Friday, November 18, 2016

Thoughts on Triggering

In reading about BPD and childhood trauma, I came across the concept of "triggering". I understood this concept intellectually, but only recently understood how I too am triggered. Whenever I see, or read about, any abuse, bullying or cruelty, I go into a towering homicidal rage. (Internal raging, sparing friends and family, thankfully) Not that I would act upon that rage, for intellectually I know the perps are themselves "only a pawn in their game" , that bullies were themselves bullied, and the sources of our problems are structural, not personal. (Capitalism authoritarianism, patriarchy, institutionalized racism etc)

Cruelty triggers my subconscious – in a sense "reliving" my abuse as a child. I must emphasize the subconscious nature of this. When, for example, I see a cop beating up a demonstrator I do not consciously see myself as a child being assaulted by a bully, but it brings to the fore immense feelings of injustice and of helplessness. (I am sure that much of my dislike for Trump is because he is an archetypal schoolyard bully) And the rage? When you are a child you are forbidden to express your anger at the cruelty done to you. Authorities, whether parents, teachers or cops, will always make it far worse for you if you react with hostility toward their oppression. Thus, you learn to hold in your emotions, especially anger. But the repressed always returns. As an adult you will be prone to outbreaks of violent anger and not know why.

Will knowing this make you rage less? Sure would be nice. But here's something else I have learned – not from books – but experience. You are never cured. You come to terms with your abuse, you can forgive your abusers, knowing that they were victims as well. Therapy lets you HANDLE your problems and allows you to have a "normal" life. But the pain is always there.

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