Funny thing about triggers…

26 Jul

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I’m scanning in old photo’s, taken long before I was born and posting them on FB hoping to have family name the people in the pictures I can’t name.  I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the pictures I’ve brought home, thankfully, for most, I’ll know whose, who, based on who else is in the photo (their kids/spouse) otherwise, I’d be lost because they all look so similar to each other.

Seeing them mirror each other doesn’t trigger me, I grew up seeing them mirror each other, looks, mannerisms, even their personalities were the same with slight variations.

This morning, I was triggered just opening up Facebook…

First up in my newsfeed, a friend’s picture of herself with her siblings.  A completely innocent picture posted on FB showing sisters together, mirroring each other. A beautiful picture, you could see the joy they were feeling…

It triggered me…the feeling is still there…knowing I will never have that…

But then, why doesn’t seeing my family mirror each other, trigger me?

This picture above was taken in the 1930’s, during the depression when one didn’t waste money, but dad, apparently couldn’t resist taking this picture of kittens drinking milk. 




Posted by on July 26, 2016 in Adoption


Tags: , , ,

25 responses to “Funny thing about triggers…

  1. Jamie

    July 26, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    I love reading your blog. I wish I could put my feelings into the eloquent words like you do! Add me on fb … Use my email address jrce79


  2. Nara

    July 26, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    I get this. I’m used to being different in my own family. But seeing the similarity in my (adopted) partner’s family… apart from him… at a family gathering – it hurt my heart a little bit.


    • TAO

      July 26, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      perhaps it’s the Used to vs the Not expecting it…will have to mull…


      • Nara

        July 26, 2016 at 7:04 pm

        It probably sounds all colourblind but I just don’t really think about it much in our family, because I grew up with it.

        I more notice adoption stuff when I am in a position to think about how I’m perceived by others. Like when I have to explain my brother / dad is a relation and not a boyfriend. Or at that family gathering of my partner’s, where the other side of the family looked so alike to each other and his side looked… adopted. It’s sudden realisations like that, I think.


        • TAO

          July 26, 2016 at 7:07 pm

          I think you’re right…and the same with noticing adoption stuff outside of family…it’s all so weird…


  3. Lori Lavender Luz

    July 27, 2016 at 1:07 am

    I wonder sometimes what it’s like for my children to be with extended family — for the reasons you state here.

    I wonder, too, about the answer to your last question…I see what you wrote about expecting/not expecting.

    I feel sorrow…


    • TAO

      July 27, 2016 at 3:21 am

      I do think it is the familiarity of 50+ years versus – wow, startling, out of nowhere and you are overwhelmed… I posted years ago the most amazing photo shoot – will see if I can find it, that amazed me because I knew what I was going to see…


      • TAO

        July 27, 2016 at 3:23 am

        • Lori Lavender Luz

          July 27, 2016 at 5:31 pm

          Wow. Amazing project.

          Such an easy thing to take for granted, to look like others in your family.


          • TAO

            July 27, 2016 at 8:35 pm

            Lori – I think when you don’t have something – you notice it everywhere, looks, mannerisms – families literally exude it.

            Hubs always says he looks nothing like his siblings – I took a picture of him, a picture of a sister and did the same thing and put two sides into one face – eerily similar – if you’d shaved off his goatee – you couldn’t have told who was who.


  4. eagoodlife

    July 27, 2016 at 1:45 am

    When I met my half-sisters and discovered there were some similarities I was triggered. I didn’t want to look like them or be like them in any way.


    • TAO

      July 27, 2016 at 3:16 am

      Oh that’s got to be hard Von – because you missed growing up with them and it would make it worse? Or?


      • eagoodlife

        July 28, 2016 at 12:18 am

        I felt that there was no place for me at the table. None of them knew about me. One found my existence abhorrent, another found it hilarious and my only brother simply didn’t want to know. I didn’t know how to be a sister and just couldn’t find a way to fit into a rather abrasive, very judgemental family. My eldest sister phoned me every week, usually I phoned her when she had a cancer scare and when it was over she informed me she didn’t need to speak to me every week! We’ve never spoken again and I’ve lost track who speaks to who and who has been banished. We are nothing alike in anyway and I just feel like the skeleton in the closet. However I have no regrets. I’d rather know than wonder, as I did for over 50 years! My Daughter felt no real connection. My adopted family has 3 girls round her age and she is like the 4th sister to them which is wonderful for us all. On my mother’s side there is a striking similarity down the generations which is quite touching and I certainly feel some connection there. Like having a foundation for my life at last.


        • TAO

          July 28, 2016 at 4:00 am

          Von – in regards to siblings are stories are eerily similar…but I don’t have regrets, I have knowledge and wouldn’t trade it for anything.


  5. pj

    July 27, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Tao-Maybe the simple reality of the FB post? That is what they are now…together. The visual reality. It is what we can/could never be. We have no such visual reality.


    • TAO

      July 27, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Very true PJ – simplest of all, loss…


  6. beth62

    July 27, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    I have the same question. LOL
    It makes me happy to see my adopted families similarities. I found a picture of my dad’s mother when she was the same age as my niece is now, they looked so much alike, no doubt they were related. I was so excited. It was a wonderful happy find to me, no trigger, just a happy happy interesting cool find. I got big framed pics made for my dad and niece, it was fun, everyone happy, content.

    I find a picture of one of my 2nd greatgrandfathers, thought it was my son at first in an old timey picture like you get at the fair. I could/can hardly breathe looking at this damn thing. It’s hard to explain what I feel when I see it. It freaks me slam out! My son hung it on the wall in the hall, I had to move it to his room where I can’t see it unless I go in there. I rarely go in there, and if I do, I usually try not to look so it doesn’t disrupt my day.

