A Portal to Trauma: When the door opens for no “good” reason
Anyone who has experienced trauma likely understands the concept of triggers.
There might be an old song, or a particular location, that triggers a long lost traumatic memory or trauma response (anxiety, physical illness, dissociation), but what about when these things seemingly come out of the blue? In my work, I have found that there is always a reason---it's just that some triggers are more obvious than others.
Some triggers are internal: a certain memory or thought that accesses a web of other memories and thoughts
Some triggers are external: a smell, someone who resembles your abuser, the weather or the way the sky looks reminds you of when the incident happened
Some are time-bound: the anniversary of a trauma---these are often unconscious dates
A couple other overlooked biggies:
Children: If you are a parent, often when your child is at the specific age that a trauma took place, it will become a portal back in time. It can stir things up that have been dormant or even completely repressed. It doesn't have to be your own children for this to happen---which is why some people who experienced childhood abuse or trauma are kid averse.
Feelings of Safety: Yes, it seems counterintuitive but, often, trauma ONLY surfaces once we are in a safe enough place (logistically or emotionally or both) to process it. So, it can be very disconcerting when, YEARS after a trauma, something comes up and you're thinking, "why this? why now?" And it's actually because you FINALLY feel safe enough for it to emerge.
These portals, or doorways, to access old trauma, can feel very invasive, but they are also an invitation for processing and integration.
Trauma lives in our brains and bodies whether or not we are conscious of it. So, when we do not consciously process it, it can impact us in a variety of ways---like illness, injury and various coping strategies, that we may never connect to the trauma.
In other words, the portal is a pathway to healing. Yes, it can be scary to walk down the path. But the impact of trauma is either something you consciously walk with or it tends to walk all over you.