I’m among the 8% of Americans who don’t have cable, satellite, or fiber feeding their televisions1. What’s fascinating to me is the programs coming through my good-old-fashioned antenna are a steady stream of shows from my childhood.
Programs I haven’t seen in decades are filling the screen each night: The Mod Squad, Brady Bunch, Bob Newhart Show, Carol Burnett, Happy Days, Starsky and Hutch, Hawaii Five O (the one where they wore suits and neckties), The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, even The Beverly Hillbillies. Each show’s theme song time-travels me back to the 70’s, and I relax in anticipation of a good, clean, half-hour escape from the world’s problems.
But my mood saddens sometimes because I’ll suddenly remember how I often watched those programs alone. This was the period right after my parents’ divorce. Back then, feeling there was no where to turn with my broken heart, I needed an escape. And these shows served me well.
Now I see my attraction to The Brady Bunch differently. They were perfect and my life wasn’t. Every week brought thirty minutes of stability, loving fatherly wisdom, and everything turned out ok (except for their two-part Hawaii trip when I spent a week wondering if Greg would drown!)
This whole experience is an example of a trigger. A trigger is a stimuli—like a scene in a movie, a song, or even a friend’s divorce—which causes us to react. The problem is, when we’re triggered, we’re reacting to something in our past and applying that to our present situation.
Adults with divorced parents can have layers of triggers acting like mines in a minefield. One minute we’re in the present, but the next moment, BOOM, we’re unknowingly reacting from something in our past. Even if we realize it’s happening we often miss the parental divorce connection. So we become melancholy, cranky, or angry.
Fortunately, triggers can be overcome. Here are some helpful steps:
- Admit that we are saddened by the trigger event (Remember, what hurts our heart is never “silly”)
- Share with someone or write out specifically why you feel sad
- Take your pain or loss to God in prayer. (Cast all your cares upon the Lord for He cares for you.2)
- Stand on the truth that God has blessed you today. Your past may contain pain, but the past is over. Focus on today’s blessings.
Working through our triggers is very important when trying to maintain healthy relationships. The Long Way Home by Gary Neuman helps adult children of divorce identify and deal with triggers caused by their parents’ split. Once identified and dealt with, over time, the trigger’s sting will diminish and there can be as much joy in your home as the Brady’s!
21 Peter 5:7
Head Image – 365-060-Watching TV by Al Ibrahim