Triggers

by singlemomseeking on November 1, 2009

My ex was also an alcoholic, too. So, when T wrote about her “triggers” in her current relationship, I got the chills.

Remember when I wrote about the night that Lucky Guy’s car had been broken into? Well, there was a lot I didn‘t say. Yes, the car break-in did scare me, but here’s what really shook me up:

I called LG right after turning off his car alarm. He was out of town with co-workers, and he didn’t answer. “Someone just broke into your car,” I said on his voice mail. “Please call me back.”

Five minutes passed, then 10. I called him again. No answer, so I left another message, feeling desperate: “Can you please call me back? I’m very shaken up!”

I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t. Every time I shut my eyes, I felt scared. One moment, I felt like a little girl, crying and alone. The next, I remembered when I was pregnant, waiting for my boyfriend to stumble home drunk. Although I knew that my panic was much deeper than the break in, I couldn’t shake it.

So, I got up and texted him. My hands were shaking. “Calm down!” I ordered myself. But 10 minutes later, I texted him again. I felt so alone — and angry.

When LG finally called back an hour later — sounding so caring and concerned — I lashed out at him. Why didn’t you call me  right back?

Hours later, after calming down, I felt so embarrassed for lashing out at him. I DO have the resources to take care of myself when I feel scared and abandoned. I’ve got to learn how to take care of myself in these moments.

sunset

Instead of calling LG over and over — and getting more panicked — I needed to call on myself. Unfortunately, I felt so wounded at that moment that I froze. In hindsight, I could have called a girlfriend. I could have run a bubble bath. I could have done some yoga.

Maybe I was too embarressed to tell you what really happened that night. Maybe I just needed time and space to process it all. Thanks T, for inspiring me to get it down. I’m learning how to pay attention to my own triggers — and realizing that I can use these very difficult moments to move past them.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Zoeyjane November 1, 2009 at 6:41 pm

I’m going to have to put some thought into this. What’s scary is that I thought, ‘me, too’, but then I added some ‘ands’ in.
.-= Zoeyjane´s last blog ..On ma familia =-.

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singlemomseeking November 3, 2009 at 8:33 am

@Zoeyjane, I’d love to hear those “ands”…

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Deanna Leigh November 1, 2009 at 6:41 pm

Great confession. The Bio is a recovering alcoholic but I still so much of that behavior even sober 7 years.

I’m still working on not allowing the past to infect the present, but its a work in progress.

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Desiree November 1, 2009 at 6:46 pm

This hit a sore spot for me. All I can say is the cheesy “been there, done that” and hope we both make it out of this life alive.
.-= Desiree´s last blog ..My first post on New Jersey Moms Blog =-.

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T November 1, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Oh girl… I know that I tend to want to lean on someone when I can’t calm myself. And the person I want to lean on is Rascal. But you’re right, when they’re not responsive, for one reason or another, it seems to easy to lash out when all we’re really lashing at is the crap we’ve built up in our own minds.

Thank you for the yoga suggestion. Thank you for the bubble bath suggestion. Thank you for being my friend.

We’ll get past this. I really think awareness and having Love Coach Rinatta (giggle) on our side helps!

Big hugs. Thank you for the link love.
.-= T´s last blog ..Triggers =-.

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StudentMama November 1, 2009 at 7:08 pm

I can perfectly visualize these memories and the feelings associated. My husband had several infidelities under his belt, and he was a workaholic. I still remember the desperate moments, wondering where he was…crying…calling…and I know these will continue to take up space in me for a long while.

Thank you for sharing. It gives strength to us all! = )
.-= StudentMama´s last blog ..I told me so…You told me so =-.

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Avigail74 November 1, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Even I know that feeling well. I find myself just accepting that it’s the way I react, and try not the beat myself up over it. When I get that panicky feeling, I acknowledge—”Yes, I”m going a bit crazy right now…oh well…I’m going to call him for the umpteenth time anyway…and I’ll feel better tomorrow…” That self-talk of accepting myself is actually soothing and calms me down a little more rationally, shall I say?
.-= Avigail74´s last blog ..Gypsy Family =-.

