I have gone down the trigger warning hole before.
I started my posts with warning! This piece references assault.
Wanting to protect the world from their responses.
I thought that it was a kind thing to do.
You know what used to send me into a trigger?
A full-blown body response, where I’d have to breathe off an impending panic attack?
Anybody telling a story about a car accident.
I remember this happened one time in university. I had gone back to school and there was someone speaking and they mentioned a crash and I couldn’t focus the rest of the speech because I had to be with my body.
I had the (quite entitled) thought – they should warn people about this speech.
MY brother was in a car accident.
They don’t know how this story affects ME.
But something I realized pretty quickly was that there was no way I could *actually* be protected in the world from the things that triggered me.
The sound of an ambulance.
Unexpectedly driving past a wreck.
Watching a tv show where the mother finds out her son is killed.
Not receiving a text back.
Hearing that someone has died.
All used to send me into a spiral.
And I had to consider –
Was it more effective to demand that the world be more gentle with me?
Or to do the work on my nervous system so that I could easily exist in the world?
The first option was “easier.” More comfortable.
But the second option is the only one that works.
I no longer believe in protecting people from their emotions.
In my spaces I expect people to have triggers come up and to be activated in different ways and I expect them to take responsibility for this.
It’s actually the kindest thing you can do.
To show someone they are a sovereign human being.
And to show them that they are not their responses.
Trauma can often become a really good way to feel special.
And attaching specialness to your trauma will prevent you from ever working through it.
Because it becomes your identity and the thing you need to feel important.
It still occurs, when I have to pause a movie to cry because I didn’t expect that a scene would remind me of my brother’s accident.
But it’s no longer “triggering” – meaning, it doesn’t send me into this full-blown unconscious response.
I’m super aware of it. I understand what my body is doing. I’m okay with it. I let it unlock this pocket of grief and move it through my system.
I don’t want somebody to hand hold me through a life filled with child safety locks.
I want to be able to feel every single bit of life thoroughly.
To let it all activate me.
And to choose to open in every single one of those moments.
If you liked this piece, you might also enjoy:
– The ultimate guide to processing emotion in a healthy way
– 9 years ago today I lost my brother
– Your partner is not the one who needs to do their work