Why People that Trigger us might be the Best Teachers

My lovely coach Krista Kathleen

When I first stumbled upon Krista’s profile, I thought: what a shallow person. Posting pictures of herself in bikinis, traveling around the world and talking openly about her sex life. I was angry and upset about the way she showed off her body and spoke about her sexual needs and wants.

Fast forward to now: I decided to kick off my new year by working with Krista as my life coach. What has happened in the last few months that changed my mind so radically?

Not a lot from Krista’s side. She’s still herself, talking about her vulnerabilities and insecurities. Being open about her sexuality and her open relationship.

Instead, I had a huge revelation. Which is this: The people that trigger and upset us, are often the ones that teach us the most important lessons. Why is that? Because they bring something up in us, that is unresolved. A pain, shame or anger, we carried around for years.

Need an example?

My current life coach Brian King is incredibly open about his diseases. He has Multiple Sclerosis and has been living with ADHD and depression for most of his life. But instead of trying to overcome these illnesses, he actually embraces them. Even more so, he sees them as his secret superpower.

After all, his MS has taught him how to prioritize. His ADHD has helped him to support parents and children who live with ADHD. He’s become an amazingly inspiring coach because of where life has put him. Instead of trying to overcome those experiences, he embraces them as a valuable part of his life.

Needless to say, this was very triggering for me. I’ve spent the last years of my life trying to overcome my depression, trying to live a normal life again. I wanted to be an example for all the people that are currently sick that depression is not a life sentence but just a bump in the road.

What I did not realize is that I was constantly fighting against myself. I had not accepted myself the way I am, I was trying to be someone else. Brian taught me the valuable lesson that you can’t hate yourself to change. You can embrace yourself the way you are right now because you are a unique human being. You’re meant to tell your story and to speak your voice.

What has this to do with Krista?

A lot. Mostly the fact that Krista was (just as Brian) very triggering for me.

When I was 18 years old, I was raped. I was still a virgin at that time, and no one had really taught me what consent was or even more so that I was allowed to say “no” to an older man wanting to have sex with me.

So I did not speak about that night with anyone. Instead, I buried it underneath shame, guilt and a feeling of being cheap or unworthy. My sexual life after this incident has been shaped by the experience of that night. For the first years, I was hardly able to enjoy sex at all, not even mentioning the fact, that speaking up for what I wanted, was not really part of it.

I still find it hard to embrace my sexuality.

I’ve been told by ex-boyfriends that I was frigid, prude and even how much better the sex with their new girlfriends was.

After six years, I finally opened up about what had happened to me. And I experienced literally everything they warn you about: My friends did not believe me (“He’s such a nice guy.”), the lawsuit I filed was dropped (“You did not fight against him.”) and some of my male friends victim-blamed me (“Well if you kiss him, you can’t be surprised if he wants sex.”).

It took me years of therapy, to kind of get at ease with what had happened. Nowadays, I stand up for my story, and I stand up for anyone who shares their story with me and support them as much as I can.

But how do you move on from this?

To be honest with you, I hate the fact that I’m a rape victim. I hate that it was one of my first sexual encounters and that it took away the chance from me to have a more joyful approach to sexuality.

That’s why Krista triggered me so much. She seems so open about her needs and wants. She speaks up for having an open relationship and being okay in your body the way it is. To embrace your sensuality as a woman.

I’ve been pushing that part of mine away for years. I still struggle with wearing clothes with cleavage or anything that shows my body shape. When I get unwanted approaches, I get back into my shell and tell myself that I should not have dressed provocatively or not been so open and joyful.

Deep down I know this is horrible. I know it’s messed up cause I shouldn’t have to dial myself down to please anyone. One of the things that Krista always preaches is: be unapologetically you. And I know I’m currently not.

So I decided to overcome all my fear of change and instead embrace the opportunity to finally be the woman that I truly am. I’m kicking off the year by working with Krista, and I know that there will be a whole lot of work and a whole lot of pain. But that’s the only way to get closer to my true self. So I’m grateful I was honest enough with myself to not just look at the shallow feeling of getting triggered but what it meant underneath.

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I’m a life coach, feminist and mental health advocate. I guide women to stop hating all over themselves and fall in love with who they are.

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Jessi Christian

Jessi Christian

I’m a life coach, feminist and mental health advocate. I guide women to stop hating all over themselves and fall in love with who they are.

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