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Author Topic: Managing Emotional Flashbacks  (Read 7552 times)
Woolspinner2000
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« on: September 21, 2017, 12:26:16 AM »

MANAGING EMOTIONAL FLASHBACKS

In managing emotional flashbacks, the most common intervention involves deconstructing the alarmist tendencies of a persons inner critic. This is essential because the inner critic grows in traumatized children, and because the inner critic exacerbates flashbacks. Continuous abuse and neglect force the child's inner critic (superego) to overdevelop perfectionism and hypervigilance. The perfectionism of Complex PTSD puts the child's every thought, word or action on trial and judges her as fatally flawed if any of them are not one hundred percent faultless. Perfectionism then devolves into the child's obsessive attempt to root out real or imagined defects and to achieve unsurpassable excellence in an effort to win a modicum of safety and comforting attachment. 

In this workshop, we wank to explore ways to manage emotional flashbacks. The steps below have be suggested by Paul Walker, MFT.


1. Say to yourself: " I am having a flashback." Flashbacks take us into a timeless part of the psyche that feels as helpless, hopeless and surrounded by danger as we were in childhood. The feelings and sensations you are experiencing are past memories that cannot hurt you now.

2. Remind yourself: "I fee l afraid but I am not in danger! I am safe now, here in the present." Remember you are now in the safety of the present, far from the danger of the past.

3. Own your right/need to have boundaries. Remind yourself that you do not have to allow anyone to mistreat you; you are free to leave dangerous situations and protest unfair behavior.

4. Speak reassuringly to your Inner Child. The child needs to know that you love her unconditionally? that she can come to you for comfort and protection when she feels lost and scared.

5. Deconstruct eternity thinking. In childhood, fear and abandonment felt endless - a safer future was unimaginable. Remember the flashback will pass as it has many times before.

6. Remind yourself that you are in an adult body with allies, skills and resources to protect you that you never had as a child. (Feeling small and little is a sure sign of a flashback.)

7. Ease back into your body. Fear launches us into "heady" worrying, or numbing and spacing out. Gently ask your body to relax. Feel each of your major muscle groups and softly encourage them to relax. (Tightened musculature sends unnecessary danger signals to the brain.) Breathe deeply and slowly. (Holding the breath also signals danger.) Slow down. Rushing presses the psyche's panic button. Find a safe place to unwind and soothe yourself: wrap yourself in a blanket, hold a stuffed animal, lie down in a closet or a bath, take a nap. Feel the fear in your body without reacting to it. Fear is just an energy in your body that cann ot hurt you if you do not run from it or react self -destructively to it.

8. Resist the Inner Critic's catastrophizing. (a) Use thought-stopping to halt its exaggeration of danger and need to control the uncontrollable. Refuse to shame, hate or abandon yourself. Channel the anger of self -attack into saying no to unfair self -criticism. (b) Use thought -substitution to replace negative thinking with a memorized list of your qualities and accomplishments.

9. Allow yourself to grieve. Flashbacks are opportunities to release old, unexpressed feelings of fear, hurt, and abandonment, and to validate - and then soothe ?the child's past experience of helplessness and hopelessness. Healthy grieving can turn our tears into self -compassion and our anger into self -protection.

10. Cultivate safe relationships and seek support. Take time alone when you need it, but don't let shame isolate you. Feeling shame doesn't mean you are shameful. Educate those close to you about flashbacks and ask them to help you talk and feel your way through them.

11. Learn to identify the types of triggers that lead to flashbacks. Avoid unsafe people, places, activities and triggering mental processes. Practice preventive maintenance with these steps when triggering situations are unavoidable.

12. Figure out what you are flashing back to. Flashbacks are opportunities to discover, validate and heal our wounds from past abuse and abandonment. They also point to our still -unmet developmental needs and can provide motivation to get them met.

13. Be patient with a slow recovery process. It takes time in the present to become un-adrenalized, and considerable time in the future to gradually decrease the intensity, duration and frequency of flashbacks. Real recovery is a gradual process -often two steps forward, one step back. Don't beat yourself up for having a flashback.

