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Old 01-11-2017, 07:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Big time PTSD flashback episode


My friends...I hope you are all well in this new year. I am writing for ESH on something that happened a couple of weeks ago during the holidays. I needed some time/distance from it to be able to write about it in a coherent way, I think.

I was washing, drying, and putting away some dishes over the holidays. I left a cabinet door open, and when I bent down to put something away I hit my head fairly hard on the corner of the open upper cabinet door. It hurt, but it was not serious. I was not bleeding, did not get a bump, etc. And yet, I started to absolutely sob. SOB.

My gentleman friend was in the kitchen at the time, helping me dry and put away dishes. He was extremely kind and asked if I was OK, asked if I thought I should sit down. He very obviously thought I was so upset because I had hurt myself badly. I stood there sobbing, and I could not for the life of me figure out why I was so upset. I pulled myself together for the most part after a couple of minutes, and then went into the bathroom to take a break from the busy-ness of the holidays. Then I was awash in a memory--not one that had ever struck me as even remotely close to the worst thing that ever happened in my marriage to STBXAH. Not one that was so upsetting that I wrote about it here. But something similar happened with STBXAH (I was in the kitchen, putting away dishes, and hit my head on a cabinet), and he was in the room. And he was absolutely apoplectic with rage at me. Screaming at me for being stupid and not closing cabinet doors, screaming at me for crying after I hurt myself. I honestly had not thought about that moment in at least two years, but there it was. The whole thing went away. My gentleman friend asked me a couple of times throughout the day if my head was OK, and I replied that it was (because it was). I did not want to go into a long discourse about why I reacted the way I did, and stir up all that emotion again after I was able to calm down. He is aware of the nature of my marriage to STBXAH, and while I have shared with him one or two specific incidents, I have generally felt that it's not really necessary to prattle on and on about every single solitary thing that ever happened during that relationship. He knows STBXAH was abusive. He knows that I was co-dependently crazy in my reaction to the alcoholism and the abuse, and that the whole thing was enormously toxic on both sides.

I am almost a year and a half out of that marriage. I am doing so well. My kids are thriving, I have a loving man in my life, I have resurrected my job from a very unstable place last year, and STBXAH and I generally co-exist reasonably well where our son is concerned. So my reaction, and the reasons for my reaction, really took me by surprise.

How do you all deal with things like this? The gut punches that show up out of nowhere. Would I benefit from focusing more on a certain step, or a certain area, in my recovery?
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Old 01-11-2017, 08:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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IMO, triggers are like nasty little pixies.... never know where/when/why they'll pop up or what havoc they'll bring when they do. I just posted in another thread about how installing batteries in a recorder suddenly triggered the unlocking of buried ACoA memories..... a trigger to me is like a portkey in Harry Potter. Looks innocuous - a shoe, a newspaper, a cabinet door.

((((Hugs)))) I think the shock of being wrenched so firmly back through time like that is the worst part of it in some ways. That's the feeling that leaves you nauseous & questioning if YOU took a misstep in your recovery somehow to end up here. But really, you just touched the portkey & travelled in time.

It sounds like you maybe minimized this episode a bit?

Quote:
Then I was awash in a memory--not one that had ever struck me as even remotely close to the worst thing that ever happened in my marriage to STBXAH
followed up quickly with:

Quote:
something similar happened with STBXAH (I was in the kitchen, putting away dishes, and hit my head on a cabinet), and he was in the room. And he was absolutely apoplectic with rage at me. Screaming at me for being stupid and not closing cabinet doors, screaming at me for crying after I hurt myself.
...maybe not the worst, but not small potatoes either? Yet - because you HAVE so many other examples to draw from, it's a natural thing to think - it's not even like it was THAT big of an event, why am I so triggered?

Because it's still awful & it's still something that really happened to you. It is still something to acknowledge & let go of.

Personally, I feel like these episodes can be GOOD for our recoveries, you know, in moderation. It's like - now that I AM strong enough to face/deal with what happened, I can. You just can't control the "when" so much sometimes. (And conversely, I think we CAN if we wanted to - I used to do yoga exercises mixed with memory games to try dislodge "junk" like this in my system... especially throughout the hip area where we tend to store our deepest, darkest emotions & hold ourselves tightly in a fight-or-flight stance internally.)

In my experience, when I face the trigger head-on, rip into it & examine it fully, it helps to put the issue to behind me more permanently. I still suffer from triggers in my world, but not necessarily the SAME kind in the SAME ways, over & over. I keep moving on to new garbage, lol! I hope this helps!!
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Old 01-11-2017, 08:28 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I got that too- mixed with NDE's and pain and stuff. I t sucks- overwhelming, paralysing in the mind's eye. I HAVE to talk these out- every agonising bit- to get over it all. So much of it involves alcohol. Alcohol is different- but part of the whole picture. I am not brave or strong enough to do this one alone.
Prayers to you and yours.
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Old 01-11-2017, 08:37 AM   #4 (permalink)
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W, I still get triggered....a lot at times. I'm dating a very loving man as well that knows of the abuse, etc that my ex and his family inflicted...he's been very gentle with me and I've healed, for the most part, bc of time and his patience. But those nasty memories still sneak up on me....and at times take my breath away....but I work through them and consider it more healing. It's also allowed me to share some things with my boyfriend that allows us to be closer.

Many prayers to you for continued healing!!
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Old 01-11-2017, 08:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Wow Wisconsin, this really is an interesting episode. I agree with what Firesprite said.

Specially that even though the associated memory with STBXAH wasn't the worst of the memories, the incident was still bad and needs to be remembered, and greived.

I'm a depressive and often have dreams of being super angry and acting just horribly. I tend to be grateful for these dreams as I believe I'm processing some wounds from my childhood. My childhood was relatively drama free and my family fairly functional. However that "relativeness" doesn't give me a pass on having to deal with yuck emotions.

