Posts Tagged ‘emotional flashbacks’

Microscopic view (c) Lynda BernhardtWhen I was going through the healing process, a visual flashback was obvious to me. I was suddenly reliving something traumatic. I would “see” and experience the event happening again while, at the same time, knowing that I was safe in my bed. I did not pick up on non-visual flashbacks quite as quickly. I had them for a long time before I knew what they were.

For example, I would sometimes taste cigarette smoke in my mouth, even though I have never smoked. When I would taste the cigarette smoke, I would feel panicky but not know why. The answer came later when I recovered the memory of my abuser almost smothering me to death. She was punishing my younger sister for some perceived non-compliance by smothering me with a pillow. I did not even bother to fight it because I knew that it would only make things worse. My abuser was so caught up in upsetting my sister that she failed to realize that she took things too far.

From here, the memory moves to the ceiling. I saw her yelling at my limp body, but my body did not respond. She then removed the pillow and checked to see if I was breathing – I wasn’t. She dragged my body to the bathroom and told my sister to go upstairs and get my parents. Meanwhile, she gave me mouth-to-mouth and resuscitated me, all the while telling me that I was not worth going to prison over. She had recently smoked a cigarette, so when I came to, I could taste the cigarette smoke in my mouth and lungs.

She told my parents that she had found me on the floor in the bathroom. She said that I must have slipped and bumped my head on the toilet. I was disoriented and said nothing. My parents told me to be more careful and left my sister and me downstairs to play.

Today, I have been having more emotional flashbacks surrounding this event. I don’t know what has triggered it today. All I know is that I will suddenly start feeling like I cannot breathe, even though I can. Even as I take slow, deep breaths, a part of myself feels as if it is being deprived of air. It is a really weird feeling.

Isn’t post-traumatic stress disorder fun?

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Red Flower (c) Lynda Bernhardt

On my other blog, I recently wrote about the topic of abused children and emotional flashbacks. It is interesting that I chose that topic because I am now having an emotional flashback myself. Ugh.

At least I have come along far enough in my healing to recognize when I am having one. In the past, I would feel lousy and then start looking at my life, trying to identify what had triggered the painful feelings. Now I know that they are echoes of an abusive past and have nothing to do with today.

I believe this emotional flashback is being triggered by my father’s birthday. My father passed away when I was sixteen years old, and my mother started abusing me again for a little while after that. Even though I was living in an almost 17-year-old body, I reverted back to the helpless child again. I had terrible insomnia that lasted for years because her attacks would happen when I was asleep. I suspect that my father’s birthday has triggered those feelings again.

All I know is that I have been struggling with feelings of anxiety, and now I just feel like crying. Even though I know that shedding tears will bring relief, it is my instinct to fight the urge, which only exacerbates the feelings. I know what I need to do; I just don’t want to do it. I don’t want to have to keep shedding tears and reliving grief that I have already dealt with multiple times. That just makes me angry.

A good friend of mine, who is farther along in her healing journey, says that we heal in layers. It might feel like we keep coming back to heal the same wounds, but we are actually healing them at deeper and deeper levels. I believe that she is right about this. However, knowing this doesn’t make the healing process feel any better.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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