Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pull My Trigger(s)

Last night I wrote a blog when I was highly triggered...I deleted it this morning.

I received lots of awesome feedback, constructive criticism, and sassy love. I appreciate all of it. Some of you sent me some deliciously inappropriate pictures with offers of salacious deliciousness....I'll get back to you ;-).

I deleted the post for two specific reasons: 1) Some folks were confusing my emotional response with the person that triggered the response--which was my fault...said person was the focus of my rage but not the cause of it, and 2) one of you good people wrote, with much love, and said the fact is that I really do not know what happened to said person and that I might just be confusing gay boy rudeness with my own personal soft spots, which is true enough that I realized that I could have been highly unfair in how I posed my blog last night, so here I go with a broader and more appropriate response.

The best part of being a real live human being is that you get to have other real live human beings give you some perspective when you are unable to have it for yourself.

First let me explain what I mean by triggers. Triggers are those moments, experiences, and situations that sometimes can be avoided because you are conscious of their impact on you and what they bring up from your personal and historical past. Sometimes you find out, the hard way, when they summon up a Hell storm of emotions that ransack your body and take your mind and spirit hostage for a time. For addicts, triggers can often send folks into a relapse with a lightening quickness. But the bottom line is that once one is triggered the best possible scenario is to get to a safe place or let someone you know and love that may be with you in a place that has suddenly become unsafe that you have been triggered and then find a way to ride out the emotions. For me, most often, this means that I run to my laptop and start typing a blog or I go to the gym, as I did this morning, and work my body through the emotions. Some people take a shower, other folks journal or sing or take a walk but it is important for anyone that has never experienced severe physical, emotional or sexual trauma that a person that has been triggered is not going to be in a necessarily rational state of mind for a period of time (sometimes the triggered moment begins and ends in seconds...sometimes it last for hours or a day).

It is also important to know, and listen closely here, that the situation, person or thing that acted as a trigger is not ACTUALLY the problem. Take last night, for example. While I had every right to be annoyed and upset that I was stood up without any communication, the only fact that I had was that I had been stood up without any communication. Any response directed towards that person should have been limited to, at most, "I am pissed off/annoyed that you weren't where we agreed you'd be when we agreed you'd be there." That's it. That's the most that I would have done with any friend that didn't show up, it's what I would have done for any colleague or business appointment if said person didn't show up. But there are two situations when I am now aware that I need to be prepared to find safety and quickly when a person does show up: if a parental figure/authority figure that I respect particularly if it is a black man or someone to whom I have disclosed my HIV status and in whom I have some sort of interest.

I have the parental figure thing on lock....but it wasn't until my 30th birthday when two friends of mine, both of whom happened to be black men and both of whom were/are people to whom I looked up weren't able to be at my birthday party that I discovered I had a deep and unexamined issue. I fired off a couple of self-depricating and passive aggressive text messages to them that did not respect what they were doing and where they were. One person is still a good friend, another was so offended that he disengaged with me. It wasn't until my friend Victor, who knew all of us, brought it to my attention that what he observed and thought was significant was that I only got upset when the two black men that were my friends didn't show up that I had such a deep response, which he actually shared with those two folks. And as soon as Victor (aka Titi) shared his observation with me, I knew it was truth. It made total sense. My birth father was in the military and was unable to be around when I was growing up and then we had a couple of experiences in our relationship where he was unable to be around even though he was in the country. The man who raised me that was extremely physically abusive but for all intents and purposes was the father with whom I bonded emotionally. When I was a child, he was constantly failing to show up and follow through leaving me feeling abandoned and "less than". I was disappointed that Larry and Ramon couldn't be at my party but all the feelings past that were really my deeper core feelings of being abandoned by black men that I love. Both Larry and Ramon were working and working hard and really couldn't be present. But all I got from them not being present was: unworthy, less than, unloved. Our filters can be such mindfucks. I had no idea that was what was going on until after I had been triggered and acted out.

Last night I discovered a second trigger when the gent didn't show up. Instead of it just being that something came up, or he was just being rude, it became about feeling unwanted, undesirable, and untouchable because of my HIV status. My response and my reaction last night was not actually about him, it was about me and my own issues that I am aware exist, and I work on them daily, but last night was a new situation for me. I have had men share with my honestly that they can't get past the HIV status and so choose not to engage with me, which I respect. And in those moments, I might feel sad or a bit of those deeper feelings, I know how to manage them appropriately. Last night, I was taken off guard, and so my feelings were able to rise up and punch through and put me into a tailspin before I could give myself the space to process them appropriately. Instead of it being that the dude didn't show, it was: untouchable, undesirable, other. I repeat...our filters are mindfucks.

And anyone that knows me knows that if I get to that emotional state the Devil Himself stays the fuck out of my way. I am my Mama's son sometimes...and that woman is crazy as Hell (love you Mama). And now that I have 200lbs of muscle on this here body...I start to feeling like Bruce Banner up in this piece. "You wouldn't like me if I'm angry." HULK SMASH!

Last night was a rough but necessary lesson for me to take in. It wasn't at all about this other person (who I did hear from, finally, today...I am still annoyed). It was also a moment for me to process openly, particularly since not everyone has to deal with such intense triggers in their life, but everyone knows someone that does.

And lord have mercy I am glad that I had the sense not to name names or I would be eatin' crow like a mo'fo today.


  1. Charles Rice-GonzalezJune 9, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Brandon, I read both your postings and I appreciate both of them. We are humans are complex and simple at the same time. What I love about both postings is the sense of self awareness how in touch you were with your feelings and yourself. Stay strong and present beautiful brother.

  2. Brandon, I'm glad that you were able to sort things out within yourself. It's a step towards healing. I'm very proud of you! See you Sunday! xoxo


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