We all have trigger events. Those moments in time that lurk in memory, stirring up emotions and feelings and thoughts of what might have been, if only, if possibly, if….
For me, one of those trigger events was the day a blue and white police cruiser drove up and two officers got out and arrested the man who was actively engaged in trying to end my life. For several years after that May morning, I would begin to feel the stir of memory calling me, tugging at me, rippling through my thoughts. I would notice my emotions rising to the surface, tears on call, eager to spill out. I would feel anxious, edgy, like anything and everything was too harsh, too bright, too loud, too real, too much.
And then, the day would come and I’d move through it and life would go on. My moving through it wouldn’t always be graceful, in fact, in the first years after that event, my moving through it was often disjointed, filled with tears and sometimes irrational responses to everyday situations.
It was okay. I had to give myself the grace of moving through it in my way — honouring my sorrow, my grief, my fear so that I could come back to the truth of what was real for me that day, in the present. I was alive.
Over time, I came to appreciate trigger points. To view them as opportunities to heal the spaces where unease lived. I came to see them as gifts and to be grateful for the opportunity to heal through them by not avoiding them.
Trigger events come from moments where we have felt extreme joy. They come from moments where we have felt extreme fear, pain, loss.
The joyful ones we make okay to celebrate. Anniversaries. Birthdays. Graduations. New jobs. New beginnings.
The sorrowful ones, the ones that scared us, hurt us, caused us pain, sometimes we try to ignore them, or pretend they’re not real.
But they are.
Very real. Very important to acknowledge, if only because they stir up our emotions and can cause unease and disquiet within if we do not let them out.
What we resist, persists.
When we try to ignore these trigger points, or pretend they shouldn’t matter, or tell ourselves we should be over it and just get on with it, we are denying our hearts and minds the opportunity to face our angst and heal through it.
Emotions buried alive never die.
Emotions allowed to flow, free us to be present in the moment.
For the first few years after I got my life back, I consciously chose to treat myself gently when trigger points awoke. To give myself the tender, loving care I so desperately needed, and deserved.
I couldn’t change the experience of having gone through that relationship. I could change how that experience held onto me today.
And to do that, I had to acknowledge that May 21 was not just any day. It was a day to remember how lost I was, and today I am not because a miracle drove up in a blue and white police car and set me free. I needed to feel it all. To cry. To laugh. To express my anger (lovingly) To live. To Love. And most importantly, to give thanks.
It’s been fourteen years since that police car drove up. I still treasure the miracle of its arrival. I still give thanks for my life today.
I don’t tend to mark the day anymore. Some years, the day arrives, and leaves, before I even notice.
Getting to this point where the day, and those events, no longer trigger eruptions of unease and angst within me required patience, self-compassion, and Love.
It has been a process of acknowledging what was, accepting what cannot be changed, and celebrating what is true each and everyday.
I am free. I am alive. I am grateful.
I cannot change the past. I can give thanks for my beautiful life today.
JM, this one’s for you my friend. May you know you are loved, safe and cherished. I am so grateful you are alive!