Big hug to you.
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:01 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Well, aside from the ptsd, which I am not in any way minimizing, Wisconsin, I. Always cry like a little girl when I hit my head. It hurts like crazy!
It's almost like the bang knocked a memory loose, and not a very good one, at that.
Hugs.
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you, everyone, for your kindness and thoughts. I think part of what shook me was how strong my reaction was. I have not had a visceral reaction like that in a year. Sure, things have triggered me, and they have made me angry or sad or whatever, but this one was just so...extreme. Perhaps exacerbated by the typical holiday stress. Perhaps it was just a really sore spot that I hadn't really paid attention to.

In retrospect, I *did* calm myself fairly quickly. A similar reaction a year ago would have left me basically useless for a whole day.

I've spent a little time today going back and reading some of my favorite stickies and classic readings. I don't want to live the rest of my life mired in the memories of everything that was so, so awful, but I also know that I still have work to do where that stuff is concerned. I do myself a disservice to try to ignore it.
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:13 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Trauma just sucks. I think our bodies store it until we're ready to process it, and then it releases it in bits. I totally agree with Firesprite. We minimize them to help store it away until we're ready to deal.

10 years...10 YEARS after my bad motorcycle wreck, I ended up on the back of a motorcycle, rolling through that same intersection I was hit in for the first time since the wreck. I got short of breath, shaky, and started sobbing uncontrollably.

Then, 15 years after my wreck, I came up upon on man on a bike who failed to negotiate a curve - he had lost control and slid. HE was fine, a wrecker was on the way...but the same thing happened. I thought I was going to puke in my helmet, was visibly shaking, and just sobbing.

It hasn't happened since - and I don't know if it's out of my system or not. I like to think with all the work we're doing, that these episodes are our bodies saying "welp, you're healthier, you're more stable, and you're ready to deal with this sh!t!"

THis is a cool article about it.

How to Release Painful Memories & Emotions Stored in Your Body

(((HUGS)))
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Old 01-11-2017, 09:45 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Ugh. No advise friend, just tight hugs!
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Old 01-11-2017, 10:01 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I've read this before - it is excellent on this topic!

This one is great too - although it talks specifically about using a yoga practice to help achieve emotional & spiritual health. It describes pretty well what *my* experience has been in purposely using this as a tool in my recovery, especially once I stumbled into the psoa muscle stretches.

Emotional Breakthroughs
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Old 01-11-2017, 10:10 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Both great articles. Thank you both for posting!
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Old 01-11-2017, 10:30 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I also still get triggers, usually as I am about to go to sleep stuff pops into my mind and I start feeling panicky and tearful. . It's a horrible feeling. I have a great boyfriend now. He's 6.4 and build like an outhouse but I feel safe with him even when we argue. I know he'd never abuse me. I never felt safe with my tiny, skinny ex and have flash backs to his abuse on many occasions. Like you I can't always figure out why I am upset at first. ((huge hugs))
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:20 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I have not tried it, but plan to one day try EMDR therapy which is for this type of thing I believe.
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Old 01-11-2017, 12:41 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Just wanted to tell you that you are not alone. You got great responses on here, as well. I had this happen a few months ago in front of my bf and my son. It was like I was out of control of myself and it totally freaked me out.
In the past, counseling helped me more with this than my program, though, because it was a very deep pain hidden in my subconscious. Not sure if that is an option for you but I do know that I haven't had it happen all that often either. If it were to become a frequent thing I would be concerned and definitely address it with counseling/therapy to get to the root of it and fend off further attacks. Hugs to you, I know how disconcerting this can be!
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Old 01-11-2017, 01:55 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I had a big time PTSD episode a while ago. It was good you had a.friend who could counter the bad experience with a good one. I had to deal with mine alone it took maybe 15 minutes to settle down and three days for me to understand.
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Old 01-11-2017, 02:55 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I was working near the World Trade Center during 9/11. I had two PTSD episodes - each one was triggered while watching a movie on the big screen. Last time it happened was just last month ("Arrival" if you're curious), and it was surprising because the last episode was literally ten years ago ("Superman Returns"). I was pretty embarrassed at my reaction both times, but I realized it was par for the course. I personally think that part of recovery is forgiving yourself whenever these episodes come into play.

One thing that PhoenixJ said...
Quote:
I am not brave or strong enough to do this one alone.
I actually think it's braver to bring other people into the process. My husband witnessed both episodes and believe me I was trying very hard not to turn into a mess right at the movie theater. I was afraid that he would judge me for not being stronger. That couldn't have been further from the truth.
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Old 01-11-2017, 05:12 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Therapy helped me with my PTSD. I did not do EMDR but it was a somatic therapy in nature.

A couple of things I learned that helped me.

PTSD reactions are incompleted energies stored in our body. Because of the stress you are under when they happen you have a "picture," of that time but a time stamp does not get put onto the picture. That is why triggers can happen for PTSD with unrelated things. That is why they can pop up so randomly. For me a lot of my PTSD stuff was stored in my jaw, in my hips etc.

Therapy helped. I did a course in something called Trauma Releasing Exercises (T.R.E)that helped. Body work helped. Learning that my behavior was on the "normal" scale for PTSD was helpful.

It was so hard at the time, but truly for me working through this stuff was the best gift ever!
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Old 01-11-2017, 06:28 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Love this thread all.

It seems that having a meltdown when a minor incident triggers past trauma is more common than not.

I have a sister with whom I have a strained relationship. It has taken me a long time to realize that when she is falling apart about some minor occurrence, it is actually about her childhood in our family. I understand better now and have more compassion for her.
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Old 01-11-2017, 07:29 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Firesprite - portkey - what a great comparison. Thank you for that!
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