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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:50 pm 
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I had something that triggered me recently and I find myself wondering I sort out whether it's my old, familiar wounds triggering me or my intuition. Thought I would see if others had thoughts about how you sort those out.

Some of my thoughts, of course. :w:

I have always suspected a reaction being a trigger, when it feels automatic, visceral. Like a body, soul reaction that feels like I can't control it. Maybe like fight, flight, or freeze reactions we have.

I have also seen my triggers as opportunities usually that something continues to need healing. I drive by the house my first husband lived with the other woman and shot himself regularly, and it no longer triggers any reactions or emotions in me. I've wondered if this is healed, it feels it has, or if I am used to it. It's been 19 years since he left for the other woman and almost 18 years since he committed suicide.

I also view my triggers as something that is internal inside of me, not something outside of me that I have no control over. And frankly sometimes this irritates me. It's so much easier to blame something, someone else than take responsibility for that which triggers me.

I would love to hear how others deal with triggers and tell the difference between discernment and a trigger.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 10:06 pm 
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Hi Autumnrose - Thank you for the thoughtful post. Triggers. Have to say I hate them. I wish I never had to learn about them.

As with the SA's, it's not the stimulus itself that is the problem, it is my thoughts about it, then my emotional reaction. When I am with my SA husband, I now scan the world for beautiful women/girls probably with greater intensity than he does. I hate this. Just hate this. I have a VERY quick response (guess just like the SAs which makes me even angrier about it all). When my intuition starts ringing alarm bells, it isn't as quick for me. It's a slower, more conscious process. It's one where I can think about whether or not I want to pay attention. Triggers...well, I'm off and running. Sometimes they catch me off guard. Sometimes my intution can result in a very strong emotional response, but still, it feels slower to me.

My therapist tells me triggering IS quick and it is good to recognize it immediately. She says it's being in the past, and not the present. Now, I just respect what is happening and I exit. I need to become emotionally "safe" and present. This means I will leave, and leave abruptly, a situation where I am triggered (attractive waitress, television, you name it...anywhere there is a pretty woman and I am with my husband). It's not very pretty, but I am polite and I see it as taking care of myself. She has also told me that I will trigger at this point in my healing.

I think given time, like the reminders of your first husband, they will fade and then disappear. I don't have a clue about the timing given that I am still living with my husband as he attempts recovery. And, yes, I do see them as opportunities for healing. I hate to say it, but I do blame my husband for this! I don't blame the women and girls of the world. I don't blame me. But, I am painfully aware that it is my problem to deal with and to heal from.

dnell


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 1:17 am 
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An excellent question, Autumnrose.
Autumnrose wrote:
I have always suspected a reaction being a trigger, when it feels automatic, visceral. Like a body, soul reaction that feels like I can't control it. Maybe like fight, flight, or freeze reactions we have.

This is a pretty accurate description of what I also feel. I could roughly classify the triggers I experience in two categories, triggered by the past trauma and triggered by the ongoing state of affairs.

The ones triggered by the past trauma are the usual ones ... scanning for women, hearing someone's story that brings back memories, maybe even a bias towards interpreting other people's lives through what has happened to me. These kinds of triggers will eventually fade if healing starts to occur. Firstly, the reaction stops being so intense, awareness kicks in and eventually you are able to control and disengage without much of an emotional reaction. I'm confident that given time and healing, they will become isolated events over long timespans. In dealing with them we have to accept and let go of what has really happened while we were oblivious, of the fact that it has nothing to do with us, that we should not compare ourselves with anyone else and find the strength to respect others as we respect ourselves. I think this is a much personal trigger that depends mostly on our ability to heal personally.

The second category is triggered mainly by a present state of affairs, even though they have deep roots in the past events. I could describe them as interpreting present events through the filtre of the past but because there is an ongoing sense of threat (real or imagined). Our intuition tells us there is something off, something is not right, we will get hurt, it is not safe, a sense of being uncomfortable for whatever reason, a sense of being afraid. The threat is still present in our minds. I think it is our intuition that comes out to the surface in these instances of being triggered, for e.g. when we think H was oggling at the woman, not at the plant next to her. If it was the woman or the plant matters little. What matters is that our intuition tells us certain people and situations are not to be trusted. This is why we react, because we still feel threatened in this very present moment and we've learnt a lesson from the past.

There are also intuitions about us, personally, about our reactions, where we are in our healing, where we should move from where we are. Many times intuition works through triggers but sometimes it comes when we have a moment of clarity, as a build up of all that went down and how it affected us.

