Do you know that feeling when your body does what it wants with you? If you notice that you actually want to behave differently, but you can’t because you feel blocked. I know that pretty well. I usually experience this feeling when I feel overwhelmed and, in a way, so surprised by a situation that my body becomes completely closed. Very often I was triggered/reminded of something in such moments. This means that a current situation puts me into a feeling that I already know from the past and may even remind me of old traumas. The feelings from the current and the past situation mix and it is initially unclear to me whether I am overwhelmed by the current situation or whether I feel so strongly reminded of the past situation and am overwhelmed by the feelings of the past.
The fact that I react very physically to triggers/reminders, among other things, does not make it easier to deal with them. I lose control of my body for a while because it signals to me through its defence reaction that it does not want to be reminded at all of the challenges and injuries from the past situation and certainly does not want to experience them again. A few weeks ago, for example, I was suddenly confronted with a strong feeling of mistrust. I knew perfectly well that this feeling of suspicion had nothing to do with the current situation. My relationship person had never lied to me before or given me cause for suspicion in any way – so why should I have been suspicious? I completely trust her and yet I was suspicious.
Usually we keep most agreements very open in our open relationship, after all it can happen that you simply change your mind and still feel like something else. Situations can shape needs and until I have been in a certain situation, I often don’t know how far I want to go with other people. This time it was different. For the first time she dropped the sentence “I only want to kiss, if at all”. At first I liked that she knew what she wanted and felt a certain security in it, because I knew what potentially expected me and what not. But the longer I thought about the sentence, the more insecure he made me.
What baths “only kissing” and what if she changes her mind? Maybe she doesn’t know what she wants? Maybe that will limit them? Suddenly I didn’t know whether I could rely on our agreements and became suspicious. I had the feeling that I was reacting disproportionately strongly to a situation that would usually not unsettle me so much. And so this mistrust has raised two specific questions:
1.) Where does this mistrust come from?
2.) What does this have to do with my relationship person?
Little by little I remembered that in my first attempts to have an open relationship, many agreements went quite wrong. We promised ourselves things in order to give each other a feeling of security and to limit ourselves extremely. We tried to live an open relationship in which there was an agreement for every breath. This has put us both under a lot of pressure to define our needs within these agreements. Needs were no longer flexible and changeable and this often led to disappointments and breaches of trust because we trusted what the other person said. So the answer to question no. 1 is: It reminds me of situations in which another person wanted to give me the feeling of security and thereby completely limited himself. So the answer to question number two could only be: I was afraid that she would restrict herself without realizing it, I would trust in it and then fall out of all the clouds because it wasn’t like that.
I find the example so accurate because it makes a supposedly small situation seem very big, simply because I felt reminded of it. It also shows that someone does not necessarily have to have done something “wrong” for it to feel wrong. When I feel reminded of past situations, the feeling is in the room. It creates a tense atmosphere and it is very effective. At such a moment, there are two perspectives on the situations. On the one hand the perspective of the triggered person(s) and on the other hand those of the person(s) who triggered this feeling. As a result, there may also be two ways to deal with this. When I was triggered/reminded of something, I try to ask myself the following questions first:
Has there ever been a similar situation that reminds me of the current situation?
Is/are the same person(s) involved?
What was the challenge/injury in the past situation?
Do I see elements in the current situation that evoke in me the feeling of the past situation?
What do I need right now to feel comfortable?
Sometimes I don’t want to deal with these questions right away. Sometimes I don’t want to face the situation at all, but simply want to linger or get up and go. I often feel the impulse to just get up and walk when I’m triggered. So it all depends on whether and how I find access to myself right now. However, I think it is important that I think these questions through sooner or later. It helps me to understand if something could have gone differently. Who could have done anything else to prevent that from happening. Finally, I think it is fair for me to be able to communicate at any point in time what has just happened. I don’t want to give the other person(s) the feeling that they did something wrong if they didn’t.
It’s different for the person(s) who triggered something in me/reminded me of past injuries. I found it relieving when people knew me a little better and were able to interpret certain physical reactions.en. Some of them are for example: A lowered look, little eye contact, no to little physical affection or closeness, a bent body posture, a lowered voice and the reflex to escape and to want to get out of the situation quickly. It helped me if my reaction wasn’t dismissed or overstated. A cautious approach often helps me. I may not even be able to answer questions because I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s good to know that the other person is supporting me and trying to be there for me empathetically.
I can’t (and I don’t want to) expect anyone to interpret my feelings. I know this is very difficult to impossible. But if I know what triggers me, I can prepare other people for how I might react and make it clear from the outset how I can react to certain situations without these people necessarily doing something “wrong”. My relationship person could not take away my feeling of mistrust because it had nothing to do with her and her actions. The mistrust is a fundamental mistrust and cannot be taken away from me. However, I can be supported in the fact that it is getting smaller and perhaps at some point will be completely gone. So the more often I have positive experiences when I am suspicious, for example because distrust does not come true, it will help me in the future to remember positive, past experiences and to push the negative experiences into the background. I practically supplement the negative experiences with the positive ones and lead myself step by step out of this mistrust.