Enzymatic Reactions


I find that an idle mind can be your worst enemy, and in that regard when I find mine to be immersed in particular thoughts it’s usually better to … divert its attention to something else.  In this regard, an iPod stocked up with hours of music is my best friend.  For the past few days while at work my iPod has been on near constantly whenever I have a free moment;  I figure this way if my mind is going to wander at least I am controlling where it is going to go.  All it took was five minutes at my desk on Monday, lost in a slew of thoughts of me to get fed up and cram the buds as deep as I could into my ears.  Loading up a playlist I immediately relaxed as I was able to soothe my mental aches.

One thing that I’ve noticed is how much I’ve associated certain music with certain people, namely exes.   For instance the band Barenaked Ladies, who is a musical ensemble that I have always loathed with a fiery passion, but was the favorite band of a guy I dated.  He tried to turn me on to them, but I just couldn’t get it to stick, and so we agreed to disagree on this topic.  One of their songs popped up on a soundtrack in my playlist and I quickly skipped through it — I really do hate that band.  But as soon as it started up I was reminded of R, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily.  He was one of my more stand-up exes, and now that we’re in the same gaming group we’ve actually been talking a bit again.  Casual, I assure you.  But there is no resentment, residual or otherwise.

On Tuesday I queued up the Garden State soundtrack.  I’m normally not a fan of mellow music but I loved the movie and how well the music meshed with the story, and in that I became a sucker for the soundtrack.  And listening to it used to always remind me of the movie, but then when undergoing my post-D recovery I listened to it quite a bit.  Now any time I hear any song from that soundtrack I automatically think of D — not always bad, but not always good either.  Knowing this doesn’t stop me from listening to it, but it does at least prepare me with the bombardment that is about to occur.

But now the song ‘Breathe Me’ by Sia has been ruined for me.  I love the song, and each time the opening notes hit my ears I start to think of Chaos.  While I can tolerate and accept my other musical associations and triggers in regards to exes, I do not approve of this association.  At all.

I’ve always recognized the presence of triggers — smells, places, movies, music, specific meals, or even key phrases — but it’s been awhile since I can say that I’ve actually been affected by triggers.   And I greatly dislike the number of triggers that I currently have associated with Chaos.  The topic of triggers has come up a few times in conversations with people, and it’s gotten me wondering about them.

My main query:  is it possible to erase triggers?   My answer:  no, but it might be possible to mask them.

So here’s my theory — you’ll never be able to completely erase the effect that a person has on you, and with that you’ll never be able to completely erase the things that trigger thoughts of them.  But, not all hope is lost.  I believe that you can possibly superimpose new memories onto the old ones, replacing the old with the new, and in that you can make the old associations fade over time.  You’ll never be rid of them as a whole, but you can condition yourself to let another one take priority over the undesirable one.  Say your trigger is a place, a restaurant where you shared a special moment with someone.   You could go one of two ways, being (1) never return to the restaurant, or (2) try to regain your beloved restaurant by sharing a new moment with someone.  It’s not guaranteed to work, but from my experience it can have positive effects.

Many years ago when I was dating M he surprised me at work one day.  I was walking out of the building to go to lunch with a co-worker and he was leaning against a flowerbed, a backpack and my dog on a leash.  We walked to a nearby park and he threw down a fleece blanket before starting to unpack our very primative picnic lunch:  cheese and crackers, fresh fruit, and jello (which does not travel well in summer weather).   It was nothing special but it was the thought, and for years every time I would go to a park I would automatically think of him and that moment.  Which was a positive experience, but on the same token tends to remind you of what you’ve lost.

One of the main activities that C and I engage in during the warmer months are picnics.  In fact we refer to them as ‘picnics in the park’, which usually involve the two of us lounging on a bench or in the grass eating pizza or burritos.  We’ve been doing this for about two years now, and each winter seems like an excruciating stretch until the spring returns, along with our picnics.  And these days when I see a park I’m reminded of C and the many hours we have spend laying around talking about anything, including plotting of ways to get rid of the really annoying geese (the best plan so far is feeding them those dollar-store toys that grow to 10x their size when put in water).

I know triggers aren’t something that are specific to exes, but also involve friends and family, co-workers, casual acquaintances, or even random hookups.  I don’t think I’ll ever taste orange liqueur without thinking of the taste of Newton’s mouth, or hear the term ‘cocksandwich’ without thinking of one of my co-workers.  I just feel we take for granted the triggers in those with whom we are not romantically associated, and instead tend to focus on those of past lovers or loves.   I think all triggers should be equally important in our lives, and in that sense they should also be equally interchangeable.  As I said earlier, you cannot erase them completely but you can at least reduce the impact they have on you.  For better or for worse.

Our memory is like a shop in the window of which is exposed now one, now another photograph of the same person. And as a rule the most recent exhibit remains for some time the only one to be seen.” — Marcel Proust


3 Responses to “Enzymatic Reactions”

  1. 1 h

    Triggers are the sign of an uncontrolled mind.

    Just sayin’.

    • 2 keewt

      So does that mean that everyone has an uncontrolled mind? I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t have a trigger, happy or sad.

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