In June of 2010, two years after my daughter’s birth and subsequent heart-wrenching hospital stay, I wrote a post about how the smell of fresh cut grass triggered an uncontrollable reliving of the trauma I experienced during that time. I wondered when I would be free of this uninvited flashback into Hell.
I believed it was somehow my fault because I have never been able to force myself to throw away the stitches, tubes, and other bits and pieces of her that I saved. I have not found a way to “get over it” and heal. Therefore I concluded that I must be weak and perpetually broken. How could I not logically or emotionally separate a flower from a bruise?
Now I know how it works.
“At any juncture where the mind becomes overwhelmed and cannot take in the enormity of a tragedy and its sweeping implications, imagery of details can be frozen for future recall. That is, details can become vividly “wired in” and so represent the totality of the traumatic event. They are then intrusively and involuntarily replayed as a result of triggers, both conscious and unconscious, internal and external. Once underway, these flashbacks are usually next to impossible to interrupt. Potential triggers can be almost anything... (fresh cut grass) Flashbacks are multisensory and often include exquisitely detailed features of the scene of the moment of reckoning when life became drastically changed.” Susan Roos, Chronic Sorrow, A Living Loss.
Now I don’t fear it anymore. I just let it roll over me until it is done. And first chance I get I go hug my girl and breath in her soothing life scent.
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