Memories Triggered

chrysalisSpring is upon us and that means caterpillars everywhere are on the verge of becoming a newer version of themselves. With much time spent in the chrysalis, letting go of the past and preparing for a great adventure.  Over the past 7 years, I have been doing the same thing and life has led me to many wonderful adventures of late.  Recently however, I had a “moment” that I would like to share with you! It came suddenly and completely took me by surprise!

In January of 2013, I wrote a post on PTSD and Divorce. Over the past few years, I have not suffered any of those mentioned PTSD experiences, and have felt pretty well renewed.  I have some wounds that will always be present in my mind, but for the most part, I am a new and improved person who just happened to have survived a divorce.  Towards the end of that post, I mentioned that as part of my healing journey, I was at war with my memories.  Through the restorative process, I have surrendered my memories and processed much of what I needed too, or so I thought. Apparently, my mind had other plans and decided to wage war once again.

The trigger was a song that happened to come on while I was watching television. The song immediately infuriated me.  I began yelling out and having an argument with the person singing.  I wanted to know what gave the artist the right to create such a song and sing it as if it were the best thing ever written.  I found myself having a very one-sided conversation and becoming angrier at every word.

The next day I was speaking to a friend about my “moment”. All of a sudden, I heard words coming out of my mouth that were not there the night before.  I was actually explaining why that song was such a trigger.  I quickly realized that what was happening in the lyrics was something that I wished I had done during my period of doubts.  That piece was a rendition of my life but with scenes that never played out due to my fears and uncertainty.  Situations that I did not allow myself to be a part of because I did not want to believe they were true.  These impetuous feelings were hurtful to me, but this time I was the one causing the pain.

I know we cannot go back and say “what if”, but I really wanted to ask myself that question. The more I thought about it; my answer was that the outcome would probably not have been any different.  In fact, it may have been worse.  I trusted in my perception during those times, and I chose a way to react that was secure for me.

This unexpected moment was a very valuable lesson. It has showed me that deep down this was an unresolved issue, having nothing to do with my ex, it was all me!  Will there be more? I have no clue, but at least now, I know how to identify it and process it.  I do know that when it happens again, I will let the music play, soak in the lyrics and glide with the rhythm.

butterfly musicWhat I think is important to pass along here, is do not shut yourself out! These “moments” will appear without warning and can be frightening to face head on.  I faced mine by accident the following day and I am grateful for the experience and now the knowledge.  When you get to this point in your journey, remember this as an important step in the healing process.  Trust in God, and listen to what you have to say.  Do not be afraid to be angry with yourself but also remember to be just as forgiving!

Do you have an experience of a “moment” you would like to share? Please comment.

Blessings, Kimberly / Courageous Butterfly

Related Topics/Posts

Does PTSD after divorce exist? You better believe it!

Letting Go of Regret


Creating a Blank Canvas On Valentine’s Day

Blank-Canvas-Outdoor“Valentine’s day ugh”, is uttered frequently by singles on February 14th, aside from those who choose to embrace their inner selves which I have been known to do.  I even took myself out on a date night.  I figured why not, nobody knows me better.  I have to say, I set the bar pretty high, and actually feel bad for future prospects who may feel the need to outdo my do!

So this year, I tried again.  Same type of date night, one that I was sure to enjoy and I truly did, but there was still something bothering me. It wasn’t that I didn’t have an actual date, or that I was spending it by myself it went deeper than that.

When I awoke this morning staring into the eyes of my poo-chon, I quietly wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day and that is when it hit me!  I closed my eyes and it was like I was watching an actual flash back in my mind.  The top right dresser drawer was slowly opening and inside was a white card decorated with red hearts, black lettering and the words “Happy Valentines’s Day”  After taking one of the biggest breath’s of my life, I opened the card.  

I quickly opened my eyes, I didn’t want to see what was written on the inside again.  I got out of bed hastily, I refused to let myself get upset.  The sun was shining, church was waiting and I was NOT about to succumb to a PTSD moment.  So I pushed the emotions away and continued on with my day.

It’s really scary sometimes how things can just pop into your mind when your not thinking about that particular circumstance.  For example, just a bit ago I was cleaning my 10 gallon fish tank, had been procrastinating it for a while so it was pretty dirty.  Elbow deep in fish muck I had a moment of clarity in this crazy brain of mine.  Valentine’s Day for most is a celebration of love.  Romantic love, family love, friendship love, and just love in general.  But for me it was forever changed the day I found that card.  Although hopeful I am wrong, there will probably never be anything that makes me feel better on that day just because of the circumstances surrounding that particular hurt.

blank cardSo what can I do about that?  Besides honoring those emotions and letting them move through me, there is one more important thing I can do…create a blank canvas on that memory.  I can’t erase it, can’t make it go away but I can try and alter it a little in my mind.  So the next time I close my eyes and that vision appears,  the card will be blank and at that time I will begin to insert new words, pictures, and phrases.  Continuing this until the day comes when I close my eyes and the Valentine is all mine. Filled with things that are important to me and signatures of those close to my heart.