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Carissa November 1, 2009 at 7:50 pm

I usually cannot comment on your blogs because I am not a single mother and I am not going through similar experiences. However, this is an issue that many of us CAN relate to…

As someone who has always had a “lucky guy” in my life (not saying I was lucky too mind you), now that I find myself truly single and surviving on my own it feels courageous, exciting and new. However, there are sudden moments where I too feel this co-dependency you speak of. When these moments strike, I try desperately to reach a few of my close friends. Most often the attempt fails, yet I continue multiple times. I give up, feeling as if I am in a near panic state.

This is the point where I’m supposed to give you some excellent advice on how to cope in these situations. However, that I cannot do. I can only share in your fear, as well as tell you that it has nothing to do with your true inner strength. You, as a person, have shown over the years that you contain all the qualities necessary to survive as a woman, as a mother and as a romantic partner. The problem is that little moment of doubt; the moment when you suddenly face the unknown and everything you are becomes foreign to you.

How do you pull back to reality? I do not know. I usually ground myself, think about the positives in my life and sort out why I found myself in this awkward and uncomfortable place. And you know what the best of it is? I am usually just fine by the time my friend or friends call me back, which lets me know that I am not truly co-dependent. I just need a little reflection from time to time.
.-= Carissa´s last blog ..“Go Dream…” =-.

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Nicki November 2, 2009 at 4:09 am

I know all about triggers. It’s my goal to lose them before my next relationship. We’re all damaged to some degree. And it’s so hard to accept that and move past it. Strong women that we are, it’ll happen. Time and patience, what magical healers. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
.-= Nicki´s last blog ..October State of the Blog Address…with a little state of me thrown in… =-.

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Kat Wilder November 2, 2009 at 7:40 am

It isn’t unusual to resort back to our fears from an old relationship in a new one, but it isn’t fair (and may even make the new one an old one very soon!)

What’s helpful for me when I’m having a panicky pity party (hey, there’s always cake!) is to remember all the times I told myself “I can’t get through this” or some variation … and I actually did get through it. We’re stronger than we give ourselves credit for. Have faith!
.-= Kat Wilder´s last blog ..Does being Ms. Picky get you Mr. Perfect? =-.

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BigLittleWolf November 2, 2009 at 12:05 pm

T’s post was very thought-provoking. Personally, I think some of the most difficult triggers are those that involve our kids.

They may range from mannerisms that remind us of an ex (that’s when you keep your mouth shut and don’t flinch), to behaviors that are innocent on their part, but with very powerful triggers we need to manage in front of them.

For me – it’s around kids and cars, teens and cars, as I mentioned on T’s blog. I don’t know that I’ll ever get over the losses and near losses that always bring terror right back. Fortunately, my teens are pretty understanding, and text me or call me when they reach destinations, or leave them.

Triggers are inevitable. I believe some are for life. The challenge is managing them, and not letting them manage us.
.-= BigLittleWolf´s last blog ..Six tips to beat holiday blues =-.

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carols November 2, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I struggle with “triggers” too and find that I’m getting better at just “feeling my feelings” without acting on them. It’s hard to do at first but if you just stay with and acknowledge the panic, loneliness, or whatever emotion it is, you can let it wash over you like a wave and then it’s gone. Sometimes it feels like a tidal wave and that you are never going to come up for air, but you do. I think compulsive action on these uncomfortable feelings makes them stronger or at the very least makes them return again until they are healed.

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singlemomseeking November 3, 2009 at 8:26 am

@Carols: that’s so true! If you can just feel those hard feelings — without acting on them. But as challenging as it is, if you can just sit with that panic, loneliness… it does seem to pass over, after a rough spot. Thanks.

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wandamd22 November 3, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I “ditto” all of that and have the same issues. I also find that when i do act during those uber-compulsive moments that the embarrassment afterward sticks and prevents me from repeating them now I am aware.

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Katherine SOLO dot MOM November 2, 2009 at 1:47 pm

WOW. I can actually relate with triggers of my own in the recent months. Thanks for being transparent, both of you. I too found myself repeating obsessive behavior patterns with no real reason from the situation at hand… just a rehashing of behaviors that developed in past relationships – that then had merit… but not in the present day relationship.

Facing this reality has also helped me to keep these unwarranted behaviors at bay. But thanks for reminding me how quickly they can raise their head – if you don’t get your past and your actions under control.
.-= Katherine SOLO dot MOM´s last blog ..Environmentally Conscience Kitchen Cleanup & Contest! =-.

