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Trauma can happen to anyone. When it does, it sometimes leaves a wound that stays with us for a long time.  If we are able to talk it through with someone, process it, make the needed connections, we can go on and live our lives more effectively. We will never be who we use to be, because trauma changes us at all levels: physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. Our brains are changed by trauma and our body is more reactive when triggered by things that can remind us of a traumatic event. A trigger is something in the environment that initiates or activates us to react to something that reminds us of past trauma. It can be a smell, a sound, a word, something we see, something we feel or touch, even an emotion.

Found on Pinterest on 3-15-16. Meadow-Hautman Bros.

Found on Pinterest on 3-15-16. Meadow-Hautman Bros.

We can react, sometimes even unconsciously, to a trigger and know immediately something doesn’t feel right. We may feel fear, or even terror and not know why. All of a sudden, we can sometimes act in uncharacteristic ways for us, such as withdrawing and isolating from others. Some people find themselves leaving a room, or suddenly becoming very irritable or angry. They may feel sadness, or self-hatred even. They feel uncomfortable, ill at ease.

We can be doing something we enjoy, feel a sense of serenity, feel great, and it can all change in a minute. If trauma is triggered that is connected to other trauma from the past, the emotional and physical response can be more intense. The type of trauma can also cause a more severe reaction.

For example, the Fourth of July is highly triggering for me. The loud sounds  are connected with severe trauma when I was seven. If my dogs become fearful, and have     a severe response of terror, I no longer feel uncomfortable, and irritable, I become quite angry and very protective. If a cannon fireworks goes off, I may hit the floor. When I get up, I go out to hunt down the transgressor. It has taken me back in time when I saw someone shot to death. Saying logical thoughts to myself doesn’t help, because my body is revved up and I am in care-taking mode, and survival mode. I want the sounds to stop. My action expends energy emotionally. I then come back in, put kids tee-shirts on my dogs which comforts  them, and I play soft music, and sit with them trying to get them calm enough to sleep. Often the fireworks last for 7-10 days and I am exhausted from the triggered past. The picture below signifies how I feel and think: past and present emotions and thoughts.

Found on Pinterest on 3-28-16. Pinned by Zachariah Davidson. Open Art Gallery. Calina Lefter.

Found on Pinterest on 3-28-16. Pinned by Zachariah Davidson. Open Art Gallery. Calina Lefter. Fog.

There are feelings and thoughts going through me unconsciously and consciously. That happens in trauma. Later, I may get in touch with the fact that I can’t save my dogs from the firecrackers, like I couldn’t prevent the death of the person who died. I may feel guilty because I survived and the woman didn’t. I may again go through feelings of being good or bad about what happened, may again question, where was God? I am affected on all levels.

The important thing to remember is the emotional and physical reactions overwhelm all logic. I am in a primal state. This year I can try some DBT techniques and see if anything changes in my response to the firecrackers.

It’s not an easy thing to overcome when the body is hard-wired to the trauma. The Vets who come back from war struggle with these same kinds of issues.