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What to do when the flashback looks too much like reality (or reality like a flashback)?

Am I in a flashback? I woke up this morning with another weird dream. I don't remember everything (usually I don't remember anything, and this is the second time in a few weeks that I remember a dream), but I remember the need to escape, of - again - missing a train. I remember thinking about taking another train, but I woke up and I don't know if I managed to take this other train.

Again there were two other people in the dream - I am not sure if they were my brother and sister. At first I thought they were, but in the end I'm not so sure. Again they didn't care about missing the train, and they didn't care about getting on another train.

I also woke up with a tense back, and the tension hasn't gone away all day. On the contrary, it has increased. Yesterday I had a session with my psychologist, and I talked about my frustration with the "new normality", which has taken away our tools of power: mass action, and especially mass civil disobedience. We talked about disempowerment and the need to, again, empower myself. We also talked about the fact that I have empowered myself in recent months in relation to my self-care, but this time it is about social empowerment, that is, finding our power again as social movements, more concretely as a movement for climate justice. We also talked about the feeling of powerlessness in my youth, the inability to escape from a toxic family situation, which has caused my complex trauma.

And the reality is very similar: I am incapable, we are all incapable of escaping this "new normality" that takes away our power. So, am I in a flashback, or does today's reality look too much like a flashback?

In the morning I tried to work a little, but it was a total failure. I stopped, and went for a walk, and had a hot chocolate at the Viajero Sedentario, and started writing in my diary. I felt like crying, I really felt on the verge of crying, but no tears came to my eyes. I went home and wrote some emails to fellow climate justice activists about my sense of disempowerment and my need to meet with them. Well - it was an important step. Then I also wrote a short article from my personal queer perspective on the trans- and queerphobic debate triggered by the PSOE argument paper. Good too. I felt that I had gotten a few things out, and for a while I felt a little more at ease.

Later I also wrote an email to my climate justice collective about my sense of disempowerment. Good, too. I need to share this feeling, as I can't solve it alone.

I went out again in the evening for a walk, and then went to my bar nearby to have some wine and write again in my diary. I thought I was doing a little better.

But, not really. I'm not better. I can't sleep. I am tormented by the feeling of disempowerment, of helplessness (the helplessness of my youth). But is this a flashback? Disempowerment is real. The 'year of the climate uprising' has gone to hell, and it's not going to be possible to mount a powerful uprising in the autumn either. Our power is gone. It's been taken away from us with the new normality, and we can't escape from it. At the same time, the climate emergency is accelerating, and the governments of the world are starting to rescue aviation, the automotive industry, and other industries based on fossil energy and extractivism, and the European Central Bank is buying up billions of Euros of debt from fossil energy multinationals, thus trapping us in a fossil economic model for many years to come, putting us on a path to unstoppable global warming. And right now we have a heat wave in the Arctic with temperatures of up to 38°C in Siberia. Time is running out, and this is a reality, and it's not my internal critic talking, catastrophizing. Reality is a catastrophe, and I feel powerless, impotent. Like a flashback. Or am I in a flashback?

I finally got up and took a bath - at one o'clock at night. In the bath, I was thinking about whether or not I'm in a flashback. I had to cry, and I said 'Scheisse' (shit) several times in German. This is a sign of a flashback, as I don't normally think in German.

I'm thinking about Pete Walker's thirteen steps for handling a flashback, and how to apply them when the flashback is too close to reality. There are many steps that I find difficult, as reality is like that, a piece of shit. Am I safe? At the moment yes, but we're screwing up our climate and our planet. Resisting the internal critic dramatizing and catastrophizing? But how, when the climate emergency is real and accelerating, and the economic rescue policies are trapping us in a fossil (and destructive) economy, thus screwing up our climate?

What I am trying to do is relax my body (the bath), allow myself to grieve, and be supported in my secure relationships. I also know what this flashback is flashing me back to - the powerlessness of my youth. The problem is that today's reality is perhaps even worse, not limited to me, but a powerlessness at the social level.

As I write this, I am in pain. I feel pain in my chest. I don't feel fear, but I feel frustration, impotence, disempowerment. I feel sadness. I feel anger too, both the anger of my youth towards my parents, and my current anger towards politicians, the current economic system, and the new fucking normality.

Flashback or reality? I don't know anymore. They're both too much alike.



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Article | by Dr. Radut