    Was looking at pictures from this summers vacation. My thirty something year old daughter… has morphed into the thirty something me. (poor thing, lol) She told me she is happy about it. Good thing. She told me she expected it and doesn’t understand how it gets to me like it does. It makes me physically dizzy and light headed, then exhausted, sometimes for days when I look. So I am usually more concentrated on not fainting more than any details in the picture.
    Says she knows what she will likely look like when she is in her 50’s too, has 20 years to get used to it LOL. When we are together she always checks out on me where her wrinkles will be, and then applies everything she can to avoid that… I get serious interrogations after every doctors appointment…

    I love seeing it, but I can barley look at the pictures. My brain just goes nuts. I think I don’t know how to react. I did the same thing with my half sister, she looked just like my daughter in a picture, thought it was my daughter at first. I had to lay down for a day or two LOL seriously. I couldn’t look at the picture straight on directly, gave it the side eye quick glance.
    It’s the strangest thing, I don’t know what to do. I never know how this stuff is going to hit me. Sometimes it’s what I would guess is a typical reaction, and sometimes it’s a bomb that blows up in my face! I guess ya just never know. I’m afraid it all may take me to Crazytown!

    aww kitties 🙂 I’ve been bottle feeding a survivor kitten, 4 weeks old now.
    She helps me type.
    Princess Polly
    Assistant Kitty


  7. Tara-Anita Brown

    July 27, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    TAO – the key word…innocence. Innocence lost. The pure joy of having a sister moment…a precious bond.

    Nara –
    The reality of being adopted is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS HERE.
    The internal emotional bruising is constant.

    Just Sunday past I was assumed to be my brother’s wife.

    Everyday I go through this…Me spending time with my (adoptive) father who is black and Cuban mix but has black skin and gray hair…. I am bright, black wavy hair.
    (BP’s – Mother Native American Ojibwae Canada – Father Black Chinese Jamaica/Canada.)

    The Convo to the other person – He’s my Father or she’s my daughter…responses of a “what???”, “don’t know what to say” pause and a puzzled “how could that be?” stares. long awkward silence…wanting to ask “wow y’all look so different though?)….then on to another topic and as they are walking a way the second puzzled look. (I could also be taken for the care taker also 🙂

    The questions from people: where are you from? Are you from here? Where your family originally from? I get taken for people from the other islands because of an different type of Indian decent (Arawak and Lucayan decent) Sometimes I use the excuse (especially for my skin/hair) “Well my (adoptive) grandmother’s father was German and her mother was white. or My father’s Father was from Cuba.

    Most times I just say “I’m from here”…..full stop.



    • TAO

      July 27, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      I think I’d be more than just tired dealing with that all the time Tara-Anita. It was only evident up close in my family but same race so far less questions and assumptions…I’m sorry.

      Perhaps it is the pure joy of having a sister moment too – funny, I don’t normal write emotions like that but did when describing the picture…learning more things about me…thank you.


    • beth62

      July 27, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Bruised and tired. Good description, I feel it often.
      A precious bonding sister moment.
      Hard to see and accept maybe, especially if you have kept the personal importance of that bond low for a long time – to survive loosing it, not having it, to keep the grief away. Makes it hard to look at now for me.


  8. beth62

    July 27, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Makes me wonder why I torture myself on LOL
    This is the bomb that got to me this week.

    I’m guessing anyone would be upset to find this out about an ancestor. I don’t think what I experience is only that kind of upset, it’s much more and I don’t know how to describe it. I’m guessing with this one that triggered me, since there is no picture… is the loss of entire family. The loss of adult children, grandchildren and other family members in one swoop. It’s hard not to think about. This is the third greatgrandparent I’ve found with this same story in history. So sad. My Mom has the same history in her family a few times too. Our ancestors stayed or walked together. One of my mom’s ggrandfathers was a soldier who took them west.
    Those thoughts make me lay down for a while too, my whole life strangers have commented on how much me and Mom look alike. Those connections are the ones that really hit me. Seeing my afamily look like they belong in the same family doesn’t bother me. Finding my connection to them as genetic family (many generations back) is very triggering.

    So maybe it is seeing the loss, and/or seeing people together with no loss like pj said – that stands out sometimes? triggers?

    I dont’ know, I am seriously confused with all this, it’s very hard to understand or control my reactions. I’m guessing I haven’t figured out how it really works quite yet.


    • TAO

      July 27, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Very true – and if you figure it out, let me know…


  9. Tiffany

    July 28, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Because people belong in families, and it hurts to be reminded in new ways that from the very beginning, an adoptee didn’t belong in the very place they were born to be. I would imagine that over time, adoptees build up a tolerance to the common ways they are reminded that they don’t belong, and it is the new and unexpected reminders that can take one’s breath away for a beat.

    I have seen a picture of my daughter’s extended family, kinda by accident, and it surprised me the instant pain I felt. There was a visible space, to me, in the photo… a gap… where she belonged. I saw everything that she is- her expressions, her features, her personality- echoed in the people in the photo; saw how easily she would have fit in the place where she belonged. And it cut my heart and took my breath away.

    I can only begin to imagine how very much more it must hurt to be the person missing from the photo.


    • TAO

      July 28, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Tiffany – you have wisdom far beyond you years…


      • Tiffany

        July 29, 2016 at 4:41 pm

        I’d love to take credit for that, 🙂 but I think it’s more that I listen. I’m just saying back what I have heard from adoptees, like you, who are willing to share their deepest thoughts and feelings to help others better understand. ❤



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