What do you do if you are in the middle of watching a movie or reading a book and you are triggered? What do you do if your heart beat starts pounding rapidly, you break out in a sweat, and you are overwhelmed by emotions?
The first times these things happened to me as a young adult, I had no idea what to think or to do. I had buried the abuse deep down and did not acknowledge it consciously. My body and my subconscious, however, did not live in the same denial.
Those traumatic reactions gave me hints that I had things I needed to face. Now, many years later, I have opened up the closets and have dealt directly with many abuse memories--but I still feel triggered once in a while.
I've learned some things that help when I am triggered:
1.) The intense feelings pass quicker if I acknowledge them respectfully/gently. Recognizing that I am reacting to a present situation from unresolved past abuse helps me to take it easy on myself. I no longer tell myself that I am acting "crazy" or "stupid" or "over-emotional."
2.) I am less stressed when I remember that God is with me in the present and He knows everything about my life. I ask Him to comfort me, and to help me to remember what I need to remember in His perfect timing.
3.) It's okay to do something comforting while my mind is locked. I can snuggle under a warm blanket or go on a brisk walk or pace or talk to a friend or listen to music.
4.) After the panic has subsided, I can make an appointment with myself to explore what happened. I can choose to journal or draw or paint or talk to a counselor or a friend.
5.) The past is easier to face when I remember that it is the past. It already happened. I already survived it. It may feel as if remembering abuse will destroy me or rip apart my world, but I will ultimately feel much better after I examine what creates such big emotions.
What helps you when your body is traumatized by something you read or see on a screen?
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