My Trigger, Not Necessarily Yours   2 comments

I am an human being and a survivor of multiple sexual assaults.  The first occurred when I was 11 years old; the last when I was 23.  I’m not going to go into details in this post, for two reasons: (1) I don’t think I’m really ready to have the information freely available on the intarwebz and (2) It could seriously upset people that may otherwise benefit from reading what I’m writing.  One day, when I am ready, I’ll probably write in detail with appropriate warning language so people can avoid it where necessary.

But, as I said, this post isn’t about my assaults, per se.  It’s about triggers.

I am an individual.  My likes and dislikes, my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows most likely differ from yours, Reader.  We may have some in common, and that’s okay; it takes nothing away from either of us to have similarities.  The differences, however, are what make us individuals and in our interactions one or more of those differences may raise its head and stare at us.

How we react to the stare is key.  Burying my head in the sand won’t help me understand you, and running away won’t help you understand me.  There’s obligation in every interaction and even if most people don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t make that obligation go away – we must try to relate. If you learn that I hate tomatoes, you’ll be unsurprised that I decline to try your lovely tomato salad.  If I learn that you’re afraid of snakes, I won’t be surprised when you decline a trip through the Reptile House at the zoo.  This process is part of that trying to relate – as we learn more about those with whom we interact, we modify our behavior accordingly.  You shouldn’t stop eating tomatoes because I don’t like them – you should simply not offer them to me.  I shouldn’t stop visiting the Reptile House because you’re afraid of snakes – I should simply go on my own.  We should try to relate to the differences while at the same time holding on to that which makes us US.

Those who don’t want to try, well, they’re better off retreating to separate corners where they can sit within their own pity parties and bemoan the fact that no one gets them.

Well, April, you’re saying, that’s all lovely but what the fuck does it have to do with triggers?  It’s actually simple.  Most people have something out there that makes them uncomfortable.   It could be a reminder of a loved one that has died, or an abusive relationship, or a particularly horrible meeting with an evil boss.  In trying to relate to one another, we take on the responsibility of, once we learn a trigger, not firing it deliberately.

Now, accidents will happen.  Through no fault of our own, we may say or do something that triggers someone else.  At that point, how we handle the set-off also becomes key.  Do we apologize and make an effort not to fire it again or do we bemoan the fact that the trigger even exists?

The answer to that last question, Reader, runs deeper than you think.

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Posted May 24, 2012 by veggiewolf in Triggers

2 responses to “My Trigger, Not Necessarily Yours

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  1. I get the feeling that solemn vows of not saying it again (which would have been the case without them) are what’s being asked of me here. And that I can’t have a further opinion on it.

    • No, vows of not saying it again aren’t required (at least, I don’t think they are from the posts I’ve seen). What is required, though, is the recognition that others react differently. Acknowledging those differences includes making an attempt not to fire off triggers deliberately but it does NOT mean you (a) shouldn’t have an opinion of your own or (b) need to change your own triggers to match those of others.

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