[Specific content notice for domestic / emotional abuse for the post itself; general content notice for the comments]
Do you have any triggers? What are they? How do they affect you?
I’ve been coming to realize that I did not resonate with most conversations around triggers because mine don’t seem to follow others’ narratives.
By all accounts, given the jagged (and frankly, at times, rather fraught) trajectory of my life, I’m doing quite well.
I believed for most of my life that I was too physically revolting to attract anything but pity, let alone a partner. Somehow, I have a wonderful partner who has stood with and by me for over four years.
I was told my whole life that my writing was worthless and useless. Somehow, I’ve got a home on a lovely blog network after a life-changing stint with a platform on an excellent group blog — and a book contract to boot. Through my writing, I get to travel to awesome places and meet cool people because of it. I have been able to participate in community-building.
I was told my whole life that I’d need a man to take care of me. I graduated into the depths of a recession that held me hostage to hustling for work — any and all jobs that would have me — for years, to the point where I’d given up on believing I was worth anything at all. Yet somehow, I have a full-time job that enables me to take care of myself (and someone else, even if just barely). Thanks to the aforementioned community-building, I know people who throw me a few bucks, no questions asked, when I’m having a tough time before payday.
I’m living a life I would envy if I were not living it.
Being happy and fulfilled does make it easier to deal with past sadness and trauma, but it hardly erases it. In fact, now that I’m thriving instead of surviving, I’ve been noticing my triggers a lot more.
Today, a coworker of the same ethnic background responded to an older male coworker calling her name with that Desi between-“huh”-and-“hah”-sounding version of “yes/what?” — and I felt myself flinch. Nausea, light-headedness, body aches, paranoia, and a twitchy inability to focus followed. Some part of me decided that my initial reaction of “ugh, Dad’s gonna get mad that she said that; time to start cleaning so he doesn’t have a reason to pick on you, too” was appropriate.
When I was a child, my father insisted that saying “huh” as yes/what? was completely disrespectful, that we had to say “jee” (a very formal version of “yes/what”) instead. This was not true for anyone else in our extended family. He would yell and fume and rage and stomp and frighten if we carelessly said the wrong “yes/what?”. It worked. To this day, I flinch when I hear that “huh” used as “yes/what?”, especially when the responder is younger than the caller, and double if the responder is a younger girl/woman and the caller is an older-than-her man.
Featured Image is Abused by EJT-Studios