Triggers

I drove to Creative Mornings with mascara on, feeling brave and un-smudgeable. I met my friend and creative dreaming partner, Suzanne, coincidently twinning in a golden shirt, jeans and brown sandals. It was her birthday and the day before Coura’s birthday. I was feeling excited to hear some inspiring words on creativity.

Five minutes into the presentation, the speaker started talking about her childhood. Mostly, all about her dad, photos in a slideshow of her dad, her relationship with her dad. More about her dad. And then, a tape recording of her as a kid talking with her dad.

That’s when I lost it. I became unhinged in every sense of the word and started uncontrollably sobbing in a silent auditorium of 200 people. I ran out as fast I could, my tears fleeing my eyes at the same pace.  It was the most blindsiding, unexpected wave of grief yet.

Triggered.

Who knew? What are the rules on big, flashing trigger-warning signs?

DAD TALK COMING. ALERT. AVERT. PREPARE. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. TURN AROUND. RUN HOME AND CRAWL INTO BED.

Some triggers are obvious like going to my parents house, the spot of the phone call, a photo. Other triggers are more camouflaged, hidden inside innocent keynote speakers or coffee shop playlists.

Thank God for Suzanne who knows dark humor and what it means to cry in public. It helps to be surrounded by people who know how to position your arms so that air can flow into your lungs.

As uncomfortable as that was, I would take a public cry over holding that gigantic ball of energy in my body to wreak havoc on me in some other way. I’m slowly learning, that if I face my grief head-on with honor and kindness, it actually releases it’s death-grip and even lends a reward of peace on the other side.  In kid terms: It’s less like an annoying house guest who never leaves and more like Tom the mailman, just dropping in with a quick message and then on his way.

I wonder if other people wanted to cry that morning. I wonder who else has been hurting when I’m sitting in beautiful oblivion. 

One of the many gifts of grief: compassion.

Triggers I want more of: sprinklers on a hot summer day.

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