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Therapeutic Thursday: flashback central

Lately I’ve been dealing with flashbacks from growing up.

Last week I actually broke down hard and just lost it. I remembered the physical violence I endured as a very small child. Then I remembered that I felt relieved when Kelsey became the one to fill that role. I didn’t do much to protect her. Yes, I was a small child and couldn’t do much anyway, but part of me was happy that I wasn’t that person anymore. I even blamed her for some things – a common sibling thing to do I know… but it led to her getting hurt.

And I just lost it.

T did a really good job of helping me talk through what I could, holding me while I cried, and reminding me that both Kelsey and I are safe now. He told me that it wasn’t my fault, that I did what I could when I could.

I know he’s right. It brings back a feeling of helplessness though to know I couldn’t do much though.

A few days later, I had another flashback situation while at work. I was grateful it was one of the days that my officemate was gone. I was able to speak with Dawn who runs #spooniechat about what I was going through and she helped me deal.

The AI conference came at a perfect time.

I needed that togetherness, that group of people who know what you’ve been through and don’t see you as lesser for it. The amazing people I met there – whether for the first time or finally in person – helped me to deal with my feelings of inadequacy more than they will know.

Something that helped me immensely was being in a place where I could just let go of the tensions. I was able to drop everything and just exist for the first time in a long, long time. There were no sessions on healing from abuse, nothing specifically geared towards me in that regard, but the letting go of expectations was so fantastic. People offered to let me sleep in their rooms if I was too tired or gave me Biofreeze to help me deal.

I’ve tried to carry that feeling throughout this week. If plans change, I’m not going to get annoyed or mad. If issues pop up, we’ll handle them. If I’m uncomfortable, I’ll switch things up so I get comfortable.

That’s come in handy with regards to these flashbacks.

They’re SO real. I know that I’m not there, but my body doesn’t. It reacts the way it did in the moment – sweating, heavy labored breathing, shaking with fear, etc. It gets really hard to shake that feeling, especially when you can’t get your mind out of it. I often have to resort to watching something like Bob’s Burgers to quell that feeling.

I’m all for that, but flashbacks don’t always happen when you can stop and watch these things or take silly quizzes.

So that’s where these other experiences will come in handy. Recalling T’s voice telling me that it’s okay and that I’m safe helps. Knowing that my sister is away from crazy people helps. Knowing that my niblings won’t grow up how we grew up helps.

It’s still hard. It’s still going to be something that I have to deal with my entire life. I won’t pretend that it doesn’t affect me anymore, but I will work to move past it, to stop giving those who abused me the ability to fuck up my life.

If you’re dealing with similar issues, come listen to my fighting back playlist. Some of it is to remind me that I’m awesome and alive, but a lot of it is there to help me express anger when I need to.

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