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A Big Trigger Breakthrough

How do I even begin this post?

It is interesting that now, when I have a breakthrough or epiphany or even a breakdown, my first impulse is to do a live video to talk about it, so that I can share my journey, but also so I can feel less alone, less isolated and so that I can show others that it is okay to be yourself, and, if yourself happens to be like myself, messy as fuck, then you rock that shit. It is okay to show emotion, rage, scream, cry, punch a pillow, sleep, or shut down for a bit, all of these are normal ways to show your emotions, and people like us are suffering, often in silence. I am not. I am right here. Plain view. Showing much of what I am dealing with. It is okay, whatever way you deal with your trauma, you are valid. Alright, self-affirmations aside let’s dig into this trigger.

I have been on this particular journey for about a year now. Trying medications from my psychiatrist for several months, working with my psychologist (who specializes in childhood trauma and C-PTSD, Developmental Trauma Disorder), and working with my primary doctor to get my Type 2 Diabetes under control and get my blood sugars down, in addition to this blog, the Facebook page and the Facebook Group and working full time.

Every day is a massive struggle.

Every day I am filled with emotional pain, sometimes it is so bad I am not sure how I manage to endure it. Truly, there are times when I think I will not be able to take anymore, but when more comes, I take it. And I am not a graceful woman by any means. I am messy as fuck guys. I always have been. The difference is that now I am gaining a better understanding of myself, who I am now, who I was when I was younger going through various stages of healing and enduring the symptoms of my Complex PTSD that I have had as long as I can remember. Disassociation, Rage, Anxiety, Panic, Depression, Grief, Hurt, Numbness…The list is pretty long so I am not going to go further into that, as this post is about a breakthrough I recently had which I wanted to share.

  • To do so, however, I need to go back and work up to it and that is always confusing to me.
    What do I share?
  • How do I share it so that it makes sense and how do I share it so that it benefits not only myself, as the act of writing is cathartic and helps me focus, but how can it benefit the reader?

Why are you here reader?

Are you too on your journey of healing? Are you looking for insight or company? I know I am. I am lonely. I am lonely in my pain and grief and depression and in my daily struggle to keep going, to keep fighting, and to understand myself and forgive myself.

Trigger Time.

One of the biggest triggers that I have endured throughout my life, and, right this moment, as I write this, I feel the little dark strands of panic twisting their way through my gut, working their way into my chest and I am struggling to ignore them and their effects, is religion.

If you have been following the blog or the Facebook page or are a part of the community that was started as a result of this project, you know this. Because I will not tolerate it on my page. Small things I can handle. Gentle things I can handle. But there is a point where the switch is flipped and my trigger is lit and the fire begins.

The reason for this is that much of my abuse was at the hands of my biological mother. She was a religious fanatic who beat me, screamed at me until her face was ugly and red, and spit flew out of her mouth, she would stand on street corners with me dutifully standing by her side silently ignored as she spewed the word of her god and hell and damnation. After every Sunday service I was beat because of something the preacher said that somehow related in her mind to something I did or said or didn’t do. She would lock me in a small closet after each beating and force me to read her big King James leather-bound bible by candlelight, my tears staining the pages with my pain. I could go on, but again, that is not what this post is about.

The point here is that my biggest trigger, one that has been with me my entire life, is religion. Because I associated it with my biological mother and with the abuse. It doesn’t matter what I believe, and it does not matter what you believe, I am not writing this to sway anyone or to have a discussion about religion itself, aside from how it has affected my life.

Looking Back.

Years ago I cut off all contact with the only two siblings out of five that I have had contact with. Our contact was primarily through email. Although we did talk on the phone too. We all live in different states so we never saw each other. My older sister (I am the youngest of all of us.) and I had a relationship when I was in my teens back in NYC but unfortunately, the disassociation has taken most of those memories from me.

All I could see was our biological mother in them and it freaked me out.

The reason I cut off our connection was religion. All I could see was our biological mother in them and it freaked me out. At the time I did not understand what was happening. I knew that I felt guilty because I could not be tolerant, something that I try to be. I have my faults but judging people (aside from mean ones) is something I typically do not do. Yet here I was unable to process the relationships.

