I’ve been experiencing lots of flashbacks lately. More than usual. And not about any one specific thing. Often, my flashbacks let me know what needs to be worked on, but there is no singular incident coming up, no common theme. Just lots and lots of painful memories and pictures and gross smells and feelings on my skin and in my body. MT (my therapist) calls this being activated. And that makes sense, I’m not even sure that I can call it being triggered. My PTSD is revealing itself in a big way lately. Some of it has to do with the activities of my oldest son, some with the fact that I’m still not feeling 100% physically well, some of it to do with nasty service providers for my kids, and some of it having to do with the season…it’s dreary, cold, and dark. And some of it, I think only some inner part of me can explain and that inner part of me is not letting me in on the secret as to why this is happening now.
So, yesterday, at therapy, MT and I talked about my kids, talked about how I got so relaxed in her office last week, talked about my relationship with my wife, talked about strategies for my oldest son, and then as the session was ending, she started saying, “Next session, we will work on….” and never finished, probably because I looked so intrigued. She has never before told me what we would work on. She then asked what I wanted to work on next session, and I told her I would really love for her to finish her thought. She said flashbacks. I agreed that would be a good idea. I asked if it was time for EMDR. She said we were closer, but not yet. We will talk next session, but she wanted me to do a project on what I would like to do with my flashbacks. So this blog post is a part of that project.
I would like to explode the flashbacks and send up a mushroom cloud with all the remnants of my flashbacks in it. I would like to tear up my flashbacks or wash them down a drain. I would like to set fire to them and have the wind blow the ashes away. I would like to erase the memories that cause me that flashbacks. I would like to go back in the past and change the past so that the flashbacks cannot exist. I would like to hack up the flashbacks with an ax or smash them with a hammer. I would like to stand in the pouring rain or in the shower and have them washed away. I would like to bring utter destruction to these fucking flashbacks.
And on a more realistic or therapeutic note, I would really like to process the memories included in the flashbacks (even though that feels stupid, because I feel like I’ve processed them to death), and I would like to feel the feelings in those flashbacks (even though I’ve felt feelings about them again and again). I just don’t know if I’m really done with this stuff and it feels ridiculous. I’m almost 50 years old. Isn’t it just time to let go of this stuff? Yet I cannot seem to pry my hands open. So, I’d really like to start to let go of some of this stuff. I’d like to be able to say it does not matter anymore, but for some reason, it does still matter. I’d like to be able to process this stuff in such a way that the trauma becomes a regular memory that gets filed away, and doesn’t just pop up like it is happening now. I want to stop wishing that the stuff had never happened. Because it did happen. And I can’t change that. I want the memories in these flashbacks to be filed away, but in such a way that I can access them if I want to. I think that’s where the EMDR comes in. The abuse helped make me who I am today. I really do not want to erase the memories, I just want them put away properly.
PS. I also want to reassure my inner child that I will not forget about them and that they can be with me always even if these memories are put away properly.