Allow: Don't fight your inner wisdom.
Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me.
----"Unconditional" by Jennifer Paine Welwood
Resist healing, resist flashbacks, and it will all catch up with you eventually. Allow it to come, knowing it’s part of a normal process, and the pain will be a little less. We increase our own pain by judging ourselves (“I must be crazy”) or by resisting the process ("I can’t do this!").
What are flashbacks? Flashbacks are unresolved traumatic memories resurfacing in high-definition. They are often experienced as present day reality. Having flashbacks in my 30’s I thought to myself, “I can barely handle this now – how on earth could I have handled this as a kid?!” Actually, in the midst of flashbacks of childhood trauma, it’s as though we are that kid once again.
What can set off a flashback? Flashbacks are set off by a trigger that touches into past trauma. I find it helpful to distinguish between 2 broad categories of triggers: sensory triggers and relational triggers.
What is a trigger? A trigger is any action, sensory intake (touch, smell, sight, sound, taste, or even intuition), or relationship which results in an automatic physical or emotional response which is not 100% related or attributable to the situation at hand. It’s something in the present moment that calls up past events based on previous connections we’ve made in our brains. Our response to a trigger may be a massive flashback, or it may be unconscious – you may not even realize it’s happening. That’s a pretty wide range. Even people without abuse in their past can get triggered.
How do sensory triggers happen?
What is a relational trigger?
Can flashbacks be induced on purpose?
What’s an example of what happens in a flashback?
Is there a pattern to how flashbacks come?
Can a therapist help me resolve the trauma without having flashbacks?
Can body work help?
If I’m aware I’m having a flashback, is there a way to bring myself back to the present?