One of the difficulties with triggers are identifying that I have been triggered. Sometimes it has taken me days to realize I have been triggered especially if I feel angry or rageful with a seemingly rational reason.

The nature of being triggered flips me into being isolated because perpetrators isolated me to abuse me.

There have only been three times where I have been able to identify the source of the trigger. One was the body memory of sexual abuse, already mentioned above. I was with a client in his home. He pursed his lips a certain way and I had a visceral response of wanting to punch him and beat him up. I had to bite my tongue to calm down and restraint myself from beating him up. Why the trigger occurred was not in doubt, what it was – was uncertain.

In October of 1995 when I was driving back from having had therapy in Pt. Reyes Station I was driving under a plume of smoke from the Mt Vision fires that destroyed over 40,000 acres. The smoke made the sun red as it set. When I returned home I was inconsolably in tears. I called my therapist – why was I so upset? I had asked. “The fire is big and out-of-control just as your perpetrators were when you were young.” She suggested I use a coping tool to calm down and manage the trigger. I did.

The problems with most triggers are:

  • An environmental cue activates trauma from our past.
  • Once triggered we often enter a regressed or frozen state when we had been traumatized – and may not realize we have been triggered (a call for help to a support person or persons may be useful).
  • We may act out as a result of having been triggered. (This can be mild to major and perhaps life-threatening).
  • We may appear non-rational to others where they may shun us or they may also get triggered.
  • The desire to identify and control future triggers may consume us. Realizing this is an impossible venture is a good first step to work on defusing and working with future triggers.

The nature of being triggered flips me into being isolated because perpetrators isolated me to abuse me. So when I get triggered, especially when I don’t realize I am triggered I isolate. It was a strategy I used as a child to survive. It may or may not have worked very well but when I am triggered and don’t know I am triggered it remains my “go-to” strategy.

Thinking about what “just happened” and analyzing it with the thought that “If I can figure it out I can – know what happened to me; – I can prevent it from happening again.

Thinking was what I used as a child from inside the trauma to survive is a habit. But it doesn’t necessarily work very well to solve the emotional trigger of the trauma. Its one of the ways I perpetuate remaining isolated and lost in a regressive or frozen state of trauma from the past.

Its good to have a preemptive plan to deal with triggers in advance so we can get the help we need until we reach a place where we can deal with triggers more effectively.

This is where a therapist can assist or a self-help guide.

I have found that when I know that I’m triggered that I tell myself I am ready to handle it because I’m aware that I’ve been triggered. However if I’m triggered but am not yet aware of it, I know that I feel stuck, agitated, and/or distressed emotionally I try one of the following options:

  • I reach out for support
  • I ask for feedback
  • I ask for help
  • I sit with my feelings and try to identify what they are before taking any action.

This is just a sample and in no way is what I recommend.

What I do recommend is for you to come up with your own safety plan for dealing with emotional upsets, stuck places and triggers.

[NOTE: I was triggered by my partner when we were hiking Mount Tamalpais (in Marin County California). I told her. She wanted to take responsibility by wanting to know what she had done to trigger me. I told her I didn’t know and that it wasn’t her fault. I told her that I just wanted her to know in case she felt me pulling away from her during my process of the trigger and using my safety measures. I’m not sure she understood and decided not to tell her again if I had been triggered due to her response.

Often in dysfunctional relationships we put responsibility on others for our emotions. This is a reaction that does not make another responsible for our response. We have feelings. In relationships – couple therapy is a good idea to help resolve interpersonal communications and dysfunctional dynamics. Individual therapy can be useful too.

When a trigger brings up a feeling in one person and that one person blames another for their trigger – this is an incorrect understanding of a trigger. Conversely of a non-triggered person enters into an interaction with a triggered partner for example especially if the triggered person is unaware they have been triggered then a mess ensues. If the triggered person becomes aware they have been triggered and the non-triggered partner attempts to intervene – to fix the situation then what occurs still could result in a mess.

One possible way to prevent a trigger from creating a mess would to speak with your partner about your triggers. Explain to them they are in no way responsible for the emotional reactions they – the triggered person, may have and that they may need:

  • space
  • try to be patient – wait
  • for the non-triggered person not to make assumptions
  • know they are in no way responsible for having been triggered.

A Search through Dreams

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In late September of 1990 I called out to the Spirit World to guide me to a new place to live. I worked through my network while searching for a new place to live. The house I was sharing with two housemates had become intolerable due to addiction issues with one housemate and the co-dependence of the other.

