Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Flashbacks Of Purple

I was reading about Marilyn in "The Body Keeps The score" by Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk.  In one section he talks about one of his patients, Marilyn, who had flashbacks of the wallpaper in her childhood bedroom.  At one point, Marilyn finally realized that the wallpaper was what she focused on when her father raped her.

In my own recovery, I remember something very similar and while it is eerie to read these accounts, it also brings solace and confirmation.  When a child abuse survivor goes through these things, you feel crazy that you have flashbacks of things that most would consider normal.  In my case, it was purple.

For a long time, I didn't know what that was.  I just knew that in the middle of the night and even at any time during the day or night, I would be frightened beyond belief of the color purple.  It made no sense.  I had no recollection of why the flashbacks of purple were haunting me.

If you want to know more about why "purple" was so haunting to me, you can read about it in my book, Hope And Possibility Through Trauma, on page 10.

Often when you're going through the terror of the abuse, it is too great for your mind to comprehend.  It is not normal.  It is not what any child should experience.  It is beyond the realm of what is right and normal for any child to understand.  Often the only way you can deal with it is by checking out and focusing on something.

As you begin to heal, it takes a great deal of work to start piecing these things together.  You have no idea what purple is (like in my case) and you often are so disconnected and numb to what happened that healing requires the connection to those moments.  It isn't easy and I've spent a lifetime recovering from this.

Too many think that you can just "forgive" or "move past it" or whatever other statements and advice they give out.  Unfortunately, that's like saying you can swim up a waterfall.  I wish more people would at least either understand what is going on or hold back on some of this damaging advice.  Yes, forgiveness and moving on is part of healing, but the phrase and buzz words don't help anyone.

Until I read this part about Marilyn in Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk's book, I had never realized that others go through this same thing quite like I did.  I've heard many stories, but this color one takes the cake.  For Marilyn, it was wallpaper and for me, it was purple.  Now, purple is one of my favorite colors, but at one time, it was a major tormenter when my mind would begin to slow down.

Blog Post And Images (c) 6/15/15 by Don Shetterly

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