Triggers as Teachers: Staying on Your Recovery Path Chapter 14 Excerpt
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“Commitment is what you stand on to breath, attend to your body sensations, and courageously make your mindful moves.”
…Recovery brings you here. The more you can bear to be here, the less you are agonizingly nowhere and the less you need oblivion. You understand this now, but it’s easy to forget when a trigger hits home.
Triggers are hooks that summon emotional experiences of other times when you were frightened, harmed, and helpless. When you succumb to a trigger, you feel a sense of guilt, shame, and failure as you add another layer of fear punishment, and helplessness to your original experience. In this way the power of triggers intensifies over time.
A continuing honest and kind appraisal of yourself is necessary to protect yourself and weather your triggering experiences. You need to know your weaknesses so you can care for yourself well. This requires giving up feelings of entitlement or of being special and superior. You’ve developed those feelings as a result of the façade you built to hide your insecurities and your eating disorder. You have come to believe the lie you present to others until a trigger destroys both your façade and your belief in the lies you’ve told yourself.
Self-honesty allows you to examine your genuine situation. Every exercise and activity in this book is designed to help you do that. The practices you’ve done and the practices on standby for when you are ready to use them are designed to help you develop the vision and stamina to be real to yourself.
Separation in the context of triggers covers a multitude of experiences and, for that reason, can take you by surprise. You may not make the connection between your desire to act out and the triggering event.
A store shuts down. A tree is cut down. A neighbor you barely knew moves away. This loss in your environment may disturb your precarious sense of security and reliance on an unchanging familiar. Divorce; a child leaving home for college, a job or to be married; or a friend leaving town may leave you bereft with no way to adjust. Minor separations, like guests leaving your home after a social gathering, can trigger you because their leaving sparks your emotional memories of major separations.
Triggers can emerge out of our own imagination. You may awaken after a nightmare with overwhelming anxiety that drives you under the covers and later sends you groping for binge food or a full binge/pure episode.
Trigger foods are binge foods and vice versa. A binge food is your exit route from here. You see them, taste them, and you know you can dive into them and be gone. They are like little space ships you can ride fast out of this world.
Excerpt from Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder, by Joanna Poppink, MFT, Conari Press, 2011. Copyright protected August, 2011. Media and Purchase information