“I think something bad happened to me.”
These were Chandra Moyer’s words to her husband after she was suddenly hit with frightening flashbacks at the age of 37. In the interview we recorded for my podcast, Chandra gives us an almost cinematic description of the way flashbacks transport a person back in time. They threw her into a frozen state, inundated by sights, sounds, smells, and overwhelming emotions that had been locked inside her memory for decades.
At the time, Chandra wondered, “Is this real?” She felt tortured. She questioned her sanity. She describes feeling hopeless, helpless, and powerless in these moments and the involuntary memories she was confronted with.
And yet, as Chandra began to realize over time, the flashbacks were a gift. They had information to give her about the childhood trauma that was affecting her every day, outside of her conscious understanding.
The devastation of trauma can cause us to be fragmented into parts in order to cope. That is, until our memories allow us to “come back in pieces” as Chandra puts it, reintegrating all of those parts into a whole person. Our true and complete selves.
She describes it as the little girl waking up inside of her. The memories that resurfaced allowed Chandra to give a voice to that dormant child part of herself, to nurture her and honor the pain she held quietly for so long.
Healing is not for the faint of heart. Repressed childhood trauma, flashbacks, and the cold hard truth are painful and frightening. But as Chandra’s story shows us, pain lives inside and affects us in negative and often destructive ways. That is, until we’re able--and willing--to face it.
Even then, the effects of trauma often remain. But as we do the hard work of healing, trauma can shrink down to a far more manageable form. By processing our experiences, we create the opportunity to grow from them. We become deeper, stronger, and more empathetic. We might even help others who are also in pain.
Miranda Pacchiana, MSW is a writer, speaker and survivor. She is the creator of the online resource The Second Wound: Coping with family while healing from sexual abuse which can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and the blog www.secondwound.com. Her writings have been featured in The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Trigger Points Anthology, MomsRising, and other publications. Miranda works and lives with her family in Connecticut.