In which I break the power of flashbacks

I’ve been having a few flashbacks since my father died. Nothing too bad; nothing that makes me freak out. Just intrusive little things that put me off kilter for a few minutes (or linger annoyingly for a few hours). But none of the usual dissociative wigging out – or only momentarily.

*** TRIGGER WARNING ***

Mostly they’re flashbacks of horrible things he did to Mum and I, and the feelings of fear I felt then (and now), and of being small and vulnerable. Things like the times he was being violent, usually drunk, and Mum would sleep in my room, usually barricading us in with my chest of drawers. He’d try to break in, but never succeeded. Thankfully, god knows what would have happened if he did.

Or the time we were on holidays visiting family in the country – Dad was, as usual, in a foul mood and as Mum started to get in the car he drove off – leaving her half in, half out of the car, dragging a little bit as he took off, and yelling at her about how “stupid” she was. I get this knot in the pit of my stomach whenever I think about these things.

*** END OF TRIGGER WARNING ***

I was talking to the Wonder Therapist about this today. She said this isn’t uncommon following the death of an abuser. She suggested I should just tell her when this happens, and just blurt out the flashback. Really? Yea, really. I wasn’t sure if I could do this – the same old feelings of shame and embarrassment are still there, even after all this time. But I did do it, and you know what? Just telling her about the flashbacks took all the power out of them. Suddenly they were just memories – yucky memories, and still intrusive – but not as scary as they were. Amazing. I felt lighter and more powerful. I no longer felt like a victim, but a survivor. 🙂

I guess that’s why they call her the Wonder Therapist after all. 😉

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8 thoughts on “In which I break the power of flashbacks

  1. Beautiful, K. I wondered whether this might happen, and I’m so glad that it is, in an odd little way, empowering…I love the “downgrade” from flashback to memory. Three cheers for Wonder Therapist, and three cheers and a brass band for you…you’re the one who did all the hard work that is allowing this process to happen. You’re the one who struggled to get to the point of realizing how bad your father was, and allowed yourself to feel the rage against him that opened the door of the emotional cage he put you into. You’re the one who laid the foundation to respond to his death the realism and willingness to embrace freedom. You have amazing support, but don’t forget — support works well only when it’s used well. You’ve done amazing things, Kerro.

  2. I’m so glad that the flashbacks have lost their bite, and that you can direct the emotions where they belong… Just the glimpse that you gave us of what you, and your mother, were subjected to show what sort of man your father was. I’m sorry that you were exposed to that in any way.

    Great work… I agree with the others, you need to be in the space to make these leaps in healing, and WT has helped with that, but you’ve done the hard work.

    Take care,
    CG

  3. I’m glad you were able to talk about the fb’s with WT. Even though it know it helps to talk about things, I still don’t understand why. It’s a constant struggle to keep reminding myself of that.
    Good work.

  4. I’m so glad you found relief in simply sharing with your T. I’ve found I’ve had the same thing happen, too, sometimes. It seems like simply telling people something can be enough to let it go or at least have it play a less significant role in your life.

    ((((Kerro)))))

  5. Can understand the increase in flashbacks now he’s gone and you’re free from him. Guess you’re kinda getting it out of your system.
    You’re doing great work, good for you and thanks for sharing the hope. 🙂
    Bay

  6. Oh dear, I’ve just realised it’s almost a week since my post and I haven’t even had the courtesy to reply to your comments. I’m so sorry everyone – it’s been a totally crazy week.

    @ Same Sky, David, Castorgirl and Kate – Thanks. It’s strange, it wasn’t until I read everyone’s comments that I realised I’ve done some hard work to get to this place. I have, haven’t I? Though I still don’t quite believe it; i seems surreal, as if it’s not me. But it is me, isn’t it? Too weird.

    @ Maryann and Sanity – I don’t understand why it helps to talk about the flashbacks either, but it does. I remember the moment I realised that sitting in my therapist’s office – like a light had suddenly gone on, a feeling of lightness and a realisation that these were, after all, just “memories”. Sanity, I’m glad you’ve had this experience, too. 🙂

    @ Bay – The increase in flashbacks isn’t fun, but they’ve eased now. There is hope, there is always hope. Hang in there. 🙂

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