Usually, when people talk about “triggers”, they’re referring to things that cause a sudden, undeniable desire to drink or use. A trigger may be a sight, a sound (like a certain song), a place, a smell, a taste, or even a physical touch. Here’s a definition:
cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.
“an allergy can be triggered by stress or overwork”
synonyms:precipitate, prompt,elicit, trigger off, set off, spark (off), touch off, provoke, stir up
Often a trigger for alcoholics & addicts to want to pick up may be an unhappy or tragic memory. It can sometimes be easy to determine what’s triggering the reaction (conscious awareness), or it can at other times be something more diffucult (subconscious). The thing is that often, a triggered epidose feels like being “blind-sided”, and the only warning is a sudden, bad, feeling.
In the mornings at my place of employment, staff usually turns to Youtube on the flatscreen tv, and everyone walks or exercises to whatever music is playing, for 30-45 minutes.
The staff are a diverse bunch of people, so the musical selections can be just about anything.
Recently, I had a rather disturbing reaction to the morning tunes…
Someone wanted to listen to Prince, (his death still being so recent) so we watched his videos for close to an hour.
I loved Prince. I loved his music, I loved his mystique, I loved his dancing, and I loved how beautiful he was to look at. 😚 He was a musical genius, he was eloquent with words, and he was charming. I discovered that day, that his music triggers me.
I tried to sing along (I know more of his music than I don’t), and I watched him singing and dancing, and I felt…not great. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. It had been many years since listening to Prince’s tunes, and I do not recall having that kind of response, ever before.
It took me a few minutes to figure out what was bothering me -during which time I alternated between paying attention (I mean, IT WAS PRINCE!) and trying to distract myself, as the uneasy feeling grew in my gut.
As far as I can tell, this is what happened:
I listened to Prince Rogers Nelson from the time I was in high school until about the time I got sober, during which time I ingested a whole lot of drugs and alcohol.
The saying in those days was “sex, drugs, and rock’n roll.” Those 3 things were the whole point of life, as far as I could tell, and while I doubt anyone would categorize Prince’s work as “rock ‘n roll”, in my experience, there was a ridiculous amount of the other two going on.
During this period, his music really was like the soundtrack of my life. Most any song you could mention of his, even ones who were made famous by someone doing a cover, from (about) 1979-1993, will bring back a ton of memories. The problem being that there are a lot of those memories that I really don’t want to remember.
You might not realize this, but the life of a female addict tends to be essentially, one fearful, chaotic, and sometimes traumatic situation after another.
Apparently, on a deeply subconscious level, Prince’s music is synonymous with that time, for me…now, to clarify, I’m not saying that this situation brought up feelings of wanting to use, cos that’s not the case. If I hadn’t spend such a long time focusing on self-care, it surely could have been like that.
I felt uncomfortable that morning, even moreso seeing how everyone else appeared to be greatly enjoying the music, dancing, etc., and not knowing exactly what to do. I really wanted to leave, but equally didn’t relish the thought of explaining myself to my Supervisor. So, I prayed; I forced myself to think of music that was almost the opposite of the melodies playing, and I took a bathroom break. (And repeated)
Yes, I’ve been working with PTSD for most of my “adult” life. I don’t talk a lot about it because a), it’s become more of an undercurrent when it comes up, as opposed to the tsunami it’s been in years past; and b), I feel like the majority of (Normies) don’t put much stock into non-war veterans really having post-traumatic stress disorder. I know better, but I’m not looking to invest my emotional energy into arguing about it with ignorant folks.
So, that’s my recent “trigger” story. I know that music effects many people strongly, so I wanted you to know that it happens to many of us.
Posted from my cabin far from Paisley Park.