Types of Flashbacks

My New Blog Is Coming in April!

Well, it is almost done, and I am very excited! The site itself is 99% done. The last big job is teaching me how to post. I have already learned a lot and have actually written and formatted the first post. But I don’t know how to post a photo or arrange things on a page.

The couple of times I tried to edit a page with both text and photos, I learned that the page I am working on does not necessarily look the same as the one shown in the preview. That will take some getting used to! And there is tons to learn about photos – how to place them on the page, how to enlarge or shrink them, how to add captions, and more.

I have so much to learn because SquareSpace works with blocks of copy that can be moved around the page. WordPress did, indeed, introduce “Blocks” as an editing option some time back. I was used to using the “Classic” system, which is similar to working in Text Edit, my go-to word processor app. Not wanting to use the limited time my brain allots me to learn technical things, I kept on using Classic.

Until, it seems, WordPress stopped supporting Classic. It became harder to work with, and strange glitches started to appear. For example, the page I was working on would suddenly disappear without leaving a trace, even if I had saved a draft. That’s when I made the decision to move to a better platform, even if I did have to learn new things.

This blog will stay up for reference for a long, long time. It may live forever through the WayBack Machine at Archive.org.

The new blog will be online sometime in April. As soon as we go live, I will let you know!


The shedding season is rapidly turning into the summer-coat season. Each week, there is less fur all over the house and my clothes. His coat looks a little scruffy, and his tail is in winter mode near his body and summer mode on the last six inches. As there has been no noticeable change in temperature, I assume his circadian rhythm is running the show. Otherwise, nothing more to report.

Types of Flashbacks

New parts have been appearing in my system recently. They are different from my fragments, and they fascinate me. They seem complex, like nothing I have ever seen before, and almost exotic. This has led me to reexamine some basic concepts of trauma and dissociation.

Flashbacks – the idea of what a flashback is, not a real flashback – has been a current theme. I’d like to share with you some of these thoughts.

When you are terrified, your brain registers what is happening in trauma-memory mode. What is stored is not a story but rather a record of what our senses were experiencing at the time. So when the memory surfaces, it is in the form of fragments of sensations,  not as a coherent story.

Bennet Braun identified four types of flashbacks: behavior, emotion, sensory, and cognition. He used the mnemonic BASK. (B for behavior; A for affect, which means emotion; S for sensation: and K for knowledge.) Sensation includes sight, sound, smell, taste, pain, pressure, heat and cold, and muscle memories. I wrote more at length about BASK flashbacks at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/bask-flashbacks/.

I see that flashbacks can be categorized in other ways. For me, some have been very vivid, but most are not. They feel split off from me, far away and faint. I think this is because the vivid ones took me by surprise, while the faint ones were at times when I was already very dissociated. The vivid ones are usually much shorter than the foggy ones.

You can arrange them by how long they last. Some are “flicks,” little pieces of something. Then there are flashbacks that go on and on. I’ve had a flashback last over three months with hardly any breaks. The latest long one was thanks to a clueless dentist. It lasted on and off for two weeks and is now triggered by any kind of dental work. Each time, I am triggered, I get a little more information about what happened. These flow-on flashbacks are not as incapacitating as the original one.

I use the phrase “keep one foot in the present” to remind me how to get distance from an overwhelming flashback. With part of me in the present, I know I am in a flashback. If I am totally in the past, it feels just as if it is happening right now, and I am confused and disoriented, as well as terrified. If I have both feet in the present, the flashback disappears, to wait for a better day. After years of reminding myself, I automatically accept the flashback at the moment, knowing that I will not be flooded.

I also rank flashbacks by how deeply they affect me. Some lead me back to events that bring up/explain lies designed to form a new core negative belief to replace my natural positive belief. The younger I was when this occurred, the more intense and long-lasting the flashback. Since the training was reinforced over a span of years, many different things can cause a flashback. The core negative belief (core lie) that I keep going back to is that I am evil through and through, poisonous and destructive, and that I can do nothing to prevent myself from harming others.

Which brings me to one last thing I would like to share – flashbacks within flashbacks.

Something horrible happens. When I encounter a detail that reminds me of that event, I go into flashback. Let’s say that the original horrible event was stepping on the cat’s tail at age 4. The cat was white with black spots, I was wearing a yellow dress, and the floor was hexagonal tiles. The next time I wear that dress, I am reminded of the poor cat and go into flashback.

The second time I wear that dress, I go back to two points in time: the moment I stepped on the cat’s tail and the first time I went into flashback – a flashback to a flashback – a flashback within a flashback. If I see a cat with similar markings or a hexagonal tile floor, I may also be triggered into a flashback. I don’t know whether each new trigger creates a new series of flashbacks or whether it is all one series. In any event, it’s all pretty complex, to say the least.

There’s no need to struggle to remember all this. If you relate strongly to part of what I described, you will have little trouble remembering it. If you don’t relate but are curious, you can always reread this post.

If you only remember one thing, choose the BASK model. It’s worth reading about time and time again.

Problems with Blog Writing

Upcoming Holidays
9/20 – 9/21 Midnight Host

9/22 Fall Equinox

9/29 Michaelmas (?)

