Triggers – a personal story

corona

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.

Some Flaws of Capitalism or…

wethepeople

Or Some Flaws of Capitalism in its Current Incarnation

 

These ideas are not a new idea or proposition set forward below:

Sixty years ago my family bought a GE toaster that I have and I use regularly. It makes good toast. I have had other toasters and a few toaster ovens that have broken and were eventually too expensive to repair.

a rubric of infinite resources, income and growth in a finite world

Capitalism after WWII was steeped in growth, craftsmanship and materialism. It was a time a massive rebuilding, re-population and expansion. Though mass production reigned, craftsmanship and materialism were the building blocks of capitalism. Labor unions, industry and government were partners in reconstruction after the war and there was a resplendent growth of the middle class and income.

Capitalism in its continual reinvention of itself relies on some major flaws. One of the most obvious flaws are the finite limits of growth. It operates under a rubric of infinite resources, income and growth in a finite world.

The vestiges of citizenship were degraded into “the consumer”

In the 1980s capitalism threw off the last vestiges of materialism in favor of mass consumerism through planned obsolescence. The shift from materialism to accelerated consumer based capitalism accentuated the flaws of the system and produced lemmings running to the sea. Capitalism became the religion of the land and democracy grew more entrenched as a slave to consumer-capitalism.

Corporations have become the new citizens who have delegated individuals as the consumers of goods and services.

The vestiges of citizenship were degraded into “the consumer” as political action committees (PACs) usurped individual citizens’ participation in government and re-election of so-called “representatives”. Congresspersons and Senators have become the servants of corporations in order to streamline government for accelerated capitalism. As citizens have become superfluous they have in-turn been plugged into being consumers of products and services of demagogue type of capitalism.

Corporations have become the new citizens who have delegated individuals as the consumers of goods and services. Products have been redefined into smaller parts designed to wear out swiftly and /or be replaced by newer “improved” models. Services are also degraded by dividing services into smaller portions, employing less qualified people and by outsourcing – language barrier problems (outsourcing is double-speak for layoffs).

The finite world is ignored for immediate quarterly profits

Another PAC strategy for corporate agendas is making “representatives” into divisive enemies so that either nothing is accomplished for individuals. One PAC strategy are “a no-holds barred” attacks against the enemy such as Republicans versus Democrats; Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice, etc. Democracy has been lost in the process and applies more to corporations than individuals. Giant powerful PACs are increasingly controlled by the top tenth of the one percent wealthiest individuals who ascribe to making more money and a consolidation of power.

The finite world is ignored for immediate quarterly profits. The focus of corporate/business and financial leadership is profitability in the next three months that can be extrapolated into a yearly goal. Looking into a future of the limits of growth based on finite resources is not built into consumer-capitalism. As a result the current reiteration of capitalism is systemically handicapped to deny finite resources through faulty cognitive re-framing. Some of this is the momentum of the capitalistic system fueled by greed and a lust for power and some must have a conscious design. At the base of this consolidation of power is an addiction of greed fueled by fear.

(Conservative/GOP) group views consumers below a certain income level and all liberals as potential servants, serfs and those needing manipulation

While consumer-capitalism within a broken patriarchal system has its own momentum that may carry many leaders of this movement along in a short-term gain (that looks long-term in the context in which they flourish) there is another conscious force at work. Some of the top tenth of the one percent of wealth in the world fights for increasing consolidation of power and wealth (call them A) while others fight for a more equitable distribution of wealth (call them Z).

A’s use their money, power and influence to create obstacles in government to further or block the agenda of the other side. When Newt Gingrich came into power he begun to characterize the opposition – the Democrats as “enemies” of the people. Before that time Democrats and Republicans may have vehemently disagreed with one another and their goal was to govern so they compromised to move their agenda forward. The current climate between Liberals and Conservatives is combat. There seems to be less compromise. Conservatives work at blocking Liberals at every turn. The result is no new legislation is adopted. Even in the current Republican block to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has only left the ACA in shambles and disrepair. Its as if the GOP’s secret wish was (is) to replace the ACA with nothing. The A group is moving towards satisfaction with the ACA being replaced by nothing because they wish to see a world that existed before the implementation of the Income Tax – 1912. When US Congress is deadlocked and new legislation is passed the A Group is generally satisfied. The only times that the A group may be dissatisfied is when legislation that favors their position is not voted into law.

