One of the cool things about my hubby’s recovery is that he’s completing projects on the “honey-do” list that were previously left undone. This has led to downsizing and donating lots and lots of stuff.
It also means coming across things that I hid from myself years ago in an effort to avoid being triggered. Trauma had me doing all sorts of neat things back then. I guess hide and seek was one of them. Although I failed miserably. I hid things in my closet like a tripod, a laptop case, and CDs, so I wouldn’t see them and then have an anxiety attack. Because the first time, well, the first time I saw them after disclosure, I burst into tears, my heart raced, and it felt like the walls were closing in on me.
You know when a song comes on the radio from when you were in high school and it can make you think of that time you and friends were hanging out at that epic party, or at the beach when Joey fell into that huge hole, or any countless other things? Or smelled a certain smell? Triggers from Relational Trauma are a lot like that. Only not nearly as much fun to remember.
Those bad boys used to bring me to my knees. I didn’t know when or where one would strike or even what would cause them to happen. They were unpredictable little buggers. So it’s no wonder I found those forgotten items stashed in my closet. I vaguely remember putting the laptop case in there, but the other things, not even a flicker of a memory of doing it. Lord only knows what else I may find as we continue downsizing.
It made me think though. These random items caused me so much emotional turmoil, I couldn’t handle seeing them at the time, and so I hid them from myself. I needed that semblance of control over my chaotic emotions. There were so many other things that triggered me back then that I couldn’t shove in my closet or desk drawers. That I couldn’t run away from: A picture, a commercial on television, a look Devin gave me, or a date on the calendar, just to name a few. This was my way of dealing with the triggers until I could find a healthier way.
Eventually, I found those ways to manage and move through the anxiety: affirmation cards, deep breathing, FRC, meditation, prayer, writing, etc., and it did get better. Thank God, it got better. I was able to heal and grow stronger.
When I came across the tripod the other day there was a flash of anxiety for a few seconds. The memories of the past came back and tried to drag me down to the abyss but I declined the invitation. I like where I am now. I like where we are now.
Do you hear a song on a radio and get reminded of something? How about a certain smell?