Today I’m coming out of the back end of a flashback, I’ll call it a flashback episode.
It happened days ago but the effects of them generally follow me around for days after, like children, it just follows you everywhere.
Pooping? Yep, there too. Don’t forget me!
It is as if someone has walked up to me and said “Here, take this” like they didn’t fucking need it anymore and plopped a dark grey fluffy cartoon cloud into my arms which I promptly and instinctively place onto my head and wear it as a hat.
Like it’s common place to walk around the shops with your family with a cartoon fluffy cloud on my head. Over the days it feels as though bits and pieces very slowly fall off leaving a trail of fluffy baby clouds behind me, eventually once it’s all gone, I get to come back and join the real world again.
But while I’m wearing my silly fluffy cloud hat, I have to decide what I am going to do with this new information the flashback has given me, I know it has the potential to crush me well and truly as they did when they first began. But I can also just roll with it, reach out, and ride out this fucktard of a flash in time. So that’s what I do every time. Sometimes it is okay to admit defeat.
Wear that cloud with pride. Let those people in the line at Coles wonder what your fucking problem is and why you have a cloud on your head.
Coming out of a rough few days like that almost seems surreal, I will often feel like I have missed days, I feel like I have literally just slid through the days like a chair on an ice lake with my cloud hat, occasionally grabbing a child or Batman for a hug here and there as I slid past in fleeting moments. Once I am almost out of my days of cloudy sadness and the fragments of that cloud have mostly fallen from my head, I can take that last fluffy piece off of my face and breath again.
This is when I can talk or write about it more openly without the tears falling, or the anxiety becoming vicious and unrelenting, without the full feeling of the fear that I had when it first came. I can then piece the story together, and confirm any details with my Mum about where we were and what house we were in, for no other reason than for me to feel less crazy.
To keep my sanity, because it just often feels so unreal that I, a mere human can continue life successfully after something like that.
Flashbacks aren’t something you can just will away or ignore, it’s not like you can say “Oh Hey there , I’m not pulling the trigger on the flashback gun today, thanks but no thanks”.
You never know when it’s coming, you never know what might trigger it, and often it will come when you least expect it and by something you have done many times before, if anything I was probably especially happy and stoked about life in general on this particular day.
I loved my kids and Batman more than usual that morning when I announced I was going to have a shower. I was standing there minding my own fucking business when I decide to glance up at the roof, because it’s made of wood floor boards and indeed looks like the floor.
I’m standing there thinking about what we will do that day because it’s Sunday and Sundays are for families and being all like “What do you wanna do? I dunno what do you wanna do?” then you all end up watching Tv all day long because no one could decide what the fuck to do.
Anyway I glance from the roof to the bar of soap in the soap holder on the wall.
(I don’t usually buy soap but last shopping day Batman asked for soap so I got him soap, for some reason I’ve never liked soap).
But just like that I am gone. Merely seconds I am whisked away to this moment of my life that I never knew about before.
Flashback aged approx 7-8 years old:
I am standing in the shower, a familiar shower but I can’t quite differentiate which one in which house, could be the one from the Inman Valley house or it could be the Yankalilla house. It’s one of those showers that is also inside an old bath, the bath is deep and makes me feel small. The shower curtain opens suddenly, I am anxious and frightened but I don’t feel surprised as I seem to know what is coming.
The Villain is standing there and he says:
“You didn’t wash yourself properly”.
I just look at him, I remain quiet. He grabs the bar of soap from the holder and pushes his hand and the soap between my legs getting rougher and rougher as he “cleans” me properly.
I know I cleaned myself just fine, I also know that I have to just bare it.
In that moment I remain silent and look at the roof. It’ll be over soon.
Reality approaches and a panic attack engulfs me and that fluffy cartoon cloud hat is on, my hands are shaky, I feel sick and am instantly tired, my panic is misplaced because I am no longer in the flashback but I am confused and missing for a moment.
I am unconsciously rubbing my face, my forehead, my cheeks and my mouth, something I seem to do now after a flashback. I also for the first time remember him talking to me other than the bath incident. My chest tightens, as a wave of the fear that my younger self knows well remains. I can’t stand, I don’t want to stand because I feel like if I do I might fall down. Crumple, cave in or faint.
I sit down on the shower floor with my 3 year old who was there in the shower with me silently drawing on the shower screen the whole time. I twirl one of her ringlets between my fingers to bring myself back into the now.
I hold back the tears well enough until Batman comes in and sees me, sitting silently.
He asks “Are you okay?” and I nod, yes I’m ok, but he still watches me until I shake my head and say “No” and let the tears out.
Later Batman asks cheekily “Do we have to get rid of all the soap now?”
And I smile and laugh “No we don’t have to get rid of all the soap now” .
My anxiety fades with the tears down my cheeks almost as if the tears are the faucet to let the anxiety drain out of my body.
I know more now than I did before, I am also probably a little more hurt than before.
But instead of wishing it never happened because I can’t actually change it.
I will instead add this to my story and I will use it to power myself into something far better than I could even imagine, and then I’ll empower others who have been here too.
I am no special case. We are not alone in this.