Archive for September 25th, 2008

Somebody found my blog by Googling the question, “What do flashbacks feel like?” This is definitely a subject that I want to cover on my blog.

I wrote about what flashbacks felt like for me here. One person responded in the comments that she experiences flashbacks differently and that her siblings describe their flashbacks differently from her experience. So, what I am going to share here might or not might not be similar to what your experience is like.

My first flashbacks were more like a sickening awareness. I had been trying to figure out for months why I had alter parts, but I had no memory of any abuse severe enough to result in dissociative identity disorder (DID). I called my sister and asked her if she had any memories of me being abused as a child. She said that she had always had a very bad feeling about our mother.

I instantly felt my body being orally raped, and I just knew that my mother had sexually abused me. I had no memories of the abuse at this point, but I knew with absolute certainty that my body was not lying to me. I felt the truth (and horror) of what my mother had done in the deepest recesses of my spirit.

I started recovering visual flashbacks after that. As I would lie in my bed at night, I would feel a “pull” in my brain and know that a memory was coming. I would choose to experience the memory. With my eyes closed, I would “see” myself reliving the event. While I might be horrified by what happened, I would not feel emotions in the reliving. It was more like observing abuse happening to someone else who looked just like me.

In the beginning, most of my memories were from the perspective of the ceiling, so I questioned whether I was simply crazy. After all, how could I possibly have seen the back of my head?

After recovering the memory, I would post out it online at Isurvive.org, my favorite message board for child abuse survivors. The memory would be vivid. The next morning, the memory would be in my memory bank just like any other memory.

Then, the emotions would come. Whatever emotions I had repressed along with the memory would wash over me, and I would feel as if I was drowning in a sea of terror and grief. (The rage came later.)

Because I dealt with flashbacks on a regular basis for over three years, I developed some strategies to make them easier to handle. I will write about those in my next post.

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Photo Credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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