Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

A journey to healing from complex trauma.

When Triggers Are Actually Intuition & Discernment ~ Lilly Hope Lucario



‘Triggers’ are common issues with people with (Complex) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The common advice given is to learn your triggers, avoid triggers, manage triggers.

Triggers, are when past trauma is triggered by something that happens now. These can be emotional triggers, can bring flashbacks, anxiety etc.

It is often viewed as the ‘triggers’, being innocent and non harmful, but triggering something from the past. E.g. someone sees someone with a beard, and it triggers a past memory of abuse, by someone who also had a beard. Obviously, the person now with the beard, is completely innocent in simply being someone, with a beard.

I have, however, come to understand, whatever is occurring now, that causes a trigger, can also be something that is not okay in itself. E.g. a person lies, triggering emotions felt by lies told in the past – by someone abusive. But, the person lying ‘now’, is not innocent. Lying is wrong and it is okay to not be okay with someone lying to you. And the very fact that you know the person lying ‘now’, is lying, is discernment. I can often tell when people are lying.

So when people choose to dismiss a trigger, when the trigger was based on something being done now that is wrong…. they are choosing to ‘blame’ the persons (Complex) PTSD. Rather than face the fact that the lie they told, was not okay. They are choosing to refuse to deal with the lying and how wrong that is.

Another example is when someone gives a fake apology, that does not take responsibility for what they have done. I can discern when that is occurring. And they then dismiss that (fake) apology not being accepted, as being the issue of the person with the (Complex) PTSD. When the reality is, I have discerned the apology being fake, and I do not have to accept it at all. And a fake apology is a weak persons way of dealing with their own wrong doing. And a fake apology, is an insult to my intelligence.

Someone’s (Complex) PTSD, can become a convenient way for others to refuse to deal with their issues and wrong doing. The (Complex) PTSD is used as the scapegoat.

And weak people love to use some way of shifting blame, shifting responsibility, dismissing their own wrongs.

A recent issue occurred, where a belief system of there being ‘no victims/no villains’ within families. It is an irrational and bizarre belief system, some can choose, which minimizes severe abuse, minimizes the intentionality of abuser and invalidates the suffering people who have been abused by family members do endure.  

When faced with this, from someone I am supposed to trust, who knows my trauma history, yes, this is very triggering. It is a reflection of the minimizing and denial of abuse, from family members, who have very intentionally abused me, as a child and as an adult.

But, there is no ‘innocence’ in this issue occurring now. To invalidate someone’s severe suffering at the hands and toxic minds of highly abusive family members, is abusive in itself. It is no better behaviour, than the denial and minimizing, by the family who inflicted the abuse.

Minimizing, invalidating someone’s known severe trauma history, is emotionally abusive.

To then ignore that persons hurt, is like rubbing salt in the wounds.

So, I have come to understand, many of my ‘triggers’, are actually brought about by my deeper capacity for discernment.

Discernment and intuition, to know something is occurring now, that is not okay. And I have every right to be upset about.

And yes, I have been abused, lied to, never had a genuine apology and had everything I have endured minimized and invalidated so many times in my life. So it makes me very emotional, to the point where I will shut down, to protect myself. A coping strategy, that has kept me safe, many times in my life.

But, I do have the capacity and insight, to know when the triggers occurring now, are innocent or are about wrong doing occurring, I cannot and should not ignore. And I have every right to be upset about.

~ Lilly Hope Lucario

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Author: Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

I am a survivor of complex and multiple trauma and abuse, who at the age of 40, began my healing journey. I am using my journey to recovery and healing, to help others, to help survivors feel less alone, validated, encouraged and to enable others to understand themselves more. Complex trauma, particularly from severe, prolonged childhood abuse, is profoundly life changing. Complex trauma produces complex adults. The journey to recovery is a painful, often lonely, emotional daily challenge and it is my aim to encourage others in their daily battle. ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

20 thoughts on “When Triggers Are Actually Intuition & Discernment ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

  1. Bravo! And you are right on the mark. This is yet another struggle of the people trying to heal, how to be present during times of being triggered, to see what’s going on before you go into a self-defense spiral, and really SEE what’s going on and learning to either address the situation, or decide not to engage, but too often I’m swimming too deep in the muddy waters of “is it me, or them?” to address the current situation as well as I’d like. I see it better after I’m out of it and by myself with time to consider what happened. The goal seems to be to allow the trigger to inform me of what’s happening, and pay attention to what brought on the trigger, and then address that situation in the now as best I can. Maybe stop talking and think, ask questions like “what do you mean by…?”, and most of all to stop defending myself or explaining myself or what I’m trying to say to what feels like yet another brick wall, or someone who wants to misdirect or hijack the conversation.

