Sometimes we get triggered, and we’re not quite ourselves.
We may LOOK like ourselves. (Or maybe not.)
But we’re not making decisions from who we are, what we know, what we value. Not in that moment of being triggered.
Almost everybody reading this has been there.
The trigger may not be a huge thing. It may not be a thing we think we “should” get triggered by.
Turns out our nervous system doesn’t really give a sh*t about “should.”
We get triggered, and we see red.
Or, maybe we don’t see much of anything at all; maybe through the magic of dissociation, we’re suddenly placidly orbiting the planet Neptune, idly wondering what n the world is going on back on that little third rock from the sun they call Earth.
Either way: everyone reading this has probably said or done something when triggered, that we weren’t so thrilled about afterward.
And the b*tch of it is, the people around us assume that what we said or did really represented who we are, what we think, or what we want— because THEY’RE not inside our head. THEY don’t know we were triggered.
For a subset of people, they don’t even care that we were triggered. They’ll tell us that, triggered, or not, our words and our behavior are our words and our behavior— and we have to accept responsibility for them.
I don’t necessary disagree with that. Of course we’re always responsible for what we say and do. Though I think questions of true agency and “responsibility” get a little more complicated when trauma responses are in the mix than some people like to admit.
Whether other people “get” what triggers are or what they do to us is kind of irrelevant.
If they don’t get it, they don’t get it. We can’t make them get it. I WISH we could “make” anyone understand, well, anything.
But it’s really important that WE understand that we’re not ourselves when we’re triggered.
It’s real important that WE not pass judgment on ourselves for what we say or do when we’re triggered.
And, yes— we can take responsibility without passing judgment.
Lots of times we get down on ourselves for what we say and do when we’re triggered.
We’re hard on ourselves.
We judge ourselves— often harshly.
We call ourselves “crazy.”
We ask ourselves who ARE we, even if we behave like THAT?
I’ll tell you who you are: you’re someone whose nervous system is vulnerable to post traumatic triggers.
No more; no less.
Do we act “crazy” sometimes, at least compared to who we are and what we’re all about when we’re in a stable, grounded place? Sure.
Does that mean that’s “really” who we are? Of course not.
Don’t judge yourself by what you did when you were desperate, and don’t judge yourself by what you did when you were triggered.
Trauma reactions in response to triggers are REFLEXES. They’re part of the post traumatic INJURY you sustained. They’re not choices.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but maybe you DIDN’T have a choice in the moment you were triggered.
But you DO have a choice now— how to talk to yourself about what happened, and what to do next.
Just do the next right thing.