Being “Triggered”

A member wrote about how he is triggered so often by other people. When we discussed what he really meant by the word triggered, he answered, “I was attacked by lust.” He’s suffering and feeling that our program is not working for him.

In reality, there is no such thing as being ‘attacked by’ lust. Lust is desire—nothing has desire but ourselves; nothing is desire but what’s in our own hearts. Even our own eyes don’t have desire! They just see. It’s our will, our priorities that guide our eyes and necks. We want to see more of what we desire. When you see something attractive, you’re blaming your desire on that thing—something outside yourself—as though it makes you desire it.

I’m a sexaholic and understand full well that we are easily reminded of our desires by opportunities that come up and things that we see! My sponsor helped me admit, for the sake of my own sobriety, that if there’s lusting, it’s mine and mine alone. Lusting isn’t the same as seeing something, and seeing something isn’t the same as lusting for it.

The ‘I was triggered’ crowd are people who equate seeing attractive people with being physically jumped on. But that’s just blaming. That doesn’t make it a true reality. Nor does it make it part of this Program just because some sexaholics may say it a lot. And it has nothing to do with the powerlessness I read about and see in sober members.

Please consider this short example: In discussing the 4th Step, Bill W. tries to explain that when we find people, circumstances, or life unbearable, our problem is not in them, nor in life. The problem is in ourselves! It’s always our own character defects that are our problem, not the behavior of others, nor our circumstances in life. Taking Steps 4, 5, 6 and 7 help our success in life in that our blaming finally ends.

But then why is it that when it comes to lust, so many of us point a finger at attractions and call them ‘triggers,’ and we get away with believing that we are ‘attacked by lust,’ etc.? I believe this is due to the word, ‘Powerlessness.’ In truth we aren’t always ready to be sober; lust is sweet, and surrendering it is often very scary and very painful for us. Powerless, gets twisted to mean “powerless to resist any temptation,” instead of meaning, “unable to drink like a (normal) gentleman.” That is an entirely different perspective. Our program becomes an excuse instead of an invitation to regaining our power of choice and enjoying the freedom that God offers us when we give up the right to our lust drug.

Recovery is certainly not for the faint-of-heart and not for those who are ready to blame. To me, it’s the opposite of victimhood. It is an invitation for us to start and continue growing up. My sponsor tolerated me for 15 years to help me learn this. I certainly cannot speak for the Program. But this is the only way I know that works for me.

Dov G., Baltimore, USA

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