Today my canvas holds a few lines from the song Just Be Held by Casting Crowns:

Hold it all together Everybody needs you strong
There’s freedom in surrender Lay it down and let it go
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
And not a tear is wasted In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes Your life is in My hands
In the storm is where you’ll find Me And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go

This Valentine’s Day, if you are finding difficulty, I challenge you to make your troubled canvas blank and start creating one that is perfect for you.


Courageous Butterfly 2/14/16

Related Links/Blogs

Just Be Held, Casting Crowns

Valentines Day Divorce, The Huffington Post

Valentines Day After Divorce, Modern Mom

Valentine’s Day During A Divorce, ecgoldberg

Novena for Single Catholics, Catholic Herald


Emotional Memory

Brain-conceptual-image-puzzleAnyone who has spent time on a fitness program knows that the muscles of our body are equipped with muscle memory.  Meaning that when we work out our muscles grow accustomed to different types of movement, thus turning it into an unconscious learning process for the body.  What would happen if we apply that to our emotions?

In my last post I talked about PTSD after divorce and this topic goes right along with it.  Recently I have suffered from effects of both PTSD and what I believe is emotional memory.  It has taken me by complete surprise.  I was even reluctant to publish the post thinking that it wasn’t really relevant to those suffering a divorce, but I was quickly put to ease when I started researching it.  I’m glad I decided to talk about it because it is a real problem and there are many of us suffering from it.  With support and the ability to share our stories, we can all learn how to get past this current emotional state.

At this point on my journey I was convinced that I was past all of that.  I had dealt with what I thought were all of my emotions during my divorce and for the first year afterwards.  Like I said in the previous post, I had forgiven and moved on.  I am finding out now that the journey of healing is a longer road than I thought.  I have reached a pretty high mountain and it was no where on my radar screen, it just appeared.

Take a second and pretend you are a  little kid again and have  just entered an amusement park….I bet right now you are feeling excited and happy and it feels just the same as it did all those years ago.  That is emotional memory.  We don’t think about it when it is something that makes us happy, we just accept the feeling because it is a good one.  It affects us in a totally different way when it is an emotion that caused us pain or sadness.

I was recently in a brief relationship with someone and just before it ended I could sense that something was a little off.  My intuition, which I finally am in tune with, was telling me that something was different.  When we had the conversation and ended things I felt exactly the same as I did when I received the email telling me my marriage was over.  I was overcome with emotions that I should not have been feeling because they were left over from the divorce.  It made no sense to me because you could not even compare the pain of my divorce to this current event.  However, since both situations ended in a loss, that was the trigger.  Even though they had very different outcomes the same emotional memory response was felt.  When this happened I started out being very angry with myself.  I was upset because I was spending more time with these emotions that I had already dealt with two years ago.  I was feeling very frustrated with the fact that maybe I’m crying now because I was too strong when I should have been weak, and really taken the time to face those feelings.  I quickly realized that is not the case.  No matter how much time I took dealing with those emotions as they were happening, my brain was busy storing them up.  It took this event to bring them back to the front of my memory, thus filling me with the exact emotional response. emotional memory

I will admit that all of this has been pretty scary.  I’m now faced with the fact that anything in life may produce these memory responses, and that they can happen at any time.   The hardest part will be allowing myself to live life and experience situations where some of these feelings may resurface.  I was under the impression that only the divorce itself could produce those emotions, and that since the divorce was over, I should never feel like that again….I was wrong.

I know now that my journey of healing is still very much in progress and I am thankful for the recent relationship.  Not only because it brought joy and happiness back into my life, but also because it took losing it to know that I still have a lot of work to do!  It is a blessing to me that I had enough courage to put myself back out there.  I am also grateful that it has happened now rather than ten years down the road.   Because right now I am still in battle mode and I will use the strength that I gained from having survived the divorce to learn how to handle this new stage of the healing and transformation process..  When it comes up again, which it will, I will be ready and know how to respond.  I’m slowly getting past the anger of it all and realizing that only I can choose how I handle this.  I am the only one living it, therefore I am the only one who can move me past it.   In a recent conversation with someone who means the world to me, I was reminded of an old song that speaks volumes for how I am currently feeling.  In the voice styling  of Joe Cocker  and Jennifer Warnes:  the road is long and there are mountains in our way, but we could climb a step every day….love lift us up where we belong!  I like to replace the word  love with they’ll, because as I climb each step of  any painful mountain, they’ll bring me closer to being fully healed.

I’ve begun keeping a dream journal to help me see what other subconscious emotions may be brewing inside this little brain of mine.  Talking it out with close friends and my counselor has also been beneficial.   I think it’s a little early for me to offer any concrete advice but I would like to suggest that if you are going through this, do not try to suppress it.  Let it out!  It will be very hard to feel all of the painful emotions again but it is the only way to heal through it.  If we keep suppressing them our emotional memory responses will never learn how to properly process them so that when they are brought out they are less painful each time.

I had several comments on the post relating to PTSD and I hope that there are other’s who will share their stories relating to that topic as well as this one.  Your comments and advice are welcome below!


Courageous Butterfly


Related Links/Blogs

Unconscious Emotion, Current Directions in Psychological Science

Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings, Psychology Today

What Comes Out When Squeezed, Missy Tree

What It Means To Be Human, anonymoUSly obvioUS