Reminders and Triggers, Good and Bad

Chinese Food Delivery

Last Friday, I ordered delivery from a Chinese restaurant near our home.

“You know what, Carol? The last time we ordered from that Chinese place was about 4 months ago. Instead of coming up with a separation plan, we ordered delivery and watched a movie together. I think we made the right choice.”

“Yes, we did,” Carol replied, quite relieved that we were here, together still.

Chinese food from that particular place now reminds me of reconciliation.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

The last night we spent together as a family before I caught Carol tearing us apart, we went to the theatre to watch the latest Star Wars movie. Nothing that night or the following morning seemed even slightly off.

During our talk two days later, I told Carol, “The other night, we were watching Solo, today I’m ridin’ solo.”

In spite of the completely miserable circumstances, Carol let out a sound that almost resembled a laugh.

“How can you even make jokes right now?” She asked.

“It’s how I cope with trauma in life. I had a few zingers during the whole cancer scare, though I can’t really remember them.”

Last month, we all watched the movie again at home. Though it’s a reminder, I didn’t feel any particularly strong feelings about it, probably because my history with Star Wars is too long and strong to become tainted by the affair.

Solo is a bit of a reminder, but definitely not something I could call a trigger.

Coming Home during Work Days

It was in the middle of my workday when I came home unexpectedly and saw what I wasn’t supposed to see.

I continue to come home unexpectedly at various times during my work day, whenever my schedule allows it. Sometimes, I stand at the door and listen first before walking straight up to the master bedroom. Other times, I immediately charge toward the bedroom, adrenaline rushing, ready for a fight. Sometimes, I push around the often bundled up comforter to see if someone is hiding under there. Other times, I can resist going that far. I never tell Carol that I’m coming home and afterward, I never tell her that I was at home.

This is a major trigger, and I’m considering bringing it up at the next counselling session.

Carol at Home on Work Days

Carol is often home on Monday’s. When I learn that she is at home during any other weekday, I feel a surge of panic. Last week, she sent a Snapchat from home at midday. I texted her, asking why she was already home. I’m thankful for texting because it looked like a casual question. If she were to hear my voice, I doubt I’d be able to conceal my panic.

Carol at home when she usually isn’t is nearly as big of a trigger as me coming home during work days.

Vacationing as a Couple

Two years ago, Carol and I went to England for our anniversary. It was the best time ever. We were so completely in sync and spent every moment together. She was an ocean away from work and only my phone was in service during our time away. This is now one of the few memories that I can hold onto from what I’m starting to think of as the ‘dark days’ of our marriage. It was real. Whatever bad feelings she felt about me and our marriage, before the trip or after, were clearly not there when we spent that time together.

Before Carol even moved back in, we spoke of another trip overseas because her and I both associate getting away together with being our best as a couple.

Disney World

I’ve mentioned plans that I made for a big family trip this December. That is Disney World. I’d like to say I’m excited but thinking about the trip makes me angry at Carol. We were thinking about it for a while and I had been saving up Airmiles for it since our England trip. I was starting to look at potential dates when Carol decided she needed to get away with her parents and sister. I was not keen on the idea as I knew Disney was going to cost a lot and Carol had been treating me rather poorly lately so I wasn’t in the mood to give in to her every desire. That was when she told me she wanted a divorce.

Things smoothed over and we booked the trip, only to have Carol attempt to sabotage everything in her life. I was in a panic over the trip and did not want to have to disappoint the kids by cancelling. All I could do was keep the vacation booked and hope I would be able to keep my distance from Carol somehow while we were there. I was furious to be put in such a position.

Thinking about our upcoming trip often triggers angry thoughts about Carol and how she not only failed me, but completely failed as a mother.

The Living Room Couch and The Bedroom

In spite of the fact that I slept on that couch for over a month while refusing to set foot in the bedroom, I have good feelings associated with both places. The couch is where I’ll find Carol sitting when I get home from work and it’s there where we’ll have the majority of our conversations. We’ve had many difficult talks there and we’ve had a lot of healing going on there. It’s only when Carol mentions how comfortable the couch is that I remember that I slept there for many nights.

The bedroom has been reclaimed by me. The bed is new, shopped for and purchased by me alone and I made the choice to invite Carol to sleep there. Sure, I made the wrong choice in mattress at first and had it replaced so it was not specifically this bed that Carol first slept on post-separation, but it was my bed, my choice. This new mattress has only had us on it. The sheets and pillows were all my choice and purchase too. It’s the place where I’ve wrapped my arms around her, held her as she cried, and accepted her as my wife again. It’s a place of comfort and healing, except when I walk toward it on weekdays, then it’s another place completely.

The couch and bed are reminders of reconciliation.

That Bed

The other bed remains in the basement of Carol’s parents’ house in her old bedroom. The same sheets (since washed, of course) are on it. Though I can handle looking at it and even sitting on it, I prefer not to. My mother-in-law would like to replace her smaller bed with it. That would suit me just fine, but they complain that their bedroom is too small. Another thought that was brought up was letting my son have it. Maybe when he moves out. I don’t really want that bed to be back in our house. I may be more open to it if those sheets are trashed.

