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Triggers, Triggers, Everywhere Triggers - Part 1 - Death By Carwash

I winced when I saw all the bugs that had collected on the front of my black Honda Odyssey. It didn’t come as a shock, since traveling 1300 miles from CO to MI will do that, but having to wash my car doesn’t come easy for me these days.

I remember 10 years past when cleaning my Plymouth Neon brought me great joy. There really is nothing like driving a freshly washed and detailed vehicle. Holding the pressure washer without falling, racing the clock with the shampoo brush, and even better is the automatic car wash that allows you sit back and relax. I have fond memories of the days when I was hopeful for the future, cruising around in my little car.

Now when I wash my car, all I think about is how my husband cheated.

You see, my husband was working as a manager at a local car wash when he began his affair. At first I figured managing a car wash seemed like it a silly job, but with all the technology these days, most of the equipment is controlled by computer. That being said, there always seemed to be an emergency happening at that place. Managing the car was was easily a 60+hr/week position.

This is how he met her. She was assigned as a tech specifically to him, in order that all things be documented in one place. What began as casual flirty comments, turned into full blown emotional work affair. And now I hate getting my car washed.

When I pulled Vanna Black (Yes, I named my car) into the bay to give her front-end a good pre scrub before parking her in the automatic wash, I became another person. Feelings of anger and insignificance began pouring over me, as I asked myself how and why they could do this to me. I wanted to vandalize that place!

It was as if I was finding out about the affair for the first time all over again.

This is the nature of the beast, also known as a trigger. Moments that remind us of our most painful event(s) in life and get us to face them all over again. While I have heard (from seasoned wives who have been in long time recovery from sexual betrayal) that triggers will ebb and flow in intensity depending on the season of life, I have also heard they may never go away.

I grieve the fact that a simple act, like washing my car, will forever make me wince and, for the time being, bring me a kind of rage that frightens me.

I can learn to deal with triggers in a healthy way, but riding them out authentically is a necessary start.

Over the next few posts I’m going to share some triggers that I regularly have and what I have learned through them. An important part of dealing with a trigger is being real about how it makes you feel. Authenticity and being honest with yourself is going to be difficult in the beginning, but denying your feelings and shoving them away will only make the healing process longer, and its a recipe for futility.

As someone who is in the thick of processing everything, I can tell you that my darkest hours of suffering through sexual betrayal have been the most honest with the Good Lord. As I talk about triggers, we must remember that we have hope. Hope in Christ who knows what is like to suffer greatly. You are not alone.

And PS. I didn’t end up vandalizing the car wash. In case you’re wondering...

How do you know when it is healthy to avoid something that triggers you, and when it is healthy to face it head on?