Every single person has things that will trigger them to snap. The reaction actually does not have much to do with the present moment but from a past unhealed trauma. The people who trigger us in our lives are the messengers, communicating to us that there is a part of ourselves that we need to heal. There is always some sort of justification or blame that we place on the person who triggered us. And in doing so, we give power away to someone else. Inevitably, it’ll seem like the same circumstances keep happening ‘to’ us. We try to suppress the feeling, numb it and fight it. Unfortunately, what we resist persists. The truth is that we are the ones responsible for our own feelings, actions and reactions to the outside world. The people who trigger us are giving us opportunities to heal. There’s no sense in attacking the messenger. We must learn to read, interpret and accept the message. Easier said than done, I know. I just figured out this one yesterday! :p
I was known for having quite the temper when I was younger. I’ve lost, won and initiated many violent fights in my life. Especially during grade school. I was bullied on a daily basis in school, out of school and at home. As a kid, I thought that it was just my luck that I kept running into the same kind of scenarios where I’d be cornered by a kid bigger than me, a group of kids or a family member.
There was one boy in my neighborhood in particular whom targeted me every time he saw me playing outside. He was about twice my age and he would find me himself or have his brothers help. They would lead me by the arm to some secret place where no one could see us and restrain me as he/they made me endure some pretty gross things. This could have been anything from wiping boogers on me, making me eat something to spitting or peeing on my shoes. I could feel the rage build up inside me every time I had another encounter with this boy. But I was too afraid to unleash it. I was afraid of him. I didn’t want to be susceptible to any more mistreatment than what was already happening. I did the only thing I could do, I stuffed the hate and anger deep down inside myself.
These kinds of scenarios kept popping up but with different people in my life. The next time it was my grandmother, my dad, another kid at school, a complete stranger. It was always the same. I’d be cornered and/or restrained. After some time, the rage began to come out of me and I started attacking anyone who made me feel like I was trapped and couldn’t walk away.
The worst of it was when I was in my early 20’s. I felt that my anger and hate empowered me. It made me feel dangerous and I loved it. I didn’t hesitate to fight anyone. I wanted everyone to know that I could not be intimidated, controlled or backed into a corner like the scared little girl I once was. I built this reputation for myself as someone who ‘you didn’t want to mess with.’ And no one did.
I was left alone by everyone. I felt like I had nothing to be afraid of. I didn’t. In fact, no one intimidated me anymore. The triggers had stopped in my surroundings but began showing itself in my intimate relationships. As much armor I had put on to protect myself, I couldn’t get away from it. The message was the same, just with a different messenger.
One relationship after another, I blamed them. My actions (no matter how violent) were always justified.
“He got in my face first.” “He raised his hand to me.” “I told him to stop.” “He cornered me.”
I was completely dis-empowered. I owned up to nothing. It was always them and I kept shooting the messenger.
Last week, Brad and I got into a pretty intense fight. It ended with me throwing a glass at him and attacking him when he blocked my path as I was trying to walk away. I had told him before that when he stands in my way, it’s a huge trigger for me because I feel cornered. Even in the midst of me attacking him, I screamed out, “What did I tell you about getting in my way?!” As if him standing there justified me punching and scratching his face. In fact, I know damn well that he just wants us to talk it out and hates it when I’m upset. He’s never been anything but sweet to me, which, in moments like these, it’s got to be some kind of super power!
My reaction to him just standing there had nothing to do with him but everything to do with me and my past. He’s just the messenger, reminding me that I need to heal this part of myself. I could easily blame him for getting in my way. I did. And it was completely irresponsible and dysfunctional for me to do.
What would be productive is taking responsibility to work through this. Although I don’t want to feel that kind of rage again in order to process it, I have to. This doesn’t mean that I should wait until the next time I’m triggered. I’m able to to do this on my own through imagery. Focusing on events that have happened to conjure my rage, I’ll begin to feel it. And when I do, I just allow the emotion to be. I feel it. I don’t try to make it go away, I don’t judge it, I just breathe through it, process it and let it go. It’s all about letting go.
“Today is your day to let go of things that no longer serve you.” – Katrina Mayer