Hi, ladies. I know it’s been a while since I’ve last written. I was transitioning into living in my new apartment, and I’m glad to say that everything is going well.
Today, I wanted to talk about the connection between sexual abuse, triggers, and affairs. If the term is unfamiliar to you, a trigger is anything (big or small, but usually small) that reminds you of a tragic or traumatic event and causes a negative emotion. I first learned about triggers during my marriage because of a trigger that was happening during pregnancy. For reasons I didn’t understand, I would push my husband’s hand away with brute force whenever he would touch me in a certain way. I should stress that this only happened when I was pregnant. I didn’t want to reject my husband, but I kept doing it and I couldn’t figure out why.
Then, through self-reflection, I remembered something painful from my past that I had suppressed. During summer camp one year, a little boy kept reaching under the lunch table and trying to touch my private area. It was very annoying and upsetting for me and I didn’t know how to handle it. Eventually, I told someone and I was taken out of camp, all of my family found out and I was super embarrassed. Now that I remember, I can see how this event in my life would cause me to lock up when I am touched in certain ways that resemble the incident in my childhood. I explained this to my husband in hopes of helping me heal. But by the time I solved the mystery, I believe he was already with the other woman, and wasn’t really interested in listening to me tell him about my triggers. He felt rejected and hurt. In fact, he didn’t consider what had happened to me to be a big deal at all, and figured I should just “get over it.”
For any men who are reading this, please know that sexual abuse comes in many shapes and forms. Essentially, though, it is any form of nonconsensual sexual contact. It’s frightening and hurtful and is not something that you just “get over.”
Just like there are triggers that come from sexual abuse, there are also triggers that come from experiencing an affair. The fact that infidelity causes triggers proves how deeply emotional this experience is. (Read “Five emotional triggers” to learn more about triggers). Sometimes, these triggers don’t make sense to our husbands after they’ve cheated. For instance, a husband may tell his wife that he’s going to the grocery store, and gets confused when she responds by bursting into tears. To me, though, her response makes perfect sense. During the affair, her husband said he was going to the store when he was really going to see the other woman. Now when he says he’s going there, he brings up this memory for his wife.
So now that you know what a trigger is, how do you get over them? One of the best ways to overcome triggers is to try to eliminate things that could cause one. For instance, during the affair, I found bottles of Red Bull all over my house because she drank it. Because of this, I can’t stand Red Bull now; I want to stab Red Bull every time I see it. So you will not see me with Red Bull ever, and if my husband and I were living together, I would ask him not to buy it because it’s too much of a trigger for me.
One big trigger that can come from your husband cheating is his cell phone. This is a huge trigger for me because that is how I found out about the affair! Every time his phone rang or a made a noise when he received a text message after I found out, I felt uneasy and angry at the same time. My husband did get a different-looking phone which helped, but he couldn’t stop keeping his phone attached to his hip, and seeing it there was another trigger for me. In the end, the way he kept wearing it was one of the many things that led to me moving out.
The takeaway lesson here is that triggers are real. They stem from traumatic events, and your husband cheating on you is a traumatic event. My heart goes out to everyone experiencing triggers caused by a cheating husband, sexual abuse, or any other situation.
Take care and have a good weekend!