Flashbacks Serve to Heal
When I started my own EMDR work, I was told to expect flashbacks. That since I have started re-processing memories- these memory intrusions would occur. Both my therapist and consultant were right. I have flashbacks in my sleep sometimes. Though I’m no longer afraid of them, I know they are serving a purpose to heal me. It is my self-healing system at work.
My consultant describes these flashbacks as memories that were dissociated as a knee jerk avoidance. Like when there is too much energy in our minds and bodies that feels overwhelming- our circuit breaker kicks in and shuts our whole system down (we’re in dorsal vagal complex/involuntary immobilization—if we’re using Polyvagal theory language).
Our flashbacks are trying to heal us. They are evidence of our miraculous bodies trying to heal. These flashbacks carry tons of energy, and need to come into consciousness to create meaning and narrative so that it can then be processed and become memory that is felt and dealt with. The goal of these flashbacks are to move us from victimhood to recognizing our survivorship, strength, and resilience.
The goal is that we become an observer to our flashbacks and not victimized by them. That we integrate these memories to our mind, body, spirit and we feel the wholeness of who we are and all we survived to be here. You made it. Thank your body, thank your coping tools, thank your inner child—it survived all you endured to be here today for you to tell your story. Don’t fear your flashbacks—with a nurturing witness—they are simply seeking healing.