Last night I was triggered for the first time in a long time into a spiral of memories about my past. I lay next to my husband to try and get some cuddles and rest before my nursling awoke again, but his hand twitched and clenched against my stomach/c-section scar while he was asleep.
The pain felt as though I was being pulled open, and it sent me into a downward hallway of memories and “what-if” scenarios of every choice I had made in the past with my ex and my eldest daughter. Sensations of the things my ex did to me oozed across my skin like sticky webs, and my body burned with shame and anger. In that span of time, my pillow smelled the same as it used to, and the fabric scratched my face in the same way. Unwanted memories of assaults against me right after childbirth, waking up to sexual intercourse while I slept, being held down and violated time and time again by the person who was supposed to be my life partner.
On and on the memories rolled, and the tears that fell against my pillow scalded my skin like lava. I couldn’t stop the reel of images playing behind my eyes, or the feelings being relived from deep within the caverns of my mind. During that time I couldn’t find peace through sleep despite taking Tylenol PM to aid in sleep.
But sleep didn’t come easily, or without me breaking down emotionally as my youngest daughter woke up crying for me, only to wiggle and kick against my scars, setting my pain off even more. I began to sob and scold her, trying to get her back to sleep, and then my husband awoke. I told him what was going on, and he held my hand, talking to me about our life together. Asking me what would life have been like if I had met him at the age of 16, 18, or 20, how would we have met, what would our first kiss have been like, how soon would we have moved in together or gotten married.
His voice soothed me and I was able to latch onto how his hand felt holding mine to climb out of the labyrinthine darkness I was lost in. He gently stroked my fingers, and with each stroke I was able to take another step back into my present life. He ran his fingers through my hair and whispered how he would have fallen for me as a Gothic teen, or as a single mom of a blue eyed imp. How if he had met me while we were both teens in high school, he would have been smitten, and terribly shy.
He suggested that any time I start having the same “what-if” doubts running through my head, to start thinking about what we would have been like if we had met sooner. I am so grateful I was able to have him there for me during this, I hadn’t had a flashback this bad in years, and had no coping skills in place to help myself out of it.