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#203626 - 02/05/08 01:26 AM How to distinguish triggers?
head&heart Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 17
Loc: Chose the hard place--left the...
I am in the dark regarding triggers. As my husband only remembered his csa in the last year, I do not think he knows or has identified his triggers. I suspect there are many and I am sure that conflict of any sort puts him on the alert but in passive (passive-aggressive) mode. Can anyone enlighten me regarding triggers and how to identify them?


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#203648 - 02/05/08 07:31 AM Re: How to distinguish triggers? [Re: head&heart]
cbfull Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/26/07
Posts: 386
Loc: Ohio
That is a very good question indeed. Identifying triggers is a very important part of recovery, and depending on the individual, it can be crucial.

I think you may find many different de>
_________________________
Craig

Guilt and shame have never done any of us any good at all.

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#203652 - 02/05/08 08:07 AM Re: How to distinguish triggers? [Re: cbfull]
sweet-n-sour Offline
Member

Registered: 10/03/06
Posts: 409
Loc: chicago
Dear Head and Heart:

I had a personal experience with being triggered when my daughter was in kindergarten. This was long before I ever heard the term "triggered" or knew what a trigger was.

I went to a private school when I was a girl. My second grade teacher physically abused us in class. There was one point that she struck me with her fist for a reading mistake the boy next to me made in reading circle. There were many more instances like this, things that I buried deep within me...eight years worth of abuse while attending this school.

So my daughter is in kindergarten and the teacher needs a parent to come in to school and help her with a bulletin board...artwork, that sort of thing. As I'm there working, I feel physically ill. The room begins to spin and my hands are clenched so tight my nails are digging into my hands. I never realized how much I hated grade school. It wasn't until this past year that I realized visiting my daughter's classroom at that time made all of that fear resurface.

I imagine the school, the students, the structure, even the round clock in the classroom itself, took me back to the horrible experiences of abuse.

I can certainly sympathise to what a csa survivor must feel in being triggered. I'm guessing it is probably unbelievably painful, an open ticket that carries a person back, like it or not.

Best wishes,
S-n-S



Edited by sweet-n-sour (02/05/08 08:10 AM)
_________________________
"As long as he continues to try, I will meet him in that determination and commitment."

cm 2007

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#203656 - 02/05/08 09:10 AM Re: How to distinguish triggers? [Re: sweet-n-sour]
KENKEN Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/25/07
Posts: 762
Loc: NOTHERN COLORADO
As Craig said above, triggers are probably different and cause different responses to survivors.

To me anything, external or internal, that causes me to retreat back to my CSA days of a little child are my triggers. It can be as simple as just seeing a little guy with glasses playing in the front yard of a home or driving by a bus stop watching the kids waiting for the bus to arrive. Sometimes just walking down the aisle in a store and looking at kids toys. I was once SA in a swimming pool and in a tree house that we had in our back yard. So needless to say if I see things such as this, I just lose it.

What I am learning through my Therapy is how to develope good coping mechanisms so I can ground myself when these triggers hit me. Sometimes I have the ability to put off the crying, sadness or even rage until I am alone. Then I can let out my feelings and not feel like a stupid stupid person who can't control his emotions.

So what I am saying is triggers can be anything that brings back to your husband his memories of his CSA.

Ken

_________________________
I AM A GOOD PERSON, I AM A GOOD MAN

From the Movie: Antwone Fisher

***WOR ALUMNI SEQUOIA MARCH 2008***

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#203716 - 02/05/08 05:50 PM Re: How to distinguish triggers? [Re: KENKEN]
Lazarus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/01/07
Posts: 851
Loc: Below the radar, USA
Dear H&H,

I could write volumns on what I DON'T know about triggers. It seems like they always hit me by surprise. Usually, the second time something that triggered me happens again, it doesn't trigger me as bad, if at all. But new ones keep popping up to replace the ones I know about.

Many of the things that have already been mentioned can be triggers; sights, sounds, smells, even thoughts and feelings. Someone here recently posted a very nice story about a child in his family - it was sweet, actually - and it triggered me big-time! Why? Because I was suddenly sad that I never had the opportunity to be that child. It made me very angry.

I'm sorry that I'm not going to be much help to you in figuring out what kinds of things might trigger your husband. What I might be able to help with is what you can do when he IS triggered. Sometimes I say I want to be left alone when I'm triggered, but the truth is that I really wish I had someone to talk to, to cry with, who understands what I'm going through. Someone to helps me talk it out, comforts me, empathizes with me, and helps me get it out of my system without making me feel idiotic or weak or psychotic (I can do that well enough by myself, thank you!) I know that someone who hasn't been through what we survivors have been through probably won't really understand, but if you try and support your husband and help him do whatever he needs to do, AND make sure he knows that you'll still love him, will probably make all the difference. Don't try to minimize his feelings, and don't make too big a deal about it either. Sometimes just sit with him and listen. Sometimes just go about your everyday routine. He'll be glad to know that the world is not going to fall apart while he's freaking out.

Ultimately he will have to figure out how to deal with his triggers. You can help a lot. If you care enough to give it a try, I'd say he's a pretty lucky man.

Best wishes,

Lazarus

_________________________
"That which does not kill us, surely makes us stonger." - Neitsche

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#203722 - 02/05/08 06:11 PM Re: How to distinguish triggers? [Re: Lazarus]
Freedom49 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/30/07
Posts: 2723
Loc: Washington State
H&H
I would agree with what Laz said above and add this. Probably the worst thing you could say is I understand. When someone who has not gone through this says that to me I just stare at them in disblief. What I really want to hear at times I have been badly triggered is: I don't understand what your going through but I love you and I care about you and when you hurt, I hurt too.
That makes me feel not so alone and helps ground me back to that person (my wife), and brings me back from wherever I just went when triggered. At least for me this works most of the time.

