Pushing through triggers

Boo girl cheer up

I am working on pushing through the triggers, as my coach calls it, and I am getting pretty good at it with many of the small triggers. The name of the city where she lives, which is where they consummated their relationship, is a small trigger. At the beginning, it would make me cry just to hear or see the name and sometimes even sent me into a PTSD flashback. But I have built up some scar tissue around that one, and now the name brings back the memory for just a little bit, but like Mad Cow says, I can shrug it off. It is like that with many small triggers, and after a six-year affair with an old flame, there are small triggers everywhere.

The wounds from the big triggers, though, are much deeper and are not yet healed. The wounds keep reopening with the many stupid things my husband has said and done over the past two years. It is all slowly healing, but a series of triggers in a row can still set me back.

What’s a big trigger? I think it’s different for all of us, depending on the emotional attachment to the trigger. One of the biggest for me is “their” song: From This Moment On by Shania Twain. Prior to discovery of their emails, it was one of my favorite old songs. I sang it often. I even sang it on stage a few times back when it was a hit single – yes, back in the day I sang with a band. Lots of fun… and that song always made me think of Daniel and me. I remember the night when he told me that he knew from the moment he first kissed me that he would love me forever. He said that from that moment on, his heart was in my hands. So when that song came out and she sang “From this moment on” I thought it was a perfect reflection of him and me. Then I found their emails and I found the ones where they talked about him singing that song to her the first time they met after reconnecting… how it became their song… how they meant every word for each other… how they quoted from it frequently over the years in all those emails… it killed something inside me. I have not been able to push past it. It used to be guaranteed flashback time if I heard even the first few chords of the song… now it just makes me sad for a while… BIG trigger. At least I haven’t had a full-blown flashback in a while. That’s progress.

Mad Cow’s wife had an affair 20 years ago. He acknowledges that there are still triggers that come up here and there, but he is able to shrug them all off. I look forward to coming to the point where I can shrug off even the big triggers. Not there yet…

Mad Cow is trying to find a way, or maybe something to say, to help me move more quickly through this process. He wants to lighten the load for all of us betrayed spouses so that we don’t have to go through what he went through. He sees it from the other side and he wants to tell us that there is another way to see things. But I don’t know that there is a shortcut to that point. I think we just have to go through it as part of the grieving process. But I am open to suggestion, and I will thoughtfully ponder any advice MC comes up with. I am currently trying to think through what he said about not looking for reassurance, and focusing instead on getting Daniel to talk. It’s one thing to understand it rationally, and another thing to evict those fears from your heart.

Having someone supporting us along the way, though, means so much. Thank you, MC, for being here with us.

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28 thoughts on “Pushing through triggers

  1. natalietrust says:

    Oh the triggers…it is incredible how the little things, like names, sounds, streets, etc. can pull our hearts apart all over again. Thank you for sharing so honestly.

    • Not Over It says:

      I’m glad to meet you Natalie, although I wish it were under different circumstances.

      You’re right – triggers can pull our hearts apart over and over. At the beginning, I had to make conscious effort to avoid all triggers because I couldn’t deal with them. Now, for the most part, I try to face them and do battle with them. Sometimes I win and shrug them off, and sometimes I lose and get depressed. But there are still some big triggers that I avoid, like that stupid song.

      Hope all is well in your life right now. Grace and peace to you,
      DJ

  2. Mr. Wanton here:
    Lady Antabellums song, and some of the King’s of Leon stuff can make me feel a little wacky.

    BTW Mrs. Wanton and I just started taking ballroom dancing this month, were learning Rumba (love it) and East Coast Swing (makes me feel like a spazmodic stumble stepper).

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi Mr. Wanton! Nice to meet you!

      Yes, I know what you mean. Music can really get in under the skin…

      Oh, I have long wanted to take ballroom dancing! How wonderful… Daniel has said that he would go to ballroom dancing, but he just signed another big contract and I think it will be a long while before he has time. We do go to martial arts classes together, and we perform together as a sparring team. Not quite romantic or loving, but we enjoy working together on choreography and matching our movements precisely.

      I’m glad you are doing things together. It sounds like you are on your way to healing.

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

  3. I find MC’s comment at the end of your post so interesting–to focus on getting them to talk instead of the need for reassurance. I struggle with that balance every day. I find when my husband talks to me I don’t need as much reassurance as I thought….