    I sometimes make excuses still, but it’s because I think I don’t need to work that hard at relationships with friends… let them be how they are, and accept what is good, let go of what isn’t working, “choose my battles”, because it’s not necessary to get on well on all levels with acquaintances and general friends. But with people closer it’s harder, and I find I struggle with wanting to just be done with them because I see the red flag warnings and I don’t really have patience with red flag warnings from people I am close to, or people trying to start some relationship with me. I used to be more accepting, now I am less. It’s isolating, and I see it’s avoidance too, and hypervigilance, but it’s also self-preservation. This is a problem, because I think that most everyone will exhibit some red flag behaviors some of the time, which has the effect of making the pool of options of people one lets into their lives considerably smaller. This is a problem in recovery.

    • That is exactly what I’m going through. I’m removing (who used to be) very good friends from my life due to their toxic behavior and they blame me for blaming them. It’s a big mess and I’m right in the thick of it right now. I’m being told I’m analyzing them, blaming and attacking them,. I was very calm and I stated rationally that I was thinking about aligning myself with people who are choosing to better themselves and removing the stagnate ones and all I’m getting is shit for it. Like I’m not allowed to have feelings that they hurt but take no responsibility for. It’s ridiculous.

  2. These words reflect the last five months of my life. These words are things I’ve been thinking about and experiencing lately but haven’t been able to verbalize. I grew up with an NPD father and NPD/Borderline mother. I entered adulthood with a huge bag full of trauma and triggers. I went on to have relationship with three different narcissists, two of which I believe were actually Sociopaths. The last relationship with a sociopath ended in April. He knew everything about my past and trauma. He would emotionally abuse me and then blame my past trauma when i reacted to it, saying it was all me. I stand continually amazed at how soulless these people are. But thank you for writing this post. It is helping me know that I’m not alone and that I’m not crazy!

  3. THANKYOU so much you have beautifully articulated what I feel think and discern I end up being treated like the crazy one especially when a liar won’t admit to the lie that hurts so much, I sometimes even protect the liar usually my partner or my children so as to not embarrass them even when I’ve begged for the truth. Again thanks for your insight it has confirmed alot for me x

  4. Great article! Finally someone put it on paper what I deal with!
    Thank you!

  5. Wish I had this knowledge far younger. I experienced and experience this still. Notice how I did shut down. and just would tread water to keep from drowning.

  6. Your article and the comments are so exactly what I live with even at 64 that I find it somewhat comforting, I know my triggers but I battle to control them. Lying and Destructive criticism are like a red flags to me and I can still become an enraged bull. I salute your well articulated article.

  7. I was recently involved in a situation where my movement was physically altered by the owner of my yoga studio. We weren’t in the practice room as you might imagine. When I non verbally showed my displeasure, I became the problem. It was even suggested that I had been “triggered”. “Obviously I’ve been triggered”, I replied. “I don’t like being shoved.” Is poor form on your part acceptable, because I am the one with the trigger? Or, is it easier to blame me, shifting responsibility, because you can’t accept what you have done? (I thought you were strong.) Oh, you “blocked” me from getting a towel behind the desk instead of “shoved” me? Let me get my dictionary, because I still feel the same no matter how you frame the altercation. (I come here for sanctuary.) Do I feel like I had to drag that apology out of you, because I did? I do not accept your apology, because I believe you sincerely wanted the whole thing to ‘go away’. I thank God for the discernment and intuition that let me know that despite what I have gone through in the past, what happened here was not okay. Do I have PTSD? That’s my concern. But to assume and try to use that against me is emotional abuse. I haven’t been back to the yoga studio I used to call ‘mine’. I’m currently looking for a studio that has not only good asana, but also good character.

  8. I have never thought of my reactions to lying and fake apologies as dealing with triggers. I am just getting out of a 20 year marriage to a narc so my life has been full of lies and fake apologies. I have had some very bad reactions to this in the past few months…panic, anger, racing heart, fear that the child who lied will become a narc, or whatever. It is so visceral it sometimes scares me.

