Updated: Jan 28
I didn’t expect, at least not in these circumstances, to be so utterly triggered.
But I was.
You may think it was because of a sermon on marriage, on sticking together no matter the situation. Or to forgive, no matter what, because that’s what Jesus did.
But it wasn’t. It was about David, one of my favorite people in scripture because he screwed up SO MUCH, yet he was called a ‘man after God’s own heart’. He was called that because when he said he was sorry, he not only said the words, he did the actions.
He exampled a changed heart.
Let me go back…..to my story.
I was triggered because my pastor was talking about sexual sin. He talked about the partner trying so hard, doing 'all the things' to keep the marriage together, to apply all you learn, to read the books and do the studies. But still nothing changes. Literally nothing.
I wasn’t triggered because I wasn’t doing the work. It was because the sorry’s in my marriage were hollow. They were just words. They were to 'get out of jail free' so to speak. They weren’t followed by real change, lasting change, those evident of a changed heart.
I was usually met with defenses, excuses and deflection….you know, putting the blame back on me.
David didn’t do that. When his sin, which was really big, was confronted, he didn’t do that. He changed. He reflected on choices HE made. It wasn't because a beautiful woman was bathing naked within his sight causing him to make those choices. He took responsibility.
Prior to that, he didn’t. He was walking on dangerous ground and probably had the attitude of, “I’ve got this!”. The three most dangerous words one could ever say.
Sorry….back to my trigger.
You see, I don’t want my ex back. It’s not about that. But I wanted to matter to him while we were together. No doubt his family thinks I did matter to him. But they don’t know his heart. They didn't see what happened when no one was around. He made choices, both during our long marriage and divorce, that they never saw, revealing to me that I had never mattered. He had also confessed that he had only been ‘sober’ for two years during our marriage and then blamed that on me.
So what does change look like?
“I’m sorry” is simple to say but change, or following that with different action, is difficult. But that’s what it takes. It takes long, hard recovery action.
That’s what was missing. The “I’m sorry’s” were a dime a dozen, so much so that they didn’t mean anything anymore.
Back to church.
I sat and cried. I cried for losing my marriage. I cried for all that I and my kids had to experience over the years. I cried for never having a healthy relationship. I cried for not having emotional connection. I cried for the lack of closeness throughout our relationship that would have led to safety. I cried because my feelings never mattered, I had no value, and my deepest thoughts and experiences were blown off.
I was just an object.
My pastor defined ‘looking’ as used in the Bible that would lead to sexual sin, as “intent to objectify for one's own pleasure”. Yes. That was me. An object.
I thought I was past being triggered like this. I am a betrayed partner who has experienced multiple traumas, even before my ex. But the thing to remember is this. Even though he also has traumatic situations in his past, his current choices were not due to me or our marriage. It was his way of dealing with pain. It was there long before I came along and it’s still there. It will be there until he faces his own healing. And that healing will take longer than a few groups, a few sessions with a counselor, or talking with a pastor. Or even more than a new relationship.
But I digress. This is about me and my healing.
And you and yours.
My point here is that triggers come up at the most inconvenient times when we least expect them. I didn’t expect to sob through church. I thought I worked through so many of these things, but another layer of the onion came off. I don’t like these layers, I don’t know about you. But what are we going to do about them.
Yeah. Be prepared. They WILL happen. When you least expect it.
And it sucks.
Find a grounding tool that works for YOU. They work when we use them. The idea is to practice them every day so that they become second nature when we need them. Otherwise, we forget and we go offline. As a result, we can’t think straight or we may say or do things we later regret. Like name calling or wanting to drink….too much. The idea is to find what works and practice it daily so that you will naturally do ‘that’ when you are triggered.
So ground yourself.
Remember truth. This is hard. I was talking with a client not long ago who has experienced so much gaslighting that truth was just hard to remember. She remembered what he said about her, not what the actual truth was. So write it down. Go back to it daily. Remember what is real. If you question who the ‘problem’ is, like most of us do, journal so you can remember that as well.
Truth about you, and the truth about him-what was the reason he had to gaslight you.
I can’t say that enough. Find a great supportive coach/counselor who is skilled at working with betrayed partners. And know that they don't have it perfect either. They're just done more work. I used to think it was crazy to see a coach or counselor who sometimes needs support themselves. But now I know that that is something to respect in them. They KNOW that healing doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. Years. It’s a process. It’s one layer at a time.
Please remember that healing does not equate to having a few tools. Healing doesn't mean that once you are out of crisis mode, you're done. You've only just begun.
That being said, I’m further along than I was but I’m not done. Many of us aren’t, but it doesn’t mean I can’t help you in your process. My passion and desire is to help women heal from their own betrayal trauma so that they can move forward. If you’re interested in finding out more, contact me so that we can meet and get started on your healing process. I want to walk with you on your healing process.
Because no matter where you are in your journey, it CAN happen to you.