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Flashbacks

In the last few weeks I've been experiencing two kinds of flashbacks. Some flashbacks I have when I think about certain things from my adolescence, like two nights ago. And another type of flashback, more painful, that comes to me without me being able to identify a trigger, and that is not linked to memories - purely emotional flashbacks, as I experienced last Saturday. To some extent I'm living in an emotional flashback since the beginning of the confinement.

Two nights ago I reviewed my relationship with my mother, as far back as I can remember. Rather, my rejection of my mother. I went back to a recurring memory, me in the shower at maybe 12 years old, my mother walks in, opens the curtain, looks at me and asks me if I had washed myself "down there" - the genitals. I was reminded of the feeling of being violated, of shame, of the invasion of my intimate space. I was also reminded of my rejection of any physical contact by my mother, of the rejection of her caresses, and that she never respected my rejection, and that I always had to defend myself almost violently.

I also reminded myself of my attempts to get her affection, sitting in the kitchen when I came back from school. I don't know what I told her, or if we talked much. These attempts ended with a pot of enzyme kale stew over my head, because I told her that I wasn't going to eat it (which shouldn't have been a surprise, as I had never liked it).

I was also reminded of my revenge, during my youth, when I made humiliating comments about her in the presence of my friends. But I also reminded myself that I didn't have any safe space at home, that she and my father never gave any warning before entering my room. I reminded myself of the tension I felt all the time.

I also reminded myself that when my mother told me "if you have any problems, you can talk to me," I received it more as a threat. Talking to my mother? Unthinkable! I never felt understood, or seen, and the idea of talking to my mother about me caused me more horror than anything else. But I didn't have other people either - not my father, not my sister or brother, not friends.

Finally, I started to cry. I cried because of the pain of my loneliness in my childhood and adolescence. I cried because of the lack of love, of affection. I cried because of all the tension and all the fear I felt in my childhood and adolescence.

 

Yesterday, during the day, I felt tension all day, and I cried several times. It wasn't always clear to me why. I cried because of the powerlessness that I feel now, and that brings me back to my adolescence. I cried because of my fear when I think of the future, of the "new normality". I cried just to cry, not knowing why. In the morning I went out for a walk (outside the time slot allowed for walks), and I had a hot chocolate with soy milk at the Viajero Sedentario on the Alameda. I felt some normal life, sitting at a table with my chocolate and taking the sun. In the afternoon I went out again (another one out of the time allowed for walks) and had an ice cream, also in the Alameda. I needed to feel some normality, and not this Orwellian "new normality".

 

I took a long bath with a glass of wine, and the rest of the evening I talked to various friends on the phone. When I finally went to bed, at 1:00 at night, I felt more relaxed. But, like a week ago, when I turned off the light, there was another flashback, one of these emotional flashbacks. I felt mostly pain in the centre of my chest. I cried, and I tried to relax. I told myself this was a flashback. I told myself I'm in a safe space. I tried to tell my inner child that I love them, and that many people love them, but this made it worse. I tried to take breath deeply, lying on my back. I told myself again that I am in a safe space, that this is a flashback, and I tried not to react to the pain, just to stay with the emotion. I tried to ask my back to relax.

This time the emotional flashback didn't last that long - maybe an hour. I wasn't able to identify what I was flashing back to during this flashback. I finally managed to relax, turn off the light and go to sleep.

 

This morning I woke up with a tense back, but initially more relaxed. I thought about the relationship with my ex-partner in London, or rather the end of our relationship, destroyed by my trauma, destroyed by the memory of my mother opening the shower curtain (I have no memory if she ever touched me, but now I think this memory probably stays locked in the black hole of my childhood). And I cried again. I felt a lot of pain, a lot of sadness. I cried a lot, and hard. Maybe it was the first time that I was able to feel the pain of the end of this relationship, of this loss. I let go of a lot of pain that had been blocked before.

I got up and had breakfast, and went out to do some shopping. Now, my back is still tight, and I still have some pain in my chest. I'm still anxious, with my emotions under the skin. Yet again, I dread the day.

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Article | by Dr. Radut