Saturday, November 17, 2012

Get Your Finger Off My Trigger


                                            Get Your Finger Off My Trigger

   Many years ago, when I was married, still trying to fit someone else's version of who they thought I ought to be. There were difficulties. Now, this is not remarkable. The world is filled with such things. But, this was me and I am nothing if not a pleaser, a fixer. And as I tried to solve this group of issues that were plaguing my then marriage, I was stymied. I could do nothing to make things better. I am not one to take failure easily. And so, first we, my then husband and I, talked to friends. Couples we looked up to. The answer was simple....I was not the problem. I was the trigger. The issues were not mine, but my than husband's and he was reacting to things that I did inappropriately, because there was something in his past that needed to be addressed. Now, the person I was then, the one who was fearful, who felt everything that happened was because I had done something wrong, could not be placated by the idea that my husband's temper that was taken out on me, was not also caused by me. It was a time of magical thinking. When I thought if I just followed the right pattern, stayed true to the prescribed recipe, happiness would be mine. In short, I had to be responsible. Now, there is a touch of the victim in that kind of thinking. But what there is far more of is a desire to control. That mystical thing I had never had, or rather never realized I possessed.

  And so, we took our friend's advice and we went to counselors. Good ones and bad ones. One after the other. In succession. In an effort to stop the turbulence that ruled our home life.  Everyone, all of our friends and each counselor gave the same useless proclamation. I was not the cause of my husband's unhappiness. I was merely the trigger. I grew to hate this phrase. I was not willing to see beyond how his behavior effected me. I was stuck in a victim mode. I did not care that he had triggers, whatever that meant. I cared that he was mean to me. That is what needed to change. He needed to be nice to me. It was a very selfish mindset. My then husband would say that his parents had ignored him. I countered back with, "I wish my parents had ignored me." I could not relate to his issue and I had no desire to. It was all I could do to keep myself afloat. To take care of my children and my husband. I had nothing left over for this man's struggles. Well, time went on and little things became big things. A trip of a trigger lead to the death of a marriage. Taking so much hope and so many dreams with it.

For the longest time, I learned nothing. The autopsy was inconclusive as far as I was concerned. Oh, there were underlying causes...indifference, cruelty, abuse and abandonment. But the thing that had set it all in to motion, I had yet to identify. Looking back now, it is plan to see that there was no other option than a painfully slow death. There were no support systems, no fail safes, merely a haphazard pile of fears and emotions. Longings and lonely feelings looking for a salve, some healing balm. Each of us thought the other held the cure. The solution to our long drawn out illness. We were wrong.

  The key, the cure was within us. We are all given the answers to our own special puzzle. We must seek them out. We each, are the greatest mystery that we will ever solve. No one else can do it for us. That is the secret. No one can be all things, fulfilling all needs. It cannot be done. We must learn ourselves. Learn our triggers. Instead of lashing out at those that trip them, we must neutralize their power to send us reeling into past that never changes. A place where we always lose.  I had to learn so much, about my own sensitivities. My own soft spots and to acknowledge that other people had them too. I had to look past myself. If I so chose, I could blame that myopic vision on my parents as well. While it was true my father was indifferent to everyone else and my mother was a platinum victim card carrying extraordinaire. This however, would not do. I am responsible for who I am. For what I do and how I treat others. I may have not been given all the tools needed to naturally adapt to other's needs. I may not be able to identify triggers in others. That however does not give me a free pass. And waving the victim card carries not weight in such instances. Oh, I could delude myself if I so chose. I could make everything about me. When clearly it was not. It is part of that victimology that we all try to overcome. That need to make everything that happens around us, about us. After all, it effects me and therefore it must be about me. Such a flawed circular think. It is a very childlike way to process the world around me. To see everything only as it related to myself. I am almost ashamed at my self-centeredness. My ability to make everything about me. But it was the realization that the world as I perceived it needed to expand was what helped me  remove most of my own triggers. Those little land mines that I would stumble across in my daily life. A raised voice, someone standing too close to me, hearing a child cry out. These and so many other things could ruin my day. Send me into the dark place of my memories. If was breath taking, how easily I could slip back into that place. That time where I was so small, so broken. It was amazing. Exquisitely painful the details that came rushing to me. Things I had not known or remembered a moment before, were now seared into my memory. In all those occasions of floating, I had been tricking myself. Thinking that if I went somewhere else, left my body behind, that things could not touch me. I would be unharmed. I was hiding within my deepest self. But those things still happened. Refusing to acknowledge them did not make them less real. And so they seeped out. Slowly, taking over my mind space. Stealing my peace and leaving me forlorn and depressed.

  I had to give them their due. I must acknowledge what was and to accept them. And in doing so, any power that they had fell away. The linchpin was broken. That which had held my experiences now to those in the past became separated. I can experience the present without the echos of the past invading my mind. The things that have happened to us have only as much influence as we allow them. This is one of the secrets of solving our own special puzzle. Mark it down. Remember it. And the next time something or someone sets off a chain reaction sending the past careening into your present, take a breath. Realize that it is only an echo. A shadow that once had meaning and is now obsolete. It cannot touch you. Unless you give it permission. Do not give it purchase. As always sail on.

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