This is what ‘triggered’ looks like

Partner comes home. I am still awake, not being able to sleep while she was out. In fact, rarely can I sleep when she is not here. (I can rarely sleep with her here, but that’s another story.) I had walked the dog, fed the animals, cleaned the cat’s wound (don’t ask)… When she sees me sitting in the living room, surprise and disappointment register on her face.

She says, “What are you doing up? You shouldn’t still be awake.

I don’t answer. She doesn’t expect one and walks into the back of the apartment. I follow her.

You didn’t put the fan in the window to cool the bedroom off.” Her annoyance and irritation are palpable. I didn’t realize she had wanted me to do that.

Sorry,” I reply. “You need to tell me these things. I didn’t know. And anyways, it’s nice and cool in here now.”

Ok good,” she says, but her tone betrays her words. As I’m attending to the animals, she calls out in frustration.

Someone threw up on the rug. Ugh. Over here. And… over here!

I remain silent. I hadn’t seen it. I hadn’t even been in the bedroom since I had come home. But somehow I felt like it was my fault. I should have gotten the bedroom ready for her. Wait. No. That’s not my job. My job isn’t to caretake her.

She comes into the kitchen.

You seem mad…” I say. I was about to say, “at me” but she answers before I can finish.

It’s just… I was expecting to come home and just roll into bed. But I can’t. There are all these… obstacles.”

Am I an obstacle?

But you seem frustrated with me,” I manage to say, despite the pain that arises within me.

No… It’s not you. I’m just tired. I just really need to get to sleep at a decent time.” I wonder how she expects to do that when she’s out late at a concert on a weeknight, but I remain silent.

She sees my face change – this is where the trigger has just occurred – and her tone changes to an apologetic one.

I’m sorry babe. I’m just tired. It’s not you, I’m just annoyed at the situation. I thought I’d be able to come home and get right in bed. I’m sorry. It’s not you, I promise.

I say “okay” and leave the room. But the damage has already been done.

As she’s about to climb into bed, I go into the bedroom to say my obligatory “good-nights.” She notices that something’s wrong, and keeps asking me if I’m sure I’m not upset. I tell her that I’m not, and not to worry.

Get some sleep,” I tell her, and leave the room.

What I don’t tell her is how I had been waiting all night for her to come home. How I had planned on going straight to bed as soon as she did. That the real reason I wasn’t asleep yet is because she had been out and it’s hard for me to get myself to sleep without her there.

I didn’t tell her that all I had wanted was for her to act just the slightest bit happy to see me. To show genuine appreciation for the things I had done tonight so that she could enjoy her night out. For my presence, upon her arrival home, to bring her just the smallest amount of joy.

Instead I was unwanted.

What I didn’t tell her is that my heart feels like it’s being ripped out of my chest, even though I know I’m overreacting. That my stomach feels twisted up into knots, even through my brain is telling me that her responses had nothing to do with me. She even told me as much.

What I didn’t tell her was that I feel utterly unwanted. And not just unwanted; a failure. I failed to make her arrival home as easy for her as possible. And above all, the feeling that I am a disappointment. That despite all my efforts, people will still be disappointed. What I do is never enough. I can never be good enough.


A lot of self criticism there, huh? Yeah, I know. And I know that these feelings stem from past hurts, not current ones, and actually have little to do with my partner. But knowing these things and feeling them are two different things entirely.

So tonight, as my partner sleeps, I sit triggered and knotted up inside and braced against the world, wishing I could just crawl into a hole somewhere and stay there forever.

This… is what triggered looks like.



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19 responses to “This is what ‘triggered’ looks like

  1. Sorry to hear that you felt so triggered. It’s so difficult when we have such bad self loathing. 😦 Sending a hug your way x

    • Thank you. Hug gratefully received

    • Thank you so much. You really hit the nail on the head – it is so hard with so much self loathing. If the self-loathing weren’t there, then I’m sure we wouldn’t take everything so personally (since taking things personally makes everything “our fault”). Thanks again

      • You are most welcome. I know, it’s very hard because like you said, we almost always misinterpret everything to be about us, or our fault. You’re so lucky to have such an understanding partner, I am also very blessed to have the same.

        I wonder how he puts up with me half of the time! Keep up the postivity and remind yourself that she loves you and it’s not you fault. Maxi xx

        • Yes, I am so very lucky to have such an understanding (and unconditionally loving) partner. So glad to hear you have the same.

          This is probably going to sound totally random, but did you realize that Maxi is found in “meandanxiety”? You may very well know this, and may have even picked that name (if it’s not your real name) because of that, but I just thought it was cool. Haha yes I definitely am in a better mood today :). I should post before this fades ! (kidding)

          • Argh I wrote a comment and WP got rid of it! How annoying. Let’s try again. Yes, we are both extremely lucky! 🙂 Haha, yes you are the first one to point that out actually! It’s not my real name, but my alter ego really. Not many people know about my childhood abuse, so I have to keep it completely separate. 🙂

            I’m glad to hear you’re in a better mood, that’s great! x

    • Ps thanks for the hug 🙂

  2. A difficult evening. Hugs to you.

  3. I’m so sorry that you are hurting. I am so sorry for……the fact that we live our present lives from a past/abusive POV. For the fact that people around us don’t know their words are at times daggers that reopen our deepest and sometimes unknown wounds. I know healing is a matter of us being willing to examine and tend to our wounds, if only we knew where to look, if only we could bear to look, if only our inner ones would be more forthcoming about them vs. reactionary when they are ripped open again. It is such an emotional turmoil, and I know it well. Brandic, you are an amazing lady, you are good enough without DOING a thing.

    Hugs and love,

    • “if only we knew where to look, if only we could bear to look, if only our inner ones would be more forthcoming about them vs. reactionary”

      Wow. Just, wow. You explained it so beautifully and so succinctly where the difficulties lie. Yes, you are exactly spot on. Thank you. Grateful to know someone out there understands 🙂

      “you are good enough without doing anything”

      This really hit home. I want so much to believe this. But the sad truth is I don’t. Deep down, such feelings of inadequacy exist so that I feel I must constantly be “making up for it” by my actions. That me, alone, without my kindness, without my good deeds, isn’t lovable at all. Kinda sad isn’t it…

      Love and hugs right back to you xx

  4. Aww honey. I’m so sorry that you feel the way you do. I understand the way you feel and it makes me sad.

    Big hugs lovely lady xox

    • I’m laughing out loud right now because I just read your last line as, “big lovely lady hugs”. Haha. And then my mind went to, “my lovely lady lumps” (black eyes peas) and it was downhill from there.


      Can you tell I’m feeling better today?

      Thanks for the sweet comment WeeGee. (and for the lovely lady hugs)


      Ps please don’t feel sad, I’m doing much better today 🙂

  5. Suddenly I feel understood reading this. Looking back on myself, my depression along with 1000 triggers ruined my relationships. Triggers were/are everywhere for me. I thought being that my partners knew what I was going through they would never leave. I guess they got tired. I’m sorry you have to navigate through tough situations when triggers occur. Try not to beat yourself up.

  6. I think I understand as yesterday I became triggered with someone at work because the criticism brought me back to feeling like a reprimanded little girl. I was aware that my upset did not match the situation, but even with the awareness, my body was still reacting in a triggered way.

    I hope you’re having a better day.

  7. I totally know that feeling, even half of the piece you have written (some different details), But I have been feeling a bit this way lately and have also been having a hard time trying to get to sleep.

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