I looked up the definition. Triggered.
It is a strange experience to read a textbook definition and realize the words on the page define you.
As if I were a vapid child blundering into an active wasp’s nest, you have not a clue that those stings, those barbs, leave behind a lifetime of a slow release venom from the oozing puncture wound. The red swelling had instantly expanded in all directions from the center across the soft skin like a lustful nuclear blast.
Eventually, the mushroom cloud dissipated, the body’s healing process fought back and the carnage disappeared. A few days later, as if nothing had ever happened across the now silent battlefield. It was just another day in my life.
Keep moving, keep walking forward. Stay silent. Be quiet. Be a man.
But the violence left behind a legacy, a specter, a haunting reminder tucked away for an inconvenient encounter on down the journey. Unless I cut that journey short. I did not, I will not, many times I have refused the whispered invitation.
So it came at me in waves and crashes as if it caught me in the ocean’s undertow. Helpless. Powerless. It intended to take me. I spat out the salt water, the foamy froth. Mercy not a part of the crime against my innocence. It wanted to drown me in my mind. It kept dunking me down deeper and deeper. My lungs exhausted, my heart pulsing from overexertion.
The picture show had returned and flash froze me. But I had learned to let the show go on and not fight back and let the undertow cast me away after it had proven its power and control over my body.
I knew what to do; I had been at that place before. I just sat there with a half-smile within the crowd, nodding agreeably, and accepted the invisible beating. It kept beating on me. I don’t know why it picked on me. I thought it had extracted the ransom decades ago. But I guess it wanted to remind me.
So I sucked in the wrong fuel. I blow-torched anything in my path. It was a convenient response. Scorched earth. If you kill feelings off, they cannot hurt your soul anymore. Kill it.
The interior leprosy a safe colony to remain hidden.
I know I am not the only leper. So I write words on a page to express our collective feelings.
Feelings are hard to express in the written word, like attempting to catch butterflies with a shotgun blast.
And then magic happens…
Let all the feelings return, let the evil images flow freely without restriction, their power will die off and then kindness and love will appear and navigate you back toward safety.
Stand with your toes in the sand and let the cold waters wash across your feet. Stretch out your forefinger into the air, let it accept whatever happens, and sometimes the butterfly lands on the tip of your finger.
It trusts you with its elegance and its grace. It accepts you.
As the butterfly flutters its wings, you feel the warm sunshine; you breathe in the salt air and hear the ocean’s waves cycle across the beach like sleeping lovers snuggled together within a protective cocoon.
And the fragile butterfly waves the memories away and grants you peace.