December of 2018, a month after owning my suffering, I experienced my first traumatic flashback. Even though I recently made a huge breakthrough in my healing, it did not mean I was healed. For me, it meant that I had just opened myself up to start doing the real work.
I had been avoiding my trauma, feelings, and emotions my entire life. It was then briefly brought to my awareness that first residency, August of 2017. But following that, for the most part, I had pushed it down again. So, when I finally accepted my suffering at the end of the 2018 fall semester, I opened the door to my unconscious. Allowing myself to now become consciously aware, to an extent, of my trauma and how it has affected me.
I wasn’t able to begin to do the real work until I owned my suffering, and for that I am eternally grateful for. Without being open to this and then actually doing the work I would not have been able to create the reality I live in now. Which is full of love, compassion, fun, abundance, passion, and happiness.
I will forever be grateful to FEEL now. This does mean that I feel everything deeply. I can experience extreme bursts of happiness along with pain, and that is the human experience. I am grateful to no longer be numb.
Back in 2018 though, I did not know this. I experienced a flashback and thought my life was ending. I was so confused. The next day I kept thinking, I just accepted my suffering, why am I feeling like this? Well, homegirl never let herself feel the trauma before, and since I had begun to allow it, it was definitely knocking me on my ass.
This is where professional help is highly recommended, so you can learn how to navigate the trauma you are now confronting.
I barely remember the night that I experienced a flashback. I was out at a bar celebrating with some friends. The picture you see above was taken that night. My friend wanted me to ride the mechanical bull. As soon as I see it, my brain flashed to one of the nights I was raped. I rode a mechanical bull that night. Within moments, I no longer knew where I was.
I pulled my best friend aside, with tears in my eyes, I had said something like, “There was a bull there that night.” I remember her saying, “This can be something that you do, push through, and create a better memory for yourself, or we can go somewhere else. What do you need?” I replied, “I need the attention to not be on me.” Then I ran (literally ran) to the bathroom, into a stall, and had a full-on breakdown.
It did not feel like I was in real time. I don’t know how much time had passed with me being in the stall but I reoriented myself, somehow, and my friends were out in the hallway waiting on me. I think only half of them knew exactly what had just happened because they were aware of my trauma. The other friends were confused, but did not ask questions. The friends that knew rallied up everyone to go to another area, get some food, and then we went to a different location.
To me, this all happened so fast. It was a blur. I could not stop what I was doing or feeling. Which is why I think I ran. Ran to find some privacy, that I identified as safety. Reflecting now, I know in some way I was engaging in self-talk. Reassuring myself I was not back in that one bar, that I was in a different place, and in this place, I was safe. But I also think it was mixed in with trying to shove it back down because I felt like I had to finish out this night, and I wouldn’t be able to do that in this state.
I do wonder how I would react if I were to experience a flashback today. With being more self-aware now, would I nurture myself differently compared to my first traumatic flashback? But I honestly don’t know. I can’t predict something like that because when you are in a trauma response, the logical part of your brain stops working. All I know is when anyone is in a trauma response their survival instincts kick in, and in that moment your brain is doing the best it can to keep you safe.
I wanted to share this with you though! As I continue to explain my healing journey you will see how I have, and continuing to, create a great life for myself, but I am also going to be real with you. Greatness is also filled with many hard moments. This was one of those moments. I believe that life becomes something to get excited for the more we accept the hard moments for what they are. As you work through them you learn how to not stay stuck in the trauma. Which enables you learn how to live your best life!
When we see the light in ourselves, we create light in others.