A weird thing about trauma/grief:
I thought I knew what a flashback was until I really had one. It's not just a sudden memory. It's being totally submerged into an event that has taken place in such a way that you feel you are in it all over again and sensory perception of the moment you are in is totaly gone, and the worst part, you can't just force yourself out of it. Your mind either has to work through the event again, or there has to be some "crack" created in the event running in your head that your mind can step out of.
I'll be honest. Flashbacks scare me. I hate them. I have had two primary flashbacks that occur when triggered: sitting in the ER room looking at Rob's lifeless body on the table, hearing the sounds outside the door, and the morning my mom died.
Thankfully, it has been a while since I've had either of those, but in one of my NRA classes, I talked with two infantrymen who explained the other flashback, which I had experienced but didn't recognrize as a flashback.
The second flashback is also caused by a trigger, but instead of your mind recreating the entire event, it slams you with the emotions of the event. For them, they often felt a lot of anger after the horrors they saw in war. Their service dogs were specially trained to notice this and nudge them or do something to knock them out of the emotion loop.
When they explained this type of flashback, I totally understood.
Mom died on an autumn day, and I walked outside into the crisp air that was damp with dew and texted and called folks to let them know she was gone.
My flashbacks with mom always include that moment when I'm standing in her and my stepdad's yard making phone calls, and I've learned how to create the crack that lets me out of that and back into reality.
Now, I don't often have the full-blown flashbacks, but lands, there are times when I walk outside into that kind of weather, and the emotions of that moment hit me like a freight train out of nowhere. In an instant, I am sad and lonely and feel horrible loss, and tears are falling before I can even get my bearings.
Until I talked to the infantrymen, I had no idea these were also classified as flashbacks.
Why am I telling you about this?
First, because some of you know exactly what I am talking about with the flashbacks, even if you never tell anyone, and frankly, when it comes to stuff like that, it feels good to know someone else gets you.
Second, some of you need to understand what someone you love is experiencing especially when they are so stuck in that moment they can't explain it to you.
Third, because some of you experience that emotion flood and feel like something is horribly wrong with your ability to pull yourself together. Well, there isn't. It is normal. Best solution: talk and talk some more. Really, not everyone thinks you are silly or broken. Some think you are normal.
Finally, I feel like I'm in an emotional flashback loop right now, which is a rollercoaster of the emotional hell kind. I'm happy, loving life, and the right cool breeze hits, and I'm fighting tears and feeling sad and lonely and letting it all roll through. I'm fine. It's honestly just the weather, BUT I feel like I look horribly erratic. LOL Because I do, and some other folks probably feel erratic sometimes too and need to understand what is happening and give themselves grace. Y'all, I'm asking for some grace because this year is coming down hard.
Thank you for reading all the way through this. I hope it has helped someone. Yes, feel free to share it. It'll also be on my blog if you want to find it there.
Blessings to each of you.
I appreciate you and am glad you are here.
--Jerri L. Kelley--