My other sister, younger than the other one but still older than me, found religion after we had started to reconnect and it was devastating to me and wonderful for her. I had told her I would try to still have a relationship with her but that she needed to avoid trying to convert me. I had no interest, I even wrote her a long letter explaining my philosophy and how it would not change even if her god happened to be real. Unfortunately, even though she promised me, she still tried to force her religion down my throat and I reacted badly. I cut all ties, some of it also had to do with the mean email her now ultra-religious husband had sent me. It was just nasty. Asshole.

Anyway, once I cut ties with her, I had to cut ties with my older sister, because I was raw. I was worn and I was aching and disappointed. My entire life I had wanted nothing more than a family, my family. There were whole periods where I would forget I even had a biological family let alone siblings.

I remember one foster home I lived in before my biological mother took her own life. I was being beaten up by one of the foster parents’ biological kids. This happened often in foster homes. I wished I had a big brother or sister who would protect me. I forgot that they existed for periods, mainly because of the dissociation and, I think, because I saw them so rarely.

Then when our biological mother took her own life, although devastated and relieved by her death, I was so excited because I was going to live with my siblings finally. In this little trailer in, I think, Andes NY? I don’t remember and would have to look through the Big Box of Pain and I haven’t the energy. So let’s just say Andes NY. I was going to live with my siblings. That week was amazing to me, I was oblivious to the disruption I was causing and to their father’s views on me. I was swooning at the attention of my siblings and I had never had a dad before.

I have this one memory of being outside at night, I think we may have been in a shed and he was making bullets. I thought it was so cool, the way the metal would melt and then how he would place it in the mold and it would harden into its new shape. I remember thinking that this was my new dad and that I finally had a family. My family. My siblings.

I lasted a week.

Why can’t you be what they want you to be?

My big brother yelled at me the night they told me I would be leaving. I can’t remember exactly what he said but it was something along the lines of why can’t you be what they want you to be? That was essentially the last time I talked to him or saw him until years later I walked away from him at our grandmother’s funeral. But alas, that too is a story for another time.

The Big Box of Pain stated that he said that the reason he was abandoning me to the system, was that I would always be Jessie Lynn (last Name). I recently found out that he told my siblings that I was too much like our biological mother and I was too far gone to keep. One week was all it took for yet another person to throw me away. This time was even more painful because not only did I no longer have a mother, I no longer had my siblings. I was alone.

Fast forward to years later and I cut off contact with everyone.

The one sister trying to convert me triggered me so badly that I could only react. I did not understand my feelings, I attributed them to not understanding how she could believe what she believed and to my intolerance. I felt so guilty that I was not strong enough to be a better person and tolerate or accept her and her religion. I had no clue that it was a reaction to a trigger and one that was so bloody powerful it could break me.

Get to the Gritty…

This last year has been full of many changes. My psychologist thinks I should work part-time because of everything I am doing right now and how damn hard it is to get through each day. The last time I saw her we talked about this breakthrough that I had. She thought it was a pretty big deal too.

It is difficult when you are struggling every day with the darkness, to see the little glimmers of light shining softly through. This one was so strong it blew me away, took my breath away, and excited me. Rather than a little glimmer it was like a beam of sunshine. So far, I feel like this is the biggest breakthrough I have had.

A Breakthrough Does Not Mean The Work Is Done.

Yet, although I have had a breakthrough, it does not mean the trigger is gone, it only means I now have a better understanding of the trigger, it has a name. I often say that giving a symptom a name gives me the power, and gives Us the power, because then we can begin to delve into it and understand it and begin retraining ourselves in how we respond to the trigger. It is by no means easy, but it is a start, my friends. It is a start.

And here it is, let’s see if I can explain it properly now that I have worked it up so much here.

In early October of this year, I reached out to my big sister on Facebook Messenger. At the time I did not know why I was doing it and frankly, I still do not have an answer. Sometimes I get impulses to do something and I just do it because it feels right. My intent was not to reconnect. I think it was just to say hello, I am alive and although I cannot be in your life, I love you.

Shocker to me, she replied almost instantly and we started to “talk”. For the first month or so it was general, slightly superficial talk. Hi, how are you things like that. Then one night I freaked out a bit and was about to tell her that I could not do this. That religion was too much of a barrier. I could not separate my feelings and although I did not want to, I had to say goodbye because it was too painful for me. But, again she replied and we talked.

