I just woke up. Opened the house to the morning breeze and shut the outside lights off. Poured my first cup of coffee and sipped it while watering my garden and plants. Looks to be a beautiful day.
It has been a great weekend full of friends, stellar drives and fantastic weather. I took in a movie with a friend and had dinner with him and his partner the other night. Each day is full of good things. Spent the morning at the city River Market perusing all the farmers and locals offerings as well the the stunning examples of males that kept catching our eyes. Had a funny moment when he commented on the beauty and form of one guy and he turned around and happened to be my friend. In fact, the very friend who lives in a loft over the Market whose parking spot I borrowed that morning after a quick phone call for permission. I so enjoy being in the city, surrounded by people and engaged in seeing, touching, smelling and procuring produce and fresh flowers. You thought I was going to say something else, didn't ya? :)
So I titled this blog before I wrote it. Unusual for me. I typically verbally spew here and then slap some words at the top, pick out a picture and call it good, but I have something on my mind this morning. Triggers. By that I mean, events, topics, words, sights or sounds that set off some type of reaction within ones self.
Of these, it seems I have many. I live with PTSD in my reality. Strange to admit that here, as if speaking of it gives it form and life, but it is true. One of my triggers or symptoms is the the fact that I am easily startled (understatement of the year) by sudden or loud sounds as well as situations or events that flip me into recall and panic. My friends and coworkers have observed this over the past few years and to be honest, it is not pretty and is incredibly unsettling and embarrassing. I cannot and will not go into details, but it is a fact of my life that at times can socially cripple me and leave me devastated for no exterior apparent reason. A car backfire, a child's shriek, the banging of pots or plates, an eerily similar face or physical scenario. The approach of a stranger, a sudden hunch, a touch from a friend or peer that feels threatening. All of these things and many more. I cannot categorize or quantify them all, and due to such, I am often unable to steel or prepare myself for when a reaction may occur. I hate it and am unable to prevent it. I wish it was not this way, but I have learned to live with it and educate those around me about its effects on myself.
Often when an episode occurs, I have learned to settle myself quickly and turn to humor and self deprecating quips to dispel attention and concern. Inside though I am often in flight or fight mode and it is an extreme effort to retain my composure and plaster a smile on my face. Other times, the adrenaline is too much, my reaction is too extreme and I have to leave the scene in order to compose myself. Sometimes my entire endocrine system dumps and after picking myself up off the ground I have to go lay down and at times have slept for a few hours till it stabilizes. Other times, I can burst into tears, spout off explanations that make no sense and merely run.
I wish it was not so.
To every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. We are not islands unto ourselves. Our environment plays a large part on how we internally and externally process the world around us. I am learning this more and more as I cease the soothing and coping behaviours that have become quite common in my life and I strive to live with more integrity and authenticity. In short, I am finding resolution with myself and others by communicating and stopping many of my reality avoidance mechanisms. I am becoming more present each and everyday, due to intentional choices and living.
None of this has been easy and I must confess to feeling and living rather raw at times. It has not been a simple process for me or for those I spend time with and communicate with.
They say that we can easily hurt those that we love. I know this to be true. In the safety and comfort of acceptance and friendship, I often react and fight back the hardest. I struggle to keep things in check within myself and my words and choices are not always easy for others to understand or accept.
I have triggers. I believe we all do. My friends and family know mine best. They see me from the outside in. They know when and where to say things, to bring up certain subjects and when and how to delay certain discussions till I am in a better place. Sometimes we are all taken by surprise.
I have strong opinions and ideas. Most of these have been formed by long years of experience, isolated events, trauma, education and observation. I rarely am at a loss for explaining the why or how of the manner in which I live or the world view that I have, though it seems to shift with each new experience and mind opening circumstance or piece of information.
Do other people live in this manner? In a constant state of internal flux and crisis management brought on by their environment and the words, beliefs and actions of others?
I do not blame or excuse personal responsibility for my words and actions based on the idea that such are uncontrollable or instinctual on my part due to flaws or the wounds of my past. I am striving to understand myself and why I can flare so without seeming provocation or warning. Certain things incense me, move me to tears, hurt deeply, enrage me at my lack of control and all too often my poor communication skills about emotion and social norms leave everyone in my vicinity worse off and myself further isolated.
This is on my mind, due to such an event last night. My parting words with a dear friend were these. "I love you and I hate you, however that may work." I know I have hurt him often and repeatedly due to our differences in belief and ideology. We process the world differently and often butt heads and minds over things that others would consider of no import, but many times the things we discuss and debate are of great import and as such govern and instruct the very life decisions upon which our futures rest. For the pain and confusion I have caused him, I apologize profusely and sincerely. Will you forgive me? I do not want my short comings and flaws to spell destruction for the friendship and relationship we have forged out of shared burdens, dreams and questions.
What triggers you? What are your "hot buttons"? What things, events, situations, topics or concepts push you to react and how do you handle such things? Triggers can be both good and bad. They move us and inspire us to action. They can spur us onto greater and more noble things. They can also set up the chain reactions that eventually implode and destroy the fabric of our lives and relationships.
I have a lot to think about today. The top is down on the car. I am going to take a shower and shave, put on some clothes and head into the city and think at my coffee shop. Today will be church, friends and a shared meal. I hope in the spaces I find myself, I can be self aware and make good choices. I know today will be great I simply have to find a way to engage my safety and refrain from friendly fire.
That is all right now.