    • Not Over It says:

      Isn’t it? Talking itself is a wonderful reassurance. Problem is my husband won’t do either when he is triggered, and he is triggered when I am triggered. We go round and round with this sometimes…

      Hope all is well with you…

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

      • My husband was doing that same thing too. I would be triggered and go off (we don’t yell or fight–just emotional) and he would regress inside himself. I think he was ashamed of himself, hating himself for hurting me and unable to express his anger, pain, fear. Luckily, I told him this bothered me and it would make me feel more supported and loved if he would talk and express something… heck, anything is better than silence. It’s a work in progress–and like me there are better days than others in dealing with this crap.

      • Not Over It says:

        Hi twndu – It seems to be a common pattern for cheating spouses. I see it even among cheating spouses who are trying hard to rebuild their marriages. I guess bottling it all up seems the best route when you are hurting from shame and guilt. If only they would see that they would also heal faster if they opened up and worked through it instead of burying it.

        I’m glad you are seeing progress… I pray that it continues to get better and better for you.

        Love & prayers,
        DJ

  4. aaroncrj says:

    Hi DJ. I tend to think that songs are among the hardest triggers to avoid, with music all around us–on the car radio, as muzak in the elevator, in the grocery store, or in tv commercials. Liz wrote him often telling him of songs that made her think of him. And there were many of them in the course of their six years. Among the most powerful are any Jackson Browne song (he sent her his Greatest Hits compilation) along with most John Denver songs (JD was who they listened to when they were falling in love 30 years ago).

    The most confounding trigger for me is the type of car he drove when he came down to meet her and their EA came very close to becoming a PA. Their follow up emails referred to fantasies of what they wished they had done when driving around in his car. The make and model are relatively rare in the U.S., but we happen to live in the one city where they are manufactured so I see them all over. Friends of my neighbor drive one that look exactly like his did, so it is often parked on our street.

    So when I see one of those cars what do I do? I discreetly flip it the bird. They can’t see, someone in the car with me can’t see, but I am defiant in my own little way. Seems silly, I know, but it has helped.

    Now if I could just figure out what to do when that car drives by and a JD song comes on the radio…:-).

    –Aaron

    • Not Over It says:

      LOL! I can just see you doing that… I think it would help me, too, if I had to come across something like that so often… and a double whammy? Hmmm… tough one… let’s see… I could teach you to swear in another language…!!!

      It seems that talking it out like this is the best way for me to get past it. I feel better now.

      Hope you’re getting through the bad weather ok. For me, that was a trigger last night. Seeing the name of her city and the place of their first adulterous rendevous on the news over and over while sitting with Daniel was not easy. I can’t see any way that he would not have been thinking about her while watching it. He said nothing, but he looked so concerned and forlorn. I looked away from the TV. It didn’t set me back or anything, but for a minute there I was reminded of his affair. It didn’t make me sad, though. I seem to become sad when I am alone with a trigger. When he is sitting there, I get angry. But it passed after a few minutes.

      Nice to hear from you, Aaron.

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

  5. Carol says:

    Oh, those triggers! I’m struggling with a big one now, in that the OW — an opera singer, of all things — is coming to the university where both my H and I work to perform at the end of Feb. So her blasted face — beautiful, alas — is plastered all over campus on posters advertising the event. Every bloody time I come to work, I see it. I’m tempted to start taking the posters down. Or to alter them with a Sharpie, heh. Sigh.

    There’s a good discussion on EA lately about whether CSs have triggers, too. According to my H, he never thinks about her. I find it hard to believe that he could just turn his feelings on and off like a water spout. I know for me, those triggers often produce involuntary emotional reactions. I’m trying to do the ‘presence’ thing, where you look around you and notice any details in your present surroundings — for example, when you feel yourself triggered, start looking for 5 blue things around you — so that you trick your brain out of sinking into pain. I know cognitively what happened. I know it was bad, I know I’m hurt — but I don’t need to stay in the emotions of it; it’s not healthy for me. What I need is to get a more objective perspective. If only those darn posters weren’t everywhere!!!

    • Not Over It says:

      That’s a really tough one, Carol. I think I would go nuts, seeing her face plastered everywhere. I also do that “present surroundings” technique. It sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

      I hope you have made plans for handling the days that she will be there. Whether you stay in town or not, you will need to be prepared, and I think maybe you should also prepare with your husband, and decide in advance what you both will do and will not do.