We found a peace school

I asked for a dream to guide me:

I dreamt that I was traveling with a friend from the Sonoma Valley to Napa Valley on a secret road that paralleled Trinity Road and Dry Creek Road into Napa County. We found a peace school and a few others secret places where I felt drawn to on a heart level.

Iris at a church service recommended Jim Hallock who as it turned out at purchased her old house on Trinity Road in Glen Ellen about 1,000 feet above the valley. He had an unlisted phone number. Iris gave me the address and I wrote him a letter.

He called me. I went and looked at the small apartment beneath his house. I brought deposit cash with me. He told me that just before he picked up the mail his tenant gave notice that he was moving out. Jim was delighted with the synchronicity. I offered him deposit dollars and he said:

“No, I take you at your word.”

I moved in on November 1, 1990. A few months Jim told me he was lowering my rent because he liked me.

We became good friends and we played Ping-Pong often.

In 1998 Jim sold the house to Klaus. He moved to Colorado with his wife Nora and began building houses with an adobe brick making machine.* Klaus gave me 6 months notice because he liked me and wanted to remain friends with Jim

In July of 2000 when Klaus gave me notice ( 6 months) I asked for a dream and I did a vision quest for a new place.

I moved out 10 years and 1 month later in December of 2000.

*Jim was invited by the State Department to go to Mexico to help rebuild after a major earthquake. He started a second business of building adobe homes in Mexico. After dealing with wealthy people in the US and Mexico with whom didn’t pay their debts he started a non-profit and one of his projects was building a clinic somewhere in Africa to treat children with HIV.

 

My next dream finding place was a house with a tall tree at the front of the house. The owner was a tall lanky man that bore a resemblance to Sam Shepard, the playwright and actor. I took the dream to a vision quest.

had forgotten about my dream

In the waking vision I saw a house surrounded by nature. The house itself may have been built in the 1930s or 40s. The kitchen was on the left side towards the back with a screened in porch on the right overlooking a field. There may have been a detached garage.

In the living room there was a fireplace or maybe one that was sealed up. The place had one or two bedrooms.

The Redwood in the front yard became my teacher.

A friend suggested an ad in the paper and she wrote the ad for me.

When I looked at the place I had forgotten about my dream. It was within the city limits of Sonoma and was on a half-acre of land, a big field with a few tall trees. I walked through the backyard and saw that the TV antenna had fallen over since my arrival. That triggered me to remember the dream. The lawyer – landlord did resemble an older Sam Shepard. The layout of the house was dyslexic and there was no screened-in porch in the back.

I took the place.

 

The Redwood in the front yard of about 65 feet tall became a teacher.

https://psychesweather.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/journey-with-a-spirit-guide-the-redwood-tree/

 

A Short Story: Rump, Impeachment and the 2020 elections

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America will need healing on a massive scale

Here is a short science-fiction story: Some time back I made a prediction based on visions that were revealed to me that Rump would leave office in June of 2019.

https://psychesweather.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/vision-and-the-headline-reads/

Fact or Fiction?

Recently that changed and I saw him completing his term.

That lasted until today when I received new information that the impeachment process will begin on June 1, 2019. When it nears completion in August or September (or during its process) it’s likely that Rump will do one of the following:

  • Create or foment a crisis to sway the impeachment vote and invoke Marshall Law
  • Have a medical emergency and leave office
  • Leave office before the final vote but not resign
  • Resign and be pardoned by Tence
  • Arrange for an “accidental” death of a Senator
  • Be the first president to be impeached.

If Rump is nominated to be re-elected the impeachment process would be catastrophic to his re-election bid.

Nevertheless America will need healing on a massive scale.

My Fiction Writing Process

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Long ago, in my late 20s, I found that establishing a rough ending to any fiction story whether it be a novel or short story was necessary to avoid wild uncontrollable tangents.

I don’t believe in writer’s block

After establishing a rough ending, then in the course of the story, most often a novel I have a rush to get to the end.

“Let’s get this over with,” I say to myself.*

“I’m tired of working on this. Let me move on to something else I’m not going to finish… yet.”

When the magical thinking tangent happens

So I write an intelligent action story with plot points, twists etc. I know I’m off base when I start to set up something (a tangent) that’s about to introduce super powers inconsistent with the powers that be and set the story in a different less character intimate magical thinking type thing.

