Why tiptoeing around triggers is not the solution to trauma. Or even effective against them.

February 28, 2022

“It is nobody’s responsibility to dance around the triggers to your traumas.
It is up to you to deal with past traumas healthily and learn to cope with them
in a way that won’t affect you in later life and you shouldn’t expect everyone
to behave or to speak a certain way around you.”

My friend, Sarah Ruth posted this on her Facebook page to some popular outrage

“That’s ableist!” “Not how trauma works!” “So wrong!”

But I think she’s right.

I just don’t see trauma as a disability. It’s a response to something that happens and it’s up to us to learn to handle it. To do the necessary work.

It is not up to everyone else to tiptoe around all potential trauma triggers. Because it is IMPOSSIBLE to do that and besides, it’s not our job.

Oh, you think I haven’t experienced trauma, right?

You’re wrong.

I can count at least three big traumas I’ve experienced that have brought others to their knees. And brought me down, too. Until I did the work.

I did YEARS of work around some of them.

“You’re stronger than most women,” a male friend once said of one such trauma.

Umm– no. Men are the ones who usually say this to me. And I hate it. This idea that I am somehow exceptionally different. Oh, maybe I am. But not in THAT way. Women are not fainting flowers. Not usually. Women are strong, powerful and capable. Which leads me to this next point:

If you are still being triggered by things that have happened to you years ago, chances are you haven’t done enough work on the trauma. That’s on you, not me.

I know. You think I’m judgmental about this.  I am. (Reference THIS post about judgments.) But I don’t see it as a problem. I see it as realistic.

Life is full of so-called triggers. People go through stuff.

Sure, I wish I didn’t have to see commercials about animal cruelty or read posts about someone losing their beloved pet. Those things “trigger” me. As does child abuse. Domestic violence. Rape. And a few other things.

But I know I can change the channel. Unplug. Move on.

That’s MY responsibility.

People are going to say and do what they will. My response to that is up to me.

9 comments on “Why tiptoeing around triggers is not the solution to trauma. Or even effective against them.
  1. Diane says:

    I absolutely agree, Carol. Just like I do not expect someone to cater to my food choices at the expense of everyone else at a dinner party, I do not expect someone to cater to the triggers I may or may not be hiding. That’s on me!

  2. Rena says:

    Some traumas are different but no I don’t think it’s up to other people to deal with. I think it’s naive to think that people can just “fix it”. Therapy is just a theory in the real world. Where I live I was literally told the only way to get a therapist was to attempt suicide. Therapy is not only inaccessible it’s unaffordable to everyday Americans and not a realistic option.

  3. Beth Havey says:

    I think you are right, Carol. For one thing, how would be know other people triggers? And how would they know mine? Like you, I can list some things, events hurts that I HAD TO DEAL WITH. No one could heal me, I had to do the work. I did have a counselor. We can’t live in a world living with protective shields. Some of the most uplifting moments I’ve had is being to love and hug a person in a similar situation. It’s life.

    • Well, that’s the thing. Many in our generation understand that it is our responsibility to deal with our own stuff. But some do not and given that now many colleges have so-called “safe spaces” tells me that younger people aren’t developing the resilience we did.

  4. I was triggered by an incident last week. It really affected me. My close friend is a therapist and she is trying to help me figure out why this incident set me off as it did. I’m working through it though and feeling better each day.

  5. Laurie Stone says:

    I agree with that. Everyone has triggers so we’d never say a word. Also, I have hidden/erased every ad on Facebook or Instagram that shows animal cruelty or anything triggering. It’s helped the experience a lot.

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