Traveling to new places has been a wonderful way for me to let go of control and enjoy the moment. I loved visiting Los Angeles last year. I felt so free and safe … so far away from home and not responsible for doing anything but having fun at Disneyland.
This year did not go that way. I did not know that Legos trigger me until I walked into Legoland and had a complete meltdown. In retrospect, the signs were there. I had been very excited about our trip. Then, when we added that theme park to our agenda (my friend’s younger son is very into Legos), I kept procrastinating scheduling the trip and really was not looking forward to it any longer. Hindsight is 20/20 – I just thought this was spillover for all of the other stuff I was dealing with at the beginning of the summer.
I had no idea that I was triggered, but I felt the intense need for a Xanax as soon as we entered the gate. I thought it was the crowds at first. I was slammed with intense hatred – I hated every single thing about the place and kept visualizing blowing up all of the Lego statues.
Outwardly, I kept b@#$%ing about how juvenile the place was. (Our boys are nine and ten – it looked more appealing to the kindergarten crowd in my fully biased opinion.) Inwardly, my skin was crawling, and I wanted to use my fingernails to peel it off my body. I got angrier when I learned that it is a “dry” theme park (most theme parks do serve alcohol) because I wanted to stay inebriated the entire day. I kept counting down the hours until we could leave. I was lightheaded and immersed in anger and shame.
I was so incredibly triggered afterward – so much so that my friend kept bringing me rum punches. (I haven’t had that much to drink in years.) She had no idea why I was being so intense about the place. I told her that I simply could not go back. I would do anything she wanted – lie, cheat, steal – but I would not go back. (We had two-day passes.) I wound up spending the next day seeing the new “Harry Potter” movie while my friend took the kids back. For the next few days, I struggled with very strong suicidal and self-injury urges.
That experience really shook me, and I have been prone to triggering and panic attacks ever since, which is why I am putting so much focus on staying in the moment, reminding myself that I am safe at this very moment, etc. Being slammed by that intense of a trigger without having any idea it was coming has really rocked me. More tomorrow…
Photo credit: Hekatekris