Trigger. A topic, word, phrase, item, picture, smell, taste or song that can create an emotional response in someone or cause them to relive an experience. Traumatic or otherwise.
We all have them.
Something that triggers a response in our brains to remember a corresponding memory. Sometimes these memories are positive, rewarding memories. Other times they are negative, sinister memories.
Some of these triggers may be weird. But that is the thing about triggers – you do not get to choose which ones affect you, or how they affect you. You cannot control the triggers, but sometimes the triggers can seem to control you.
I have good triggers. They are my ‘happy’ triggers. They make me feel warm and fuzzy. Loved.
My wedding song does this. I hear it on the radio. It might sometimes cause me to cry, but in a good way. I remember one of the happiest moments in my life. I drift back to the moment I was dancing with my husband. Our first dance as a married couple, with a shared last name.
I cut sandwiches and toast from top left corner to bottom right corner creating two ‘triangle like’ pieces. Sometimes without even thinking I cut my bread into squares. My Dad used to to this. These are the times I know he is with me, watching over me, protecting me. It always seems to happen on a particularly bad day. As if he is trying to remind me that I am not alone.
Then there are the other triggers, the ones that cause a negative response.
I have triggers that bring up very painful memories for me. They cause me to shake, sweat, feel nauseous, and have even caused me to cry. They make my skin crawl and my spine tingle.
Cabbage Patch dolls are one of my bad triggers. If I see them, even in a picture I literally shudder. I feel sick to my stomach, I start to shake, and my heart begins to beat faster.
The anxiety begins and my mind travels back to a memory stuck in time, like some black and white slide that someone stuck on repeat in the projector. I have tried to over come this, but I get the same emotional and physical response every time.
I have an extremely hard time when something in my own home triggers me. It makes me feel like I have no control in my personal space.
My suppose to be safe place. No longer safe. Instead, invaded by thoughts, memories and flashbacks of something my brain has long since tried to forget.
I have this one song that does this for me. I have the same trigger response as the Cabbage Patch dolls. Its one of those stupid one-hit-wonders. Sometimes I will be watching television and I hear it come on. It still makes my heart squeeze with anxiety, beating faster. Worry lines creasing my brow, tingles up my spine and skin crawling.
I hate that I let these little insignificant items become such a big significant, controlling part of my life. It bothers me that after all these years my body still continues to have a negative emotional and physical response to these triggers. A response that I have absolutely no control over.
I have other triggers, some good – some bad. The good triggers, I cherish. A warm, happy memory flooding my heart and memory. But the bad – they make me want to scream “Why can’t you just leave me alone. I was doing fine before you flooded my mind.”