Pete Walker is director of the Lafayette Counseling Center. He has been working as a teacher and mental health professional for thirty years, and is the author of The Tao of Fully Feeling: Harvesting Forgiveness Out of Blame. www.pete-walker.com
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2017, 07:29:30 AM »

Hi Wools,

Thank you for sharing this.  My SO's D16 has been diagnosed with PTSD, I appreciate the information on this topic.  D16 told me I am one of her "Safe People" and information like this and all the insight from the people on this board are what have helped me be one of her "Safe People". Besides the fact that I genuinely like her as her own person she and I have much in common.

My mantra with my SO's daughters has always been to "do no harm", I don't always succeed (I'm not perfect) but I try my best.  The more information and insight I am able to have into what they might be experiencing can help me be more sensitive to why they do what they do and how I can be helpful vs harmful in my interactions.

I'm going to share this information with her dad.

Thank you,
Panda39
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2017, 07:41:37 AM »

I really resonate with the 13 steps to managing emotional flashbacks. Especially the one about becoming more aware of the body. I think we spend so much time in our heads, in general, that everyone would benefit from spending time feeling sensations and simply regularly taking in the reality of the body, if that makes sense.

During heightened emotions, there can be so much going on, I think it's important to feel the physicality of it as best we can, in the moment. We have to be careful, though, not to overdo. Many traumatic flashbacks are too much to deal with all at once; it's better to get the help of a good therapist to tackle them in small bites, always returning to calm/safety in between attempts.

Thanks for sharing this Wools!

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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2017, 09:38:32 AM »

Thank you so much for posting Pete Walkers 13 steps for managing emotional flashbacks Wools.

I recently bought his new book Complex PTSD: From Surviving To Thriving and I am working my way through it slowly.

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving
Author: Pete Walker, MFT
Publisher: Self published, December 2013 (no publisher)
Paperback: 374 pages
ISBN-10: 1492871842
ISBN-13: 978-1492871842




I agree with heartandwhole about becoming more aware of the body, I tried this conscious breathing exercise today alongside doing Petes 13 steps and it has helped.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=lRCvrKh8els

Thank you for being here and for sharing

 
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2017, 09:52:01 AM »

I've found Walker's stuff to be immeasurably helpful to me. When I first stumbled across it, I had one of those  Thought moments. It felt like he was writing about me and what I had been living with for as long as I can remember.

I've read numerous posts around here from members who are concerned that they are suffering from BPD. Quite often, I wonder if maybe they have C-PTSD.

It's worth checking out the book or Walker's other writings.
 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Article: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=315252
 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post)  Book: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=273679
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2017, 01:52:15 PM »

This is great stuff Wools. I use to find PTSD overwhelming at times, so my Therapist would say, just wait, that’s all, it passes. So I would close my eyes and keep saying “it will pass” and it always did. Although your way is much better, sometimes I was simply too anxious to anything but “wait”. But then we Brits love to queue, so... .Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2017, 09:22:58 PM »

I have found Pete Walker's work to be so helpful to me, and I'm really glad that others of you are experiencing the same thing.  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) This list in particular I have in my room near my computer and if I start off my day with a rough emotional trigger, I may carry the list with me to remind me to breathe, to feel what I'm feeling and so on.

I had a pretty bad trigger last Friday and it has clung to me all week. When I met with my T yesterday, there was some work to be done. I have suffered with horrible migraines beginning within 24 hours of the trigger, and slowly they are going away as I allow time to work through my trigger. (I have had migraines since I was a little girl.) My T called it a trauma memory. Very applicable when one considers the common CPTSD that many of the adult survivors of a pwBPD encounter.

One never knows what the trigger will be. In my case I was having a wonderful visit with my grandchildren. The 4 year old had gotten too tired as 4 year olds are prone to do,  Smiling (click to insert in post) and he had a meltdown. He had a very short time out because of how angry he had gotten. My D handled it well and appropriately. My inner child did not.

I could feel my inner child responding as if I were the one who had gotten in trouble and I looked around, knowing and expecting the harsh "discipline" to come from my mom. I could even see her in my mind in those moments last Friday, knowing the rage that would erupt from her but I am an adult now and she was not there. It didn't come, but I became confused and uncertain of what to do, how to respond, and everything became very muddy in my mind. To make matters worse, it all took place in a particular room where all those abusive times from my childhood had taken place: the kitchen.

