Someone asked if I ever had flashbacks to the trauma. The answer to that would be, yes. Not as many now as when I started to heal. But once in a while now. The next question I had already anticipated. And that was, what are they like?
I can only answer what they are like for me. And for me they are quite terrifying. I can try to describe what it is like. Imagine that you are standing in a room filled with people. They are talking and going about their lives. Then, sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly, the sound fades out. And so do your surroundings. Then bang! You are in the middle of a particular trauma. Your heart rate goes up and so do your other fight or flight responses. And you are completely engulfed in the trauma. You are not the rational 49-year-old you thought you were. You are the scared child facing down horror. Then you pull back into the world somehow. And you are left with all the feelings of what you experienced both physical and emotional. Yet nothing has changed around you. You are still in the room filled with people and you are still you.
Scary times. The hardest part for me was accepting that I was safe. That those things that I just experienced, and they are real feelings, are not there. That I am not 6. That I am safe. And that I am not hurt.
This is where grounding comes in. Took me awhile to get it to become my default reaction after a flashback but now it works pretty well. I look at the things around me and just start listing them off. I am safe. I am warm. I am with friends. I am in a chair. I have on my favorite shoes. Whatever it takes to be in the moment I am in. Because I really don’t want to be in the moment I just left.
Now those scary things that I experienced, predominantly, only show up if I think about them. I worked through them. Mostly by talking about them and putting them out into the sunlight. For me, they are like nightmares. If I don’t talk about them they fester in there and keep picking at me. But bringing them out in the open with safe people who will give them the sacredness that they deserve puts them where they belong.
I lived through these things. I survived these things.I am stronger than these things, because I survived these things. But I am not these things. I am myself, a bright and shinning star in the universe. Just like everyone else.