I think a quick rule of thumb would be ... if it goes away fairly quickly it could be a trigger of past wound bringing back memories ... if it lingers on longer and there is doubt and confusion, feeling like a battle within, it is our intuition struggling to be heard.

I would love to hear more opinions on this.
Thank you for the challenge to think :)

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:41 am 
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I've been dealing with this trigger vs intuition a lot recently!! I think it is a trigger when we drive by or are together near a place where H hooked up in the past, or are in a place with a lot of scanning possibilities. But my intuition kicks in when something he is saying just doesn't ring true. When he looks/sounds like he is filtering his words and he is having memories 'in the background', or when he goes to great length to repeat what he has already said(as if I didn't understand or believe him the first time). He gets angry because I'm not believing him, not trusting him. It's been 4 months and I believe he is abstinent but not necessarily in recovery. We had a recent occurrence where I had to decide to believe him or my intuition ..... Was his anger at my doubting him real or gaslighting?? Can he really expect me to trust him just because he wants to be trusted, wants to recover so badly????

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:58 am 
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Kajer - Oh, how I can relate to the anger from our partners about "not trusting" them. Kind of stunning, isn't it? I see this as a symptom of either non-recovery or very early recovery. The lessons were really helpful to me about this whole issue of trust, and it was so helpful when Jon wrote that I would be a "fool" to trust my husband this early in the process.

I think my husband's reactions to my being triggered are also signs of where he is in recovery. Since I believe addicts have little to no capacity for empathy (don't recognize it, can't do it, don't have the skills to express it) and really do not like being accountable for their behavior, they think only of themselves when they see us being triggered or see our distrust. Since the development of empathy seems to come in late to post recovery, I don't hold out much hope at this time of getting my husband to understand. I have learned to set my boundaries around these issues. So, I don't trust my husband. That's not stupid, or irrational, nor does it make me a bad person. One of the coaches gave me great advice: she told me I could say to him that I wasn't going to say every time I thought he was being deceitful, but that didn't mean I trusted him. That was really helpful. No need to fight about it every time they spin out more BS or half truths or god knows whatever is coming out of their mouth. I have also learned to say "I'm being triggered and need to be safe." No drama, no big deal. I may or may not tell him about why I was triggered.

Is it irrational to be triggered? No, I don't think so. I think it is our awakening to a better understanding of what our partners have been doing and the impact on us. It does give me a road map to issues I need to deal with and to heal from.

dnell


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 12:10 pm 
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Autumnrose,
Good morning. What an excellent question, and I think insightful to even acknowledge that there is more than one possibility for what you're experiencing. I think many of us experience this uncertainty from time to time. My DH and I have been in recovery/healing for about 5 years. I can still be triggered, and I still experience times when I question my intuition. For me, if my husband, or another person, is not present and there has been no behavior on another's part when I experience one of these situations, I assume it is a trigger. For example, things are fine with us, but I see a woman, say in the neighborhood, or at church, that I know he fantasized about in the past, but he isn't even around, (or he is but seems not to have taken notice), I assume that I'm still just experiencing some of those old uncomfortable feelings. If he's present, and I believe I noticed him scanning, which hasn't happened in a long while, I tend to look for other signs. Is he now distant from me? Can I get his full attention? Are there other behaviors I'm taking note of? I've always been reminded to look at his concrete, observable behavior. But it can certainly get cloudy. Sometimes there is observable behavior on my DH's part and I'm still unsure because of associations from the past. For example, when my husband is sick, he does not like to sit close, he is not touchy-feely, he can be short and impatient. This is normal for him when he's sick. But it was also normal for him when he was engaging in addictive behaviors, and so my antennas go up. Just this morning, he snapped at me because he forgot to do something this morning, and I was unable to do it for him his way, though I offered a solution... This triggers me, because of old patterns of blame. And I have to remind myself, this is his issue, not mine. But if this is happening repeatedly and has become part of a pattern, then I tend to believe that my uneasiness is my intuition talking. And that's when he and I start talking, and I begin to get a clearer picture of what's happening. I do not know your back story, so I don't know who the other players are, or if any other person is present when you experience these things, but for me, without evidence of another's actual observed behaviors, I tend to assume I'm being triggered. Let me know if that doesn't make sense. Thanks for asking the question. It's always nice to be reminded that we're not alone, and I hope you feel that, too.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 1:33 pm 
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I'm almost out of time for this morning. So can't reply thoroughly right now. Thank you very much for all the input....lots of good food for thought.

lmartin5920 wrote:
It's always nice to be reminded that we're not alone, and I hope you feel that, too.
Yes it is. Thank you.