As my T and I worked through this, he did a good job of taking me through the appropriate ways my D had handled the situation. There was love and care. I found it curious that I didn't know what was a healthy response because I only knew what was normal for me as a child. So it was good and necessary for me to see the wholeness of being healthy. In my adult body I have a good sense of what is NOT healthy to do because I have worked through a lot from my FOO, and also because I chose to be a better parent than mine. However, my reaction to my grandson's crying and time out was from the point of view of my younger inner child, as if I were 4 or 5 years old myself. She reacted how she was allowed to back then -with repressed feelings and emotions. No wonder my head hurt so much, both then and now.

I am still working through the steps on the list, very much in process, but once again using this as an opportunity to work through new things that will bring further healing. It's okay that it takes time. The list helps me to feel okay with where I am and to step into the moment rather than fighting it.

Wools
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« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2017, 07:18:21 AM »

Wools,

Thanks so much for posting Pete Walker's work.   It had to be an effort to get that all formatting lined up correctly. 

I recognized a lot of myself in your post.   The looking around knowing and expecting the harsh reaction of a disordered person.  And 'hearing' that harsh reaction in my head even though it isn't actually happening.

I, like Meili found the concept of emotional flashbacks to be  Thought a light bulb moment for me.  Of the Ah-HAH that's what's happening.

There is so much packed into the 13 steps, so much detail and so much to translate to my inner duck.   where I am right now is in the white space between steps 10 and 11.

Excerpt
10. Cultivate safe relationships and seek support. Take time alone when you need it, but don't let shame isolate you. Feeling shame doesn't mean you are shameful. Educate those close to you about flashbacks and ask them to help you talk and feel your way through them.

11. Learn to identify the types of triggers that lead to flashbacks. Avoid unsafe people, places, activities and triggering mental processes. Practice preventive maintenance with these steps when triggering situations are unavoidable.

I am trying to discern the difference between avoiding an unsafe place and allowing the shame to isolate me.    and right now I am kind of clueless.   Smiling (click to insert in post)

thanks for your post.

'ducks
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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2017, 02:09:12 PM »

Really love all the info shared, thanks!
I'm so grateful as I believe it was here on this site that sometime a couple of years or so ago I learned of the term emotional flashback.  Apparently i was having them often but did not have vocabulary for what it was and tended to just lump call it "dissociation" from cPTSD.  So I am still figuring out nuances on how to cope with this, so do appreciate the info!

I do want to point out one thing tho.  I almost wish I could write the author to request it get considered in a revision, yet, my motivation to do so isn't high enough so will simply share here... .

Excerpt
2. Remind yourself: "I fee l afraid but I am not in danger! I am safe now, here in the present." Remember you are now in the safety of the present, far from the danger of the past.
So for me, I am often (not always) triggered into emotional flashback when "my spidey senses" for danger are tingling.  So for example, I was once at work at the time of a shoot out and the area I was in was community members in the midst of a crisis, telling me to leave.  Instead of processing this situation with logic assessment, my mind entered a state of emotional flashback mode.  I felt myself going numb and reassured myself, "I am safe, just having an emotional flashback" therefore I should "act normal."  

Reality is... .this was not a "normal" situation by any means and it would have been better had I not falsely reassured myself that "this is only an emotional flashback, therefore I am safe in the present."

Well, this is not the first emotional flashback that I told myself I was safe, when in fact, that needed to be determined, not assumed.  So I was really frustrated with my pattern of auto pilot reaction of default reassurances not based on current enviornment assesments... .as it kept happening.  For me, I am often triggered by unsafe predicaments/people/dynamics, etc and I imagine others may be as well.

Another time, I think I got it right.  I was being led down a hallway, in a dangerous building.  I felt myself drift away from the moment, entering emotional flashbacks.  I was able to see what part of the past I was in. (It reminded me of another hallway at 13 yrs old)  However, what I did differently this time, instead of telling myself I was safe, I told myself where I was.  So as I relived the past emotional flashback and had one foot in that reality, I also simultaneously did grounding exercises to remain in the present reality to accurately determine if I was in fact safe, rather than just declare that I was.  I told myself the date, the location, town, reminded myself who I was (mom, work role, etc) to keep myself also oriented to the present.  I then oriented myself to the building and situation around me and was able to accurately determine that this was not a very safe position, and it helped me to behave wih greater thoughtful consciousness to the possibility of danger.  I was now able to continue my emotional flashback, but also stay present, and also continue to have needed decision making skills to stay safe.

