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My triggers have evolved with my changing circumstances over the decades.
Initially, it was my father’s mouth sucking sound, like he was sucking food out of his teeth. I was eleven and trapped with my folks on a camping trip. (Decades later I confirmed with my mother that that year was a particularly bad one for my father at work, and may have caused some anxiety-related behavior. It sure started me down that road.) Strangely, he only did it during that trip.
Soon afterward, becoming overly sensitized to sounds, the next triggers were my father’s scraping the plate to get every bit – and I mean like he was digging for gold. And my mother loading/unloading the dishwasher – she clanged the dishes together so loudly I couldn’t believe they didn’t break.
Later, it was my mother’s exaggerated hissing saying words starting with “s.” Someone called this “sibilance.” (Let me mention I always made my discomfort to these triggers known, and received nothing but contempt or warnings.) To my horror, she eventually started deliberately exaggerating the sound and its duration, even repeating the word over and over, and smiled at me when she did it. This is the only intentional trigger-causing I knew of, but it caused a permanent rift in our relationship. (Never really developed a good relationship with my father.)
The things that trigger me now are the obnoxious, unnecessary, thoughtless things people do repeatedly, and their associated noises: blowing the horn to lock the car door; fidgeting with a hard plastic thing and dropping it on the desk every 30 seconds, day after day; the loud, grating voice of the woman who runs her mouth most of the work day about personal or gossipy subjects.
So, my triggers seem to have begun during a period of (someone else’s) anxiety, and grew more intense upon the realization that I was an object of contempt or at least apathy. I was incredibly miserable until I grew up and moved out. Then I was a little less so, because I had more freedom. But people were still assholes, and that, essentially, is what angers me.
I thought there was something uniquely wrong with me for 50 years. I’m relieved but also very sorry to see I’m not alone in this. Living in the right kind of place and doing things you love will make a difference. Can’t really do that at work, but that won’t last forever.
Hang in there.