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How to Navigate A Surprise Visit From the Past

I was walking through the state fair with my husband for the first time since the fair ended last year. It was a warm evening, and everyone was rushing around, finishing up the last bit of “must do’s” before opening day. Happily walking along watching the activity going on around me, I smiled as my husband reached over and touched my arm. I thought to myself, “Aww that was sweet.” Then… “BAM!” it hit me. I suddenly felt a twinge of panic, my heart began to race as I stopped dead in my tracks and just stared at my husband.

Parts to a clock displayed on a table.
The Time Machine

Our brains are fantastic little machines. They hold so much information and do so much without us even noticing. They help us function each day, hold information from a lifetime and at any given notice… can instantly transport us to any given moment from our lives. Unfortunately, some of us have many times in our lives we don’t want to revisit yet our brain has other plans, and we have no choice but to go along for the ride.

Now, my abrupt time travel has taken me back a year prior to a moment where I had just found out that my husband had been painstakingly dishonest. Although it had been a year prior, it came back full force as if I was living it for the first time right there in the present moment. My heart rate started to elevate, and I pulled my arm away from my husband and stopped dead in my tracks. I looked at him and saw the person who betrayed me just a year ago.

Although it seemed we had worked through the past incident, I realized in that moment we obviously hadn’t. Our brains are funny machines, unless we truly process the hurtful things our brains deem too painful, we will continue to be triggered by things familiar from the painful moment until, we truly work through those events. We can do some work, talk it through and think we are fine, but in one moment it can all come flooding back.

Antique photos laid out for display.
This Place Looks Familiar

I am very familiar with triggers since I have many. My child and young adulthood are speckled with traumatic events that fill my brain with a variety of easily triggered memories. I have processed and worked through a lot of them, but occasionally, I will be presented with a new one or have a moment like this, where I become triggered simply walking at state fair. Luckily, I am very aware of what this is and am able to recognize that I am triggered. I know logically it’s not a real threat right now. However, It doesn’t stop the feeling or the thoughts that arise, unless it has been properly worked through. I can always identify it, which does help lessen its impact and/or duration of the aftermath. Unfortunately, because a trigger effects your reactions and behaviors, the effects can last for days and if you’re not aware, it can disrupt your life and cause you to make rash decisions that completely change the course of your life.

In this particular situation, I am able to call it out, explain what I am feeling, and quickly ignore it. We go about our evening in normal fashion. We are there for a fun little scavenger hunt for a chamber event, which normally would be fun. People were showing up late and its an hour in before the group even begins to gather to go about the scavenger hunt that I had high expectations for. I found myself disappointed in the way everything was going. My husband and I went about the scavenger hunt, finished quickly and I suggested we just head home early. We walked to the truck, in the sweltering heat, as I express my disappointment of the events that just unfolded. As I sat down, I felt the weight of disappointment.

At this point, little things start to get to me one after the other. Then, the little things became bigger like how much my husband doesn’t listen or seem to care about how I feel. The thought started to consume me. For the next 24 hours, what unfolded, was an exact replica of the events one year prior. I end up in tears, feeling unloved, unwanted, and questioning my entire marriage. Luckily, I have two very supportive friends that heard me out and showed me the love and support I often do not show myself, especially in these moments. Through talking with my friends, I was able to identify the spots where I knew I was triggered. Even though I analyzed enough that I found a deeper of my husband’s reaction, I still couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of rejection and fear.

Composite image of a spiral clock, door, with a cloudy overlay and background.
Wait a Minute…

It isn’t until the next morning, that it hits me how much unfolded because of my trigger. I am a Master Mindset & Trauma Coach, so I am very aware of the triggers I have and when they are activated. I know what to do and how to handle them. However, when you are experiencing them, it can sometimes sneak up on you, even more when you are as aware as I am. Because I knew what it was, called it out and dealt with it (so I thought), I went about my evening as if it was taken care of and over. I was a bit naïve and looking back, I had to do a head smack. It is obvious I didn’t fully deal with it and now see each moment it came back to mess with the present moment and turn it in to an exact repeat of the year before. Each thought, emotion and behavior played out identically to the year before. Why? Because I had not truly processed through the events a year prior, like I had originally thought. When the trigger came up and I recognized it, I thought I was good, so I dropped my guard. When the night began to veer off course, I just chalked it up to little things that went “wrong” throughout my night. It wasn’t until I had the thought “This is exactly what he did last year,” that I blamed it on my husband. In my mind I had escalated the situation in my mind and decided it was all due to the fact that he doesn’t love me or care about my feelings. That is… until the Tik Tok video.