So sure, reminding oneself you are safe in the present could be great if the flashback is happening in the confort of your home, where you are actually safe.
Yet, in my personal experience, my emotional flashbacks seem to often seep up in precarious times.
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2017, 09:00:24 PM »

Excerpt
I am trying to discern the difference between avoiding an unsafe place and allowing the shame to isolate me.    and right now I am kind of clueless.   grin
thanks for your post.

You're welcome, BabyducksBeing cool (click to insert in post) For me, when I allow shame to isolate me, I am in a place where I too easily begin to let the inner critic speak loudly, saying things like how stupid I am, that I shouldn't be feeling whatever I'm feeling, and that I'm better off to not ask for help or go out and be around other people. I isolate because I am feeling so badly about myself in some way.  This is different than avoiding unsafe places or people that trigger me. If I can avoid settings or people who continually trigger me into an emotional flashback, then I chose to avoid that place as much as I can, and that is how I understand Pete Walker.

There are certain situations which are harder to avoid or to go away from. When a workplace or marriage brings continual triggering, then it is really very important that you take time to care for yourself in extra ways, in order to provide the safe places for healing and strengthening.  I try to exercise regularly, talk with my safe friends, meet with a T, visit my grandchildren, and generally do anything that provides healthy rest for my body and my soul, especially when I cannot avoid unsafe people or places. Does this help you with your questions? What can you do to help care for yourself?

 
Wools
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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2017, 09:22:57 PM »

Panda39, I'm so glad that you have found this list to be helpful. I think it's awesome that you are such a great cheerleader for your SO's D.  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) How great to be a safe person for her!

Meili, I would agree with you:
Excerpt
I've read numerous posts around here from members who are concerned that they are suffering from BPD. Quite often, I wonder if maybe they have C-PTSD.

I believe that the difference can be seen when we begin to work on our healing. C-PTSD can be worked with, and the behaviors we learned can be unlearned, thankfully.  When a child has been raised around a pwBPD, it is easy to adopt many of the projected behaviors that have been pushed our way over and over.

Heartandwhole, you've brought up a good point when you said this:
Excerpt
During heightened emotions, there can be so much going on, I think it's important to feel the physicality of it as best we can, in the moment. We have to be careful, though, not to overdo. Many traumatic flashbacks are too much to deal with all at once; it's better to get the help of a good therapist to tackle them in small bites, always returning to calm/safety in between attempts.


As I found from my recent trigger, these stronger flashbacks especially need some tender loving care and extra time to work through. Listening to one's body is very helpful in knowing when we might be in or near a flashback.

And to Sonflower, Freespirit and HC, thank you each for sharing your thoughts as well. It can be tricky sometimes in learning to navigate these steps to managing emotional flashbacks, but it sounds as if you are learning how to do that and taking time to care for yourselves.

So glad for everyone's thoughts! Keep them coming!

 
Wools
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« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2017, 10:11:34 AM »

Wools, on the subject of the members wondering about having BPD symptoms, have you seen this thread on Complex PTSD, affect dysregulation, and borderline personality disorder?

It's a bit dry and clinical, but it was also enlightening to me. BPD and C-PTSD share several similarities. In fact, C-PTSD was once considered to be BPD. As more research is being done, they are realizing that they are different.

If you do a search on the bpdfamily, C-PTSD, and BPD, you'll see a bunch of posts from members wondering same types of things. A common theme seems to be whether or not living in a family with a pwBPD can cause C-PTSD. I certainly think so!

I agree with you that C-PTSD is based on taught or learned behaviors, and we can retrain how we think. For me, it's been a very slow and painful process. The first steps were huge and life altering. After the major "a-ha" moment, things changed quickly, but then slowed down as I'm forced to look deeper into my life and wounds.

As Sunfl0wer noted, there have been good and bad "side effects" to all of this. Sometimes the fear is rational and should not be dismissed, but sometimes it isn't. Also, sometimes it is appropriate to pull away and stay away from triggering situations, others it is not. We need to learn to distinguish between the two.

I frequently find myself asking if what I perceive to be happening is actually happening, or if it is just something taking place in my mind?