10/5 Full Moon

10/13 Backwards Halloween

10/13 Friday the Thirteenth

10/22 – 10/29 Preparation for All Hallows’ Eve
10/31 Halloween/Samhain/All Hallows Eve


11/S Full Moon
11/3 Satanic Revels

11/23 Thanksgiving

Important dates in Nazi groups

9/1 Start of WW II
9/17 Hitler’s alternate half-birthday

10/16 Death of Rosenburg

10/19 Death of Goering

10/20 Hitler’s half-birthday
11/9 Kristallnacht
11/11 Veteran’s Day: Armistice, 1918

Problems with Blog Writing

Way back in the olden days, before the Internet had pictures, there were forums that discussed different topics. No moderators, no way to block messages, just free and open speech. Sounds great, but free and open meant that the forums had no way of banning posts that said, “You are the biggest idiot on earth,” or worse. They therefore had a finite life span. Trolls chased out the serious members and then got bored when there was nobody to rage against. But the forums were very helpful in the beginning.

I found a group called “Alt Sexual Abuse Recovery” (ASAR). I read every post and wrote a fair amount. After a while I noticed that people rarely answered my posts with support, information, or questions. Or flames, for that matter. I wondered what the matter was, so I got up my courage and asked.

The answer was totally unexpected. “You write too well. There is nothing left to say after reading one of your posts.” I was shocked and baffled. I really didn’t think I wrote well at all. Inside, I wondered whether what I was talking about was off-the-wall odd or else common knowledge and therefore boring.  I ached for support and didn’t get much.

For a while I tried to write badly. It reminded me of a failed effort to get friends in grade school. I decided that the reason the other kids didn’t like me was because I was too smart, so I tried to do badly on tests. I got poor marks, but no friends. I still had a big invisible sign on me, “Stay away. No friends wanted.”

I was hoping that the comment section would become a little community, with people writing each other, sharing resources and supporting each other. Compared to what I had hoped for, there are few comments. But I am very grateful to those that do comment and try to answer each one.

The problem must be that somehow my writing communicates, “No comments needed or wanted.” Too well written? I can see that the posts are tidy – everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. My fourth grade teacher would be pleased.

Maybe I should practice leaving off the end — it’s the hardest part to write, anyway. Maybe people wouldn’t like my writing as much and would comment and tell me so. Maybe it’s something else entirely, something I can’t see. Maybe it is all in my head.

Ritual Abuse Survivors Are Allowed to Be Silly

I’m not feeling very verbal right now, so blog writing is hard. I’m tempted to post a cat video.

In Arizona, I found a cat collar made of very good leather with brass letters that said MEOW. When I am feeling punk I wear it as a bracelet. Bet nobody guessed I sometime feel punk!

I read an article that said that in the 1800’s cats were either feral or barn cats. Then some woman got the idea to bring one in the house and treat it as a pet. It became a fad around the turn of the century – went viral!. It also became grounds for divorce. One man stated that his wife had 37 cats and the house smelled. Divorce granted.

I have two cats and there are times the house smells.

Mosquitoes don’t like the smell of lavender or fabric softeners. So if you rub lavender all over you and stuff your pockets with Bounce they will not bother you. And they are scared of wind.

I didn’t envision free association being suitable for this blog. It is supposed to contain Serious Meaningful essays about healing from ritual abuse. But I suppose dying one’s hair blue and wearing cat collars and remembering articles found when I was careening around the Web instead of being productive are suitable subjects for “Healing from Ritual Abuse.”

In the initial phases of dealing with ritual abuse, there was no room for silliness for me. The flashbacks, the terror, the feeling that I would die from remembering consumed me 24/7. (Being afraid that remembering would kill me was a flashback, too, but I didn’t know that back then.) Now, in a later phase, there is room for other things. I never even imagined that could be true, but it turned out that it is.

I can’t remember when I first became open to other things, but I do remember that the change came slowly. My attention turned to something non-RA for a moment and then I was once again immersed in the horror. Over time, my attention could stray from RA for longer and longer periods.

Now I can read newspapers. I can get upset about other kinds of evil and all the ways people hurt each other and abandon each other. Wars, famines, prisons, destructive greed, stupidity; all these things have little to do with RA. Neither do most domestic violence and most child abuse. Apparently there is room for plenty of different kinds of evil in this troubled world of ours.

But I’m also aware that there is kindness and generosity and beauty in the world. Want to see something beautiful I found yesterday? Check out  http://www.cameraflora.com/index#

Backstory: Bert Shankman was a retired systems analyst and quickly became bored with all the leisure. He joined several clubs, including a camera club. He shot landscapes but got bored with that, too. He turned to flowers and became entranced. The members of the camera club were appalled because he photoshopped his work, so he told them to think of them as paintings. I think they are gorgeous!

Moral of Bert’s story: when bored, try something different. And if you are met with criticism, don’t take it too seriously – follow your heart.

Moral of this post: I dunno. Maybe if you are in crisis, hold on, don’t kill yourself, and just wait. I promise things will change. Maybe, eventually, you are allowed to be silly even if you are a ritual abuse survivor.