As I better understand the relationship between past traumas and present behavior, I am more aware of situations that trigger emotions tied to the past. Triggered is a strong word in the traditional use in psychology. No, I do not experience panic attacks from my triggers but I do get an emotional response.
The week of February 15th, Texas experienced a terrible winter storm that left many, myself included, with rolling power outages and boil water advisories. My thermostat read 58 degrees at the coldest point. My house has a fireplace. I had never gotten it inspected, so I did not try to use it. I actually had covered the fireplace opening with plastic to keep out the draft that was coming in.
Today, I had someone come out to inspect my fireplace. The inspector removed the plastic, pulled out his flashlight, and looked into the firebox opening. He tells me the damper was open and that was the reason for the draft. He demonstrates how to open and close it. He tells me to get a new grate because the old one is broken. He tells me that my chimney is lined with thick metal tiles and is safe to use. He is done in under ten minutes. So, now I’m feeling a little silly for having someone come out for an open damper. He kindly reassures me that I did the right thing by having someone come look at it first. Routine service, so what could be triggering about that?
I bought a house few months ago and quickly realized I did not know some basic things. Things a father should have taught a daughter. Things a husband would take care of for me.
I hate not knowing something. It leads to frustration and anxiety for me, someone who loves to be in control. I try to know every contingency and have a plan for that. Nuts, right? I did not get my driver’s license until I was twenty-nine. Part of the reason was because I had no one to teach me. Many of my friends in college were taught by their father or uncles. I did not have that luxury. I eventually paid for driving school and got my license. I could have used the chimney during the winter storm but I did not. Aside from not having any fire wood, I simple did not know how to use it. During that storm on Wednesday, the coldest night, I was afraid for a quick minute. I thought had I been married my husband would know what to do.
Truth is, I don’t know if my father could have taught me to driver better than Dominga my driving instructor. I also don’t know that a husband would have known how to use the chimney either. Situations that are traditionally handled by men in our society, like the the chimney, or auto repairs, or lawn care trigger an emotional response that I am missing something, like the knowledge from a dad or support of a husband. And because I lack those things, my life is somehow harder than it needs to be.
Truth also is, God has always shown me how to get through any situation or perceived lack. I know my life is blessed because God is the center of it.
It’s like the scripture in Isaiah 54:5,
For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
God has really taken care of me. I have been able to move across country, buy cars, and buy a home all by myself. I still desire a husband but I am not lacking because I am unmarried. I am a full, happy person. Anything I want to do or need, I make it happen. God helps me in every situation, every time. Those moments when I am triggered, I remember that fact.