I just hate feeling like I am back at square one when some of these triggers come
[June 17, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
A survivor friend wrote to me recently:
Today I got a card from one of my ex’s relatives and she wrote inside it, “Jesus died on the cross for ___ and He loves him too!!” It really triggered me. She left a voice mail on my machine two days ago that said, “I am sorry I have been such a bother to you. Just tell me what to do and I will change my mail.” That felt like manipulation. I don’t know why her card triggered me that way, but I am going to send it back to her. She also enclosed a check made out to me, but I am returning it as well.
I just hate feeling like I am back at square one when some of these triggers come.
I wrote back to my friend:
It might encourage you to know that when my second husband assaulted me in 2012 (ending the marriage) and I applied for and was granted a protection order against him, I was so triggered for days that I could hardly believe who I was! I was hypervigilant. Being out in public, going shopping in the main street of my town….it was like all my antennae were sensing danger everywhere. Every person in the street, even people a long way away from where I happened to be standing, seemed potentially extremely dangerous to me. It was as if every nerve in my body had been set on edge and spun out into hyperspace by a different squeaky nail down a different blackboard. If they had all be set on edge by the same nail on the same blackboard, it would have been easier, but it felt like they had each pinged off into different dimensions of hyperspace. I was so jumpy…. I was acting and speaking so oddly that I’m sure people who saw me in the street thought I was mentally ill.
I could barely recognize myself. I was shocked how intensely and rapidly I had reverted to old behaviors and feelings — things I hadn’t experienced since 2001 when my first husband did a horrible thing.
It was like part of me was watching me, noting my responses and explaining them intellectually to myself as trauma responses, and the other part of me was so emotionally “ga ga” that I felt like all I was was nervous fear and panic.
So I suggest you don’t worry too much about how quickly you were regressed to that panic state. I guess it’s normal for people like us. I guess it’s fairly common for people who have been reiteratively abused in their lives to severely regress when triggered….and find themselves in a state of internal tumult, that spinning cacophony of panic.
But we can come out of it a lot more quickly than we used to! Praise the Lord.
[June 17, 2022: Editors’ notes:
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