The Truth

Why We Remember What We Do

What is a trigger?

I always want to share what I learn that has been helpful in hopes that you find it useful in your recovery. I pray God can use my circumstances for good despite the evil they came from.

Every night when I go to bed it is like a nightmare just coming into the bedroom. Just the act of getting into bed sends signals to my brain that it’s not a safe place to be. My body tenses up, my heart races, sometimes I have flashbacks, and I feel things I don’t want to feel. I refer to this as being triggered.

What is happening is because of my trauma and what has happened to me in the past, the bed is associated with sexual abuse and rape and my brain is aware of this so it is sending me alert signals.

Take for example, if you were physically abused while looking at a red ball. Most likely when you see the color red it is going to activate the feelings you had when you were being abused. You could feel the pain, fear, terror, anxiety, you may smell things too. All of the things that happened then, would happen now while you’re seeing red.

Our amygdalae (in our brain) store our emotions, survival instincts, and memory, so when something occurs that triggers what is stored there the trauma that occurred comes up unless it has been processed through. (With processes like havening, sensory-motor therapy or EMDR).

As survivors of sexual assault unless we have processed each event that occurred, then when we are triggered by something that was there when we were assaulted, we will basically relive what happened or at least the emotions that go with it. Along with the emotions come the physical feelings our body begins to feel from the trauma.

This is also the reason I do not share details of what happened to me here and do not attend groups where others share details of what happened to them. They are triggering for some people, as I know from experience, and I want to respect that boundary.

I’ve discussed before how we feel trauma. Our bodies begin to feel it as pain. Our muscles and joints hurt. We can feel sick to the stomach. I swore for years I had stomach issues, but no test showed anything. Yet, I have bloating, gas, and stomach pain that still are very real. However, they are from my trauma.

For some reason we tend to not think of our brains as organs in our body like everything else. Yet, it is probably the strongest player there is. What keeps us functioning and tells the other organs what to do? No wonder our body gets out of whack because of what’s stored in our brain.

So, cut yourself some slack today and realize what is happening in your whole body. This is a hard road to travel. Each step is a step toward healing, but it is one step at a time.  I pray God is with you as you journey toward it.

© 2019 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.

Susan is an author and speaker who loves to share her journey of God's redemption and encourage others as they look to God. As a former elemetary teacher with a passion for teaching, Susan also owns her own tutoring and consulting business where she empowers students and parents in reading. Susan lives in Lee's Summit, Missouri, with her adorable and grumpy Persian cat, Mia.

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