Over-Reactions and Under-Reactions as Flashbacks

Since this post is all about flashbacks, you might want to go back and read “About BASK Flashbacks: (https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2018/09/10/about-bask-flashbacks/.) I read it periodically to structure my thinking.

You probably don’t remember that I had tentatively started to deal with the stage in my life when I was used in child pornography. I haven’t said anything much about it because the process shut down after just a couple of weeks. 

How do I feel? Sad. Disappointed. Relieved. Numb. 

And brooding about flashbacks – what they are, where they come from, how to tell if I am in one.

Now, sensory flashbacks are pretty easy for me to identify. I see or hear or smell something that isn’t here now. My classic example is when I was splashing around in the pool, and I suddenly smelled beer in the air above the water. There was no question in my mind that the pool was not filled with beer!!! Sometimes I see something for a moment, and then it changes into something else. A dead body by the side of the road turns into a black plastic bag. You get the idea.

Feelings, however, are much harder to identify. I instinctively try to find a present-day explanation for whatever I am feeling. If I am anxious these days it is because of COVD-19. That makes total sense, right? Everybody is anxious about the virus, and there is no reason why I should be any different.

However, underneath the consciousness of every-day stressors, there is a huge layer of anxiety from my childhood trying to come out. At times it pushes through, seemingly out of nowhere. Other times it piggybacks on something in the present that has already made me anxious. (That’s called being triggered.) Most of the time, it sits there, boiling away, gathering steam, waiting to erupt like a geyser.

I have to remain open to the idea that some of the anxiety I am feeling today comes from those unprocessed feelings from the past. I search for clues (when I remember that I am dealing with more than COVID-19. aging, and chronic pain.) Did it come bursting out of nowhere? Probably from the past. Was I already feeling anxious and started to feel lots more so? Is there anything similar in the two situations? Could I have been triggered?

A psychologist once told me, “If somebody is over-reacting, it means they had to under-react in the past.” This idea has been very useful to me over the years. I do over-react quite a bit, and I have learned to trace my feelings back to situations in my childhood.

It just occurred to me that it doesn’t have to be childhood feelings. David Free, a man I had been e-friends with for twenty-five years, died a couple of years ago. I thought about him a lot, but I didn’t cry. Shortly afterward, a man I barely knew died. I had liked him, but he was an acquaintance, not a friend. I cried for weeks! Of course, I was grieving for David as well. I have no idea why I couldn’t grieve at the time, but I couldn’t. I had to wait to be triggered before I could finally feel my sorrow.

Anxiety from the past doesn’t work on an on/off switch; it’s on a dimmer. When it is strongest, I am in full-fledged panic mode, and when it is weakest, I am totally numb. I’ve only realized this recently; feeling numb is just as much a flashback as feeling panicked.

When I got flashbacks to Satanic abuses, I was not numb. I was full of feelings, mainly fear and anger. When the memories were of family life, they could be accompanied by feelings (mainly outrage and anger,) or I could feel sort of stunned. But anything to do with pornography, I am numb. I can describe the scene, but I cannot retrieve anything of what I felt back then. The only emotion that comes through this veil of numbness is shame. 

I have the sense that I felt nothing until it was all over, and only then did I feel shame. And then I forgot everything – the people involved, the audience, the acts I performed, everything. I had been taught (programmed) to forget. 

I learned about the forgetting part of the experience when I was giving presentations at Survivorship. I did fine during the workshop, but I was dissociated afterward, and I felt like I was floating. I could not remember what I had said, and I did not recognize any of the people who came up to talk to me, even if I had known them for years. The first time this happened, I was shocked, and I froze and said nothing. I learned to tell people I was in a flashback and could not recognize them. Then I realized I could be calmer and more matter-of-fact if I told them beforehand. The workshops went much more smoothly

I’ve learned so much about my process in the few weeks I’ve been working on these issues. My decision has already paid off, and I believe that I will learn much, much more. I don’t know if I am looking forward to learning more or dreading it. Or both!

 ~~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Holidays

October
10/1 Full moon
10/12 Columbus Day
10/13 Backward Halloween
10/31 Full moon (Blue Moon)
10/31 Halloween/start of Celtic New Year/start of the dark half of the year
November
11/1 All Saints’ Day
11/2 All Souls’ Day
11/11 Veterans’ Day (?)
11/13 Friday the thirteenth
11/14 New moon
11/26 Thanksgiving Day (United States)
11/30 St Andrew’s Day
9/29 Michaelmas/Feast of Archangel Michael and of all Angels
December
Sundays of advent: 11/28, 12/5, 12/12, 12/19
12/4 New Moon
12/4 Total Solar Eclipse
12/14 New moon
12/14 Total solar eclipse. Totality visible in Chile and parts of Argentina. Partial eclipse visible in southern South America and south-east Africa. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-december-14
12/18 Full Moon
12/21 Winter solstice/Yule/St. Thomas’ Day
12/24 Christmas Eve
12/5 Christmas Day
12/29 Full moon
12/31 New Year’s Eve

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
10/3 Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles, harvest festival)
10/19 Death of Goering
10/12 Hitler’s alternate half-birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual half-birthday, 10/20, and his alternate half-birthdate six months after Easter, which fell on 4/12 this year.)
10/20 Hitler’s half-birthday
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)

~~~~~~~~~~

* You can find more information on the following holidays at: 

Halloween {personal) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/
Halloween (background) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
Thanksgiving https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/
Yule/Winter Solstice https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/ 
Candlemas https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Spring Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/
Easter: (personal) For background, see Spring Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/easter-blues/
Walpurgisnacht/May Eve: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht/
Beltane: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
Fathers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/ritual-abuse-and-fathers-day/
Summer Solstice (corrected text) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
Lammas https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
and https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2 https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Fall Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/

2 thoughts on “Over-Reactions and Under-Reactions as Flashbacks

  1. thank you for sharing all of this; it resonates and yet descriptive words for emotional expression elude just now.
    i too was used in pornography, (have seen some of it as an adult) respond with numb vacancy, but later will sob about a video of a rescued dog finally being loved and cared for.

    my elder friends, ex coworkers, mentors keep dying during this pandemic, one by one.. but not directly from covid but from lack of care. two full moons this month, my bday and samhain: its just too much. i’m full up and emptied out at the same time.

    may we all endure these trying, triggering, confusing, grief filled times.

    Like

    1. It was hard to share – I am so glad you could relate and hope iy made you feel a little less isolated. I know lots of RA survivors had this experience, yet few can talk about it, even a little.

      I know what you mean about crying about hings that are happy that have nothing to be with our abuse,that are the exact opposite.

      I am sorry you are experienceing so many deaths among your friends and colleagues. It sounds like you barely have enough time to realize one person has died when another died.

      It makes me so angry! Nobody should have to die for lack of care. We are a rich country and there is no reason we can’t have universl health care – and hoousing fo r all and decent education and no aastronomocal gap between the few rich people and hte countless poor who support them. And COVID is not helping one bit.

      Amen to “may we all endure these trying, triggering, confusing, grief filled times.” I could not have said it as beautifully.

      Like

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