Message Received

As the man pops up on the screen, He says triggers are events from the past that come to disrupt the present. “Whack!” Like a ton of bricks, it hit me. All the trauma from my life led to a core belief that I am unworthy, unloved, and never enough. So, if I am not aware and do not continue to process the events and thoughts that bring these beliefs to the forefront, they will destroy my present and replace it with events that prove those predisposition core beliefs. My thoughts will evoke feelings in which I react or behave in a way that results in it being the truth. I do this because its what I have lived my life thinking I deserved, because at my core I believe I am unloved, not worthy, and never enough. When I am unaware, I create the results my inner child thinks she deserves. But chin up! It doesn’t have to happen this way.

Clock with time to heal written on the face.

Thankfully, I am very aware and when moments like this happen, I realize what is happening, stop and rethink what has happened. I then am able to communicate it and take any action steps to rectify the situation, if needed. I am then able to reflect to see what I need to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again. At times, I blog about it to not only reflect on what occurred but, hopefully help you from experiencing similar circumstances. I have come along way in my growth journey. This was a 24-hour period and in the past, it would have gone on for a long time and resulted in yet another damaged relationship due to me unrealistically “protecting” myself. Thankfully, because of my growth work, I knew what to do and can prevent it from happening again.

I applied the strategies and tools I have used to process trauma before to put this particular event to rest and spent time with my husband talking through all I realized and explaining what happened so he could understand for the future, which will help us both to navigate any similar incidents in the future. I explained how when a trigger presents itself, it shows us the areas in our past that we have yet to work through. In some cases, we truly may have thought we had, and it was done but, if a trigger comes forward, please know, it is not resolved. When it is resolved, the thought may come forth, but your reaction will not be the same. When you process your past trauma, it changes how you view it. Therefore, many times the trigger doesn’t present itself again, but if it does, it does not evoke the same physical reactions with the same intensity.

Now we are on the Right Track

Our brain and body cannot tell the difference between past and present without our interference. So, if we are unaware of our triggers and what our reactions are, we will react in uncharacteristic ways and behave in a way that we later regret and cause consequences that effect our lives and we cannot get back.

We must process the thoughts and feelings around the past events that bring forth our triggers and change our relationship to them to fully process and be able to manage and fully put to rest the things that would trigger us in the past. Often there are multiple issues that are wrapped up in one trigger. It can be a combination of events from your past that feed the thoughts and feelings to one trigger. Therefore, if you think you have processed through one event, yet you find yourself triggered in a similar manner, consider it may be more than one event that is tied to that trigger. You may have processed through one of the events but not the other, causing the trigger to still come forth.

Two hands holding separate pieces of a heart.

By processing your past traumas, it allows you to truly live your life in the present. It stops your brain from sneaking in and stealing precious moments of today, for unpleasant memories of the past. If you think about it, I lost just over 24 hours reliving a painful moment of my past because I hadn’t fully processed the feelings wrapped up in an event from a year ago. In my case, it went beyond the year ago event to childhood, but had I fully processed the event a year ago, I would have discovered it was in fact a childhood trauma that was bringing forth these feelings.

As a Master Certified Mindset and Trauma Coach, I understand the ongoing battle of processing past trauma and navigating life challenges. The tools and strategies I teach my clients have been proven successful both by myself and past and present clients. There is nothing like having a partner on your growth journey that has walked the same path as you, perfected the tools and strategies needed to succeed and knows how to navigate all the bumps along the way. Each one of my clients have changed their lives in ways they never thought possible. Today is the day to put the past behind you and begin creating the life you wake every morning excited to live.

Need additional help to navigate a surprise visit from the past? Schedule a complimentary session today.


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