A great example of this, for me, is when my x would accuse me of things that I didn't do or were beyond my control. It would trigger an emotional flashback from my youth. When I was 8, I lost the vision in my right eye. My parents ignored me when I told them. As a result of not having depth perception or peripheral vision on the right side, I often walked into things. My father would force me, under the threat of beating, to apologize to the thing that I bumped into. It didn't matter where we were or who was around. It was demoralizing and embarrassing, to say the least. When my x would make her accusations, that's where my mind would go... .back to my father and the fear and feelings of being less important than an inanimate object that I experienced.

I've had to learn to keep things in context as a result of things like that. Had I learned the difference before I met my x, I would never have had the fear that she would beat me or that I'd have to fear her at those moments. I could have been in a much better place to deal with all of it and stay present.
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« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2017, 08:59:23 PM »

Meili

Thank you for sharing that link!  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post) I think it will be helpful to a lot of members. I took some time to begin reading it, and while it is quite technical, there is a lot of good detail and explanation there.

Excerpt
For me, it's been a very slow and painful process. The first steps were huge and life altering. After the major "a-ha" moment, things changed quickly, but then slowed down as I'm forced to look deeper into my life and wounds.

Now there's the paradox: life changing and painful.   No truer words could be said about this journey to healing. It is well worth the reward and lightening of the burden long carried in our souls since we were little ones, isn't it? I'm glad you are the journey with us. To find the proper balance between the present and our past takes work. Sometimes my mind plays tricks and says things are real and true when they aren't, so I understand.

Excerpt
I frequently find myself asking if what I perceive to be happening is actually happening, or if it is just something taking place in my mind?

My T taught me to have a mantra of sorts that can be repeated when my mind wants to play tricks. For example, I may say to myself, "I am not my mother," or "You are no longer the helpless child you used to be." What have you found that helps you to distinguish what is real and what is not?

I am very sorry for the way your parents treated you, especially with you having lost your vision in  one eye. You had a valid reason to explain why you ran into things, and they could've handled it so differently, with love and care. When I share my story with others, I am surprised by their reaction of compassion and care. It's no big deal, right? I became so used to brushing off their care because I didn't know what to do when someone was nice. Is it like that for you as well?

 
Wools
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« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2017, 10:57:54 AM »

Thank you Wools.

Now there's the paradox: life changing and painful.  

I learned, many years ago, that change only occurs when the pain of where you are at becomes greater than the fear of where you might be going.

Prior to learning about C-PTSD, I was terrified of the unknown. Everything carried with it the possibility of the outcomes that my parents taught me all too well. When I learned that these were just emotional flashbacks of a sort, that all changed. The pain of my current life far outweighed the fear of "what if."

I think that is the same for many of us here. We've been learned to expect certain outcomes and we fear those outcomes. At the same time, we've been conditioned to handle the pain. Indeed, many of us have discovered that we can thrive  (in a way) in such an environment. Because of such conditioning, the pain is less than the fear. Learning to reverse that thought process changes the dynamics in our worlds.

I'm glad you are the journey with us.
... /...
When I share my story with others, I am surprised by their reaction of compassion and care. It's no big deal, right? I became so used to brushing off their care because I didn't know what to do when someone was nice. Is it like that for you as well?

Oh definitely! There is a part of me inside that is terrified when another tries to show me that they care. I don't trust it. I fear it.

Those who were supposed to care for me never did. My mother will tell you that she was not "supposed to do anything as a mother." Yes, those are her words. So, I have no other way to gauge caring. When someone shows that they care, it means that pain will soon follow. At least, that's how my inner child views the world.

What have you found that helps you to distinguish what is real and what is not?

Over the past year, I've had to learn who I truly am. Not the inner child that has been in control of my existence for nearly 40 years, but who I am as adult. Those two "people" are completely different. It is sometimes hard to distinguish between the two thought patterns, but I'm learning to do that. Now, any time that I'm anxious, I ask myself which me, the 4 year old Meili or the 46 year old Meili, is doing the thinking.

Sometimes it's easy because the fears are irrational. Like when I walk into a bar full of other bikers, I get scared that I'm going to end up in a fight because... .well, I'm never quite sure why. That's why I know that it's the 4 year old Meili doing the thinking. When the pieces just don't fit.

