Emotional Flashbacks?

I don’t know if there are actually things called emotional flashbacks. If there are, then what I consider emotional flashbacks might not match up with the actual definition. Regardless, lately I’ve had a resurgence of emotions from my past, usually when I’m in a situation or around a person that reminds me of a particular part of my past. In a therapy session recently, it’s been suggested that some aspects of my past would be considered a “trauma.” I think the fact that I put quotes around the word trauma indicates that I’m currently having a hard time accepting that as fact or even as a possibility.

Anyways, today I entered into an environment and situation that I knew was similar to my past – yet it was a different circumstance and I was attempting to help out a family member who desperately needed it. It also helped that one of my sisters was going along as well to help at the same time.  For hours I was doing great. I recognized the similarities, yet I had emotionally steeled myself/put myself into a different mindset.  I sang along (not always very well, I might add) to my favorite playlist (which includes a LOT of Demi Lovato), chatted to my sister, and basically kept myself occupied.

Everything was going great.

Until the family member I was helping had to leave to go baby-sit, and then an hour later my sister had to take off due to prior commitments. I was there by myself for 30-45 minutes, and still things were going fine.

Isn’t it interesting how the most random thing can set you off? Because that’s exactly what ended up happening – I was fine until I realized I was hungry. I didn’t feel like I could handle fast food and so decided that I should go to a restaurant. Unfortunately, my mom was with my sister and I realized I would have to eat all alone.

Now, I’ve eaten by myself before and it doesn’t particularly bother me. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but it’s not a big deal. Today, though, it sent me spiraling in a big way. I was sobbing, trying to explain over the phone to my sister what was wrong, but being unable to properly articulate my thoughts. It wasn’t eating alone that was bothering me. It was the realization that I would have to continue working by myself – alone. It took me right back to the lonely feelings I experienced in my past and all of a sudden there were emotional associations everywhere. I also felt that I didn’t accomplish all that I wanted to. Yet I was told by several people that I needed to focus on what I did get done – which was a lot. That finishing the “job” at hand wasn’t my responsibility.

I felt like an absolute wreck. I so badly wanted to call my therapist and, had it become necessary, I would have. However, I made the decision to leave the situation that was becoming so distressing to me. I drove home (where I hadn’t been in a week, except for one day), bought some groceries, took a hot shower, and made myself a delicious dinner.  Now I’m feeling much better. I’m proud of myself for helping and putting myself in an uncomfortable situation. I’m working towards becoming proud of myself for leaving that situation when I felt it was necessary for my mental health.

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