The horror that invades my mind. Up until a year ago I’d managed to compartmentalize that which was too horrible to remember. But, a little over a year ago while sorting through generations of family photo’s everything came back at me in a flash. I was sorting these photos because it was time to sell my parents home. My father had committed suicide 3 years earlier and my confused, incontinent, mother with dementia had ceased to function. It was time to sell the enormous house and move her to a memory care facility. The whole experience sucked. No family should have to deal with dementia. The dementia was harder to deal with than the suicide.
If nothing life-threatening, violent or demoralizing has ever been your experience, I imagine it’s impossible to understand how a mind can implode an ordinary moment back to moments believed deeply buried. So, at 3:00 AM, while kneeling alone in my Mom’s old, dried diarrhea and looking at hundreds of photos where everyone is smiling, I was shocked to be pummeled with images of sexual abuse and even the stalking and rape I endured in college. These are two separate calamities that I thought I’d handled with strength and dignity.
For some weird reason I could not get the image of my stalker/rapist’s black boot kicking in my bedroom door and his black leather gloved hand reaching through the hole in the door and turning the door handle out of mind. This event has NOTHING to do with the photos or the childhood trauma I (sort-of) endured. This door moment isn’t even close to the worst of it. At all. But it scares me to death, frequently, out of nowhere. Flashbacks must serve some purpose other than just torture, but I wish I knew what that was. If you’re reading this far and you know, please share.
I’ve been following a cute little white rabbit down a terrifying hole since 3:00 AM on a summer night in June 2017.
Through the help of the right therapist for me, antidepressants combined with anti-anxiety meds, and a supportive, thoughtful, patient husband the flashbacks are coming less often. Plus, I’ve learned that I haven’t spent my life “spacing out.” Apparently I learned to dissociate early on as a coping mechanism. Now I have coping mechanisms for my coping mechanisms. Plus, I’ve gained some forgiveness for my life-long self-sabotaging actions. Most of the poor decisions I’ve made were largely the result of a faulty wiring system due to the abuse/violence/terror effect on logic.
It’s all just crappy though.
Yet, somehow, most of us, survive. And continue to step out into the world almost every day.
Please be kind to the people who traverse your world. Truly, and I know this is trite, we never know the invisible battles someone else manages to hide.
♦Dissociation coping mechanism that works best for me: tapping something, like the chair where I’m sitting, or my leg, or my husband, dog, cat or pressing firmly on my chest with one hand. This has brought me back into the room I’m currently living in quite successfully.
♦Flashback help #1: Again, it’s tapping. But, it’s tapping in an order. Technically called EFT, it’s best to do this under the guidance of a professional. We can’t all have a professional so here’s some online guidance.
Some days just come down to rolling out of bed and blindly fumbling toward the coffee.