Triggers are Painful Memories
I continue to be overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings that bring me back to my abusive past. Daily, I struggle to keep these domestic violence triggers of my past under control. I have learned that minimizing triggers from my domestic violence abuse lessens my anxiety and safety concerns.
It seems unfair that my abuse was so horrendous that the memories are deeply ingrained in my head. After being removed from my abuser, I still experience anxiety attacks or overwhelming feeling of being unsafe coming out of nowhere. Deep in my subconscious, where I am or what I am doing strongly triggers a painful piece of my past. I feel like I am reliving the event again. My abuser isn’t around anymore, but my reaction to triggers makes me feel like I am reliving the event all over again.
Kryptonite (ˈkriptəˌnīt), n. something that can seriously weaken or harm a particular person
Anxiety is my kryptonite. I have struggled with it for years and fell victim to it again prior to the recent holidays.
I know the coping skills I must activate when my mind starts spinning out of control. I know the boundaries I am supposed to construct around me when people in my world start leaning in close with their opinionated, directive thoughts.
Sharing my children with my abuser during the holiday season is gut wrenching hard. As the weekend before Christmas approaches, once again I lose my children to join his family’s traditional Christmas weekend get together.
I couldn’t even set up Christmas lights outside the house correctly. It didn’t matter how hard I tried, I continuously put the lights either to close together, not close enough, too high, too low, and always not fast enough even though my fingers were frozen. Of course, the knotted-up strains were always my fault for how lazy I was taking down the lights the year prior. Although tempting, walking away with a “you just do it then” clearly wasn’t an option. Instead, year after year I was heavily critiqued during what should have been a fun evening with the kids.
Celebrating birthdays is one thing I struggle a lot with. This all changed yesterday.
This is one of the first blogs I ever published, and today we're revisiting it because the message still rings true in my life. The devil still tries to divert my attention- but every day I strive to listen to the word of the Lord.
Last Wednesday was a horrible day. A situation was developing that sent my subconscious back to a memory from 13 years ago. Those of us with memory issues due to our trauma understand when I say often times I forget about things that happened yesterday; yet when this specific trigger set in, I could remember every single word of my abuser’s rant. I vividly remember the room, sounds, distance between where we stood. I remember how painful his words churned my stomach to the point of me leaning over the toilet to throw up. I looked down at my body to make sure it wasn’t shaking uncontrollably as it did that day.
“I deserve to be punished” was never a spoken thought. It was just inherent knowledge, like, “I am a human being.” Not the kind of thing you think about it, because it’s just so self-evident.
This cruel-seeming set of circumstances in the hospital confirmed this “truth” that was already integrated into my entire being.
I knew I deserved the bruises, the yelling, the constant correction, being treated like a child. Day after day, week after week, year after year. With every bad thing that happened, I knew I deserved to be punished.
As a teenager I had sinned terribly, and the guilt I carried cried out for punishment. I needed to be punished. Being abandoned in the hospital while I harbored this terrible secret of abuse—it must be one more punishment.
I knew. So, at some level it all made sense.
When the abuse increased threefold after our daughter’s cancer diagnosis, from awful to horrific, I hated it and feared it. But still.
I deserved it.
Through all the countless bruises, the rages, the fear, the endless punishments.
I deserved it.
The examples are all different but my reaction is almost always the same. When God says it is time to start the next painful step of my recovery, my human mind doesn’t believe I am able. Hundreds of times over the past half dozen years I have emphatically told God: I can’t do what you are asking me to do.
Hi, I'm Sue
Welcome to my blog! I served twenty-one honorable years on active duty, living a double life of capability and accomplishment in the service while enduring brutality and abusiveness in my twenty-one year oppressive marriage. Today I'm happily married and have three children who are my inspiration and motivation.
My goal is to help combat the lies of abusers with the truth of God. I hope you find my words to be healing and helpful through your own life experiences.
Being separated from my abusive husband didn't make me a domestic violence survivor. It surely didn't release me from the grip of his brainwashing control and the innate power he had on me.
Read the full raw story in my new book, Rock Bottom and Faithless.