Does anyone out there have emotional triggers that set off various feelings out of the blue? I realized Sunday morning in church that I do react to things around me. I, the queen of non-chalant, have triggers.
A woman sat to the right one pew in front of me so I could see her full profile. Although I know I had never seen her before, I knew she reminded me of someone. She looked very familiar. I made it all the way to the collection time until it struck me. I sat staring at her. The woman to my left had to get my attention in order to get me to pass the collection bag.
I knew I was staring, but I couldn’t help myself. She very strikingly reminded me of a girl in high school and college that was purportedly my closest friend at one point. I have not seen her in forty years, but I am guessing she would closely resemble this woman. It was the red hair that attracted me first.
We ran around together constantly our junior and senior years of high school. I went off to college out of town and she started working. I never did hear the whole story but somewhere in there she had a baby girl on her own.
When I came back to town for my junior year and started to date my fiance-to-be, I fixed one of his best friends up with her. They hit it off very well. We double dated a few times. They dated for the next three years while my friend went off to the Marines, came home, gave me an engagement ring, and went back. For reasons to be told at a later date, he broke the engagement and was deployed to Viet Nam.
She and her fiance set the wedding date. It is the first time that I would have an opportunity to see my “ex” fiance upon his return home from the Marines.
I told my friend I would not be coming alone. I would bring a date. Of course the guy I asked supposedly completely forgot about it and I had to show up at the wedding alone. In my discussion with her about this matter, I said some things about my “ex” that I really didn’t mean. It was raw hurt that was still talking.
After the wedding I rode to the reception with the “ex” because there were some things I wanted to give to him from the time of our engagement. His mother already had the engagment ring. The first thing I did when I got the “dear Annie” letter was drive to her house. I took the ring off immediately and handed it to her. She thought I should wait a while but I told her it didn’t belong to me.
I thought things went fairly well on our ride to the reception. We seemed to be on friendly terms. I was a little nervous about being with him but was kind of hopeful. We walked into the reception and stood in line for the buffet. I thought we would sit together. Instead, he headed for the bride’s table. He sat up there with MY friend who had fixed him up with HER bridesmaid. By the time she married I was through college and working. Our paths did not cross as often anymore. I was not upset that I wasn’t asked to be in the wedding party. I didn’t expect it anymore. But to invole my ex 1 in the scene was very difficult for me to handle.
I never talked to her again after that reception and she made no effort to talk with me. I heard some things throughout the years as various rumors, but we were not really in each other’s lives. Her husband died a couple of years ago, and I sent her a condolence card. I thought I had closed the door on anything to do with her.
Then I see her look alike. Everything came flooding back to me. Is there anyone else out there who would have been hurt by her actions at her wedding? No, he was not my fiance any more, but before he left for Viet Nam after the engagement was over, we had the opportunity to spend some time together in Washington, DC while he was still in training at Quantico.Our departure from each other was kind of open ended. I was more upset with her than with him.
I am very slow to anger. When I was going through my break up with fiance 1 and then my husband, others would say things angrily about them. I would let others express anger that I could not feel. I was angry. I realize that now, but I didn’t then. Instead, I turned that anger inside and lived with depression once again. I was good at doing that by that time. I thought I had forgotten all about that part of my life until yesterday morning.
I used to tell my students that I was very slow to anger, but they never wanted to see me reach that point. I think it was with a seriousness that they believed because their behavior never really ever reached a point where I really felt it necessary to show anger. I think I reminded them of The Incredible Hulk. He would always warn people, “You don’t want to see me angry.” Actually there are only two people in my past that think they ever saw me angry. Both times I was playacting what I thought anger would be. I still never felt it.
Actually, by this point in this story, the feelings have dissipated already. Perhaps it was a good thing that they surfaced because now I can let them go. I think I wanted to write about anger because I can understand Major Hasan’s anger. I’m not saying I agree with what he did, but I can understand. He has lived for years being the butt of verbal harrassment about being an Arab. He never acted out. He just took it. And took it. And took it. Throughout the early course of my life in elementary, high school, college, and my marriage, there were episodes where I just had to “take it” as well. I can identify. He became so depressed he decided suicide would be the only answer. Then he exploded.
Now I know that I will never explode like that. I have come too far with dealing with triggers that set off episodes of depression. I am learning, slowly, to live in the present. It’s amazing what just concentrating on breathing can do to those old feelings. I thought I had forever let go of those feelings. I don’t know if I will ever know when they are truly gone. I just know I have an opportunity to release them again. It is always sad when “nice guys” go over the edge. Sometimes the “nice” quiet guys are the ones people should look out for. Perhaps they are the ones who need to have friendship extended to them.
One never knows what is truly going on with some people. Maybe he is giving us a bitter lesson that is hard to take: to listen to one another and play nice just like our parents and teachers tried to teach us when we were six.