The Trigger: It Started In The Bathroom
I’m in the shower one evening, enjoying a conversation with the Mister. As we laugh, and unwind from our hectic day, he mentions, his sister had come into our home while I was away at work. I continued to soap my body. The water began to cool down, but my body began to grow hot.
I wondered what in the world went through his head when he decided to allow someone into my humble abode without my prior knowledge or permission. I felt completely violated. There was another individual in my home while I wasn’t there. In my mind I saw images of someone rambling through my things, making judgements, and having all of my personal possessions within their grasp. I was angry.
I turned quickly and yanked the shower curtain open (nearly slipping in the process). I glared at him. He looked utterly confused. Without any warning, my anger erupted like a volcano. Profanities flowed from my mouth like hot lava. During this time, the Mister barely said a word. I believe he was more shocked than anything. I quickly dried myself off. He exited the bathroom and went outside. I later learned that he took a late evening stroll to calm down. While he was gone. I began to cry. I knew that I had overreacted to a relatively small incident. I cried because I knew that deep down I wasn’t angry with him. I knew, in that moment, that I still had some residual toxins left from my previous relationship.
The Dirty Residue
By the time I entered the relationship with my newest love interest (the Mister), I had taken a couple of months to reflect and process a lot of the things which negatively effected me in my previous relationship. I separated myself from men physically and emotionally during this time. I felt as if I were healing and becoming more at peace with the idea that my relationship was over. It wasn’t until that night in the bathroom that I realized how much residual junk was still inside my heart, waiting for a chance to act a damn fool.
I have been working twenty-four hour shifts for almost 10 years, intermittently. This literally means that I am away from my home for an entire day and night. This gives my potential mates a lot of time to do whatever they wish-good or bad. My previous lover took full advantage of my absence from my home.
He was well aware of how I felt about a steady stream of visitors in our home, especially if I hadn’t taken time to adequately prepare for their coming. Perhaps things were left untidy, or my personal belongings (correspondence, bills, grooming items) were situated in a place of convenience but not in a place of privacy. Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t have any issues with visitors and I love the idea of entertaining people in my home. However, I do have a problem with unexpected guests. My home is sacred and I do not have an open-door policy.
Well during the time I was involved with this person, there would be countless times when I was away at work and he would invite people into our home. I would ask him if he had had company over; instead of offering honesty, he would lie to me and say no one had come into our home. Most of the time, I’d later find out that some random neighbor or some uninvited family member had been in our home. Between the lying and the blatant disrespect for my wishes, I was both frustrated and hurt.
If he had told me he planned on having company, if he had even suggested that someone may come over and play video games with him, or be in the same space as my children, I could have mentally prepared . I would have also replaced the fabric sheets under the couch cushions, moved my mail to the bedroom, made sure the kids’ room was extra tidy. However, he would swear that no-one was coming. He’d lie like he respected me enough not to allow anyone to enter our space if I wasn’t absolutely comfortable. Over the course of time, this simple action caused me to feel both betrayed and violated.
As I dried off in the bathroom, fighting to hold back the tears, I had to realize that it was not a capital crime for my Mister to invite his family into “our” space. Our home was clean, and there was no real reason I should have felt so strongly about him sharing our space with his family. I realized that I was being very selfish. I scanned my mind and counted the numerous times I’d used the pronouns “I” and “my” during my recent rant. I was surprised by my own behavior.
When I found out he had brought his sister into “our” space, It quickly brought to the surface all the negative feelings I experienced in my previous relationship. I was certain I had buried all the negativity, the hurt, and disappointment. Obviously, I was wrong.
Of course, I apologized and explained my absurd reaction. Thank goodness, (for my sake), he was very understanding. We continued our evening and tried to both move past my momentary stress reaction. While he sat and held me, my mind had many questions:
- Did I not allow myself enough time to detox after my previous relationship?
- How many more things were left inside of me, lurking within my heart waiting for a trigger so they can come to the surface.
- Would I ever be free from the grips of my past?
1. Take time to reflect. Allow yourself time to reflect on some of the elements of the relationship that may have negatively effected you. I don’t recommend trying to do this all in one session because it may be overwhelming, so pace yourself .
2. Allow yourself to feel. Once you have identified the most bothersome elements of your last relationships. Allow yourself to identify how they make you feel. If you were lied to, perhaps you felt betrayed. If you were cheated on, you may feel inadequate. Whatever it is that you feel, simply feel it. Be open with yourself.
3. Be cautious about potential triggers. Remember that no relationship is perfect and no two people are the same. Just because your new love interest may use the same phrases as your ex, doesn’t mean they will treat you in the same manner. For me, my trigger was having someone in my home without my knowledge. I felt betrayed, violated and disrespected. But I quickly identified that it was a trigger that unleased residual feelings from the previous relationship.
4. Come Up With A Plan. Only when you realize what things effected you negatively, and what the potential triggers are, can you come up with a plan to thwart any misplaced emotional energy! If your ex would always turn his back to you at night and text his side woman, then naturally anytime you are laying in bed with your new lover, even if he simply changes position in bed while playing Candy Crush, you’re going to think back to the emotional issues with your ex. Come up with a plan to deal with any potential frustration. Don’t do like I did and immediately come unglued. Be realistic with yourself. Find a way to communicate your feelings with your mate in a manner that doesn’t make him feel as if he is being compared to another man.
5. Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself. Accept that it may take a great deal of time to fully erase all the damage left by bad relationships. So when negative feelings present themselves, simply accept it, deal with it appropriately. It is natural for the mind and heart to remember things that had a strong emotional effect-whether it was a pleasant emotion or a negative one.