Sometimes the pieces do fit though, and that's when the 46 year old Meili is doing the thinking. There is a real reason to be afraid. Like when I would wear my motorcycle club patches into a biker bar that "belonged" to a rival club.

Recognizing which me is doing the thinking has also afforded me the opportunity to provide the 4 year old Meili with the love and care that he never received as a child. It's not perfect, and it's a work in progress, but caring for that younger me that still lives inside my head has gone a long way in changing how I view the world.

Now, if I can only learn to trust people who say that they care... .

The paradox here, for me, is that I try to do a lot to show others that I care. People that I don't know, I'll try to let them know that someone cares about them. It's funny that I cannot accept the same for myself. I am really sure that it goes back to the "not good enough" thought process that has been ingrained in me.

Sorry, I didn't mean to make this about me and my life. I only write these things here so that others may find solace in knowing that they are not alone in what they experience (and in hope that others will share as well so that I don't have to feel silly and alone!). So that we can all share how we view life and how we are dealing with it.
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2017, 06:45:55 AM »

Thanks for the bump Wools.

I've been doing some work (just started) with Beck's Cognitive Distortions and my flashbacks.    And it's been a bumpy weekend with them.   I'm struggling.     I can see how a couple of the more common cognitive distortions weave in and out of my flashbacks like dancing piñatas.


Prior to learning about C-PTSD, I was terrified of the unknown. ... .We've been learned to expect certain outcomes and we fear those outcomes.

Yeah Me Too Meili.   

I've been trying to reach a decision, something that is important to me but not critical to the functioning of the world and I am Catastrophizing. 

My C-PTSD flashbacks have been relatively quiet.    Mostly,  I think, because I have been avoiding one person and one place that are sure fire triggers.

Excerpt
11. Learn to identify the types of triggers that lead to flashbacks. Avoid unsafe people, places, activities and triggering mental processes. Practice preventive maintenance with these steps when triggering situations are unavoidable.

I'm not sure that this will make sense but here it goes.    My one unsafe place is my synagogue.   I totally get why it's become an unsafe place for me.    And not surprisingly that's where my unsafe person hangs out.   I've been avoiding.    and it's been very helpful.

but now I find myself in the place of missing my religion and my religous community.    I am not in a major city so my choices of synagogues is very small.    I want to go back and express my faith and participate in my religion.  This is very important to me.    I've been toying in my head with the idea that I am strong enough now.   I can go back and find ways to do this.    and immediately become terrified.    and then beat myself up.   and then avoid things and then start the whole process all over again.   I am literally stuck on the fence between trying to find a meaningful and safe expression of my personal faith and walking away, giving up and living with this longing with no way to express it.

which does look like a cognitive distoriton.   I think.   maybe.    I dunno.

anyone have a suggestion?

'ducks
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« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2017, 06:58:09 AM »

Hi Ducks-

Personally, I think the support of a faith community outweighs the presence of an unsafe person. It would be great if you had the choice to go elsewhere, but you don't.

One aspect of CBT is to face the fearful situation ( if it isn't a danger to you). Someone who is afraid of spiders might look at pictures of spiders, or see a movie with spiders. In time, the idea is to be less sensitive to the fear trigger.

Do you have a friend who could go with you? It could help to have a support person along with you. The friend doesn't even have to be Jewish, just a good friend who can hang out with you for emotional support and who may be willing to do this for you.

Some clergy do personal counseling. Perhaps speaking to the Rabbi might help. Interpersonal issues between members of any organization can happen and maybe the Rabbi would have some words of encouragement or advice.

I also tend to be fearful and lean towards catastrophizing. In 12 step groups- we call FEAR- False Evidence Appearing Real. Your faith and your traditions are important to you and I wish you the strength to take back that part of your life. 


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« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2017, 07:14:54 AM »

Thank you Notwendy,

I never thought about having a friend go with me.   That would probably help.  I am really torn between knowing that it's not in the best interests of my psychological and spiritual well being to be exposed to my abuser while trying to have a spiritual experience, and really wanting and missing that spiritual experience.  My faith used to be a place of great solace for me.   Now it's a terrifying and painful place.


I've talked to the Rabbi, a couple of times but not recently.    He is as supportive as he can be.  I sense he wants to support but I will also say he is much better at Talmud than at mental illness and flashbacks.  He's a little lost.

