One of the hardest parts of being an abuse survivor is dealing with your triggers. Unlearning your triggers is damn near impossible. That’s not to say it can’t be done, it’s just hard. An easier, and possibly more effective approach is to unlearn your response. I have been through two abusive relationships, both long term. Because of this I have a good deal of triggers. Even though my first abusive relationship ended over 10 years ago, there are still things that trigger a bad response. Certain things that make me feel like I’m right back in that horrible situation again.
I know I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll probably mention it about a million more times here, my boyfriend is amazing. His patience and understanding has seriously helped me to learn how to cope with my triggers and re-learn a better response. A lot of the time he doesn’t even realize he’s helped me out. It’s just a matter of me watching his behaviors and realizing that this is what a proper relationship is. He can accidentally say the wrong thing (I can’t possibly expect him to know all my triggers) and I can snap. I always feel bad when I do, but he always takes note and reminds me how much he loves me. It’s helped me get to a point where I don’t snap nearly as often as I used to. I still flinch or cringe at certain triggers, but I can remind myself that it’s not his fault and react accordingly.
A good relationship doesn’t mean you never fight. A good relationship is about HOW you fight. Do you both listen? Do you walk away if you’re too angry and revisit the issue again when you are calm? Do you actually pay attention to what your partner is upset about and admit if you were wrong? Do you apologize and actually mean it? These are things that happen in a proper relationship and I’m starting to realize that more and more. I still have problems speaking up about things sometimes when I’m upset. I have a tendency to hold it all in until I very unfairly explode on my boyfriend. Have I mentioned how great he is? He lets me get it all out. He doesn’t yell back or try and argue with me. He just lets me get it all out. On top of that, he actually listens. Speaking is the biggest thing I need to re-learn. I know I have a voice, I just need to re-learn how to use it. The good news for me is, I’m getting there. Small steps, but steps nonetheless.