Flashbacks – Messengers of the past
We are enjoying our well deserved holidays, finally it´s weekend… time for myself and then: bam! Here they come! Flashbacks. Memories. Pictures in our head. Feelings and emotions… all from a time long ago, a chapter we would prefer to leave behind for good.
Like bubbles in a pond they come up and remind you of the fact that at the bottom of the “pond of your soul” there is something mouldering, producing gases of putrefaction.
And that is good. Yes, you read it right! That is, in fact, really good!
And no, I haven`t lost my sanity here… I have gone through abuse and trauma and work with those subjects on a personal and professional level for over two decades now. So many of us (one in three girls and one in five boys experience sexual abuse in Germany) had to go through trauma and as adults try to find ways to deal with the consequences. That is something I see on a daily basis working with survivors of abuse and violence.
What does a Flashback look like?
You wake up in the middle of the night with a feeling of claustrophobia. No air to breathe… a sense of strangulation. You are fighting… darkness all around you. All you think is: I want to live!!!
You go through the supermarket doing the shopping for the weekend. All of a sudden you feel like four, walking beside your Mommy, holding her hand. You feel the same fears you felt back then. Thinking: later we get home, uncle D. is going to come for a visit and will want to “play” with me in the little cottage in the garden…
Holidays! Finally on your way to the airport! And you notice how your body is getting tenser and tenser. Everything hurts. Or have you been tense for a long time already, only noticing it now as you are prepared to relax??!! And you know what is waiting for you: a migraine which will bind you to the bed for a couple of days. Of course, you are prepared and will take pain killers, but this horrible feeling, the emotional pain will stay and so will the sense of aching limps like you just had a mayor fight… a fight you fought decades ago but on some level feels like it has been yesterday…
Memories of all kinds, mental, emotional, physical, dreams with certain content, the sense of having lived a particular situation even though it actually happened a long time ago… all this is called flashback.
How do you deal with Flashbacks?
The question should rather be: how would you like to deal with those “messengers of the past”?
Only you can decide and your decision might vary depending on the current circumstances of your life.
You can welcome this messenger in, take time to listen to his message and lovingly accept it…
You can make him wait outside the door and deny any access to him…
Or you can decapitate him, like they did in the Middleages… Just that in this case, they will eventually grow a new head…
Accepting what is is the formula for transformation. Ultimately it is the only way out. However, this does not mean we are at choice at any given moment. We can turn towards the event or away from it depending on our current situation.
In my personal and professional experience we are ready to deal with those flashbacks when they come up. Our Soul doesn`t make „mistakes“. It knows when the moment is right to let go of events from the past, it knows when to send you those “bubbles” and messenger, it knows when to empty the trash… No doubt that this isn`t the most enjoyable process and time and specially since this usually happens in times of relax when we look forward to some leisure and relaxation. And because of the fact that we have time and energy the Soul opens the flood gates and lets it all out.
Or maybe just because it is time now!
We often run away and hide from this kind of inner work. This is more than understandable since we are talking about confronting yourself with trauma. We prefer not to have anything to do with it but still, it is there within is, waiting and hoping to be seen, accepted and transformed one day.
In the moment we surrender and say “yes” to those images, sensations and memories, we actually take control. We make a decision and that is an empowering action. With this decision comes the willingness to be, one more time, overwhelmed and run over by those emotions, not in order to drown or bathe in them, but to let them go for good.
Usually, what happens now is what we might call „initial worsening”. The inside pressure grows. A tsunami is on its way. Explosion of what had been supressed. That can be quite frightening.
What is helpful in those moments is the deeper understanding of what is going on right now and that it is a normal process. In addition you might want to reach out and find support and professional help in dealing with those feelings, pictures and emotions – until you feel strong enough to deal with them yourself.
Dealing with trauma and challenging emotions involves time, dedication, courage and can be a process that goes for some years, even decades, depending on the depth of the Soul-wound. Opening up, talking about it, sharing – all of that are already significant steps taken ahead. Why? Because that is exactly what most of traumatized people where not able to do in their childhood and youth – basically in any situation when the trauma occurred, no matter the age…
The gift that comes with flashbacks
Why should you deal with flashbacks in the first place? Why going „into the dark“ and dealing with the pain?
Because flashbacks come with a gift, hidden inside…
In most traumatic experiences part of ourselves, of our Soul, is split off. We start to repress what hurts us so badly. That part of ourselves is banned in the „dark cellar” of ourselves, our subconciousness in order to be able to deal with it and to keep functioning in “normal life”. It is a protection mechanism of our psyche in order to survive.
In that very part that is split off is a part of ourselves, our energy, our love. Our Soul! A vital part of ourselves…
That is the reason why we so often miss ourselves in our daily lives, we year for that big “something” we can`t really define… That something that will heal our emptiness, the sense of being lost, incomplete… We yearn – often without knowing – to reunite with ourselves, with those parts that were split off. But since we are unable to see and define it that way, we look for outer things, people, circumstances that fill this inner space and emptiness.
Flashbacks often show up in emotionally challenging situations, when life falls apart. That can be the loss of a job and economic stability, the loss of a loved one, divorce, health issues. All of a sudden we find ourselves “reduced“ to who we really are without the possibility to compensate. There is a huge confrontation with ourselves, the look in the mirror…
And it is here where the gift can be found. Behind any trauma is a huge feeling of self love and reunion with our energy. Behind any trauma sits the inner child/a part of our personality and being. Reuniting with it will make us feel whole, complete. So much more abundant, safe and strong.
That is the reason why I chose, long time ago, to be open to my flashbacks and to embrace them. To allow what is there anyway, to dive right in and to find myself at the end of that dark tunnel. I feel truly empowered after going through those emotions and enjoy my daily life on an even more profound level. The same I have witnessed with others who I supported throughout this process. The fear of what one carries within becomes less, the fear of the trauma as such and gives way to a strong and healthy relationship with oneself.
Pain soothes, psychosomatic symptoms vanish, the need for taking drugs becomes less, addictions become less… step by step peace, the sense of purpose and belonging come back and the feeling of loving oneself becomes more and more.
It is a path worth taking!
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