We got triggered!
a view from the rollercoaster
raw. open. exposed. come on in
charcoal and coloured pencil on paper
Some days the sun just doesn’t rise at first
And the darkness bores a hole
As our mind aches to memories,
And feelings, “only” feelings overtake us
And we are consumed
And we lose ourselves to escalation
Sensation that overpowers and overwhelms
Until we are curled as tight as we can hide
And bury ourselves in a space that is not a space
And there we lie
Desperately sending out smoke signals
Until someone comes to our rescue
Because we can’t rescue ourselves at this point
Thank god someone always comes
Sometimes more than one someone
And they shine some form of light, any form of light
Until our own sun can start to rise
And even if the entire day long the sun never quite rises past dawn
At least we saw its glimmer and felt its warmth
And that, that is why we know we can uncurl and climb out of our cave and sit.
But also knowing
The sun will rise again
In this space that is now a space
And we sing softly to ourselves
We are safe. We are ok.
Writing by Thandi
Drawing by Taylor
What is a trigger?
Janina Fisher writes about the living legacy of trauma.* She explains how the effects of trauma often endure anywhere from weeks to decades afterwards. And it manifests itself as emotional and physical responses, called “implicit memories”, which keep bringing the trauma alive in our bodies and emotions again and again and again, sometimes over and over during the course of a single day. When put trauma is reactivated in our day-to-day present life, we have been triggered.
This was our today.
We got triggered. A memory of something horrific that happened years ago sent our brain into survival mode. Even though every rational part of us knows that we are safe and that that particular memory was years ago, still our body and brain flew into protective survival overdrive and we got triggered. A full system intense emotional physical and perceptual reaction to everything we once lived. As though we were living it again. Today. And we were overwhelmed and the only way out was through the help of wonderful people in our life and our art. Expressing it outside of ourselves and using the process to self regulate. Because breathing and tapping just weren’t enough today.
*Janina Fisher: The Living Legacy of Trauma
PESI Publishing and Media, 2021
Art Therapy for Self: our practice, how we created this, in case you’d like to try it
We grabbed charcoal and just started scribbling the background, the space. The feeling of being encased and closed in and almost suffocated in our despair. Then we looked in the mirror and began to draw what we saw. Noticing our body. Focusing on feeling our body as we drew each part. Feeling our body hunched over as we shaped our drawing. Noticing and scanning. The parts we had to draw without looking up (to capture the image), we drew from an inner sense and imagination - based on what we felt. We even gave ourselves the hair we had when the triggering event happened. Relating and connecting and noticing and reinforcing what was then and what is now. And, in doing all this, we felt both regulated and heard.
How to join: please come in
Many many days we feel alone or lost or just utterly discombobulated (fave word). Other days we feel like we are awash with wisdom or insight or hope. It's a rollercoaster alright!
Probably the most vital thing for us on our journey is that we are not travelling alone. We have the world's most magnificent friends, access to amazing therapy and a whole lot of serendipity of perhaps divine intervention?
I don't know about you, but rollercoasters all alone are no fun. So let's share the ride - the more the merrier, as "they" say (who are "they" anyway? This time "they" are right).
So here's where we share openly and authentically and expose ourselves with all our bits and pieces. At first we wanted to title this section "hanging out the dirty laundry" but then we realised it wasn't dirty, it was just life.
So please, journey with us. Let's hold one another and find encouragement in togetherness as we go Doooooown and UP. Because we always do. Smile
Same as always, follow along, add your own, riff off ours.
If you're feeling brave, post your versions in our comment feed so others can be inspired too. Or upload to your own social media (be sure to use our hashtags - #veryhumanrollercoaster - so we can find each other). Either way, make sure to comment on posts by others and encourage one another as we find new voices.
The only rules are: RESPECT!
See you in there!
Leonora et al