When the magical thinking tangent happens I can usually do one of two things. One: go back into the story and look for a place where the new material can be set up in a way consistent with the story. Or Two: delete the section I’ve just written because it doesn’t fit.

the previous observation could be an analogous tangent

Since I don’t believe in writer’s block, I’ve come to see that blocks are temporary pauses to step back and run scenarios or do something else – like write this process blog piece. (Although in writing the current novel – Extreme Measures book 5 of a nine book Sci-Fi series is in the 4th chapter of non-stop action.) Meditation helps to clear the slate and wait for the story’s consciousness to pop up a way forward.

Find your voice.

Characters and the story that they find themselves in, have a life of their own. This could also be said of our lives through the voice of a Higher Self, an AI observer or God looking in on the course of our story. Or the previous observation could be an analogous tangent.

Writers have their processes. Most teachers of writing impart: “Write. Find your voice. No one can tell you how to become a good writer. It’s work. Keep going.”

I have a friend who is a retired advertising executive / writer who told me my writing process was wrong. I more she spoke about my process the more irritated I became. I finally told her that I was ending the conversation because I didn’t want to argue with her.

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* When I want to write quickly to the ending of the story I may let myself do that and then go back and add the other stuff. However it’s far easier to allow conflict and blocks to character forward movement in the form of the main action and weaving sub-plots during the course of moving towards the end than to go back and add it later. The step-by-step process is enticing and exciting for me. And I have found readers like it too.

Enneagram as Process – a primer

EnnegramKitchenAtWork

Many of you who are readers – the above diagram have come to know the enneagram (nine-picture) as a tool for nine personality types. The lesser-known function of the enneagram is a system for processing complex operations. The enneagram operates on the Mystery Numbers as uncovered by Nikola Tesla as the 3, 6, 9 sequence.

Nine is a number of completion and represents the sum of all the parts of the process and a mystical element as represented by the gap between numbers 4 and 5.

Nine is also an invisible force

Three represents the law of three a building block of the universe and in this case #3 is a positive urge or active principle, #6 is a negating urge or receptive principle and #9 is a neutral urge / position or a reconciling principle. The law of three supports all actions and yet is separate from linear actions.

Six operated on two plains of existence: a progression from 1 to 4 followed by a shock that activates 5 through 8 in an exterior cause and effect relationship and the inner lines are the connecting / uniting principles that are not so easily recognized.

  1. 1 to 4
  2. 4 to 2
  3. 2 to 8
  4. 8 to 5
  5. 5 to 7
  6. 7 to 1

The inner lines can also flow in reverse supporting the internal structure of the process.

Nine is also an invisible force and is often overlooked in everyday life. Neutrality technical speaking is not an urge or a force per-se. A neutron as part of an atom holds no charge, where as electrons are negatively charged and protons are positively charged. When we exclude 9 from the equation we have an octave since it is both neutral and the combination of all the parts into the unity of the entire process.

1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8EnnegramKitchenAtWorkNine represents the unity of the entire process of The Kitchen at Work preparing, serving and eating the meal. It is the neutral point where all is happening and nothing is happening simultaneously. Three are the Raw Materials of the meal being prepared such as vegetables, meat, dairy products, eggs, cooking oils, spices and so on. Six are the recipients of the cook meal whether it be the community, family or the chef.

the Mystery Numbers as uncovered by Nikola Tesla as the 3, 6, 9 sequence

The independence of the triangle (triad) 9 – 3 – 6 can exist without the process of >>>1 – 2 – 4 – 5 – 7 – 8 in a place of expectation or energy potential. The six other points of 1 – 2 – 4 – 5 – 7 – 8 cannot exist without the triad. Potential energy fueled through our will yields a process that is a working kitchen for the preparation, cooking, serving and eating of meals.

[NOTE – the next piece will utilize the enneagram as a way to look at the processes of time]


For further reading about the enneagram as a system for process see:

The Intelligent Enneagram by A.G. E. Blake

https://www.amazon.com/Intelligent-Enneagram-G-Blake/dp/1570622132

What is Time?

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Who am I?

 

Who are we?Purpledaywave

 

Who are we as humans?

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What is between all our collective pasts and all our possible futures?

BeingTime*

 

Who are we as humans?

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Who are we?

Purpledaywave

 

Who am I?

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* a circle is a ring of time holding past and future. An incomplete circle as the one that appears here is a sign of the urge to complete being. Human Beings are defined by the limits of a corporeal form – a physical body subject to the classical laws of Newtonian Physics and yet Human Consciousness can transcend the body – thus the opening.