Since 1776 to 2015 the US has been involved in wars 93% of the time

The A Group views consumers below a certain income level and all liberals as potential servants, serfs and those needing manipulation to motivate them towards they’re agenda.

The A Group does not want:

  • Income equality
  • Advancements in public education – (or consumers to think for themselves for then they may become citizens)
  • Racial equality
  • LGBT equality
  • Women to have equal rights, equal pay, the right to have control over their bodies (pro-choice), equal protection under the law
  • Consumers to live in a world without fear
  • To acknowledge that Climate Change caused by and /or contributed to by humans is real.
  • Considers the ACA a hand-out and doesn’t want government to support public health for all
  • All government programs devoted to public welfare as entitlements to be (Social Security, Medicare etc.)
  • To have peace in the world unless monitored by a strong US military presence in order to have a foothold on remaining limited resources

The Koch brothers (see end note) could be considered the most identifiable humans belonging to the A Group while Libertarians, Conservatives and some Republicans are also A Group members. A notable Z-Group member is George Soros and his organization (see end notes).

FDR President Roosevelt created social nets to assist the US to move out of the Great Depression, but the final impetus that extricated the US from the depression and accelerated growth was the entrée into and winning WWII. Prior to the mid to late 1980s the premise of wars were to stop the spread of Communism as represented by the now former Soviet Union and China while expand US interests. Now wars seem to be oriented towards oil resources.

Earth’s nutrients are the raw materials for corporate products. Some of Earth’s nutrients are renewable – as in agricultural fruits and vegetables, farm animals etc. Some farming techniques although provide greater crop yield may deplete the soil in such a way to make it non-sustainable over the longer term. Other of earth’s resources such as elements – metals and oil are non-renewable and finite.

Capitalism especially in its latest consumeristic reshaping does not consider the resources from the Earth in its cost effect analysis in part to the patriarchal mind-set and in-part to shortsightedness – quarterly profits.

The consumeristic-capitalism has been marked by US Political struggles of almost a constant state of war. Since 1776 to 2015 the US has been involved in wars 93% of the time (see end note). The only period the US was not involved in a war was 1935 to 1940 during an isolationist period during the Great Depression.

The current Trump administration is a characterization of all that elitists members of the GOP and conservatives represent as well as a longing for the good old days before the income tax and in support of isolationist ideals. It represents patriarchal self-interest that contributes to increasing isolationism, mergers, and maximizing profits for the wealthy elite, disregarding any community-based profits based on sustainability, protecting natural resources – environmental protections while marginalizing, discounting and enslaving those that have less by:

  • keeping their wages fixed and/or lowered
  • keeping them out of labor unions and making “labor unions” a dirty word
  • dividing them into factions that war against each other
  • gutting public education and dumbing down citizen’s ability to reason
  • providing entertainment that discourages reasoning
  • providing entertainment that displays the hopeless world that they live and will live in the future (only much worse) and that one common person can be the hero or savior
  • promotes the “myth of the American Dream”
  • encourages disempowered citizens to fear so that a limited number of avenues are open to them:
  • The American Dream
  • Fundamentalist Religion
  • Blaming or scapegoating a group of people based on race or ideology
  • Providing simple solutions to complex problems often based on “the American Dream mythology”

 

NOTES:

  1. Koch Family https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch_family#Family_members
  2. George Soros https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Soros
  3. US Wars https://www.globalresearch.ca/america-has-been-at-war-93-of-the-time-222-out-of-239-years-since-1776/5565946