Before I go into a bit of detail, this following entry was written in my personal journal last week after a therapy session, and it was a bit of a breakthrough moment. I say that because as you’ll read, this scenario is a first for my therapist, and while it explains some things, it creates even more questions.
As you continue to read my new entries here on this site, you’ll see that I suffer from flashbacks of the sexual abuse I experienced as a kid. I get them on average about 4-5 times a week. It’s been this way for the last several months since the “epic therapy session” as I call it, occurred. (I’ll write about that soon but suffice it to say for now, that session brought a lot of feelings to the forefront of my mind and daily life.)
Anyways, that many flashbacks is an extremely high amount, especially for someone who was a victim over 3 decades ago. However given the fact that I suppressed these feelings for so long and now am starting to deal with them, I guess it’s understandable to have these now but again it’s a very high amount to experience and hopefully in time they will begin to subside with more sessions and more use of coping skills.
At my session tonight, we had a breakthrough, apparently I dissociate while I’m dissociating. Yeah, figure that one out, right! I need to see how that even works. My therapist even said she has to consult with a colleague because she’s never seen anyone deal with flashbacks and past traumatic experiences this way. I’m a first for her; that’s kinda cool and kinda scary at the same time. Although believe me, nothing about Dissociation is cool, so please take that as a bit of tongue and cheek.
She’s been wondering, with all these flashbacks, how I’m able to get through the day, especially since they happen in the mornings a lot. Having flashbacks for many survivors means that their entire day is affected, or their entire evening. The anxiety sticks with them for hours or days when one hits.
For me, though, it’s different. I told her that basically, when a flashback comes, I embrace it and try to feel it. I try to connect with it, and even though I can’t ever get that emotional connection, I don’t stop trying each time. (That’s a whole different story to write about, why I want to emotionally connect with them.)
They last for usually 1-3 minutes or so, and then it’s gone, and I just go about my business. Sure it takes me a minute to gain my composure after the event, but I am able to manage my day without too much trouble normally. I finish getting ready for work and head out the door to the office or to take my son to school.
This apparently is quite abnormal, and I honestly can’t explain it. I’ve searched on the internet for anything like this and so far I’ve come up empty.
She says she thinks it’s my mind protecting me while it’s remembering the events, not letting me get too emotionally attached or involved with the episode. Like at the time it happened back when I was a kid, I dissociated each time to deal with the pain so I never emotionally connected with it. So now when I try to connect with it, I can’t because my brain isn’t letting me connect with something that isn’t able to be connected too.
So that itself keeps me from being over affected for long periods of time.
Even after the abuse happened to me, I would go home and deal with it somehow, and move on with life. I can remember sitting on my bed, holding a my favorite white stuffed animal, a polar bear, and rocking back and forth on my bed for a few minutes to calm down before facing my parents. This way they never found out. As a kid, I still played with my friends, went to school, played my music, and whatever else I happened to do. So even back then, I was able to somehow function shortly after the trauma.