There are times when it feels as if the past comes hurtling up behind me with the pure intention of side swiping me off my feet. Earlier this week was one of those times and it took all of my inner strength to prevent a full scale melt down or as I sometimes refer to it operation overload attack.
A few weeks back I encountered a body memory style flashback, a point when my body remembered just a small snapshot of the past. It was enough for me to feel terrified and yet insufficient in detail to be fully understood,though if I am honest I comprehended the general basics of the memory. At the time once I had regained my composure and calmed my senses down I tried very hard to shut out all I had recalled, in the hope that it would go away.
I guess I realised that I wasn’t really ready emotionally to deal with this and so it was a safety mechanism to try and block out all the emotions that I felt at that time. I went into my automative non-feeling personae to try and safeguard myself and in some way eradicate the memory which I hope beyond all hope to not be true.
Flashbacks are like that they creep up on you when you least except them and they overwhelm, they seep into my conscious awareness from the depths of the past hidden inside my brain and create chaos and havoc.
Well I truly felt I had boxed this particular one away, it felt as if I had scored a victorious goal, sending this memory reverberating back into the deepest depths of the past. How wrong was I though, flashbacks are never so easily dealt with in my experience and they seem to have the upper hand in this battle between the past and the present.
At the start of this week I had travelled to a conference with my daughter, we checked into our hotel and I felt fine that was until my daughter went to bring up the cases from he car. Sat alone inside this ordinary standard looking hotel room my mind instantly began to whirr and it was soon in overdrive. The images contained in that flashback flew into the forefront of my mind and I began to feel terrified.
My daughter’s return bringing me back to full awareness and in a way grounding me in 2014, and yet I knew the room was triggering me and I kept thinking why. I tried to bat it all away, telling myself internally that we were safe, my daughter was with us, nothing bad was going to happen. I didn’t want to tell my daughter I was having a problem for whilst I knew she would understand I didn’t want to start our time away like this. There was also a genuine fear that I would have to face the flashback and I really felt as if I couldn’t cope with that.
We made an excuse to leave the room and head to the conference centre and yet all the time I was having an internal conversation and trying to reassure myself and all the parts of me. We managed to avoid the room for a few hours but of course the inevitable happened and at the end of the day we had to return to the room.
Instantly I felt panic and fear welling up inside and my mind was racing at what felt like 100mph, yet I had limited control over any of this fear or dread. My daughter asked if I was ok and I had to tell her the truth we were far from being ok in fact we were struggling. Of course she asked why and it was difficult to tell her the room was triggering when her response was why? I tried to be very limited with what I said, I mean how can you share such a memory with a loved one, a memory filled with pain and anguish. All I have are fragments of an incident of trauma, one I do not doubt but at the same time wish it would evaporate and disappear.
I tweeted a few times about the fact I was struggling, and of course people were supportive, they were offering advice. I was grateful for the advice it was generally well intentioned and it was well received but it was difficult none the less.
I mean how can you tell your alters the other parts of me that you, that we are safe, if you don’t believe that yourself and that was my problem. I knew it was 2014, I knew the memory was of a time in the past but I still felt scared witless in that hotel room as I couldn’t be certain something similar wouldn’t happen to me now in 2014.
The past was shaking my firm foundations today and it was winning well it sure felt like it anyway, and I was unable to rationalise my thoughts sensibly. I truly felt like this event, this traumatic incident could happen today and I wasn’t safe at all. No matter how much I tried to ground myself it wasn’t helping, but then I realised I didn’t need grounding I needed reassurances. Yes it was not just my parts but ME, that needed reassuring I needed to know I was safe. I needed to understand we were safe and I also needed to understand we could still box up this memory until we are ready to process it. The truth being I needed to comprehend that the control over this turmoil was still mine and I was equipped to box it away for a future time when we are more able to face it and the pain that it evokes.
I wasn’t able to sleep very well that night and at points I had recall of the snapshots of the memory which flooded my senses and overloaded me. I kept thinking that if this is true; which I believe it is, I will not be able to face it, to live with the emotional turmoil and aftermath. There were times in the night I has negative thoughts that I so wish I hadn’t experienced, those thoughts scared me so it felt like a bit of a double whammy attack.
Of course time doesn’t stand still and the night passed and as morning broke and my daughter woke I knew we had been safe there, nothing bad, nothing similar to our original flashback had occurred.
I have never been so glad to see dawn break and yet I feel guilty for the negative thoughts we had during the night too.
I haven’t had a therapy session this week as my psychologist was off on our regular day due to the Easter Holidays, of course I could have emailed him but how do you explain in an email this fear or anguish.
So for now we are living in this temporary state of limbo waiting to deal with this memory and the fear it invokes whilst also trying to contain the emotions of myself and all the other parts of me. I guess we are like many other survivors of trauma living life one step at a time currently and hoping we can deal with all the confusion and chaos that reigns in our life at the moment, one day soon.
Copyright :DID Dispatches 2014