***** Trigger Warning – Dealing with Flashbacks *****
I know I said I would post about trust next but I’m taking these issues as they hit me and the night before last was a bad one for me. I’m not sure which are worse the flashbacks that happen when I’m awake or the night terrors/nightmare flashbacks that happen when I’m asleep. Half the time it is hard to tell the difference so I am going to write about what each of them are like in the hopes that I can.
Flashbacks – These happen when I am fully conscious. They are usually triggered by a smell, a sound, etc. One minute I’m in the present the next I’m in the past. Sometimes they are full on memories – audio, visual, feeling memories, and sometimes they are just body memories. I think of the two, body memories are harder to deal with because it feels like you have been taken over by some foreign being that is crawling all over the most private places on your body, and there is no stopping them. I flashed back from these shaking, screaming, sweating, peeling my skin off with my fingernails till I bled, crying uncontrollably – all of which are things you really don’t want to do in public. Thus my desire not to go outside.
Night Terrors/Nightmare Flashbacks – These happen when my body is at rest, when I am sleeping. I should be able to be safe in my sleep but I’m not. They always start with me running from the unseen “IT” or “THEY”, running, trying to hide, but knowing that no matter how well I’m hidden I am, they are going to find me, almost like they have a tracking device that is leading them right to me. Once they have me the pain starts – this can manifest itself in different ways in the dream – Electrocution, drowning, other forms of torture or the actually memories of the abuse. Sometimes I wake up before the pain, those are the best nights because then I’m only covered in sweat, needing a drink and to fix my sheets, which have been pulled off my bed. If I get to the pain, it last longer and I either wake up with all of the above plus feelings of burning, shooting pain, not being about to breath/catch my breath or the need to scour my body till I almost bleed. It’s very weird but I only have this happen to me at night. I can sleep all day long and never have this happen and my family wonders why I prefer sleeping during the day.
I’m skipping ahead to write about this now because I had a really bad nightmare flashback on Thursday night. I knew that I shouldn’t have gone to sleep because I was just feeling off, but I was so tired that I fell asleep anyways. Only to be up a couple hours later, standing in my shower with the water so hot I probably gave myself first degree burns. All I know is that we have solar heated water, we live in Florida and it gets really, really hot. It was sometime before I even noticed that my skin was red and that it hurt. After which it was cold water and aloe everywhere, then I had to deal with my bed. When I finally got back in it, something I didn’t really want to do but there was nowhere else I could go since I didn’t want to wake up the rest of the house. So there I am in my bed knowing there was absolutely no way I was even going to try to go back to sleep, having tried that in the past I know that just puts me back into the nightmare. I ended up watching a six part mini-series on girls that made bombs during WWII. By then it was 5:30-6am and I got up looking for food.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had night terrors for the simple reason I don’t sleep at night, or at least not before 4am, so this one hit me hard. I’m still trying to process through it, in my head then maybe I’ll try to process it by writing it out, depending on how it goes.
This is by far the worst legacy child abuse has left me, because it affects both my sleeping and my waking hours, I never know when they will happen and they leave me feeling craved-out inside, shaken and scared of my own shadow.