Something that I could not have possibly anticipated prior to the infidelity, was the power of triggers. They can be as fast as the speed of light, and so powerful that you can become temporarily crippled.
What I am referring to is certain visuals that cause me to have flashbacks – trying to piece together my own version of events that occurred between my husband and his mistresses, so to speak.
The simplest things could cause a trigger. The first, most remarkable one that I recall was while at church one Sunday morning.
I glanced down at my favorite wedge shoes I was wearing that day, my go-to shoes when I wanted to feel good. As I reached down to adjust the laces, my emotions paralyzed me with a singular thought – did these women wear shoes like mine?
All it took was that one thought, and the race had begun. My mind quickly went from the imaginary shoes to the lingerie they wore, to what positions they were in, how long the shoes stayed on, to….Well, you get the picture.
Luckily for me, and everyone else in attendance at church that Sunday morning, I was in the restroom when this occurred. I had completely lost any resemblance of ‘cool’ I had portrayed that morning. I bawled like a big baby – right there on the toilet, paralyzed by shame.
I just sat there, unable to move for a good 10 minutes, staring at my shoes, despising the fact that I owned any heels at all.
Finally, I was able to somewhat piece myself together and made my way back into the sanctuary with my head hung low like a beaten dog.
I allowed myself to finish the thought and feeling, said a prayer, and shifted my energy on what I was grateful for in that moment; the truth and God.
The triggers will come, and they also pass. Feelings are fleeting. Don’t let yourself get hung up on the things you have no control over. Stick to things you can control – like your perspective, your reaction to the trigger, and where you allow your mind to lead you.
You have to be careful not to allow yourself to go down that rabbit hole every time a trigger occurs, otherwise you’ll find you’ve took 10 steps forward, 100 steps back.
Our brains process at an amazing speed, with the ability to think much quicker than we can act and speak. We can speak 125-175 words per minute, yet have the ability to think over 400 words per minute. Remember that.
This is why it is critical to stay focused on what’s appropriate for the given moment. For example – if you are in a therapy session with a counselor present, and it’s an itch you absolutely need to scratch, try to address needs there – with an expert giving an objective perspective, instead of letting your mind be the judge, and you taking the blunt of the blows alone. Allow your support to offer a buffer when possible. It’s much less scary.
PTSD in the form of emotional trauma is real, and you will have triggers after discovering infidelity. It’s best to be aware that they will come, and try to deal with your wounds in the presence of professionals.