      I’ve been saying this a lot recently, and it’s just like you say, too. It’s one thing to know something rationally and another thing to sink it into your heart. With Mad Cow as an example, I think it just takes time for us to get to that point. We will get there. We just have to keep plugging away at pushing through the triggers for now.

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

  6. I can fully relate. Somedays it feels like getting out of bed just to go walk a minefield. I’m glad you’re making some progress, and not alone.

  7. Tryingtoowife says:

    Oh DJ, triggers can remove our compass without pity!
    I had decided in counseling that I would be signing off and not read any websites about affairs and instead work on Us positively. That decision lasted only until I went with my husband to a favorite singer show, where we, after a nice dinner were happy and connected! My husband seating next to me, looking around the show house, I noticed that he looked at a woman seating further away from us, I did not mind until I noticed some slight recognition look into his face. But my husband is a reluctant little blind man! He can not see anything further than 1 meter from his nose! He strained his eyes, and then decided to put his glaces on! I looked it while it happened! I don’t know the OW. I know descriptions of her from their e-mail exchange and from a blurry photo I got from hacking into his computer, and that I foolishly deleted on first glance days after DDay, and I have regretted even since! I am haunted by images of women that it could be her. She is this ghost that does not have a face.
    I asked my husband: Is she your S**t or does she remind you of her? He was so caught of guard and went into shock that he could not reply! I pressed him for some more details of her physical appearance and then I went just plain sad! He told me that he doesn’t want ever to see her again in his life and he was a little concerned that if it was her, he would have to be prepared, (bunny boiler) and tell me. I know that this is true, but I felt pain because I started remembering his words to her, about her. I have gone few steps back. Here I am reading and trying to find comfort with the ones that know what it feels like, and I can not let it go as I was going to try. It sucks. I pray for the day that life is normal living again!

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi TTW – I’ve noticed that you haven’t been around much. I was hoping that it was a positive thing and that you didn’t need to be here anymore. That’s always my hope.

      Women like Paula and Foolish Woman, who are farther out than us, still visit, though not as often as when it was fresh for them. We all go through phases of needing to be with others who understand, and then phases where we need to put our focus on other things. That doesn’t mean we cannot move forward while we are here. Some of my biggest breakthrough moments have been when reading or writing something here in Blogland. But there have been times when I needed to be away from thinking about it at all.

      Just go with the flow. That evening with your husband going into shock over possibly seeing her was a doozy. I would have had a hard time pushing through that one, too.

      There is a woman here who looks uncannily like Daniel’s OW. We cannot avoid occasional contact with her, and it always leaves me struggling through the triggers. I don’t think that will ever completely go away, but it is easier now than a year ago.

      We will make it, TTW, and there will always be people here who understand when we need that support. Blessings to you.

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

  8. GoddessWife says:

    Stupid triggers. I have them too and they can be so hard to get past. I don’t blame you for not being able to get past that big one. Why do they do that anyway? Why do they take something they know we love and use it with someone else? How selfish and inconsiderate!

    • Not Over It says:

      Selfish and inconsiderate is right. One of the hardest things for me to come to terms with is that I now know that I am married to someone who so easily fell into being that selfish and inconsiderate. Was he always that way? Probably, but I didn’t see it. Is he still that way? In some ways, but he is better – much better. He is working on it.

      Hope you are well, Goddess. Love & prayers to you,
      DJ

  9. I am finding that things of the past don’t trigger me as much anymore (except for the unanswered question of why she was so worth it to risk everything) but fear of the future is what triggers me now. Like me being gone for two weeks and this being a prime time for her to contact Lee. Fear of them never having closure and him seeing her again and deciding he doesn’t want me. I want to move on put it behind us but with him being stuck sexually that puts the fear of things not changing for us in the future. Songs don’t bother me cause I don’t think they made time for a song. there encounters were quickies in his office, our car, her car and 4 longer times in a motel and then they would go out to eat. We had a song for our wedding but we don’t have special songs now. The song by Natasha Bedingfield Recovery is my song about what I hope for. We don’t own the car anymore lol, we don’t live by the places they ate and we definitely don’t go to the hotels they went to. We don’t live in the same city or go to the same church but I remain friends with a few people. The past doesn’t’ at this point (this could change tomorrow, I hope it doesn’t) seem to hold me captive with flash backs, memories or panic attacks but my fears that my marriage won’t be what I desire for it to be causes me to panic a little inside. We have an opportunity now to have the best marriage ever. Nothing is hidden. I’m not protecting him anymore and we both want it badly. Does that make sense?

