Day 328; Footnotes on Triggers

No, not the kind on guns or bombs. This is about emotional triggers.

 Back in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo came through our area of North Carolina, it not only caused a lot of physical damage, it left me with a bit of a stress syndrome. When the wind begins to pick up due to an incoming storm, my stress and fear levels go off the scale. I pace, I turn  up the television or radio, I go into other parts of the house trying to distract myself. 

Hurricane Hugo, something that few believed would come this far inland, did. It caused thirteen trees to fall around our house. I remember hearing the howling winds and the sounds of trees falling. We were blessed that none fell on the house. My son, was only eight months old when Hugo came through. I paced in the dark, due to the power being out, from the front door, to his room, and back again. Daylight couldn’t come soon enough. I had never been one fond of storms, but this took that dislike to an entirely new level.

 When I was around twenty years old, I was electrocuted. Even now, I remember that it didn’t hurt. I felt the vibrations going through my body and I knew that was wrong, thankfully the injuries were slight physically. Now though, let me hear static or see a spark and I’m backing away quickly. Back when I worked it was not unusual to get  ‘bitten’ ever so often by one of the machines. The minute that happened electricians were called out to check and make sure that there wasn’t a serious issue going on. 

Today, someone called me Miss Rebecca. It was a comment made out of respect. It came from someone I call friend. When I saw that word, my emotional world caved in on me.

Weird as it is, I don’t cry. I haven’t cried in years. Today, seeing that one, small, respectful word, brought me the closest to tears that I’ve been in I don’t remember when. It is true. I am a Miss in that I am now single. Some might prefer to be acknowledged in other ways, to me the title really doesn’t matter.  Politeness is what matters. I’ve been called miss before and gone merrily along my way. Today though, it was a trigger.

Today, it reminded me that I am no longer part of a couple. Today, I realized just how close we are to what was my late husband’s favorite holiday. The man did love to eat, and he would lay claim on a turkey leg as soon as he walked into the room.

Today, I remembered that I miss being part of a relationship even as I am adjusting and accepting the single status. Sitting here, looking at that word written before my name sent my emotions straight to the self pity jail. I couldn’t pass go, couldn’t collect anything other than another cup of coffee to hold and stare into the  steaming mug. I was sinking fast and knew I was in for the long haul this time. 

Then fate stepped in and my guardian angle sent my human guardian angle into the room. In his hands were his leaf blower and drop cords. He asked if I wanted to come help because it would go quicker. When I asked where he was going, all he said was “I need to stop Grandpa”. I told him I’d be right there. I had to change shoes and grab a pair of safety glasses. I wear contacts and one, teeny, tiny, near invisible speck of dust feels as if someone is driving an ice pick into my eye. 

Once there, I joined in and helped clean a wide area of their yard. When you look at the size of their yard, it looks as if it was barely touched. James hauled at least five trailer loads of leaves away, from that one small area. Our helping, kept dad from overdoing. Our helping gave them a clear path to walk to the mailbox and for their little dog to walk without getting buried. Our helping kept dad from hurting himself. Our helping, was the very distraction I needed to pull myself back out of the dark pit of self pity I was free falling into.

 The thing is, we all have triggers of some sort. Whether that trigger sends us into a state of severe stress, anger, self pity or the wide variety of other emotions, it is there. If we find ourselves responding to something in the same way every time, like I do with the wind, we know our trigger. If we are honest with ourselves, we recognize them and the effects they have on us. When we have reached the point of recognition, and admittance, we can then work on ways to control our response.


 With my known triggers, I seek distractions. During daylight hours on good weather days, I can get out and hike or even walk in my so called thinking circle. I can grab my camera and go off in search of photographs waiting to happen. If its raining, a cup of coffee, my front porch and a good book, or if its really bad, house cleaning to the max. I have found that for me, being very physically active will help me work my way through what ever emotion I am struggling with at the moment. 

There is also a form of anxiety known as panic attacks. They can come out of nowhere and for seemingly no cause. When those take hold, you do feel as if you have no control. I have read that the best response is to get centered and grounded. Look at what is around you, pick out items, colors, textures. Physical things that you can focus on and get your balance. 

If, the triggers cause a severe enough response, some may need medication or service dogs. Some may need therapy. In any of these, there is no shame. There is no shame in having something that will set you off and send you into a downward spiral. The important thing, is that you learn to recognize, accept, and take what ever steps are necessary to help yourself.


 Today I was blindsided by the simple word, ‘miss’. A subtle reminder of my single status. The darkness came on so quickly I fear that without the lifesaver that came in the form of my son needing help, I may still be fighting the battle of wills. Will I feel better, stronger, capable? Or will I sit and feel sorry for myself? Being single, is not the worse thing, it is not the end of the world, it is not something to be feared or hated. Being single gives me power that I wouldn’t have as part of a couple. I recognize that, and that will help me next time that trigger is pulled.

 How about you? How do you battle your personal triggers?

About rebecca s revels

A writer, a photographer, a cancer survivor. An adventurer of the mild kind, a lover of the simple pleasures such as long walks and chocolate. A Christian unashamed of my faith and a friend who is dependable and will encourage readily. Author of three self published books with more waiting to find their way to paper. An advocate of good things, a fighter against wrongs.
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