Flashbacks & Realisations

My best friend and I were watching Torchwood on Friday night, as we’ve taken to doing relatively frequently, and I got thrown in to a flashback.  The show is primarily science fiction.  This episode, however, involved nothing more than incredibly sick human beings.  I felt myself tensing a bit, but nothing really pressing alarmed me.  Then, things did start getting bad.  I immediately asked my best friend to stop the show, which he did.  However, I hadn’t realised the issue soon enough and spent the next half hour or so trying unsuccessfully to fend off the flashback.

When the memory came, Lily pushed me aside.  I came back to awareness and was absolutely appalled– she had told my best friend detail by detail of an extremely brutal part of my SRA training that happened when I was very young.  He took it well, the dear man, and we made uncomfortable jokes about it for the rest of the evening.  Still, he isn’t supposed to hear those details.  No one outside of therapists who work with SRA survivors should hear those details.  I bring up generalities with my best friend and with my brother-of-choice, as they both have some curiosity about cult-related strategies.  The details, though, are not to be told.  It isn’t a privacy thing; it’s a concern for their well-being.  I know the worst of the worst of what people can do to each other.  Even abuse survivors who were not part of a cult wouldn’t be able to comprehend some of the depravity.

Talk about grief is always difficult, regardless of the circumstances.  The more I’ve talked about mine with my therapist, though, the worse I’ve felt about it all.  It’s become a subject of near taboo.  I’ve worried deeply about this in terms of my abilities to help others cope with losses.  Having lost my family, I do understand.  Growing up, I was surrounded by death.  I saw torture victims begging for death, children killed in horrendous ways, people burnt alive, and people kept in cages that slowly pierced through their skin.  I saw and had to participate in sacrifices.  I saw people who, even though they were physically alive, were inhuman puppets in the game.  Death was everywhere.  Suffering was constant.

Now that I’m starting to talk about both SRA issues and ‘normal’ grief in therapy, the two are combining again.  I feel like, once again, I’m surrounded by death.  I take showers daily, as hot as I can stand them, trying to wash away the stench of death, but it’s always there.  It’s in my skin, and it permeates everything I do.  It’s the shadow that lurks now in the front of my mind.  I feel overtaken.

I didn’t think of these two issues as clashing so badly.  The SRA-related memories are being sparked by grief stuff, though, so we’ll have to decide which must be looked at first.  At this point, SRA is blocking everything else.  My therapist keeps telling me she wants to know the memories.  I keep refusing to tell her, for both our sakes.  The flashback I had on Friday night is of one of the most horrific experiences I went through.  At my therapy appointment this week, I might well bring it up.  I can monitor the therapist’s reactions, and, if absolutely necessary, alter her memory just slightly to keep her from being traumatised.  That can be done very simply and quickly without any physical contact.  It’s completely in the mind.  I would *never* use that on anyone close to me.  For a young therapist who is probably unaware that this sort of horror exists, though, it might be necessary.  I’ll monitor her reactions just as closely as my own.

It will be trial by fire for the therapist.  One of my insiders, making a joke to ease the tension, asked if we were going to talk about that memory, too.


2 thoughts on “Flashbacks & Realisations

  1. For what it is worth…here is my two cents worth…or maybe it is more given today’s inflation. 🙂

    I think, if it were me, I would share the generalities and see how she reacts. Over time, I would start sharing more and more. There is no need to share it all at once. By going in little bits, you can always opt to stop sharing and just deal with what you have shared.

    If you have the ability to alter her memory…I would NOT suggest doing it. Personally, I think it is better to simply move slowly and stop if you think she is unable to handle it. I believe that trying to alter someone’s memory on something can affect the relationship…even if it is on a subtle level. As horrifying as a memory may be…it may tell her something she needs to know that you will have taken away. I would not advise it.

    Just my thoughts. I hope everything works out with your friend who now knows more.


    • Thanks for your thoughts on this topic. The memory thing would absolutely alter at least my part of the relationship. It’s not something I would do lightly; I’ve only done it once in the past 11 years. We’ll see how the session goes.

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