    i don’t know what tomorrow holds but I want to live out what the word says about not worrying about tomorrow and letting the day take care of itself. I want to press on not look back…I’ve been lucky so far that Lee has been so cooperative and he keeps trying. He is trying now more then he has ever tried in our whole marriage. He still has to learn how to assure me and comfort me instead of shutting down and walking away but he is working on it. Usually the next day after he thinks about it he will come back to me and open the door of communication. the weird thing is I have spent a lot of time consoling him. I recognize that although he traumatized me with the affair that he too is traumatized. Although he has lost a lot and brought it on himself, he still deserves the same mercy and grace that God has given me. I also have a huge stubborn streak in me a mile long that says Tina is not taking anything from me. (Don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing hahahahah) I don’t want to avoid things because of her because I feel that the enemy wins if I do. What I do want to avoid tho is any encounter with her. I pray pray pray that my son doesn’t marry her daughter. I can’t even fathom her being my son’s mother in law. arrggggggggggggggggggggggggg

    • Not Over It says:

      HI HE – I’m glad that God made it possible for you to physically move away from where it happened. I think that is important to healing more quickly.

      It seems that you have accepted that your marriage was not a good one prior to and during his affair, so you are looking to a better future. You are just afraid that he will not be able to keep his past out of it. Different perspective from many betrayed spouses, but painful nonetheless.

      For me, my marriage was good before and I grieve for the loss of what we once had. I grieve for what he gave to her and what he shared with her and took away from me. I don’t think it will ever be the same, and it will never be as good. It’s like a broken vase. You can repair it and the repaired spot can actually be stronger than the original, but it will always have the scars and will never be as beautiful as when it was a precious, unblemished piece.

      I have been praying for your trip and all that going on in your family. Hope you are doing ok. Love & prayers to you, DJ

  10. Tryingtoowife says:

    DJ, God bless you with the happiness you so much deserve! You gave me some comfort with your kind words. I was feeling rather alone. I feel better this morning! And I have been to my counseling session!
    We know we trigger because we are (still) on alert! Self protection mechanism. Unfortunately the only way to desensitize ourselves, is through time and putting ourselves into the situation. I have read and read their e-mails to each other, until I saw that their behavior was so shallow. Stupid babbling to each other. I can not promise myself or anyone it will not happen again, but I will not punish myself for feeling so. I have been punished enough! I will sit and watch something that it might trigger me, but I might just as well get up and do something else, might be in anger, or might be calm. It is a natural feeling and I will own it! and then with time, hopefully be able to discharge it. It is a work in process, like myself! Did I ask for this? Did I have a choice?! NO! So, if I trigger and I hurt I will share, feel it and husband will have to step up and help, or else! I really hope that in counseling you can make Daniel lose some of his barriers and instead work with you on your healing. His healing depends on yours too. I pray for you, and send you much love DJ. God bless your good heart.

    • Not Over It says:

      TTW – that’s so kind of you. I’m glad I could share some comfort in a small way here. That is the best part of blogging for me. Sharing and building relationships here are as important to me here as they are in “real life.”

      I wish Daniel could see that he needs to work with me. We both need the other’s help to really heal. I went through a period where I thought it would never work, but I am hopeful again.

      Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, TTW. I send the same back to you.

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

  11. Teresa says:

    Well, two counseling sessions down, DJ….and we have many more to go! UGH!! I did find after the first session last week that I’ve felt more at peace with myself….Richard, our therapist even commented on seeing a change in me….so that was nice!
    Now, if I could see a big change in my H, that would be great! ~sigh~….
    I asked him today why he hasn’t read any of the emails I’ve sent (only 3 in the last month!!) to the email account I set up just for that purpose….he said he “forgets” to go on there and read them!!
    It hurts me that I’m not important enough for him to remember something so small…he remembers to check his work email…he remembers to read ESPN online….but he can’t remember to check, just once a week, the email account that is for us….OK….please tell me once again how important I am to you??
    Feeling rather down tonight….he hasn’t been back on this blog either, not since he posted on here….
    I listened to a webinar tonight by Anne Bercht….and her husband Brian said ” If words don’t match the behavior, go with the behavior”….and “If he’s not doing the work on himself he won’t change, change comes from the inside, not things he does on the outside”.
    I just feel sad….I know tomorrow will look better, but sometimes I do question….why am I still trying??

