If you have been free from an emotionally abusive relationship for a long time, you may be surprised at how little it can take to trigger a return to those unhappy times, at least in your mind. What can be even more frustrating is to have no idea what sent you back there. Even if you never figure that part out, you will probably be clued in by your emotional and physical reactions that your mind and body have gone back in time. I have been out of a former emotionally abusive marriage for two years. I am now in a happy and healthy marriage that is worlds apart from my former life, yet I occasionally feel like I have been thrown back into the pits of hell. Sometimes, I feel the need to be in a treatment facility for mental health.
Oftentimes, it will come about as a reminder of my ex-husband’s behavior, which I experience indirectly through our children when he tries to pull the same type of manipulation on them. Another thing that can get me there is writing these articles, yet I press on. I figure that if they are helpful to people, it is worth a little discomfort. I also feel like it is part of God’s will for my life, so I write in obedience and ask questions later. Finally, I am in tune with the fact that there may be painful areas of the past that I still need to work through, in spite of my life being so happy now that I sometimes look back and wonder whose life that really was.
I can usually tell that I have “gone there” when I become weepy or angry, or I feel the discouragement began to invade my soul to the point where I am headed toward full-blown depression. They are so recognizable now because they are so infrequent, but there was a time that I lived like this day in and day out, year after year. The feelings are very familiar, but they don’t match my present circumstances.
What I am describing can be described by a few different terms, one being triggers and the other being post-traumatic stress disorder, although the latter of the two is much more severe, and I haven’t had significant experience with PTSD to write about it with any authority. However, I do know what it’s like to lose a couple of days of my life to an emotional trigger that I never saw coming. If you have experienced that as well, we can get through it together. The following are some things that I do to help me get my life back.
If you’re wondering where my strength comes from, I would have to say that the majority of it comes from my faith in God and the knowledge that He fully intends for me to live a victorious life, one that is free of abuse where I can choose to reach my potential. I ask for prayer to take away my anger and pain and for God to show me what I still need to learn in this trial. My burden is not always released immediately, but it is released. Most of the time, these things are enough to pull me through a time of being emotionally triggered by my previous marriage. If there ever does come a time where I feel stuck, however, I will not hesitate to seek counseling.
Regardless of your faith, you are at this point in your life for a reason. If you have come out of an abusive relationship and survived, there is much to learn and pass on to others. Even if an emotional trigger trips you up, don’t let it keep you down because there is a whole new life in front of you.