Ultimately what it boiled down to was that I was struggling with a massive trigger and I did not know how to react or respond and I did not know how to simply love her for who she is, rather than push her away for what she believes in. Which has always been my pattern, as a result of the childhood I had. I would panic and push away and typically that would be the end of it and people would just let me go, usually with a sigh of relief.

Asking for help.

Instead, I took a moment and stepped back, then I wrote to her, can you help me? I do not know how to do this. I want to but I do not know how. She wrote back that the way she wanted our relationship to go is that I would love her for who she is, religion and all, not judge her for this and she would do the same. Then, she wrote what was the simplest, purest, and most stunning thing as it was what triggered my breakthrough about my religion trigger. About all these years of my struggling with intolerance, something that goes against every fiber of my being.

She wrote, “Please just love me for who I am and please don’t judge my beliefs or attach anything from anyone else to me and I’ll do the same for you.” I get shivers writing this because it was the catalyst, the moment that I suddenly got it. All these years, all the struggles that I have had with religion, religious people, and seeing churches. The feeling of anger, rage, and hate that would come unbidden triggered by the past, by the pain and the abuse I have suffered at the hands of the woman who should have been my protector, not one of my abusers.

It is interesting because for all of these years, I have fought this trigger without understanding it. I knew I despised organized religion. I knew that when people started to talk about religion anger would well up in my gut and I would have to leave because rage was not far behind.

I broke off my relationship with my sister for many reasons. None of them were her fault. I thought I understood but I did not, not until I read those innocent and powerful words.

What Now?

So now I am going to slowly work my way to healing and conquering this trigger as much as I can. I am still affected by it. I am still worn raw and ache as a result of the feelings that the trigger activate. Yet, I have named that bitch and now I have a better understanding. In addition, I have a burgeoning relationship with my sister. Someone I am happy to get to know and now I do not feel like a monster because I feel rage or anger when she talks about her religion or her life. I feel open and I feel a sense of contentment at the knowledge that I can now read what she writes and not judge her based on anyone else’s actions.

This has been an eye-opening experience, one that almost makes the pain I go through every day worth it. Healing is not for the weak and my friends, neither I, nor you, are weak. We keep going when all we want to do is let the darkness embrace us. We keep fighting because we are survivors plagued with a past that will not let us be. The body keeps the score. Truer words were never spoken as far as I am concerned.

One Battle Down, Many More To Go.

This is a little light in the darkness because it means that I will continue to heal, and I will continue to name my demons. In naming them, I will begin to take power over them. I wish this journey was not so difficult. I wish that the pain I feel every day would loosen the bloody noose from my neck. I wish I could say without a doubt that I will make it to the other side of this journey, and I will find my happiness. But, as many of you, who are or have been on the same journey as I, know that is not how this works.

So much damage was done in such a small amount of time. I remember, after I was once more thrown into another foster home, this one was the very last in the county meaning my next move was a girl’s home, something that my caseworker said to me. She said that many did not survive. She watched other children resort to drug addiction and spiral down into that oblivion. Others, she said, took their own lives. She had tried to do the best she could for me all those years she was my caseworker. She watched me grow up into a rage-filled teenager, but she also saw something more in me, something that no one else seemed to see. No one except the woman who was meant to become my mother when she adopted me.

I know some people do not like the term survivor or victim, and that’s cool, to each their own. However, in my way of looking at things, I was a victim. I was a victim of so many and I survived, barely. Pure kismet, and, I think, a bit of my iron. I am a survivor. I am now working on my journey to become healed. I will never erase what happened to me, nor entirely get rid of the aftereffects, as much as I would like to believe I could, that is simply not how it works.

Yet, there will be these moments that will hopefully provide clarification and weapons to use in this war against the darkness inside of myself.

We are survivors. This journey has given me a few battles that I have won, breakthroughs that have helped me continue, and enough incentive to keep going.

I am so tired guys. Tired of fighting and tired of feeling what I feel every day. I am tired of struggling and I am tired of just surviving. I want to Live. That is my goal, and I am still working on clarifying what I think my healing is, and what it means. I believe that this breakthrough is a part of that. This breakthrough is one of many to come. Eye-opening and life-enriching.

Keep going. We must keep going.