Overcoming Triggers: The Christmas present.

I have come to realise over this last year, as I interact with so many people, that there are some things that I should have shared but they are not even in my book! This is one of them. It is about triggers, the thing that makes us ‘the betrayed’ want to take flight or fight. I can remember them so well: when the food I had in my mouth would turn to cardboard and I would have to spit it out, where I would be having a good day and suddenly hear a song and it would feel as if I had been sucked into a tunnel, and was travelling down it at a furious rate towards oblivion and pain, when a simple thing like taking my photo when I was asleep would send me into a rage because I felt vulnerable in the way I looked in it.

There was something that happened recently that got me thinking about how I eventually was able to pull myself away from the triggers. What did I do (the stubborn bitch that I am) to stop them hurting me any more?  Here is the story:  

A few weeks ago when we renovated and  moved into our other bedroom  we were clearing out our cupboards and Danny found this.

It is his old filofax that I brought him for Christmas 2007, the year of ‘The War’. I had forgotten I had bought it for him, and realising I had forgotten it and remembering that it had been a huge trigger was what got me thinking about this post. I know that triggers are such a major factor where infidelity is concerned. But I also know now that they can defeat us, if we let them. When we found that filofax, and knowing where I am now, we are now,  I realised that I eventually came to understand that the only way for me to defeat the triggers was to face them head on.

Filofax’s were a trigger. I know! The little tiny things, it seems so weird that they affect you, but they do never the less. During the time that I was being lied to and gaslighted a conversation had taken place about filofaxes. Danny had a filofax, I thought that they were pretentious. I just didn’t get them, why do you need a ‘filofax’? Why can’t you just use a diary? The conversation had taken place one evening when we were having a drink in our garden  with ‘her’ and ‘her’ partner. It was an innocent conversation but it was one that, being the narc that ‘she’ was, she hoovered up and then used as a weapon against me. ‘She’ agreed with Danny, said how ‘she’ had a filofax (‘she’ didn’t but ‘she’ soon went out and bought one!) and how ‘she’ couldn’t live without it’. ‘She’ understood Danny, couldn’t understand why I did not like them; and when ‘she’ and Danny were alone ‘she’ would tell Danny how I should not make him feel that he shouldn’t use his filofax. In fact it became an ‘in’ joke between them, they would bring it up: how poor Rosie just didn’t get filofax’s, how they had so much in common. So hardly any wonder that filofax”s became a trigger for me!

Then when we collected Danny’s stuff from the house that he had rented with ‘her’, the dreaded filofax was  left behind   and being the lunatic that ‘she’ was ‘she’ then used it to check Danny’s shifts at work, call his work numbers, ‘she’ used any information ‘she’ could that was held in that bloody filofax.

Needless to say Danny never mentioned his filofax’s. I think in fairness he was terrified to. But I knew that he missed it.  As December neared  a lot in my life had happened: promotion, I was thinner, most inportantly I had found me. I asked Danny what he would like for Christmas and he obviously felt safe enough to ask me if I would mind if he put a filofax on his list. I can remember that moment: that feeling of spiralling in my chest, all those memories flooding over me. I think that Danny could see the look on my face and he just backtracked quickly, because he was terrified of what I might do.

I have to be honest I thought that by that time Danny had evolved (not changed) so much and I was shocked that he might (in my mind) still be the ostentatious arsehole that wanted a filofax. It made me worry that really he had been acting all that time and I wondered if I had allowed myself to be fooled and that he was still the same insecure person who wanted to proved themselves by owning something like a filofax. When I look back on my journal entries at the beginning of December when I was in a bad place this was probably one of the things that had contributed to how I felt: that doubt as to whether I was doing the right thing in staying. The filofax had been some trigger!

I was surprised that I did not write about it in my journal at the time. But I do know that I had come to a point when I could not let the triggers define me any more. I could not continue to be frightened of them. I could not continue to take flight from them, because they would always chase me and they would always defeat me if I let them. The only way that I could stop them, the only way that I could prove to myself that I could defeat them, was to meet them head on. I had to. I could not continue to live my life that way for me, and for us, because utlimately it was me who would make the ultimate decision   as to whether we would survive or not.

I look back now and I wonder who did I think I was to judge him, just for wanting a filofax – we can all learn and evolve from trauma in our lives; because I was somewhat up my own arsehole and I yet someone else use that against me!

That month I ordered Danny a filofax, and I gave it to him for Christmas. I asked myself if it really mattered if he liked filofax’s, wasn’t he entitled to be his own person and not led by me? In fact wasn’t it down to me to make the decision whether I really liked him or not for the person that he was in the here and now? It was just a filofax for Christ’s sake!

