When Someone You’re Close to Triggers You

My boyfriend triggered me the other day, and my brain is now reading him as a threat.

He didn’t mean to, but he did something that I’ve previously expressed can be triggering for me. It was a communication issue, and he dropped the ball, so to speak, without having a reason or explanation why. I was PISSED, not only because I had been triggered but now I was facing having to do the work to make him not be a threat. Work I really wasn’t sure I even wanted to do.

Avoiding is easier!

But.

I am working hard to not avoid, to face my challenges and the reasons behind them and I am really trying to heal. It’s hard, it’s scary and it makes me sleep a lot. It makes me react a lot when I even think it should be a fairly calm scenario.

Throw on top of that a person I am close to and trust triggering me because he didn’t bother to do something that is, frankly, common courtesy at least and for me a necessity.

So I did what I have a really hard time doing. In my last decade I had a lot of people run roughshod over my boundaries – a lot of that at work, but trauma stacks up, and I had some traumatizing work experiences. I set a hard line boundary of what I will and will not tolerate, and made peace with whatever outcomes resulted from holding that line.

The result has been both of us working to calm the effects of the trigger, a good weekend, honesty and some teamwork.

A New Box Full of Trauma

I was thinking I could close the chapter on therapy and roll on down the road.

As it happens, 6 weeks of caring for grandma and working full time with one day off has pushed my stress levels back up to anxiety – producing, and I found a whole lot more trauma that hasn’t been addressed.

I never know what my brain will read as a threat. I am realizing that if I have a lot of stress I tend to start spinning with anxiety, and if I don’t have a way to back out of what’s causing me stress, something will inevitably trigger me. It feels like it comes out of nowhere, but if I think about it, I’m almost anticipating it. Because PTSD brain looks for trouble, looks for negative, likes to be destructive… Ugh.

Then I have to get to safety and quiet so I can start calming down. There’s no calming down when there are perceived threats around me.

Basically, I go home.

And try again tomorrow.

Protect Your House

I’ve watched a few people I know make poor choices in the last coupe of weeks that put people (and animals) close to them at risk. They let in harmful things because they weren’t willing to recognize and assess potential threats, and it cost them. In one case thousands of dollars in vet bills and in another the dissolving of trust and family.

I’m not sure what causes it, because I protect my house. I guard my close relationships carefully and try to protect them – sometimes even from the chaos in my brain.

For me, when someone or something is important to you, you don’t put it at risk. You don’t ignore the warnings and the intuition that harm is imminent. And if you do, that repair work is on you.

With PTSD I’ve had to work hard to understand this, because my brain reads and misreads threats all the time. I can become my own threat when anxiety becomes too much to handle, and I perceive a lot of things as threats that aren’t.

I’m trying to keep my responses balanced. Needs more practice.