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Triggers, Marriage, and Friendship

My emotions have been at an all time high this week. When I say that emotions have been high, I don't mean that cute "aww, I just saw a puppy" and shed a tear over it... I mean yelling at my kids, arguing with my husband, sitting on the back porch crying my eyes out at 10pm kind of high. Whew. I did not expect to spend my Friday night discovering my emotional triggers but that is what I did.

Triggers in Relationships

As I sat outside, earpods in, blasting worship music in an attempt to drown out what I was feeling, I asked myself “how did I get here?” After a week that was full of fun, laughter, and did I lose my cool and why am I sitting here crying? I texted a friend to vent about what I was feeling and I was met with a question that I didn’t know how to answer. “What triggered your bad mood?” I answered her with my typical response when I don’t understand the question. “I don’t know…everything and nothing.” Andy is getting on my nerves and my kids are too needy. But like a good friend, she pressed me and asked questions until I realized exactly when my bad mood started.

My trigger started in the checkout of Wal-Mart. If any of you know what it is like to go to the store with 4 kids while hungry, then you can understand that the stress was at an all-time high. But as the cashier was scanning our items, we noticed the bill creeping higher and higher, way past our weekly budget that we set for groceries. Then Andy looks at me and says “probably because of all the pre-packaged items that YOU picked out.”

He didn’t say it with a condensing tone, he wasn’t being mean, he wasn’t even trying to place blame on me. I don’t even think he realized what he said… but to me, it felt like a dagger to the heart. I let this one comment that he didn’t even mean to be hurtful, fester in my heart all day long. The longer I thought about it, the madder I got. The madder I got, the more on edge I was with everyone around me, including my kids. By the end of the day, I was crying on my porch after arguing with Andy all day and yelling at my kids.

My Emotional Trigger

I was disappointed in myself after I had realized what my emotional trigger was and that I could have prevented the spiral I went down. I understood now. I had a right to be upset, but I did not have the right to let it continue to cause hurt to everyone around me. I am so thankful for my friend because she opened my eyes to my triggers that I didn’t even realize that I had. I am a natural “fixer” of all things. Whenever there is a problem or someone is hurt, I want to make it all better. Hearing that I am the cause of a problem, even something as little as a high grocery bill makes me feel unworthy. It is a fast and fiery slope that I go on. But what my friend told me that I didn’t realize at the time, I am allowed to express my feelings and then I am responsible for not exaggerating them. I could tell Andy that those comments hurt because blame=unworthy in my eyes, and then after I tell him, I need to move on. We are all human. I am allowed to let something little like that hurt, but he is also allowed to make a comment without it resulting in an all day affair where everyone ends up paying the price.

This example of my emotional break-down gave me so many learning lessons that I want to teach you. Let's break it down.

Controlling & Identifying Triggers

1. Identify your triggers. I write a lot about triggers in my book… but when I wrote about them, I wrote them about alcohol. I had no idea that I could be and am triggered by blame and feeling unworthy. We all have certain triggers that seem small on the outside, but cause your mind to spiral into a place of a much deeper hurt. Look at the graph that I posted with this blog. It helps break down your initial feelings to identify the real root of your emotion.

2. Marriage. Your spouse is human and you are human. We all say things we don’t mean and do things that we don’t mean. First, communication is key and that was my first lesson I learned. Vocalize what you feel. They aren’t mind readers. They don’t know your triggers unless you tell them. Second, don’t make them suffer from a mistake over and over again. I remind myself of what the Bible says in Colossians 3:13 “the lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive”. If I get forgiveness every day, then I should be also offering forgiveness to my spouse. It is a lesson for all of us and one that is so important to our marriage. If we say we gave forgiven, then they should not have to continue to pay the price of that mistake.

3. Have a friend that gives real advice. I am so thankful to have level-headed friends in my life. I was looking to vent and complain about my family. But she didn’t allow that. She knows the importance of family and working through problems. She didn’t feed into the drama for my sake, instead she gave me real, honest, and challenging advice because she knew that is what I really needed. Look for real friendships like that.

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