PTSD, triggers, and deflection


An interesting thing happened on the way to the reply button on Facebook. It was synchronicity at its finest. An article popped up from Patheos about a noted Pagan who had been arrested on child pornography charges. He had moved away (physically and spiritually) from his earlier Pagan tradition, but the headline included “Pagan”.

Now, anyone who has followed me for any length of time knows I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Anyone who has read the details knows how areas intersected with clergy, neighbours, family and the societal structures inherent in the complicity of silence that wrapped itself around those years.

One would think I would be full on bluster championing the cause of shining the light on the pervasive child abuse, holding the perpetrators accountable, and getting the word out. Because that is what I do.

That however is not what I did. Nope, I said “yeah, yeah, bad perp, but what about the privilege in the headline naming him as Pagan!!” *indignant*

Um, what? Yes, I post frequently about privilege. Yes, I have posted at length about post-traumatic effects that linger into adulthood from abuse. Let’s put those on a scale of Justice and see which one carries more weighty baggage in this particular moment. Uh-huh. Yet I went for the privilege slant and rant. The easy out, so to speak.

Here is where that comes up wrong. I posted without research. I responded without noting my triggers. I did it on somebody else’s FB wall. Research would have shown me that the article was from a site that writes about religion and the news sites didn’t mention the religion of the perp at all. Noting my triggers would have stilled my fingers and I would have merely read and posted on my own wall as I usually do. Likely, between the refraining from posting and updating my wall I would have become aware of my deflection and written not about privilege, but why strong spiritual counselors are needed in the Pagan community because 1) people like the man arrested exist in every religious community and 2) the lingering effects of PTSD need to be addressed in an ongoing manner.

Just yesterday I was engaged in an online discussion about the public’s lack of knowledge about the long term consequences of PTSD and why people don’t “just get over it, it happened so long ago.”

And here I was all confident in my ability to manage effects, note triggers as they happen, and go on my merry way. I do indeed manage well and note triggers and hold my reactions until I’m certain they are speaking my present immediate (not past memory) truth. Most of the time. And there’s the rub. Most of the time.

Most of the time is not all of time. It never completely goes away.

The work is ongoing. I will confront and honour the work by continuing it.

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