  9. The ‘no victims/no villains’ belief system you mention reminds me of Landmark Forum which a relative of mine attended a few years ago. I think they have made some changes now, but they used to encourage people traumatised by severe abuse to forgive their abusers (which, itself, is abusive, and potentially very damaging). Basically they didn’t understand trauma at all. They convince people that they are 100% responsible for their experience – which means they must believe that traumatised individuals are responsible for their trauma. Ugh! Unfortunately my relative thinks he has an in-depth understanding of psychology, when actually all he understands is aspects of psychology which support the belief system. I have very little to do with him these days! It seems the approach of Landmark is something which helps people who are narcissists or tend towards narcissism and arrogance. Unfortunately, it does little to instill empathy and compassion – in fact, the belief system helps to legitimise a lack of empathy and compassion. Their methodology seems to help narcissists feel better about themselves by helping them let go of relatively petty “hurts” they’ve suffered, and protects their lack of empathy by minimising other people’s genuine suffering. Fortunately by the time he’d attended Landmark I trusted my intuition enough to know what he said was just plain wrong.

    Abusing others is wrong. Triggers may cause us to overreact, but I think I now know when I’m reacting to an otherwise neutral trigger, and when there is genuine abuse.

    • I realize that I am commenting a year later but thank you for posting this.

      A friend of mine recently attended and ‘graduated’ from the Landmark Forum and has been pressuring me to attend one of their 3 hour nights.

      From all the research I’ve done and my intuition telling me that attending will set me back from all the hard work I’ve done in the past year, your story just confirms things.

  10. impressive read . I was triggered a day ago. I have not seen my witch sister for a month. during the no contact month, I have been very calm. She stops into see me, we were chatting…I made the stupid mistake of telling her it was not nice that she repeatedly called me Stupid as a child. She Totally denied it – I lost it and told her off !!! told her I have a very good memory. she laughed ! and I could feel the rage inside of me. Finally I know now how I have been having flashbacks ALL of my life she then told me she would stop by the day to pick up a check. The Next day. I taped the check to the front door closed it and LOCKED it. she was NOT able to enter MY space

  11. Lily, I have learned more from YOU than any therapist !! thank you – you are a gift to many people

  12. Yes!!! I spend so much time these days wondering if the things are happening in my marriage are just plain wrong or if it is indeed all my fault because they trigger trauma from my past. I spend so much time wondering if it is me that is crazy or the situation.

  13. Dear Lili
    O M G!! This is it!!! You have put words to something I’ve become aware of in the last 2months! Yes there are definite triggers that result in emotional flashbacks in me….but>>> then there was this other thing that now has a name thanks to your blog!! DISCERNMENT!!! That definitely triggers me when I know and feel in every cell in my body that this person is trying to mess with my head and insult my intelligence‼️ Thank you!!

  14. My most recent snag (a term I prefer rather than “trigger” because when I think I’m “triggered” I think of myself as looking down the barrel of a cocked gun-and it’s hard to think of options.) Anyway: the snag was meeting with a self proclaimed “expert” on addiction who projected her stuff onto me without verification, pretty much said my husband’s addictions were my fault, would not let me get a whole sentence out of my mouth without her correcting me. I was ready to bless her in my heart and let the woman go. My husband, of course, really liked her. She was of the camp that men shouldn’t feel shame for sexaholism because that’s just the way they’re made. So I got out my good old boundary kit and determined what I would do if he continued his “counseling” with her. I was blamed for all sorts of stuff from “playing the victim” (when did that get to be an accusation) to controlling his recovery and preventing him from his life’s mission. Those accusations seem like diversion tactics to me. Finally, the option I chose was this: We can find someone to help us that we both resonate with. Which is what we are doing now. Trauma is especially strong when you are swimming against the tide of someone who really thinks they know better and wants to “put you in your place and have a position of authority.
    Thanks so much for your well written article.

  15. Pingback: When Triggers Are Actually Intuition & Discernment ~ Lilly Hope Lucario – The Mystical Goddess

  16. This was a great piece of writing and ,although I have not been diagnosed with PTSD I can FULLY relate. Do you constantly fight with yourself all day trying to figure out if it was a trigger or good discernment? I Do. This made so much sense to me. Explaining what I cannot explain . Thankyou for your validation. I believe I should be seen my a Psych to help me find resolution to help me cope a little better. I believe PTSD is the origin of my auto immune conditions as well. So very interesting!

  17. Thank you for writing all this Lily, it is helpful for me as a x-boyfriend to a girl who suffers from CPTSD. I am still in deep love with her regardless what people say, but have accepted her choice. Today i am going to visit my therapist again to try find the tools that can help her and me out of this misery. Somewhere deep in my heart i still think that she has confidence in me and if she is coming back i will do my very best to support her. It is a real challenge to have a relation with anybody who suffers from CPTSD and i have faced it for more then five years. I will never give up my efforts to help her. She told me before she left me for another man that she will end up as a lonely wolf in her small apartment..and my only answer was ..that will never happened as long as i live on this planet. Thanks again Lily and im so sad for what you have been through in you life.
    Regards Lennart