Say No To Triggers

I used to date a habitual drunk driver.

His greasy, wavy hair would flop across the length of his canned fortified beer as he slurped, with a sneer, sitting by my window, smoking short Du Maurier cigarettes. “I only smoke when I’m with you,” he said. But it had to be a lie because he always had a new pack of cigarettes.

“Let me take you somewhere.” He grabbed his keys and slammed his tiny can on my counter, spilling yeast-stenched fluid across my palmolive-fresh tile.

He parked his white truck illegally on the side of my street, claiming that it was a space no one ever wanted.

“I don’t know if you can park here,” I told him.

“I don’t if you can park here,” he’d shoot back at me in a mocking tone. “I’ll drive slowly because I know you’re scared.”

In my twenties, I never said no.

He took me to a rooftop bar across the city. I was unfamiliar with Toronto’s East side. If you had offered me a million dollars and said “Where is Queen St.? You know, the closest main street that is impossible to lose?” I would have phoned a friend. But, in the absence of monetary incentive, I guess I had no incentive at all towards my safety.

The rooftop bar was closed so we ate nachos on the front patio. As he paid our bill, he told the server “I’m taking her on a romantic walk.”

He literally winked at me.

In the dark, he took my hand and led me on a path behind trees. Damp summer smells took over the ambience. We were on wormy ground.

“Look,” he said and he gestured to a wide open basin-shaped field. Teenage voices led my gaze to a tiny amphitheater where they were setting off fireworks.

I turned back to him and his pants were down.

“Give me a blow job,” he said.

I’ve since moved to the East end of Toronto.

I’ve lived here a year and I walk my dog to the beach every day.

Last summer I realized that I walk through the path where I gave that dude a blow job and past the rooftop patio where he promised me a romantic walk.

The walk triggers humiliating feelings of shame.

I don’t know if I deal with the trigger properly. I’ve never asked my doctor how to deal with triggers mostly because I hate the word. I hate the word “Trigger,” as if I am the problem. It’s MY trigger so it’s MY problem even though it was HIS blow job.

I try not to even reach the point of trigger.

I try to just: see the feeling, remember the memory, laugh and move on.

Three simple things: Feel, Remember, Laugh. Move on. It’s over.

Why do I feel like I gathered all of these triggers before I turned thirty? Will I be spending my whole life over-reacting because of shit that happened to me before I turned thirty?

I don’t want that.

Feel. Remember. Laugh.

It was, after all, a pretty hilarious blow job.

He stopped me after a while and said, “Ok. We can go now.”—What a great mantra for your most triggered self.

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