Trigger warning: graphic description of being triggered by abuse and choking.
This is the second flashback in a week. Both triggered by something I saw in a movie, that hit too close to home to what happened to me. But I haven’t had a seizure. The last flashback was almost a conscious choice. At one point my head started twitching to the left, which is a strong aura that tells me I am on the verge of seizing. Up until that point I had been trying to hold back the flood of overwhelming emotion that threaten to engulf me. So as a last ditch attempted to ward off the seizure, I stopped trying to hold back the flood and I let it over take me. So I didn’t have a seizure, but I was plunged into an emotional blackness. I am writing this the morning after, I feel emotionally drained, but physically I am fine. If I had had a seizure instead, I would probably be emotionally AND physically drained.
I just happened to watch two movies within a week of each other what had strong content almost identical to my trauma? One movie was, I thought, a romantic comedy! Except in the movie they were grown women and I was a child. It’s a miracle I walked away. I don’t believe in coincidence. The universe is testing me. It is showing me look, you are strong enough to walk through the fire. You can handle this. After all it’s only pain right? It’s only grief? It will lessen with time. These are emotions that have been trapped in my body for 23 years. I am honoring what I’ve survived by feeling what I was incapable of feeling or processing then.
In the second paragraph you can see my memory is a little fractured as I remember my hands being in two different places.
It’s dark. I don’t know where I am, or when. I don’t care. All I care about is the pain. There is nothing else, just blackness and pain. I writhe in agony, micro movements inside of tended muscles, that keep my body balled in as small a shape as possible. The pain rips blackness through my heart, leaving an open wound that spreads to my stomach. I hear screaming, but it’s not me. I feel nauseated and want to throw up, I open my mouth but all that comes out is a broken cry, vocal vomit. Silence. Saliva slips past my open mouth that is held motionless in a soundless scream. Then I realize I’m not breathing. Breathe, Beka, breathe! The breath comes in ragged through my throat. I’m alive. I sob the breathe out, wailing voice. I’m alive. Breathe in again. I’m alive. The weeping sounds move with my breathing and have the rhythmic quality of a mewling babe. It sounds loud to me, but no one comes. After a time, I quiet down.
My hands are on tiles. I am in a strained, fetal position. I open my eyes. My vision of the tiles is framed by messy hair and the hood of a sweatshirt, pulled over my head. One hand grips the sweatshirt at my heart, the other arm is wrapped around my head, gripping the hood. That’s right, I’m in Angie’s bathroom. It doesn’t feel real. It’s 2015 and you’re in Angie’s bathroom.
5 minutes ago I was doing yoga on the bathroom floor. Feeling the cool floor against my hands, feeling my body tense into the postures. I flow into crow. Breathe in, breathe out. But I’m avoiding what I know is coming. My body begins to twitch. It’s coming either physically or emotionally. If I let it come out physically, I will have a seizure. And I will be sick from it for the next few days. The mentally healthier option is to, what I call, “what through the fire” let the emotions come. It’ll be over soon. I let my mind go. It is being called to the past, I stop holding it back. The present slips away. I curl into a ball of pain.
8 minutes ago I was splashing water on my face clinging to reality through tactile sensation.
10 minutes ago I was standing over the sink crying.
11 minutes ago I was sitting the on the toilet crying.
20 minutes ago I was watching a movie with two friends. There was a scenes where a woman is accidentally strangled to death my a man obsessed with her. He was just trying to keep her quiet, and keep her from screaming. He didn’t mean to kill her, he loved her. He’s manic. Like a panicking gorilla trying to handle a wounded sparrow. It was an accident. In the movie the woman dies. I say “he can’t give her CPR?” My friend says, “I think she is past saving.” I can’t believe she died.
I slowly push myself away from the tile, and stand up. I walk into the living room. I’m still somewhere else, I feel like I’m playing a video game, controlling my body remotely. I pick up my glass and walk into the kitchen and sit down on the floor, propped up by the cabinets. My friends both learn over from the couch to look at me. “Are you all right?” I shake my head no. “Seizure?” “Flashback.” “What can we do?” “Ask me questions.” They look puzzled for a minute then start asking about yoga. How long have I practiced? What’s my teachers name? What style? The answers come slow. I have to think about it. My brain is foggy and lost in time.
I don’t answer the last question. It doesn’t matter. Emotion rolls through my body, my stomach tenses and my face scrunches up as I grip my hair in my hands. Fat, hot tears roll down my face. My friends come over, sit with me on the floor and place a hand on either shoulder. For the most part, they let me cry. I’m grateful. I let myself cry. I look at my very dear friend through tears and snot and somehow get this seemingly important message to her, through my lips, “I didn’t die.” “What?” As if I am just realizing it myself. “I didn’t die. I should have died but I didn’t. I didn’t die.”
The crying is the catalyst that some how focuses time, space, soul and body. As I eventually stop crying I am relieved to see, reality has firmed up and I’m back, in my body, in Angie’s kitchen in 2015. I look at my friends and say, “Thanks for sitting on the floor with me.”