Not that I’ve done a whole lot, but my attitude is different. The last post, the “making my mark” thing just makes me sorry. How pathetic and sad it is that my young self felt that way. How bizarre that it took so much time & work to uncover it. But trauma is like that.
It’s an onion of healing. Your body won’t let you remember/deal/figure out what you can’t handle. In my case, because the source of much of it is so long ago and far away, it’s obscured by time and perspective. Learning to pay attention to what my body/mind is trying to tell me has taken a long time and much work.
I’ve only ever had one full blown, complete “flashback” which included “lost’ memories and all. That was 30+ years ago. That one I got time of year, location, incident, smell, look, the incident, in short the details — all at once.
Since then, I have had one other, which definitely was a flashback, but it wasn’t the complete memory like the full blown one. DH and I were lounging on our bed one summer day He was just holding me. It wasn’t intimacy, just closeness. All of a sudden he shifted a little, or I did — I jerked back and screamed, “Don’t hit me!”
Of course he was puzzled, and frankly, so was I.
I felt the ghost slap connect with my face. I *felt* it. I was also surprised I could move. I felt as if I were pinned to the bed and couldn’t do more that flail my arms & legs around.
For much of my life, something would happen and I’d have a “flashback,” a return to my miserable emotional past. The ghost slap pushed those buttons. It propelled me back into the old feelings: helpless, unlovable, insecure, damned, and crazy. [The hodgepodge of old feelings is what I normally, in conversation, call a flashback; it is, and it isn’t.]
When things like this occurred, it took me a while to pull myself out.
The emotional “flashback” used to terrify me, because I couldn’t change whether I went back or not, change the “flashback” or grow out of them — and I still can’t. It makes healing a double-edged sword. I’m happy to do so, but it means when I see something a new way or remember something, I have to deal with the emotional content the new perspective triggers, deal with the emotional flashback, and then after that, I get to go on with my life. For much of my life this has been a four-step process:
- Remember or recast something new.
- Deal with whatever emotional issues this brings because of its content.
- Deal with up to two weeks of emotional backsliding/flashback.
- Move on into my now-improved life.
I did NOT go back to the hurting little girl this time! I had the tear in my eye when I wrote the post. That’s it. No step three!!!
I haven’t done a flurry of cleaning either, but you know? I’ll take it. I avoided needing at least two weeks to get my emotional house back in order. Or even three days, which is the shortest I’ve managed not too long ago.
After nearly 6 decades of the other behavior, this is definitely a win, and I will take it — you bet!!!