Managing triggers vs those things not being triggering anymore?

barefoot

Sponsor
For several reasons, I find my family (who I don't live with) very stressful to be around. The last time I saw them, I was pretty dysregulated for a couple of weeks afterwards.

Since then, I've been talking about my family and triggers in therapy.

At the end of my last session, I asked my T whether she thinks it's possible that there'll ever be a time when I'll stop feeling/reacting this way to my family.
She asked if we could reframe the question so that the question becomes not, can I stop it happening but rather, how can I manage it/them better.

It got me thinking...when it comes to triggers, are we working towards the trigger not being a trigger anymore (it no longer has that power and we are no longer bothered by it)? Or will the trigger always be a trigger and we are working towards finding ways to manage the trigger/our response better?

Any thoughts? Or tips?
 

Friday

Moderator
It got me thinking...when it comes to triggers, are we working towards the trigger not being a trigger anymore (it no longer has that power and we are no longer bothered by it)? Or will the trigger always be a trigger and we are working towards finding ways to manage the trigger/our response better?
Things that are only triggers? Are pretty damn easy for me to eliminate, entirely.

Things that are stressful? Are about management.

Both create the same symptomatic responses, but the source is different, so dealing with them is unsurprisingly also different.

***

Being with my family means I’m eyeballs deep in triggers and stressors. Even though -arguably- none of them are PART of my trauma history. Which would only serve to make things even more volatile

So…. Even if I sort every trigger commonly associated with them? My symptoms are still gonna be zoooooom!!! off like a prom dress!!! …just because of stress cup stuff. <<< I had this all well in hand for a decade, as my whole durn life was built around exquisite stress management, and compartmentalising is something I’m (usually) wicked good at. Once I lost the ability to manage my stress (my stress cup became what happens when you add mentos to Coke); whilst my compartments busted wide open? (I’ve seen buildings flattened by earthquakes and hurricanes with more sense of order to them) … I’ve gone from “I love my family, but they drive me insane, so I have to do it in measured doses.” -to- “I can’t deal with my family, and not lose my shit, full stop.”
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
I have a wonderful extended family. However, the stressor on my nervous system can be unbearable. In therapy, we work on coping and nervous system calm downs for these events. My triggers are different. For example, the jingle of my husband’s belt used to cause my heart to race and panic, need to hide or leave. Now, I merely grimace at the sound. Family—it’s mostly the same every gathering.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
I am rarely full blown triggered any more. But I can be around my family for twenty minutes and am bombarded with emotional flashbacks that send me into the rabbit hole.

I have gone no contact with all but two family members. Only those two because I do not have a lot of memories with them. But I only have to see a family member and to get thrown.

I was never able to 'manage' things when around family. After many years of trying. So I did what I needed to do to not UNDO all the other work I've done and that was to go no contact.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
She asked if we could reframe the question so that the question becomes not, can I stop it happening but rather, how can I manage it/them better.
Your T sounds so similar to mine! As my T says this too.
She is trying to help me see my family through the lense of my mum being a narcissist and us all having roles as a response to her disordered behaviour. She feels that if I can interact with my family from a place of this awareness, I will be able to manage it better.
I'm still not there yet and jump from: 'i can interact with them' to 'i got to go no contact'.

I *think* my T is trying to help build resilience and moving the responsibility for the flawed relationship onto them. Which I'm turn would reduce my stress when I interact with them? Idk.

Maybe there is a way to re-frame the interactions? To be more 'you'.
My T also speaks about the 'drama triangle', which I think is definitely a game that is played out with me and my family. It helps to have awareness of the dynamics. Not sure it has reduced the stress (yet), but it does put it into some form of context.
 

grit

Not Active
I look at it like how the f*ck did I survive this as a child? The sheer amount of abuse...i am not confused at the atrocity...And now i see the things (usually what @Movingforward10 refers the roles given) and watch them in play from distance not reacting or jumping in. One major thing I learned is when I visit I stay in hotel now not at anyone home. Keep my independence and autonomy. And the more I observe rather than involve the less reactionary and triggering for me.
I think when therapy says let us frame ...it sounds to me taking different perspective of not a child looking at powerful parents but maybe realizing they are different.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Things that are only triggers? Are pretty damn easy for me to eliminate, entirely.

Things that are stressful? Are about management.
Managing your stress around family...Mission Impossible!!

Family is such a stew of emotions and memories and.....
“I can’t deal with my family, and not lose my shit, full stop.”
...because when it comes to family sometimes "hi, bye" is too much.
 
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