Roger


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#203875 - 02/06/08 03:07 PM Re: How to distinguish triggers? [Re: Freedom49]
head&heart Offline
New Here

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 17
Loc: Chose the hard place--left the...
Many thanks to all who have responded to my question. The members of this site are so giving and helpful.
I can see that triggers are of all sorts and probably quite specific to the individual. Because my husband had a 46 year amnesia regarding his csa it appears that he may have been experiencing triggers for most of his life but that the psychological protection of his memory made it impossible to even recognize the triggers as related to real events. It is so sad to think that he has been triggered since age 7 but has had no way to understand what was happening or why. My take on his reaction to the many possible triggers he may have experienced is that he dissociates and retreats into a deep passivity. Once inside his retreat he is very adept at ignoring the triggers, the outside world and his own feelings. This is perhaps a coping mechanism that kept his memory blocked for so long. Naturally this form of coping may have had its uses in childhood but is maladaptive in the adult especially in his intimate relationship with me. Sometimes I fear that most of the realities associated with intimacy (emotions, sharing, sex etc) are to some greater or lesser degree triggers. I have loved this man for 24 years and will never leave his side but there are very few ways he will allow me to enter into his internal life. Possibly my desire to do so is one of his greatest triggers. There has been a lifetime of ingrained mental habits all meant to protect the memory and keep it locked in.
I do hope that one day he will post on this board but he is not a very trusting individual and I think he is a long way from being ready to exchange thoughts and feelings with other men. If there is one thing I have learned it is that it is counterproductive for me to suggest, push, demand or even encourage him. He was forced to comply once in his life and I guess he will never do that again!


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#203881 - 02/06/08 04:02 PM Re: How to distinguish triggers? [Re: head&heart]
Freedom49 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/30/07
Posts: 2723
Loc: Washington State
H&H,
Your observations are right on. You are in fact very astute. The very things that define an intimate loving relationship for MANY of us are real triggers for us and that is extremely frustrating not only for you but for us too. We want that, no in fact we need that intimacy that you speak of, unfortunately it is that need which got many of us in trouble in the first place. Our damage prevents it however, because it triggers us and causes us to withdraw. Which of course is the absolute worst thing we could do. Sigh.

Many of us have been able to court and marry our wonderful wives only to discover to our horror, we desperately want to withdraw when our wives start getting close.

Someone wrote somewhere that when a man's sexuality is distorted it is women and children who pay the price.

We watch helplessly as you become angry and frustrated and hurt not knowing what to do. This is where therapy can help and over time we can learn to trust you with our bodies, minds and emotions.

I had to go through this with my wife and it still hurts sometimes. I am crying now as I write this thinking of all the time I wasted and still do sometimes because of this DAMNED fricking mess in my head. I want so much to feel loved and accept it and to be accepted for who or what I am but I get so DAMN mad because if I am not really really really careful I will push my sweetheart away at the worst possible moment.

And so I find that I have now gone from being hurt to hurting someone I love which now feeds my self hate. The old catch 22. I have found someone to really love me and that I love but I am incapable of receiving love and therefor cannot love the one that could help me love and receive love. SUCKS

I applaud you patients for hanging in there. He is hurting, He needs you and he doesn't even know how to tell you that.

Geez if I can stop bawling for a minute I can finish this with out mistakes. I have so much love to give but I am terrified to allow anyone close enough to give it. More self hate. Isn't it wonderful. Where is a good theapist when you need one huh?
Anyway that is the way I see it and I hope it help.
Then again I may just be full of shit.




Edited by Freedom49 (02/06/08 06:12 PM)

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#203916 - 02/06/08 08:53 PM Re: How to distinguish triggers? [Re: Freedom49]
Lazarus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/01/07
Posts: 851
Loc: Below the radar, USA
Roger, you ARE loved. I know how hard it is to accept that sometimes. Often we hurt the people who mean the most to us. After all, if the relationship weren't important, we wouldn't be triggered, would we? I don't know about you, but this type of thing doesn't happen to me when I'm with someone I could care less about. But when I'm with someone who I REALLY care about, I freeze up, I over-analyze and over-react. Sound familiar?

H&H I applaud you for your devotion to your husband. If you can tell him (and if he believes) that you love him no matter what, that you know he's got issues and they are important but that doesn't change anything, maybe that might help. It sounds like he is still living in a world composed mainly of fear (of discovery, of humiliation, of rejection) and denial (if I don't accept it, maybe it will go away). I sounds like you know better; He shouldn't be afraid of you, AND it won't just go away.

I don't know the right path for you, and I can't advise you on how to proceed. Only you can determine that. I hope what we've shared with you will give you insight into the darkness inside your husband. I only wish you the best of luck in shining a light on that.

With warm regards to someone who sounds like a wonderful woman,

Lazarus

_________________________
"That which does not kill us, surely makes us stonger." - Neitsche

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#203959 - 02/07/08 12:43 AM Re: How to distinguish triggers? [Re: Lazarus]
Freedom49 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/30/07
Posts: 2723
Loc: Washington State
Thanks Laz,
You seem to have gotten the gist of what I tried to say in that crazy ramble. I sort of got lost after catch 22. I hope my ramble and your articulate follow up help her understand something of this very complex issue.


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