Triggers of a Different Kind

Triggers of all kinds exist everywhere.

Whether you’re a recovering alcoholic, drug addict, binge eater, shopaholic, disordered eater … triggers exist everywhere in life and they seem just as prominent in the blogosphere — where we choose what we read (whereas we have limited choice over what we see when we walk, shop, work, eat, etc).

I know at my worst, I couldn’t read some blogs because I felt the blogger was masking disordered eating behaviors , or because the focus was (what I thought to be extreme) weight loss, or because they were not recovered and still struggling (to the point where the posts made me uncomfortable).

I knew what I needed, and those blogs weren’t it. So I deleted them from my Google Reader. I should note that I’ve gone back to some of them. But there are some I just can’t read. It’s nothing personal against the blogger themselves, but more my own frame of reference or, shall I say, where I was at at the time.

The difference with all of these triggers is that most of them are not visible to the naked eye in real life.

Pregnancy, however, is.

After a certain point, you kind of can’t hide it.

On top of the physical presence of pregnancy … between bump-talk and bump-watch … there’s a collective obsession here in the U.S. about the baby bump and as a first-time mom, I have to admit, I am loving seeing my little bump grow.

But that little bump that means so much to me, could be very difficult for someone else to see or read about. Not everyone wears their life history on their sleeves, and we just don’t know what someone else has been through.

For example, over the weekend I read a reallythoughtful and eloquent post by Clare about the baby boom she’s experiencing among friends and family right now and how she is so genuinely excited for everyone, but admitted that it’s hard sometimes since she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to have children herself.

I admire Clare’s strength and positive attitude more than words can express, and love that she can continue those friendships in spite of them being pregnant. I am sure that isn’t easy and it makes Clare an amazing woman for being able to feel what she feels, but still look outside it.

I told Clare in her comments that though I couldn’t sympathize exactly, I could certainly empathize. True, I didn’t struggle with infertility or loss the way so many women do, but we had a whole host of issues that I can’t talk about here that made it difficult for me in the beginning of my pregnancy, specifically, to talk to new moms or  soon-to-be-moms or people I knew were trying.

I am the first to admit it’s hard not to be envious when someone else has something you want – especially if it’s something you just cannot have (for whatever reason).  I’ve concluded that even good people feel envy from time to time. I think it makes us human.

It was hard to see at first, but I’m realizing now that for some people, the fact that my blog has changed direction might be triggering and bring up some really uncomfortable, sad, maybe even angry feelings for some people. Likewise, seeing a growing baby bump might also be difficult for some people; people you never even realized could be affected. And I need to be mindful of this.

I try not to talk about it too much in real life (except for with family and my closest friends) but my blog is my outlet and a way to chronicle this mind-blowing experience that so many women experience, but few put into words.

So this weekend I thought long and hard about next steps,  and what I concluded is that I don’t think hiding my pregnancy on my blog is the solution or censoring things is, either; it’s a huge part of my life right now and 100% relative to body image and my recovery journey.

But I can (and will seek to) be cognizant of the fact that my words might be hard for some readers to grapple with, and I’d completely and whole-heartedly understand why they might need to stop coming around. (Likewise, I’d understand if readers with no interest in this stage of my journey stopped reading; I can’t blame you– pregnancy does not thrill everyone and that’s totally OK).

So going forward, I hope to be as compassionate as I can be for my readers and people I encounter in real life.

It’s a reminder, too, to never take what you have for granted — something this pregnancy has taught me all too well, given how fragile it has been.

How about you? How do you handle triggers (of any kind) in the blogosphere? In real life?

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12 thoughts on “Triggers of a Different Kind

  1. This is such a great post – thank you for writing it. No matter what issue you’re dealing with (disordered eating, a difficult pregnancy, infertility, challenges with your child, etc) there are unexpected triggers all over the place. For the past few months I’ve avoided my birth board on Baby Center because of all the posts like “my kid is talking in sentences already!” They make me feel bad and there’s no reason to subject myself to that. I think that what we sometimes forget is that nobody reveals their “whole self” on the internet, so nobody’s life — or situation — is ever what it seems. I try to remind myself of that when I read anything that makes me feel bad.