I appreicate the wish for strength.    I think that's what is missing.  The strength to lean into this and walk my way through what's likely to be a messy process.

'ducks

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« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2018, 08:04:08 AM »

Hi babyducks   9

I'm not sure that this will make sense but here it goes.    My one unsafe place is my synagogue.   I totally get why it's become an unsafe place for me.    And not surprisingly that's where my unsafe person hangs out.   I've been avoiding.    and it's been very helpful.

It makes senses to me. Avoidance can be a good tactic sometimes, especially when we use the time to work on healing and strengthening ourselves so in time we would be better able to deal with this trigger head-on.

I've been toying in my head with the idea that I am strong enough now.   I can go back and find ways to do this.    and immediately become terrified.    and then beat myself up.   and then avoid things and then start the whole process all over again.

What is the worst thing you think could happen if you did go to the synagogue again?

What steps can you envision taking that would help you deal with that worst case scenario and transform it into a more manageable scenario?

Is this worst case scenario the most likely scenario of what could happen or can you also envision other more likely scenarios?

My faith used to be a place of great solace for me.   Now it's a terrifying and painful place.

When you last went to the synagogue, did anything terrifying actual happen there? If that unsafe person were there now and would terribly misbehave, how do you think the other people there would react to this person? Would they be supportive of this misbehavior or would they rather implore the person to behave in a different manner while attending the synagogue?

Yeah I ask a lot of questions but that's what happens when I'm in analytic parrot mode

The Board Parrot
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« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2018, 02:15:33 PM »

Why Hello Board Parrot,     Thanks for the reply.

You ask good questions.   And I like questions so let's see what I can unravel.

What is the worst thing you think could happen if you did go to the synagogue again?

The worst thing that will likely happen is that it will trigger a monster flashback.   That's what happened last time I was there.    It was a mega three day flashback that literally knocked me on my butt.

The thing that I fear happening which is unlikely is some kind of confrontation between myself and the unsafe person.    the confrontation would be in the form of "Let me explain to you again how you are not doing this the right way, that I am doing this the right way because I am completely perfect and you are not."    You know, one of those helpful conversations drenched in sugar and arsenic.      



What steps can you envision taking that would help you deal with that worst case scenario and transform it into a more manageable scenario?

Hmmm,... .the worst case is really a re-occurrence of last time.    Where the flashback spirals out of control and I can't ramp it down, or slow it down.    I got through the event at the synagogue fine.    If you knew me pretty well you might have noticed I was a little uncomfortable, or a little unsettled.    I was okay until I got home and took my armoring off and then lost my composure.   I don't know how to work with that possibility.


Is this worst case scenario the most likely scenario of what could happen or can you also envision other more likely scenarios?

that's a tough question.    I think the worst case is the most likely based on the last 5 times I was there. I can envision other scenarios but how likely they are is more a roll of the dice.  



When you last went to the synagogue, did anything terrifying actual happen there?

well Yes, and No.    The last time I was there Rabbi called me aside and told me sotto voice to be on the look out for certain behavior from the unsafe person.    So I was prepared and managed to avoid and evade.   I wouldn't call it terrifying but maybe painful is a better word.



If that unsafe person were there now and would terribly misbehave, how do you think the other people there would react to this person?

I can't completely rule out some type of physical altercation or some verbal fisticuffs but I think the chance is small, maybe 3 out of 100.   I think the chance of some nuanced posturing, or subtle eye rolling or meaningful looks is about 97 out of 100.   Other people's reactions have been mixed in the past.    With some people running interference for me while some are very visible in support of her.   It's a very weird and unusual dynamic which I can't decipher.

Would they be supportive of this misbehavior or would they rather implore the person to behave in a different manner while attending the synagogue?


I am unsure.   I think there is a lot of misinformation in the wind, not coming from me.   But it does appear that the community at large is aware of the tension and has their own opinions about it.   Since no one is likely to talk to me about it I am sort of left in the dark.

Thanks Kwamina,... .it's been helpful to try to look at this from different angles and to separate what is internal to me and what is the actual practical physical reality.

birds of a feather... .
'ducks
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« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2018, 11:25:58 AM »

Hey 'ducks 

I don't have anything useful to offer except support and understanding. I experience a lot of what you describe and avoid much because of a lot of history. The chances of anything back actually happening is small, so it isn't rational or logical, but the fears are very real.

