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Triggers are Guides to Darkness

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

Fight, flight, fawn, or freeze are responses of our sympathetic and parasympathetic systems to threats, real or perceived.

These natural responses are our bodies way of surviving traumatic experiences. Like many with C-PTSD, I suffered prolonged exposure to various forms of abuse and lived in a constant state of survival for nearly all of my life.

Our amazing bodies stored these memories and responses in our vagus nerve and the psoas muscle, when we are triggered evidence shows this is where our “trauma” responses come from.

During our time of captivity and abuse, these responses were necessary for our survival. Today these responses are no longer serving us- patterns & responses that cause harm, make us ill, cause our body physical pain, etc. Reactions that are activated in the vagus nerve and psoas muscles. Through vagal nerve stimulation, combined with energy, breathwork and meditation we can release these responses and be free of their debilitating affects. Book Here to Get Started

Our triggers can warn us a person is dangerous for us. We often ignore those triggers not trusting ourselves and find ourselves in unhealthy relationships. These relationships are familiar and therefore comfortable regardless of the amount of anguish that is caused.

As we recover from our trauma, these situations and relationships become less comfortable and we begin to experience internal conflicts. Our anxiety increases and we can experience depression, irritability, and dissociation.

When we continue to ignore these “warnings”, they can manifest as physical pain in our body, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia and a myriad of other symptoms. Rather than look at the anxiety, we tend to treat the physical symptoms not realizing they are tied to the underlying anxiety.

Other times we are triggered if a situation is similar, yet of no real consequence- we push good people out of our lives and isolate. When triggered, we turn to whatever will bring us relief from the terror, anger and depression. We avoid the triggers.

We run.

I don’t mean run from people, places things or situations - I mean sometimes we do, and sometimes that is what is best for us in the moment- but ultimately, we what we are running from is our feelings.

In my 12-step program we talk about how we spend our lives running from our pain and problems doing anything to avoid feeling them.

I saw triggers as a flashing neon sign that said: “Don’t you dare enter!!” So I didn’t dare. I began to structure my life around these land mines in an effort to avoid the terror under the surface.

Then I realized that my anxiety attacks and the feelings of terror, my upset stomach, my chronic pain were all flashing neon signs saying “LOOK HERE FOR HEALING!”

A personal example:

Many times I tried to leave my first husband after he would be violent, then terror and fear of leaving would consume me and was so much greater than the fear of staying in the violent marriage. I thought the terror that would come over me at the idea of leaving was a warning that leaving was the wrong thing to do, so I turned away from that fear and stayed in the familiarity of the abusive marriage. The fear would subside.

When I finally set my mind to leave, I can’t count how many times I nearly fainted from terror while I was packing up my home. I remember being at the U-Haul and my knees actually buckling out from underneath me as I was walking to get the truck.

The unknown can be a scary place for those of us with complex trauma. It gets so confusing because the familiarity of the past mixes in with our current situation and then the terror of the future overrides the dangers of the current situation.

Then I finally left and I found freedom and peace — the terror went away. The emergency was over.

But - I didn’t heal.

I changed the situation externally, but I didn’t deal with the issues internally. Then guess what? I repeated my pattern. A similar man with a different face. That marriage lasted 15 years.

With every passing year I pushed through the fear to find healing and then I would take five steps backwards. The terror hidden deep within the recesses of my mind simply became too overwhelming — I would retreat to what was familiar - despite how unhealthy. It was what knew. I continued on over the years - three steps forward and five steps back.

I repeated this pattern until I realized that my triggers, the terror just under the surface, it was not my enemy. The terror within was my wounded inner child crying out for help.

I walked in to the darkness and befriended my shadow. I reached out my hand to her and embraced her. She didn't hurt me - she fell into my arms a trembling mess, a beautiful trembling mess. I am still holding on to her to soothe her fears and make her feel safe in this world - but today she is not terrorizing me, she is cooperating with me.

The next time you are overcome with emotions that you don’t understand, find a place to get quiet. Turn on some soothing high vibration music on YouTube. Light a candle, burn some incense. Dim the lights.

Talk to your fear. Sit with your fear. Remind yourself you are safe, that it is safe to feel your feelings. Thank your fear for protecting you all those years. That’s what your shadow(s) have done. Protect you.

Now, ask your Shadow to cooperate with you now to build a life of safety and security — together, to trust you.

Ask your shadow what it is trying to tell you or just cry, feel your feelings.

Make your shadow your friend — meet them in the darkness. We all are born out of the darkness of the womb — there is comfort in the darkness.

And for some of us, the womb is the only place we have ever known peace.

In the darkness is where you will find peace.

If you're interested in assistance with your shadow work and/or subtle energy work, email me at

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