When Danny found it this month he read to me what I had written inside it, I had completely forgotten I had even bought it. Here is what I wrote:

To my darling husband Danny. 

I wouldn’t imagine that  you ever thought I would buy you another one of these. But I am sure that this filofax will mean so much to you. I hope that every time you use it you will always think of me, and how much I love you. 

Happy Christmas  Darling. I hope the next year will bring us all we could wish for. 

Time is a healer. 

I love you 

Rosie  xx

I was right, time is a healer, and all that we wished for was for it to go away. But every year helped with that, along with our respect for each other.

I am sharing this because it is pertinent that we found it at this time of year. So that I can share with others who are going to struggle at a time when everyone is supposed to be ‘happy’. When there are going to be so many triggers of the year before: when your life wasn’t what it seemed. I can only ever share my story, but I would urge you all to give  yourself a gift this season: face a trigger head on, even if it is just one. Give yourself  a gift: the first step to having control over them.

Rosie

Making This Better the book is now available including the journal entries for the first 5 years of our recovery & the whole 21 days of ‘The War’. Available internationally in paperback and ebook  at Amazon and Barnes & Noble also available at Xlibris and Apple Books for iPad and Waterstones Bookstores for click & collect

10 comments

    • Oh Jack, trust me when I say that if you feel you have gone backwards I did too. So many times. But I would consciously say stop, make the gesture with my hand, ask myself if I gave up what would happen to Tom, and the people I had responsibilities for, would ai be happier? Could I leave the person standing in front of me in the here and now? Keep going Jack, if only for your sake. ❤️

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  1. Time heals, when coupled with a whole bunch of effort and self-exploration. You put a lot of energy into your own self-care and healing after the War. I’m sure Danny did as well. I feel as though we all have to put deliberate energy into trying to heal. You have to wake up, at least most days, and say to yourself “What am I going to do today that is going to help things get better?” Some days, it flat out doesn’t work, but eventually you can string a few good days together and then a few more. There is backsliding, to be sure, and it sucks, but if both parties are putting in effort it helps minimize those times. You were trying to move things forward and help your healing when you bought Danny that filofax. I’m glad he was able to see it for the loving, hopeful, and thoughtful gift that it was.
    xo

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    • Oh he did my friend. He cried. But after that it never bothered me, and when he found it I suggested he buy some refills for next year. BA I will say that I never knew what sharing our story would bring, and although our stories are so different I hope that My sharing can help you. Hope is an eternal thing and I respect every thing you do, I am one of you and Kat’s cheerleaders. All the way. Hugs ❤️❤️

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  2. I am now 8 months post DDay and doing a lot better, but the triggers are exactly as you describe. Suddenly mid-mouthful of food and perfectly happy, I feel overwhelmed with pain and physically sick. It can be such seemingly tiny things and so unexpected. I can be enjoying a movie and then there’s a scene with a couple in a hotel bedroom and I could run out of the room. The city where it all happened is a backdrop for some tv shows and the roof of the hotel they used when he was supposed to be at work is visible in front of a well known landmark. Even after a really great day it still knocks me over emotionally. Putting up the Christmas decorations was even a trigger, knowing now what was going on behind my back when I did it last year and he seemed to be having a great Christmas at home with us. Thank you for sharing your experiences, it’s the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through and reading your story helps me a lot.X

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    • Jacinta thank you so much for your comments, your timeframe is the same as mine was: I found out in April. I am so glad it helps, but just do one thing for me, when a trigger hits just close your eyes, breathe and say ‘No’ for you. You can do it, I know I’ve been there. ❤️❤️

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      • Thank you, I’ll try. The CBW (not ‘her’ initials, I don’t even know her surname. These are the ones I’ve given her and don’t ask, it would make a sailor blush) isn’t going to steal another moment of our happiness. We’re doing really well, we’ve come a long way since April, and it’s mainly the triggers and ‘milestones’ like birthdays and Christmas that are left now to trip me up. I just want to get to May next year and we will have had a whole year without CBW in it and no ‘this time last year’ thoughts. Thanks for the support, it means a lot xxx

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  3. You are always welcome. Make new memories, do something different to remember next year. It could be something small like going for a walk somewhere you’ve never been. Something you can have as a new tradition. I have written about it on my blog. It is grief you feel, and as when someone dies you have to go through every milestone. Sending a hug. ❤️❤️

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