Triggers, and how to deal with them?

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
HL Mencken

As quotes go, that’s one that’s stuck with me for a long time*. Sounds kinda badass doesn’t it? It’s been back in the head the last couple of days. I get that based on that I don’t sound too well, but I’m doing better than my last update. The brain is more high than low, even with today’s “Oh hey, that event you were going to pre-Covid would have started today” reminder. As useful a tool as Facebook can be, sometimes I really want to punch it.

I’m also prepping a playlist for my house’s Christmas party, which is to be apocalypse themed. Yes, it’s bold to assume we’ll be able to host one, and not in the greatest of taste, but we were preparing for it pre-Covid and we’re going through with it! My theming, at the time of writing, is pick your own apocalypse. Was it Biblical, did the robots rise up or kaiju emerge from beneath the waves? Have the Daleks invaded, was the bomb dropped, or were the Stars just Right?  It’s far from complete, and needs more Ragnarok for one thing, but it’s been keeping my brain occupied and that’s been welcome.

Anyhow, I’ve been musing and yes, there is a point to this. I have a few triggers. Make that a lot of triggers. Most of these are inconsequential, such as things reminding me of a song, or a TV show. The board game Operation reminds me of Tripod’s The Hot Dog Man**, while the Phantom of the Opera takes me back to a Wharf Revue skit. Normal stuff, at least relatively normal. But as we’ve seen with recent posts, some of those triggers are more potent than others. The things that will take me from a good day to a miserable one in seconds. The things that shatter my self esteem or leave me near burning with rage.

How I deal with them has been an evolving process. I have a long history of trying to ignore them, or distracting myself with something else unhelpful and thus feeling worse later. If crushing my resentments so deep down they become a tiny diamond was a sport I’d be Olympic level. This had me musing about my snapping point. What could it take for me to break? What’ll be my one bad day, the event that’ll make me go full Howard Beale or William Foster? Do I even have one? Probably not, let’s be honest. I’m not a confrontational man by nature, far more comfortable out of the limelight. I’ve a long list of “20 minutes after” lines, things I wish I’d said stacked away in the back of my brain, from missed opportunities, good jokes, or in one case, possibly crossing swords in the parking lot***.

As I’ve said, I’m not a violent man. I’ve had people jokingly bet about the body count when/if I snap, but the older I get the less funny I find that. There’s been times in the last few years when I’ve come closer to giving in to the impulse and lashing out, mostly verbally. Thankfully, things have gotten in the way, sometimes fear or politeness, or just having nothing to say at the time. There’s plenty of internet flame wars I’ve been tempted to join, but the realization that nothing I add to this will help generally holds me back, no matter how eloquent or impassioned my words may be. Whether it’s joining in on a torches and pitchforks mob, or sticking my nose into a heated discussion, I know that staying out, not inflaming things, is the smarter thing to do. But damn, there’s times when I want to roll in, keyboard blazing and vent my rage upon the irritant with righteous fury. Usually I swallow that and go clean the kitchen. Other times it’s gardening, or murdering racists in Red Dead Redemption 2. I’m sure there’s healthier coping mechanisms, but these work for me.

Whatever the task, I find I need that sense of accomplishment to distract myself, to turn to the closest person nearby and say “I did a thing, please notice this!” I told that to my therapist and she responded that her husband does the same thing. It’s always nice to know you aren’t the only one who does something. I’m debating whether or not to move up my next appointment, but for the moment I’m hanging on. I’ll certainly have something to talk about, that’s for certain.

As always, thank you for continuing to read these. It means a hell of a lot to know I’m not just screaming into the void. I didn’t start these to help people, but if just one person knows they aren’t alone, it’s been worth it. Take care of yourselves, and each other. It’s gonna get worse before it gets better, so please, look out for others. Kindness is punk as fuck.

Be seeing you.

* Don’t judge me. The line “I struggle to understand people who say they’d kill for a religion, but then I remember if Optimus Prime asked me to kill someone they’re a dead man” has been stuck in there for longer.
** “OPERATION? GET FUCKED!
*** The line I wanted to use was “I’d prefer to settle this peacefully and without any bitterness but if you have an alternative method you prefer, such as crossing swords in the parking lot, then I accept the challenge.” I’d still like to use the line someday.

One thought on “Triggers, and how to deal with them?

  1. You aren’t alone mate. I read and enjoy your rants. You write so well, I swear you should be doing something that makes more use of your wonderful talent.

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