Trigger Season – Hometown Edition

I’ve been absent for a bit because in July I finally realized my dream of purchasing a home and land back in the NC mountains where I grew up. And just about the time we started to get settled, trigger season arrived.

For me, there are a slew of trauma anniversaries between the end of October and mid-January. Deaths, betrayals, elections, holidays and a birthday all happened during this time of year. Every year it throws me for a loop. But this year was massively worse.

In hindsight, it seems obvious. But I was not prepared for the fact that being here – where every trip to the grocery store or across town brings on a slew of memories – would intensify the pain I felt from those yearly triggers. After all, the bookends to this season are my Papaw’s death on October 29 (the one the UPC church convinced me had gone to Hell) and my Mamaw’s on January 13. Those are the grandparents that practically raised me, that fought my parents over how they treated me, that did their best to protect me. And I am constantly being hit with the fact that I am here and they are not.

It Got Really Bad Before I Got A Handle On It

Unfortunately, since the intensity of this trigger season took me by surprise, things got pretty bad. As I mentioned, I have dreamed of moving back here – literally ached in my soul for this place and these mountains – for a full 39 years. It was May of 1982 when my parents moved us to southeastern North Carolina, away from all my friends, and every adult that tried to protect me. I honestly don’t think isolating me from help was part of their thought process at all. My dad was unable to work here because he’d burned too many bridges in a small town, and spent most of his time drinking and hanging out at local bars gambling. They went east to a military town because construction was all he knew and there are always construction jobs on a military base.

The effect was the same. I was completely alone with absolutely no protection from their abuse. Eventually I spent a summer with my aunt in Florida (where I was unfortunately molested at my very first rock concert) and after that she was always available via phone for me to call for help. I made a handful of friends in ENC that are close to me to this day, including my bestie. But there were no adults on the ground to protect me from day to day, and during my teen years things got really bad.

Things got really bad for me here in November as well. I began to be tempted by the wine section at Ingles, and one night bought some. Since my stint in rehab last year I’d been taking a monthly shot of Vivitrol, a medicine that inhibits receptors in the brain in such a way that if you try to drink you derive no pleasure from it. It also completely took away my cravings. But being in a small town, there is no one here who will administer Vivitrol, and I’ve had to switch to the pill version called naltrexone. I assumed it would work the same as the shot, but I quickly discovered it does not. Plus, it’s much easier to skip a pill if you plan to drink.

The next thing I knew, I was right back up to two bottles of wine a night. It happened lightning fast. So fast it was scary. My kids were upset, and I was spiraling out of control. My relapse lasted a couple weeks, during which I must have spent over $200 on wine.

Thankfully, I was able to get a hold on myself. I had some therapy, where my psych told me that duh. Of course this trigger season is exponentially magnified. But it probably won’t ever be this bad again, because I’ll have faced it. Next year all the memories won’t be so fresh. I’ll be used to being here.

Which is a very Morrigan thing to have happen. I’ve been thanking Her every day for bringing me back here. I’ve been asking for this for so long, and She had said getting this blog up and running would be rewarded. Once I did what She asked, this move fell into place just like magic. Of course that would include some exposure therapy.

Once I managed to piece one day of sobriety together, then two, then three, I’ve turned a corner. All of a sudden trigger season isn’t as intense as it was. Of course, we’re only halfway through December – I still have Christmas, my maternal Grandma’s birthday and my Mamaw’s death anniversary in January to look forward to. But I do feel a shift.

Between Herself, the Ancestors, and the spirits of these mountains and this place, I think I’m gonna be ok.

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