My T and I work a lot on just pushing through the fears. The only way through fear is straight through after all. The idea, like Notwendy said is to prove to myself that the fears are not justified and that nothing bad will actually happen and desensitize. I completely understand that on a cognitive level, but the emotions don't change.

I'm not sure if this applies to you, but for me, it isn't about the actual fear that I'm experiencing as much as it is about the underlying issues from my FOO. Until those are dealt with, the anxiety will continue.
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« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2018, 05:57:58 PM »

Thanks for the support and understanding Meili.


I think you are right.   The only way through fear is straight through.   Totally agree.  I know some of what I am experiencing is an echo of past events but I also know some of it is the anxiety of putting myself someplace for the potential of another new event.    It's shades of gray at the moment.   

'ducks
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« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2018, 09:33:20 AM »

Hi Sunfl0wer

I had read your post before with great interest and it was still on my list to respond to Smiling (click to insert in post)

I do want to point out one thing tho.  I almost wish I could write the author to request it get considered in a revision, yet, my motivation to do so isn't high enough so will simply share here... .
Excerpt
2. Remind yourself: "I fee l afraid but I am not in danger! I am safe now, here in the present." Remember you are now in the safety of the present, far from the danger of the past.
So for me, I am often (not always) triggered into emotional flashback when "my spidey senses" for danger are tingling.
... .
So sure, reminding oneself you are safe in the present could be great if the flashback is happening in the confort of your home, where you are actually safe.
Yet, in my personal experience, my emotional flashbacks seem to often seep up in precarious times.

I think you make a very important point here and I remember you said something similar once to a member about how we sometimes too readily assume that we are overreacting to things when someone says or does something because of how we've been hurt and traumatized in the past by dealing with the BPD family-members or relationship partners in our lives. One thing we might overlook then though is that the other person might actually be behaving in an inappropriate manner because of his/her own issues.

I think the most important lesson is that we need to develop our ability to distinguish between the triggered feelings of danger stemming from our past experiences and the feelings that are actually proportionate to any present danger we might be in. Sometimes we get triggered because we have become very sensitive due to past trauma, yet that same sensitivity can sometimes also alert us to real imminent danger we are in right here in the present. So it's learning to manage the emotional flashback so we can mentally and emotionally be more fully here in the present and more clearly assess the present situation we are in to determine whether we really are or aren't safe here in the present.
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« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2018, 05:59:06 AM »

Hi Kwamina!

Excerpt
So it's learning to manage the emotional flashback so we can mentally and emotionally be more fully here in the present and more clearly assess the present situation we are in to determine whether we really are or aren't safe here in the present.

I have been working lots in therapy on trying to keep one foot in the past with another foot in the present as we are doing EMDR work.  I find it a tricky balance to do. Rather than thinking of “managing a flashback... .” (which can sound restrictive, or like the flashback is “all bad”/not useful in a way.) I think it is easier for me to think of it as “allowing myself” to recognize that while I am having an emotional flashback, I can also find ways to orient myself to the here and now.

As that is happening, I can begin simultaneously assessing my current surroundings and allowing myself to notice accurately if I am in fact safe or in some type of threat or danger.

The reason I may be receding from reality to flashback mode is often because reality may have felt unsafe for some reason.  It can be a useful ability to be able to keep one foot in the flashback, one foot in the present to sort out the meaning of the experience.  

It may seem like a minor nuance, yet for me, makes a difference in the process of healing. Or maybe I am simply appearing obtuse, ... no worries!

Yet, acceptance of the coping mechanism of receeding from reality vs suppressing it as “all bad” seems to have gained me a different level of healing in my own therapy.  

Sometimes in therapy we do discuss “toggling.” Yet other times we discuss keeping one foot in the past, another in the present.  I find it important to be able to do both. 

I suppose I am generally suggesting that while any kind of flashback can be upsetting to a person... .sometimes trying to escape the upset of the experience... .can cause us to loose some value in it all.

(Vs dissociating from the dissociation of reality... .ironic?)
(Omg, just watched Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf last night... .talk about escape from reality... .how weird is that?)
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« Reply #23 on: April 01, 2018, 02:16:03 PM »

Thank you for sharing... .
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