Flashbacks from Hell

So, MT (my therapist) has me tracking my flashbacks and exactly what I was doing before the flashback and what I did afterward. I’m using an app called CBT diary and I actually really like it.  It helps me to pinpoint some of the awful ways I speak to myself and also helps me to reframe the flashback.  However, I know I need to process these flashbacks and the information in the in therapy and I just can’t.  I am having a hard time saying the words to describe what the flashbacks are about.  I tried to give MT the diary I’ve been keeping last week and then I just could not do it.  I spent the last 6 days feeling numb.  I went to see MT today and told her that maybe I’m done with therapy.  I said that I’m having all of these flashbacks and I don’t feel anything so why talk about them.  MT said maybe I was dissociated.  I said maybe I was hopeless.  She said that you have to have hope for change to be in therapy.  I left thinking that maybe I am done with therapy.  I can’t talk about these stupid flashbacks.  It’s like I think that they would really offend a person’s sensibilities.  I feel kind of sick and twisted for having a need to talk about them.  But, then, it hit me.  The hopelessness I am feeling is the hopelessness I felt as a teenager.  I thought I would die early.  I never thought I would live to not live with the abusers.  I never thought I could be successful…at work, a relationship, being a mom, anything.  I thought I would never have a car or a house.  I thought I would never be seen as a functioning person.  I thought that things would never change.  I thought I would never be happy.  I was in emotional and physical pain ALL OF THE TIME.  I think I am right.  I’m pretty sure that the hopelessness that made me think that I was done with therapy belongs to a younger me.  At one point in therapy today, I was talking and stopped in the middle of a sentence.  MT asked me to continue, and all I could say was if I continued, it would hurt.  More than I was ready for.  I came home and had a couple of more of those flashbacks and I found myself just doubled over.  It just hurt so badly to think that these people who were supposed to take care of me and love me did these awful, senseless, dehumanizing things to me.  The only way that I continued to function was by taking one breath at a time and thankfully, my arms automatically went around me to do the butterfly hug and tapping.  Healing hurts.  I have to remind myself that I am a warrior and I have waged war on my past and war hurts.  War even hurts the victor.  MT told me today that it is time to get out my sword and shield and fight this battle.

We also talked today about living in the present instead of the past or the future.  I don’t know how to not live in the past with all of these flashbacks happening.  Except that the flashbacks are now.  So maybe the experience of the flashbacks and trying to deal with them is living in the present.  Here’s the thing:  sometimes I think that enough therapy will change the past.  It sounds odd and I know it’s not going to happen.  So I guess I have to deal with the impact in the present.  Radical acceptance, I think it is called.  Just accepting that this is how it is and that is how it was and live in the moment.  So if the moment is good, awesome.  If the moment sucks, it just is.  I don’t want things to hurt as much as they are right now, but I have to go through the pain to get to the other side.

In other news, my weight loss surgery is happening in two weeks.  I can’t believe it’s finally here.  I have been working really hard to get to this place for the last six months.  I have lost 45 pounds since July 8.    I have learned how to eat protein and vegetables and no fat dairy.  I exercise almost every day.  I ordered clothes last month that I thought would fit me in a month or two after surgery and they already fit.  So, I just ordered some smaller sizes today.  I am already finding that my shoes are too big so I guess I will end up having to invest in some new shoes.  My job now is to find a protein powder I can tolerate for after surgery.  That’s not going to be fun.  Artificial sweeteners kind of do me in and really, all I have been drinking is water.  I guess there is a protein powder that mixes up clear in water, but it is pretty pricey.  But, I think I might have to go with that one.  I am so ready for the day of this surgery to come.

My meditation group was on hiatus from June until November 2.  I was so glad when the group started again.  The woman who runs the group is a therapist, Reiki master, and a shaman.  We do lots of guided shamanic journeys.  This week we spent time journeying to find each other’s spirit guides.  The woman I worked with found a tortoise for me and there are so many things about it that makes sense.  The tortoise and the hare….slow and steady wins the race.  This pretty much applies to both my weight loss journey and my healing journey.  I will get there, but I cannot make the process go any faster than it goes.  I will get tired, I will get overwhelmed, I will have big feelings.  But, I will not die.  I will get to where I am going.  I will get the body I was meant to have and my soul and heart and mind will heal.  The tortoise also has special meaning to me because I am imagine tortoises to be old and very wise.  MT tells me often that I have all I need to heal inside of me.  I am healing myself.  That means that there is wisdom in me.  And I know that I am wise when it comes to my healing.  If I can still my mind and heart for long enough to really look at the situation and be courageous enough to talk about it with MT (for the processing), I really do know what I need.  At the beginning of every session, MT asks me what we should work on and I usually know what needs to come next.  I don’t always know where that work is going to take me, but I do know what I need to work on.  Which brings me full circle back to the beginning of this post (and believe me, I did not see this coming), I guess I need to be brave enough and care enough about those younger parts of me to share these fucking flashbacks with MT and see where we need to go with them.

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3 thoughts on “Flashbacks from Hell

  1. You are doing a great job, and I know it’s hard!!! but in the 8 1/2 years I have been in therapy, one of the hardest things I ever did was RE-TELL the abuse story from the YOUNG ME! I sat on the floor in therapy and cried the whole story out to my therapist and healing began happening once I allowed those flashbacks and memories to be there.

    You can’t push the flashbacks away … you have to see them as healing moments to be with the flashbacks and talk about them with your therapist allowing there to be healing.

    Its a fight and a battle, but one you have the choice to win! I think you are doing a great job.. give yourself acceptance to that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Patty, I love this post! There is so much rich processing here. It’s especially meaningful to read this because I was thinking about you earlier this evening. I was writing with/to Anxiety to try to figure out what was going on with me/her today. And at some level it came down to a continued sense of helplessness, triggered by the Stephen story but continuing into how I think/behave in parts of my life today. I thought about how I needed a model for feminine strength, and I remembered your warrior self. I want to play with that image more and see where it takes me.
    These words really spoke to me: Here’s the thing: sometimes I think that enough therapy will change the past. I hadn’t thought it so clearly, but I realize now that this is some of what I do at times that makes me feel disconnected from E.

    Thank you for writing about all of this. I keep learning from you.

    Liked by 2 people

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