What is a trigger?
It is anything that could take me back to those awful moments on the night of January 22nd. Or anything that would take me back to how life was prior to January 22, 2014.
January 22, 2014, was a Wednesday. I went to my Bible study at church at 6:30pm and then came home where hours later I would discover my husband had been living a secret life for years. From that night on, Wednesday nights were extremely “triggering” because I would, just like that fateful night, go to my Bible study and then come home. For weeks, I would not sleep a wink on Wednesday nights. My mind just could not and would not slow down to sleep…I kept replaying the trauma I had experienced that night.
Finally, when I brought this up to my counselor she told me that I needed to interrupt my normal Wednesday night routine. Mix it up. Do something different because the body is programmed to remember. It is so true and so crazy! I do not remember what I did but I know one Wednesday night I through my normal routine for a loop (I still went to Bible study so it must have been something before or after Bible study that I did different) but it was like a “re-set” to Wednesday nights for me! They began to not be so triggering to me although there were still some Wednesday nights where sleep was hard to come by.
The 22nd of any month was triggering, especially in the first year. I would find myself getting uptight and anxious every month and when I would realize that the 22nd was approaching, I knew it was just a normal physical response to trauma.
These were the major triggers I would experience, but in those early days and months, the triggers were frequent and very bad. A “trigger” was like reliving the whole thing over again, just on a smaller scale. It wasn’t pleasant.
Nearly 3 years later, and I can still be “triggered” although it is no where near as frequent as it used to be. Recently, Dave was watching football and it was getting late. I went to bed (not to sleep) but eventually I got tired enough that I wanted to go to sleep. I turned the light off and immediately was overcome with negative feelings! I realized I was being “triggered” because….it was late at night and I was in bed and my husband was not!!! While I knew he was just watching football, my past experiences were putting me on alert! I told him I was going to bed and he came too!
How did I overcome “triggers”?
Three years later and I sleep just fine on Wednesday nights and overall the triggers are very infrequent now. Time helps to overcome triggers. I can clearly remember feeling less and less triggered as more and more time went by. The first year was extremely rough as far as triggers were concerned. The second year was better and this third year has seen very few triggers.
Rebuking Satan in the name of Jesus Christ
During the period when the triggers were at their worst (and the pain was still so raw), I knew triggers would be a way Satan would try to destroy what God was rebuilding! The Word of God also tells me that Satan has to flee at even the mention of Jesus Christ, so I used that to my advantage. When triggers would happen and they would take me back and make me doubt all the progress and trust we had rebuilt, I would literally tell Satan to flee and that he was not welcome in my home and in my life.
Fixing my mind on Truth
I dealt with fear and anxiety in ways that I had never before during this time of rebuilding my marriage. I am not an anxious or fearful person by nature but after having gone through what I went through, fear and anxiety seemed to attack me constantly. When I take a spiritual gift survey, I always score the highest in Faith, which is the complete opposite of Fear! But during this season of my life, I really struggled with anxiety.
Of course I spoke with my counselor about this and of course she had profound words of wisdom for me to cling to. She told me that I must determine what I know to be Truth and then every time fear tries to take hold of me, I have to come back at it with the Truth. Basically, I had to choose Truth over Fear and feed Truth into my heart and life to push the Fear away. I clung to the Word of God (which is The Truth) so hard in those days.
Unfortunately, I still suffer with anxiety today in a way that I never did prior to January 22, 2014. It is not a debilitating issue for me and I do not require medicine to be able to function properly, but it is still there creeping in on my life and making me feel a black cloud of fear until I realize what is going on and set my mind to the Word of God and His Truth.