Flashbacks, Triggers,and Worksheets

The American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) is presenting “Way Maker World Conference.”

Thursday, September 14 – Saturday, September 18, 2021, Orlando, FL.

This is a huge conference held every two years. Almost 4,000 people have registered and they are expecting 7,000. There will be approximately 50 pre-conference workshops, 175 clinical/biblical workshops, and 200 exhibitors.

Presentations are organized into thirteen tracks. The ones that caught my attention are “Abuse, Violence, and Trauma-Informed Care,” “Mental Health, the Brain and Neuroscience,” and “Psychiatry, Behavioral Medicine, and Collaborative Care.” Among other topics covered are addictions, sexuality, family issues, and pastoral counseling.

I tried using the AACC therapist finder and it needs work. Or else I am using it wrong! If you are looking for Christian counseling. or think you may in the future, you might want to copy the information on the conference site. I recognized a couple of presenters that are good with RA. If you would like to consult them for a referral in your area, write me and I will put you in touch.

The AACC website is: https://www.aacc.net/

Their blog is at https://www.aacc.net/category/aacc-blog/

The conference website is: https://worldconference.net

Contact information: PO Box 739 Forest, VA 24551, contactmemberservices@aacc.net, 1-800-526-8673

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I learned something new yesterday about flashbacks. My therapist knows so much, and it never occurs to her to tell me unless I ask! But half the time I have no idea that there is something to ask about.

I had always assumed that flashbacks were always triggered by something in the present. If I couldn’t identify the trigger, it was because it had snuck in under the radar. But she said that not all flashbacks are triggered by present-day events. Some are due to a part sharing a memory, wanting the “me” who is out to have a particular piece of information. In that case, it’s fruitless to look for a trigger. Or the trigger might simply be a thought that part had, like “she’s strong enough to know this now.”

In situations where there is a trigger, it’s useful to see the connection. Then in the future, if you encounter the same trigger, you may be prepared for a flashback. And the trigger itself is a piece of information – it may well be part of the memory.

A trigger is very useful to sort out how much of your reaction comes from the present situation and how much comes from the past and is, in effect, part of the flashback. This helps ground you in the present and helps prevent a melt-down or other over-reaction. It gives you more control and freedom to chose among your coping mechanisms.

Some people have designed flashback worksheets to help them connect the trigger to the flashback. I found that they weren’t very useful to me because I got all hung up in searching for a trigger that didn’t exist, or that existed but was invisible to me, so I stopped using them. But other people have found them very helpful.

A blog entry on a trigger-free worksheet I designed is at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/flashback-worksheets/.

In short, it consists of these questions:

1. What am I thinking/feeling?
2. What from the past could have set off this reaction?
3. What in the present could be causing this reaction?
4. How can I test if it’s from the past or present? (or both)
5. If it’s in the
Present – what action can I take to solve the problem?
Past – what can I do to calm myself down?

It’s interesting to see that eight years ago I suspected that not all flashbacks are preceded by triggers. I had forgotten that insight and had to come across the information all over again in therapy. I am so expert at forgetting!

By the way, my therapist told me that it is very, very common for ritual abuse survivors to be preoccupied with their own deaths. It doesn’t seem to be something that develops in old age. It just seems to come with the RA territory. For me, it’s a gnawing intrusive thought that pops up several times a day (or night). I find that it sometimes appears at random times and sometimes it’s part of a routine. Like every time I go out of the house, I think, “I might die while I am out. What do I need to do before I leave? What don’t I want people to see?” And then I talk myself out of worrying about it. And remind myself that the actuarial tables say I might well live into my nineties.

She also told me that the fear of being killed was because we were told we would be killed if we told what had been done to us. So that surge of fear is a feeling-flashback.

I was going to say that all intrusive thoughts are visitors from the past. But that’s not true – present-day anxiety can cause rumination and intrusive thoughts that just pop into your mind. Say you are working at a company where there are a lot of layoffs and you are worried that you will lose your job. It would be perfectly natural to have intrusive thoughts about becoming unemployed, even if job insecurity was not a family issue in your childhood.

Not every bad thing in the world can be ascribed to the cult. Not every bad thing in the world is your fault, either.

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Upcoming Holidays

May
5/31 Memorial Day

June
6/10 Annular Solar Eclipse
6/20 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Summer solstice
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/24 (?) St John’s Day
6/24 Full Moon

July
7/4 Independence Day
7/23 Full Moon
7/25 St. James’ Day/Festival of the Horned God
7/27 Grand Climax

August
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
8/13 Friday the 13th
8/15 (?) Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
8/22 Full Moon
8/24 St. Bartholomew’s Day

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups

6/6 D-Day (Invasion of France in WW2)
7/18 Tisha B’Av (Jewish Day of Mourning)
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party

(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices, and the equinoxes.)

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

 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/

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/

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