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Posts Tagged ‘processing for flashbacks’

This week, I am writing about my experiences in dealing with recovering a flashback as it happens. The series starts here.

It has now been a few days since I had the flashback. I am doing okay. I am actually doing well for the most part, although the pain is still a bit raw.

I shared the story with two friends separately. Both said the right things. One focused on the fact that nothing that happened in the past can change the person that I am today. The other pointed out that S probably thought I was drugged. He knew me before and after and saw how innocent I was. He probably figured I blocked that night out and thought it was best that I did.

What I am struggling with the most right now is coming to terms with the fact that the dissociative identity disorder (DID) really did affect me in adulthood. Up until recently, I believed it was just an issue in childhood. In fact, my therapist never gave me an official diagnosis of DID because I did not report losing time in adulthood. However, I clearly did.

A part of myself is mortified that I have memory gaps that other people could fill but I could not. How many times did I interact with my abusers after the fact and never even know it?

I am also angry that my abusers from childhood left me so vulnerable in adulthood. I was programmed to be a walking doormat for anyone who wanted to use and abuse my body. I fear just how many times I was exploited in adulthood because of my DID.

I am also in awe over how much I have changed. Going back to those times and seeing just how passive I was and then contrasting that person with who I am now is mindboggling. It is hard to believe that I am even the same person.

Overall, I accept that the flashbacks have been a good thing. I am reclaiming parts of myself that I have been pushing away for decades.

A friend worried that something that I had written recently triggered the flashbacks, but I don’t think so. I think I was ready to heal at a deeper level. Until I reclaim all of myself, I will continue to remain fragmented. While I am much more whole than I have ever been, I am still not fully whole. The price of finding wholeness is continuing to discover and heal these wounds.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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This week, I am writing about my experiences in dealing with recovering a flashback as it happens. The series starts here.

I wrote my last post the morning after recovering the memory (10/24/08). I am writing this one immediately afterward.

I typically recover my memories/experience flashbacks at night. That is the only down time I get throughout the day when it is safe for me to process the memory.

As I recover the memory, it is mostly in flashes (hence the term flashback). However, in the morning, the memory sits in my memory bank just like any other memory. If I want to, I can analyze the memory just as I would any other memory.

Here is my memory of the event this morning:

++++++ sexual abuse triggers ++++++

S (guy friend) and J (my date) picked up B (S’s date) and me from our dorm lobby. We walked together over to the party through the back parking lot. Neither S nor I knew our dates well, but we had been friends for a few weeks (beginning of my college career), so we mostly chatted on the walk over. This bothered B, but J did not seem to care.

We walked over to this house where the party was already going. When we got there, I did not know anyone other than the people I came with. I noticed a guy in the corner sizing me up. I knew he was a threat, and I dissociated. That is why I had no memory of the party – a part of myself was never there.

I don’t think I had ever met this guy before, but he was a predator. He saw the dissociation in me, just as I saw the predator in him, so he knew I was safe to exploit.

I clung to S, talking with him so I would not have to go with the danger guy. B got angry because I was monopolizing her date. She probably thought I was making a play for him, but I wasn’t.

Danger guy chatted with my date (J), and then they told me to come with them to another room. I knew it would be bad, so I tried to get B to come with me so I wouldn’t be alone with them. In retrospect, she probably thought I was a slut and trying to get her to do the same things that I did. She probably saw me as wanting to “be with” every guy at the party, including her date, which explains her animosity toward me after that night.

The predator was so cocky. As soon as we got in the room, he told me to “suck him off.” I did not protest a bit – just got down on my knees and did it. J was astonished, but predator was so d@#$ sure of himself.

It was a child alter part they were manipulating. She had seen her beloved dog die and knew that her younger sister’s life was at stake. She was not about to say no. In fact, she was not even aware that saying no or leaving was an option.

I still don’t remember how many, but it was definitely more than just those two guys. S did “rescue” me from that night. He continued to be nice to me the rest of the year (I transferred to a different school after freshman year).

I never went to another party my freshman year, at least not that I remember at this point. I do not recall ever talking to any of the guys from the party again other than S.

Photo credit: Rosanne Mooney

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This week, I am writing about my experiences in dealing with recovering a flashback as it happens. The series starts here.

Last night (10/23/08), I made a point of going to bed an hour early. This is unusual for me. When I know that a flashback is coming, I typically procrastinate and wind up feeling exhausted on top of feeling lousy.

I lit a vanilla-scented candle and liberally applied a chamomile spray to my pillow. I ran my air purifier to serve as white noise. Then, I laid down in my bed in a fetal position and invited the memory to come.

I could feel the terror in my thighs. My yoga instructor used to tell me that we hold our terror in our thighs, and I believe her because my panic attacks often begin with the shaking in my thighs and then move to the rest of my body.

Last night, I kept the shaking only in my thighs because I did not channel energy into it. I was allowing my body to release the terror without fueling the fire.

Then, I thought about the parts that I remembered. I remembered agreeing to go to a party with J (my date), S (my guy friend), and B (guy friend’s date). We walked over to the house together. We had to walk from my dorm through a parking lot where I never wanted to park, even though it was closer to my dorm. (Another mystery solved.)

Once we reached the house, I had a very hard time going in. A part of myself continued to fight remembering. So, I talked myself through it. I said that I am safe now. This event happened over 20 years ago. No matter what happened in that house, I loved myself.

I finally made it into the house. Flash of a guy in the corner to my left. Do I know him? I know he is dangerous. I cling to S and his date, B. B does not like this. Danger guy and J invite me to another room. I try to bring B along, but she doesn’t want to go – just relieved to get rid of me.

+++++ Sexual abuse triggers +++++

Flash to the room. Danger guy telling me to “suck him off.” My complying immediately while J (date) watches. Me giving J oral sex while danger guy circulates the party to invite members to the “private party.”

Eventually, S (my guy friend) is invited in. He goes ballistic, calling them a bunch of @$$holes. S takes me out of the room and takes me back to my dorm. B is furious with him. They fight while we walk. I am just “not there.”

We get back to the dorm, where I “come back.” I say that I’ll see him at the picnic. (It was a picnic, not a dance, that was the future plan.) S says I probably should not go to the picnic. I say okay, but I am very confused.

I see them standing vividly in the lobby to my dorm. I give S back the coat that he draped over my shoulders. B is in her own coat, looking furious.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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