Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Working with Emotional Flashbacks
My entire sense of self and place is a bit askew right now, and though it's uncomfortable, I know it's all good, as I work with and through the concepts and ideas behind Complex-PTSD. I've never met such an accurate and helpful psychological model for myself.
None of the other boxes ever quite fit, and yep, you got it...I don't like boxes of any kind so instead I choose to see Complex-PTSD as a lens through which I am looking at myself and my life and how I do this thing called living and how I could do it so much better.
Through this lens, for the first time, really, I can see clearly and I can see far ahead and I can see that there is deep and abiding peace and joy awaiting me. If I am willing to do the work.
Firstly, I have been working with becoming super aware of my "emotional flashbacks." A bit different from flashbacks of the PTSD variety that are tied to a specific event, emotional flashbacks are more nebulous, not-necessarily-associated-with-anything feeling states.
Like abandonment. Which is my Biggie.
Here's a great little bit about them for you to consider from this site:
"...emotional flashbacks (are) sudden and often prolonged regressions ("amygdala hijackings") to the frightening and abandoned feeling-states of childhood. They are accompanied by inappropriate and intense arousal of the fight/flight instinct and the sympathetic nervous system. Typically, they manifest as intense and confusing episodes of fear, toxic shame, and/or despair, which often beget angry reactions against the self or others. When fear is the dominant emotion in an emotional flashback, the individual feels overwhelmed, panicky or even suicidal. When despair predominates, it creates a sense of profound numbness, paralysis and an urgent need to hide. Feeling small, young, fragile, powerless and helpless is also common in emotional flashbacks. Such experiences are typically overlaid with toxic shame, which, as described in John Bradshaw's Healing The Shame That Binds, obliterates an individual's self-esteem with an overpowering sense that she is as worthless, stupid, contemptible or fatally flawed, as she was viewed by her original caregivers. Toxic shame inhibits the individual from seeking comfort and support, and in a reenactment of the childhood abandonment she is flashing back to, isolates her in an overwhelming and humiliating sense of defectiveness. Clients who view themselves as worthless, defective, ugly or despicable are showing signs of being lost in an emotional flashback. When stuck in this state, they often polarize affectively into intense self-hate and self-disgust, and cognitively into extreme and virulent self-criticism."
Is this familiar to any of you?