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Legal Editor Mom November 3, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Fortunately my current beau is nothing like my ex, so I haven’t released any triggers on him unnecessarily or even been tempted to compare him. My issues are simply more of the wrongs that I suffered, and my bf is even understanding about those because my divorce is much more recent than his, so he’s very patient with me and encourages me to talk it out—when I’m ready. Oh hell, I guess I’m no help with this one! But I do see how old triggers can affect how we treat/view new partners or potential partners, and I definitely agree that you have to treat each person on their own merits.

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wandamd22 November 3, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Being a single mommy who lost her alcoholic Dad last year that “triggered” a slew of these behaviors with the current relationship (that ended when this happened and is now in the process of being rebuilt…this weekend is the first “visit” since getting back together!) I totally “get” what happened. I have been in therapy for my newly discovered co-dependent habits and starting to reach the point where new healthy behaviors have started to innately replace the bad ones. This said there have been situations that do “trigger” the past similar to what happened to you (ours was all the sudden having the BF pop up on my Facebook feed when he’d been in staunch opposition to social networking forever. I blew it out of proportion cause he hadn’t told me and I felt lied to). I think now we are equipped with the capacity to see and own our behaviors when before we were incapable of doing that because it was just too scary. I will bet next time this trigger happens a different reaction will be had.

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andrea frazer November 3, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Hi – It’s easy to say “Oh, rely on yourself more” but sometimes we need another person. It’s all, like in Yoga, finding the balance. If your true nature is someone who needs another at times like this, better to let LG know know than spring it on him later. At the same time, too much co-dependency is never good as no one can possibly fill that for you and you’re left with burning a guy up, starting the vicious cycle over and over again. Wow, listen to me. I’m a regular psychologist.

Girl, you’re doing great!

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Samantha November 3, 2009 at 1:33 pm

You are so brave to share some of your triggers and deepest fears. I’ve been there and done that after dealing with an abusive ex and not so happy childhood. It’s taken some years to process it all and finally get to a place of peace and happiness.

It was a combination of things that got me through so it’s no one thing that I can say “cure” me. I know you will find your way to the other side of this and have more great experiences to share.
.-= Samantha´s last blog ..How Rich Single Momma Makes Money Online =-.

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MC November 3, 2009 at 6:59 pm

I can relate to “triggers” too. I think everyone can, if they live long enough.

Unless you’ve spent your adult life locked in a box, you are for sure going to have some emotional trauma and baggage.

While it’s fine to try to improve yourself for your own reasons, I do object to the general idea that we should try for our guys’ sakes to make (or pretend) our psyches into being virtual virgins again.

Especially if all that happens because of our baggage/triggers is that we might get a little insecure/freaked out/ or worried sometimes—why is that such a huge no-no? Why can’t a man understand and deal with a little of that? What is the problem?

My guy is just going to have to get used to the idea that I’m not a teenager in my first ever relationship. I’ve lived through lots of stuff and it does mark me. If he wants pristine he better throw me back. If he wants me, he will hopefully understand that my best attributes come from my history–precisely the same history that also gives me my quirks/triggers and other issues.

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Coachdad November 3, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Great read… my trigger is simply closing down and avoiding my gf. It didn’t really help in prior relationships, so I am trying not to go there this time.
.-= Coachdad´s last blog ..Tough to admit =-.

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singlemomseeking November 3, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Oh, @CoachDad, I hope you’re able to open up again. I’ve been there, in shutting-down mode. It’s one of my defense mechanisms for sure. And guess what? It doesn’t work! So good to hear from you.

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JennyMac November 4, 2009 at 6:54 am

Very thoughtful and thought provoking post.
.-= JennyMac´s last blog ..Be my guest…. =-.

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NappyKitchen November 15, 2009 at 1:46 am

Nicki said “I know all about triggers. It’s my goal to lose them before my next relationship.”

Nicki, if you manage to do this, please let me know how. ;) My triggers have been set off for the umpteenth time within the past few weeks. I am definitely not handling them well. ;)
.-= NappyKitchen´s last blog ..In Defense of the N-Word, Part III =-.

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