On my blog entry entitled Talking about Child Abuse is Not “Rambling”, a reader posted the following comment:
I have found that some people with PTSD tend to have a better memory for many things and trust it less. I have a PTSD friend and we can go back years and recount events. Together we can remember the rack that the pool cue was taken from in a fight. We both noticed during the fight that one guy did not know enough to break the cue so he was likely not a major threat, the guy who broke the mug was the threat. That sort of thing. ~ MFF
One way I know that a memory is really a flashback is the “crispness” and level of detail held in the memory. When I think about a non-traumatizing memory from a couple of weeks ago, I will have a difficult time telling you what I was wearing, what the weather was like, and a million other unimportant details. However, I recovered a memory from age three in which I could describe the pink pants I was wearing, exactly where I was, what was happening, the positions that my sister and I were in, etc.
Sometimes a flashback will begin with a stream of consciousness memory, such as the one I had the other night.
*** sexual abuse triggers ***
As I was falling asleep, I had a stream of consciousness of a man lying on his back. His pants were pulled off, and his body shape was different from hub’s. Then, it was like the lens went into crystal clear focus. It was my father lying on his back (I think he was drugged – looked like he was asleep), and I was forced to perform oral sex on him while pictures were taken.
*** end triggers ***
It was very disturbing but makes complete sense in light of other events that happened. My sister and I both recovered memories of my father being photographed hurting her while blindfolded, and my sister believes he was blackmailed with those photos. My guess is that these were more photos in the arsenal, which begs the question of how much he knew was being done to me as a child. I don’t know. He never approached me sexually (and he had plenty of opportunity if he had wanted to). I just don’t know what he knew and didn’t know. My sister thinks that is why he moves us 30 miles away – so he could still work at his company (which he owned) but get us away from those monsters.
If not for the crystal clear focus of the flashback, I might have beat myself up for having a sick mind or whatever. However, for me – the telltale sign of a flashback is the very crisp and detailed quality of the memories – very different from my regular memories.
Photo credit: Hekatekris