I wrote a post earlier and apparently forget to hit send and now it's gone. Ah well, wasn't meant to be.

Triggers. Trust your gut. And how to tell the difference.

I will say what triggered me or set off my intuition (or both :sat: ) wasn't directly related to my stb former husband or his stuff.

Also my whole life I have had this sense about people that usually turns out to be right. I typically ignore it and give people the benefit of doubt. Typically I've found that my senses about people are usually correct but sometimes not in the way I thought. I usually just sense something's off and then make guesses about what 'off' could be or mean. My guesses are what doesn't always pan out. :pe:

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"It's today," squeaked Piglet.
"My favorite day," said Pooh.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 10:54 pm 
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Quote:
And frankly sometimes this irritates me. It's so much easier to blame something, someone else than take responsibility for that which triggers me.
Indeed! This seems to be a universal problem among people, generally.

Quote:
As with the SA's, it's not the stimulus itself that is the problem, it is my thoughts about it, then my emotional reaction.
exactly.

Quote:
She has also told me that I will trigger at this point in my healing.

I think given time, like the reminders of your first husband, they will fade and then disappear. I don't have a clue about the timing given that I am still living with my husband as he attempts recovery. And, yes, I do see them as opportunities for healing. I hate to say it, but I do blame my husband for this! I don't blame the women and girls of the world. I don't blame me. But, I am painfully aware that it is my problem to deal with and to heal from.


Yes, with time the triggers will heal. We have to be careful what we expect of ourselves with this regard. Distance does help to heal, and when we choose to remain in our relationships, we are choosing to expose ourselves to triggers over a prolonged period of time. It is good that you are able to remove yourself from the triggering situation, but eventually the goal will be able to remain in the triggering situation without being triggered. This is no small task! It is easy to be triggered, as Autumn shared. I still get triggered. In addition to it not being the stimulus but your interpretation and ensuing emotional reaction, it is also about attention. This is why so much focus is placed on detachment (healthy detachment, not to be confused with unhealthy detachment which is a form of avoidance and denial).

Re the rationality/irrationality of being triggered. It is not irrational to be triggered, but it is irrational to continue to allow the things that trigger you to trigger you. What I mean, here, is that while you cannot control that you are triggered-It just happens-You can control your thoughts about being triggered, and what you do in response to being triggered. Healthy early responses include removing ourselves from the triggering situation, and later removing the meaning we have associated to the triggering situation. This can be done through identifying the threat, and then deciding what we are doing about the fact that the threat still exists in our life. Are we choosing to live with it, from a commitment to a vision and values that are greater than ourselves and our triggers; are we tolerating it to give our partner time to work on their recovery and us on our healing, until we can then choose if we wish to continue the journey with them; are we the victim of our circumstance, resisting or reacting to the triggers but not taking appropriate and necessary action to restore our own power in the situation; or any variation, thereof? If we are in the last group, where we are continually sent spinning from our reactions to triggers, we may wish to ask ourselves what it is we are committed to? (This is very difficult if you are in early healing, or if you are trying to control an outcome. Both of which I have ample experience in, and can tell you from my frequent visits and sometimes residence taken up in healthy detachment, that there is a much better way than continuing in the chaotic disorientation of resisting and reacting).

Quote:
I think insightful to even acknowledge that there is more than one possibility for what you're experiencing.
Yes. When we are willing to look at other perspectives, we are in a good position to learn about ourselves as well as others, and be objective. We are also in a good position to be more compassionate, and to have empathy.

Quote:
Are there other behaviors I'm taking note of? I've always been reminded to look at his concrete, observable behavior.
This is good information. In the workshop, we are asked to assess the signs of when our partner are out of balance, and what signs indicate return to addiction, etc. This is an important lesson for helping us to learn about ourselves and our intuition. I believe that intuition is nothing more than a very keen power of observation; we pick up subtle cues from our environment that register at an unconscious level. When we are attuned to listen to our intuition, we are actually using observable information from the environment, even when we might not think we are. With that, we may also with to pay attention to our triggers, because they could be intuitively picking up on something we are not noticing. That said, we still need to monitor ourselves to not over-react because we are triggered. Jon once told me that my intuition may not be right 100% of the time, but it is probably closer to the truth than his word (I would add, that is until he reaches a certain level of ownership of his own patterns of behaviours and as long as he is intrinsically committed to recovery).

Be well.

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Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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