    • Not Over It says:

      Oh, my sweet friend Teresa – how I understand and how I feel for you. I wish I had seen this sooner. It’s sometimes difficult being across the country from you.

      I like Ann and Brian Bercht. I subscribe to their newsletter and have read Ann’s book. So Brian actually said it like that? Wow. That says a lot, doesn’t it? Our husbands are not doing the work to learn and change. On the other hand, they bend over backwards to do acts of service. I think that means they are trying to stay in their comfort zone and do things on their terms instead of doing the hard work of looking into themselves to make things better. That’s uncomfortable and painful and way outside anyone’s comfort zone. They are hoping beyond hope that they won’t have to go the painful route.

      To some degree, I understand this. It’s human nature to look for the least painful way out of a situation. But they need to see beyond that to the consequences of going the easy route in this situation. They are hurting us with this course of action. They are trying to close their eyes to it and deny it. To me, that seems typical of the type of person who cheats. Deny the truth and do what feels good in the moment… they need to see this.

      In my husband’s case, he thinks of himself as religious man, a knight in shining armor who comes in to save the day for anyone in need. But he broke three of the Ten Commandments with his affair and he shattered my heart, turning me into a wounded soul who lives with pain and frequent bouts of sorrow. He caused this and he finds it hard to face. It’s not who he ever wanted to be and he wants to bury it and start again. He just cannot see that studying it and working through it is the better way.

      Has any of this come up in your counseling yet? It’s the primary thing I want to bring up when we see our counselor. I hope to get into it real quick. Was it not possible in your case?

      Coach James said that counseling seems to take a while to get going, and then it often all comes together quickly and things move quickly after that. Maybe that will be the case for you.

      Thank you for keeping me posted. I have been praying extra prayers all through my day for you. I hope you are feeling better today.

      Love & more prayers,
      DJ

  12. kayboo24 says:

    Our mutual love of music has always been special to JR and I. It doesn’t surprise me that one of the first questions I asked him was about music. During his affair we had started listening to different types of music I worried that he had introduced her to it.He assured me that he did not. She was a rap/hip hop girl. I asked if they had a song…he lied. Later he admitted that she had a song for him, she made it her ring tone. Jamie Foxx-Fall For Your Type…BARF! I know she carried a torch for him for months after the break-up because she kept that on her phone for 6 months. Can you say pathetic. We had moved and she went through a seperation and filed for divorce and still kept that damn song as her ring tone. When I asked JR how he felt when she did that he said he thought it was childish…I just bet he did.

    • Not Over It says:

      Yep, songs are especially hard. Daniel’s OW sent songs to him all the time and quoted from some of them regularly – like their song. After six years of that, it was hard to find music that didn’t trigger me. I didn’t listen to music at all for a few months. Then I listened to stuff that wasn’t her style or what she commonly shared with him. I still have trouble with a lot of it, but I am better now.

      You know, I’ve said that I am stronger now, but I sometimes feel that I am not stronger – I’m just numb. Sad case.

      Hope you are ok. I’ve kept up with your travelogue and I know it’s been a roller coaster for you – some good highs but some deep lows, too. Take care, Kayboo.

      Love & prayers,
      DJ

  13. chely5150 says:

    Since husband gave very little details and (says it was only EA and not PA but i dont believe him) and I believe it had/has been going on for 10 years allsongs about relationships pretty much trigger me, and shows on tv are terrible so many about sex and infidelity -makes me wanna puke! Unfortuntly I have come to the realization that husband is a narcissist ( knew that) and a full blown sex addict! Oh this rollercoaster just keeps getting better. I believe that he has been with many, many women throughtour marriage (which was never wonderful). It does make me feel a little better that he did this/lied to his main one too! She probably thought/ thinks she’s so fucking special. I’m afraidxhe has started seeing her/all of them again, but I don’t know for sure. This nightmare really , really bites. Good thing I hate guns cause I’d probably shoot him! (Want to but he’ s not worth going to jail for. How can you love and hate someone so much?

    • DJ says:

      Haha – my husband has said that it’s a good thing we don’t have any guns, too! I think he really thinks I would have shot him by now. I still only listen to Christian radio, and I very carefully pick songs for playlists. Whole genres had to be eliminated… the triggers to get fewer and less painful, but it takes a long time, and I don’t think they ever completely disappear. I can see, though, that you are strong. You will survive and live well again. Love, DJ

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