So, the bed where it happened doesn’t really trigger me but it in combination with the sheets that were on it that day is enough to make me uncomfortable.

Sexual Issues

Carol lying on her back completely nude bothers me if I’m standing or sitting up and looking down at her. If I’m beside her or looking up at her from down there, it’s okay. If she has a shirt on, even if it’s pulled up over or pulled down below her breasts, it’s okay. It’s just the one viewing angle and her completely unclothed that triggers a flashback to that day.

I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of the nude photos I’ve taken of Carol but sometimes I look at them and think of how she decided a man who was not at worthy of her got to see all of that too. I took comfort in the fact that at least she was mine again and these photos were mine to look at whenever I wanted. That was until I learned that she gave at least one photo to him. That was before she ever consented to nude photos for me. Now they’re not so special.

I’ve since taken and received more photos from her and hope to get more photos of her in the future. Whatever another man received, it has to be more and better with me.

So, a specific position while naked often triggers me and photos of Carol can sometimes trigger unpleasant feelings.

Making Carol orgasm has become more important and fulfilling to me after learning that I am the sole sexual partner capable of doing that for her. I associate getting her off with something special only between us.

It makes sense that I cannot perform intercourse at this time but am all too willing to go down on her. Once again, writing it down helps me examine and make the connections here.

I think I just took a big step toward getting over my performance anxiety.

So, how are you coping with your triggers? Have you been able to replace any?

7 thoughts on “Reminders and Triggers, Good and Bad

  1. Yes yes and yes to all of your triggers – you’re doing very well from what you’ve written. I still won’t let Mr. P go down but I wasn’t a huge fan of it anyway, I’ve always preferred to get straight to business. But, him going down would definitely still be a trigger for me. Sex is still a trigger for me but I do it because for me it’s important to keep that connection, and I still enjoy it. Songs are a trigger, certain times of year are a trigger, TV can be a trigger, things he says can be a trigger, events my friends go through can be a trigger, pictures can be a trigger, sometimes even looking at his hands can be a trigger.

    All of these triggers have become less traumatic over time, so one would hope eventually over time they will just be little twinges. This is what I’ve heard from our predecessor survivors anyway 🙂

    I so respect that you’ve taken your bedroom back, this is imperative so triggers don’t run your life on a day to day (sometimes minute to minute) basis. This is huge, and in my opinion, you’re way ahead of the moving forward game.

    GOALS xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you are healing and the triggers aren’t so strong. Talking about TV, all the cheating and whatnot that goes on there makes me angry and when I’m watching a show like that with Carol, it’s so awkward. One time when a song was playing I told Carol, “This song made me cry when we were separated.” I think that broke her heart a little to hear.

      Thank you for your words. I do feel that I am doing well in my healing. Each day I become a little more hopeful that I could one day forgive her. We still have a long way to go with more tough conversations and angry feelings ahead. I’m putting in the effort.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, these little reminders are all painful but also a reminder that she was broken in the past, but she’s not anymore.

        Just this morning as I was driving to work I reflected back to pre-D-day, and I realize we were never “deep” with each other, everything was surface and script like, yet at the time I thought what we had was amazing. We never fought, we loved each other, loved doing things together, I thought we respected each other and were totally and crazily attracted to each other.

        Much like Carol and yourself, we are DEEP now and connected like we are one. Yes I’m still pissed off, disgusted, hurt and all of the other emotions we betrayed have, but now we can get through it together. We can do anything together now.

        I don’t know how to forgive this; that seems like an awfully tall order. I could forgive a mistake, but this was not a mistake or an accident. I do know if I want to remain the relationship, I need to accept what he’s done so that I can move forward. Is that what forgiveness looks like to me? Probably.

        As much as I miss the sunshine and happy go lucky girl I used to be, I wouldn’t want our pre-D-Day relationship back. He was broken, therefore we were (unknowingly) broken. But we aren’t anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. There is a part of me that feels like maybe I am learning more than I should about what goes on a betrayed partner’s mind. My partner has shared just a few small triggers with me but I know she keeps a ton to herself. When I imagine that everything, including sex, touch, traveling, etc might be a trigger for her, I feel incredibly sad that she isn’t able to enjoy these things for god knows how long. I wonder then why continue being in a relationship when the beautiful things in it all have negative associations? Is the connection forever tainted?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Learning more than you should? Never. You are right to read and understand. If you hope to reconcile, this is part of the right path. There’s no knowing what the future may hold but you can try your best to make it better and become a better person.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re right. It’s part of the process. I’d rather know how she feel than put my head in the sand. The work you’re putting toward your reconciliation is admirable. I really hope those triggers fade into the background with time.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Very thoughtful reply 😊

        Why stay? Because I love him and would have the triggers and pain regardless if we were together or not. Going through this trauma alone, in my opinion, I would be far worse off. At least I have some support.

        Liked by 2 people

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