♪♫♪ Who’s got triggers?
We’ve got triggers.
How many triggers?
So many triggers.
Well now, don’t you frown
Just knuckle down and
knock on wood! ♪♫♪
Yeah, I took a few liberties with the song Dooley Wilson sang at Rick’s nightclub in Casablanca. But doesn’t it sometimes feel that we have so many triggers courtesy of narcissistic abuse!? Yeah, tell me about it!
In this article, I’m gonna share some of my particular triggers with you. See if you can relate.
Don’t You Dare Help Me!
Faced with the possibility of someone giving me a helping hand, I’d rather be drawn-and-quartered, boiled in hot oil and then kept on bread and water for thirty days. The prospect of being “helped” gives me some pretty high grade stress. Can you relate?
My phobia about being “helped” came from a few sources. As a teen/young adult, my work ethic hadn’t developed yet. “Procrastination” was my middle name! So sometimes my codependent mom would do tasks she’d asked me to do, but I’d put off and put off and put off and…well, you catch my drift. Then she’d shame me, instead of setting a boundary like, “Fine then. The dishes will just pile up until you condescend to wash ’em, Lenora. It’s only going to get worse!” That’s part of my trigger.
Another facet of this multi-faceted trigger is how my mother would hover about, volunteering to help, nervously informing me I was late for work. Yes! I was late. Yes! It takes an Act of Congress to get me out the door on time. But no! I didn’t need my Mommy’s “help” to get to work each day. It was embarrassing, irritating and infantalization at it’s finest. That history forms another side of this trigger.
But then again, I’m very codependent too. I learned to hate that nasty “beholden” feeling when I was helped with a project or “kindly” driven somewhere because “you’re not allowed to drive there yourself.” (Ah, Stockholm Syndrome!) That’s another part of my don’t-you-dare-help-me trigger.
Swearing, Cussing and Muttering
Wow, is this a trigger! Deep breath. I can do this.
I cannot bear when people start swearing, cussing and muttering in frustration or anger during a project. Oh, I do it too, so this trigger has “hypocrite” written all over it.
But when other people do it, my anxiety, my stress and my blood pressure go straight through the roof, especially if it’s a project they’re doing for me. Why?
If a drain clogged, he unclogged it with anger. If the car broke down, there was anger. Any project involving fixing, building or up-keep was usually, although not always, carried out with a great deal of anger, some swearing and occasionally rage.
Guess who was always around to be traumatized by his anger? You guessed it. Little ol’ me. The one who was always told to “help Daddy.” The holder of screwdrivers and giver of pliers. I was always volunteered to help and so I always witnessed the full performance.
So now, when others get frustrated and start swearing, oh! My PTSD goes through the roof.
“Did You Forget…?”
This is one of my husband’s triggers. Quite early in his illness, his children figured out how to gaslight their father. “But Dad,” they’d say, “you said we could do XY. Did you forget you said that?”
But Michael knew better! He knew he’d would never have given his kids permission to do XY, because it wasn’t safe. He learned to recognize the gaslighting and hold the boundary.
That’s why “did you forget” is still a trigger for him.
Don’t Tell me the Obvious!
I’m not proud of this trigger, but I’ll share it with you nonetheless. I hate people telling me how to do things any idiot would know how to do. At least, that’s how it feels.
Being told the obvious, being told things I already know, being advised on basic life skills feels like a direct insult to my self-esteem. To my adulthood. It may not be meant that way, but that’s how it feels. Again, infantalization!
Peevish. That’s the word. I get a bit peevish back. I shouldn’t but I do.
That’s another trigger.
So what are you particular triggers? Please share in the comment section below. I’ll be very interested in your comments!