We’re gonna get triggered by people who love us.
We’re gonna get triggered by people who don’t mean to trigger us.
We’re gonna get triggered by people who are going out of their way to NOT trigger us.
It’s a bummer— but it’s gonna happen.
It’d be more convenient if the only people who ever triggered us were people who meant us harm— that way, we could be angry about it without conflict.
But when we’re triggered by people who we love, and who love us— it can get complicated.
We might be angry about it— but feel guilty or shameful that we ARE angry about it.
We might be hurt by it— but we might tell ourselves that we don’t have the “right” to feel hurt.
Many of us might have people in our ives who know our struggle, and who do what they can to avoid adding to our pain— but sometimes, sh*t happens.
Even if someone triggers us unintentionally— we’re still triggered.
It took me awhile to come to terms with the fact that a feeling that frequently accompanies getting triggered, for me, IS anger.
Sometimes I’m angry at the person— even if they didn’t mean to trigger me.
But more often I’m just angry at the fact that I get triggered at all.
It’s not fair. It’s a pain in the ass. It complicates my life and my relationships, and I hate it.
So when I DO get triggered, whatever reaction I’m having to the trigger gets entwined with that anger— and it can come out at the person who triggered me.
Afterward, it’s pretty common for me to feel guilt or shame about that fact.
Trauma survivors in particular don’t like to think of ourselves as “angry” people.
Many of us have been burned by anger— others’ anger, or our own.
Many of us weren’t taught that it was okay to be angry, or what to do with anger.
Like many strong emotions, we might be learning to deal with our anger for the very first time in recovery— because we didn’t have anyone show us how to non-destructively experience, process, and manage anger when we were kids.
Here’s the thing: it’s normal to be angry when we experience pain.
And it’s VERY normal to be angry that we have to worry about or deal with ANY of this trauma sh*t at all.
When we snap at someone who has triggered us, whether or not they “deserved” it, we need to be able to push pause, take a step back, take a breath, and see the entire situation— including our reaction.
Sometimes we need to apologize. I’ve definitely been in that boat.
It can be hard for trauma survivors to sort through the feelings involved in apologies and making amends.
Some of us were taught that if we did a “bad” thing— like snap at someone who didn’t “deserve” it— then we need to be punished.
The truth is, we CAN feel guilt and contrition— but reject the undertow of shame.
We CAN change our behavior— without punishing ourselves.
The shame that I feel after snapping at someone is its own punishment.
I know the subject and language of “forgiveness” can be really fraught for trauma survivors. It is for me.
But it really is worth it to use that language with ourselves sometimes— especially when we have complicated emotional or behavioral reactions toward people we love.
I don’t like that I snapped at the person I’m thinking about. I know she understands I was triggered and that at least some of what came out at her was sideways anger at trauma itself.
But I still feel horrible.
The kid inside my head and heart still wonders if he deserves to exist.
You do, sport.
You’re forgiven, and your’e worthy.
You are safe, and I am here.
And we’ll make the amends we need to make, because that’s what we do in recovery.