    1. Thank you. I too had to avoid Baby Center for a while myself — you’re right, all children are different and there’s no reason to put yourself through that. Glad we’re friends there too though 🙂

  2. Oh, and one more thing. It’s easy to forget that most people just blog about the good in their lives and choose not to write about the bad (myself included, when I used to blog. 🙂 So nothing is ever as perfect as it seems.

  3. I thought about this while pregnant, too. I felt obligated to always mention that I’m aware of how lucky I am to have gotten pregnant so easily and have such an uncomplicated pregnancy. I’m sure it doesn’t make much of a difference to someone who may be triggered by what I write, but I felt it was important to acknowledge.

    For one online friend in particular – she was dealing with a recent miscarriage not long before I was ready to announce, so I sent her a private email and gave her the news and said I’d understand if she avoided my blog for a while. She never responded, so I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I didn’t feel right allowing her to be blind-sided.

    It’s a tough balance between sharing the overwhelming joy you feel and the sensitivity you want to have toward those whose difficulties you identify with. I think just being aware of it is the best first step.

    1. That was really thoughtful of you, Candice — I think it definitely shows a sensitivity. Pregnancy in particular is such a private, personal experience … and it definitely can cause chasms among friends.

      It sounds like you did the right thing with that friend and I’m sure it meant a lot to her, even if she couldn’t vocalize it. It’s just hard when we don’t know how someone else will react. And sometimes, we don’t know who is struggling to conceive, etc., which makes it even harder!

      Yup, awareness is half the battle.

  4. I’m very sensitive, and so often I wish I were just immune to triggers! You are right, though – they are truly everywhere.

    I remember when my sister miscarried, and she said she saw pregnant women everywhere – it was very difficult for her. But then she went on to get pregnant herself (3 times!). I’d like to think they are there to test our strength sometimes….although I feel like it’s different in the blogosphere because that is somewhat under our control (like you, I’ve had to stop reading certain blogs because I felt like it was masked disordered eating).

    I think sometimes it helps to tell myself whatever is going on with such and such person is not about me…if they are overexercising or undereating, this shouldn’t affect me. Or if they are experiencing something I want to experience badly, hopefully I’ll get to one day, too! Like Candice said, being aware of it really is the first step.

    1. Holly, I’m glad to know I’m not alone in feeling that some of those blogs are triggering.

      It’s also true that what they do doesn’t impact us… hard as it may be to recognize/accept at the moment.

  5. In terms of blogs- I just won’t read them. There are plenty of great, non-triggering blogs out there, it’s just not worth the risk to me to read the triggering ones. For example, there are some fashion blogs I see where the author will say what size they wear of a certain piece of clothing without saying their height. I can see how it might be helpful to say, “This shirt runs big/small/whatever” but “I’m wearing a size 0” is just triggering for me. Even if that is a completely healthy weight for the author, there’s still a part of my brain that says, “well, why am I not a size 0?” and I just don’t need that at this point in my recovery.

    I find it’s easier in real life for some reason- maybe because there’s more context like height. I’m even to the point now where inconsistent sizes when I’m clothes shopping doesn’t bother me. So that’s progress at least.

    Sorry, I’m being long-winded again.

    1. Hi Tara — we all have our own triggers, and because they are different, it’s hard to know how to generalize. What seems innocuous to you might be triggering to me.

      Good for you on the shopping progress you’ve made!

  6. I’m so glad you are going to continue blogging about your pregnancy.

    I have lost multiple babies…. Two of which I had to go through the entire labor/delivery process. For a long time I avoided any blog that had to do with babies.

    But now I have to say that it gives me hope to read blogs from people who have recovered and are now able to have healthy pregnancies.

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