Triggers and avoidance

The triggers can be anywhere.

Self-discovery is impossible without knowing where you came from. “Understanding your past and the family you grew up in helps you to understand who you are now and what you value.”

Well, yes, you might say. The best I can say of this is that it reminds us of something we know, before connecting it to something I had not previously connected it to. Perhaps I am just reading this magazine article for the comfort of being reminded of stuff I know, plus the odd wee nugget of new information. It scores low on the enragement index, as the most enraging sentence I have found is this: “We did not know if the existing scientific literature on predicting successful marriages would apply to poor families, because it was mostly conducted on middle-class families,” but they went on and spent on “marriage education” for poor families anyway. Or, A young wife became convinced- after a “Marriage clinic”!- “that her husband’s straying was a result of her failing to do her duty by taking care of her looks and keeping a proper home.”

These are not enraging by comparison with, say, this on Brexit. The marriage article names continuing injustices, but the particular applications are far away and in the past, and don’t directly affect me. The Brexit article introduced me to a new arcanum, the “Consent mechanism”, whereby the Northern Ireland Assembly can reject the agreed border regime. Theresa May agreed Britain would follow EU rules, to avoid a border in the Irish Sea. Johnson put the responsibility onto the Unionists in the NIA. They can either break the Good Friday Agreement and make the border with the Republic an international trade and customs border, or they can effectively end their union with Great Britain. Johnson’s betrayal of the rule of law, in his quest to destroy the British government’s power to influence regulations on corporations in order to protect consumers, employees or the environment…

you can tell I am nearly frothing at the mouth on that one. I typed that sentence completely without thought, linking the new “betrayal of the rule of law” to the central Brexit vandalism which enrages me, and will affect me, almost certainly impoverish me further. I enjoyed videos of Ed Miliband explaining Johnson’s multiple betrayals in the House of Commons (here’s the full thing) but the Internal Market Bill still got its second reading.

And still it did not affect me like “Understanding your past and the family you grew up in helps you to understand who you are now and what you value.” I instantly wanted to avoid. I could check that facebook post.

“Mars is in retrograde,” said someone, and I thought, yeah yeah, astrology blah. But Mars is in retrograde- apparently going backwards, from a Ptolemaic perspective- because it is in Opposition, the other side of the Earth from the Sun, almost the closest it gets to Earth even though this is not a particularly close opposition. I took the bin out and looked up, and it was amazing. So I posted about this on facebook, and got seven likes and one comment, though none since I checked an hour ago.

Instead I analysed my impulse to check facebook. I want to go into something even more undemanding than reading articles saying mostly stuff I know, and potentially get a dopamine hit from another Like. I want to go into comfort blanket mode, because of that sentence. My upbringing actively prevented me from understanding who I am, destroying? Badly damaging at any rate, my relations with my relatives now, impoverishing me, and ruining my life.

Yes, it is that bad. Ruining my life.

So, rather than checking facebook, total avoidance activity, I sat with the pain for a few moments, then came here to analyse the impulse. I feel I should finish that marriage article. I should not be deflected by triggers. But then, I know “You can’t avoid marital conflict, but you can learn to handle it better,” and I am not married, because of that upbringing.

I should not give in to my trigger. I should complete what I started.

Mmm. Rules like that kept me going, and now I feel it is a failure not to finish the article. And yet, reading the article was not much better than avoidance activity in the first place. I think the liberating thing is not to finish the article, but I am feeling conflicted about that.

I will sit with my hurt for a bit.

More analysis first, though. The upbringing and the introjects were to enable me to follow a safe adulthood. They were so far from “who I am and what I value” that they broke down, and now there is the shattered wreckage of the introjects and the hurt.

I will sit with my hurt for a bit.

Hit “publish”.

Check stats.

2 thoughts on “Triggers and avoidance

  1. I do not accept the rule that says to should finish reading books and articles you start. I reject it, life is not long enough to waste time reading something you don’t want to. You don’t owe the author anything, even your time, just like you aren’t obliged to listen to a speaker, shouting out their message from the street corner.


    • No. Of course not. On the evidence of its cover, a review and a short passage within, you buy a book, and on evidence of a longer passage within you find you don’t want to finish it. And, but for the “Trigger”, an unobjectionable sentence which dragged me into a sense of great loss and hurt in the past affecting me now, I would have read to the end. Reading an article unrelated to my current needs beyond an interest in the world in general is usually relaxation rather than work.

      So the prompt to finish reading the article after the trigger came from part of me which seeks to suppress feeling, claiming “Triggers are not real. Ignore them.” The sense of failure, in being unable to ignore it, increased the disorientation and distress of being triggered.


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