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Trigger caution to unhealed survivors!

Understanding the Incomprehensible

Children of incest or long-term sexual abuse grow up to be wounded adults with complicated emotional issues. Unfortunately, some symptoms are misinterpreted or often dismissed as "crazy", only serving to maintain a tormented victim status. We, as a society, have the power to change this dynamic. Each of us can make a difference.

Aug 21, 2011

What Appears As One Trigger May Be Several

My inner world has been quiet lately giving me time to work in therapy on a list of remaining PTSD triggers. A big one for me is eating noises. It had often caused me to leave restaurants before the days of ipods and iphones. Actually I had started to use ear plugs before I had an ipod. Eating with others around was such an anxiety ridden experience.

As a child...even an adult child...eating with my family was a horror of father-made noises, especially slurping. We had dinner manners pounded into us but none applied to him. I recall my younger sister and I at high school age approaching my mother. It stopped for awhile amidst his evil looks at us but then returned.

Several times I had worked with EMDR in therapy to try to resolve this trigger. I was always led back to the horror of the initial trigger. Memories no one ever wants to discover but, to heal from it, they have to be visited, even if only briefly.

Not too long ago, a yogurt commercial on television had me screaming when someone sucked in entire container of yogurt at once. I learned to quickly mute it but also told my therapist how awful it was for me. That was the first time she used the technique of brain spotting with me. She was newly trained. It is simply my eyes following a moving pointer she held vertically in her hands and following her directions for focusing on certain feelings and eye movements. After that one session, I was able to completely tolerate the commercial and it translated to real people and their natural noises of eating with regard to slurping.

More recently, a Kit Kat commercial included a series of people biting into the crunchy bars with close ups of their mouths. Even looking away, it made my anxiety soar and my partner quickly learned to mute it. It came on several times every night about the same time. Because of my current internal quiet time, I was able to work on the crunching noise, again with brain spotting. My therapist expanded the healing to include watching people eat with the message that food was nourishing and enjoyable and I was hearing people enjoy their food. I returned home from the session telling Brian not to mute the commercial that night so we could see what happened. When it aired, we both stared at each other. I was okay. I was really fine. The next night I purposely looked up at the tv to see the people biting into the bar and that was okay too. I also noticed on a tv show that included a family dinner that I wasn't turning away. I was able to hear the conversation instead of fighting with the anxiety of the trigger.

Poor Brian has been eating as quietly as possible for a number of years and now I rarely notice when he has food. We are an informal, eat-in-the-living room couple. However, since resolving the slurping and the crunching, I still jump when his lips smack. This probably sounds bizarre but everything about eating apparently is a trigger. No wonder just working on "eating noises" didn't work.

I already asked my therapist if we could do smacking next while she sucks on a cough drop. lol. It will do the trick. I am/was also triggered by the clinking of silverware against in stirring a drink or simply someone's fork hitting the dish while grabbing food. I haven't noticed that in awhile so perhaps it has resolved itself.

I thought it worthwhile to share this discovery since, if work on a generalized trigger is not working, perhaps breaking it down into smaller components will work.

Note: The link provided for brain spotting is a good overview that is not too technical. You can google it to find other references. The most important aspect is that your therapist is properly trained in the technique.

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