This morning in yoga class, we started in a restorative reclined heart opener….it probably has a name, but I don’t know it. Instead of bound angle, our legs were out long. We had been in the pose for maybe two minutes when suddenly I wasn’t present in the yoga studio anymore; I was little again, and I could feel the emotional and physical pain, and we were in my dad’s bedroom. My eyes opened and I tried to stay grounded, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t catch my breath. The yoga teacher was talking, but I couldn’t comprehend her words and the added noise only agitated me more. Inhales and exhales. Palms flat. What’s touching the ground right now? How many lines are on the ceiling? I was searching for something, anything to help keep me from going into a full blown flashback in the middle of a yoga class.
I would like to tell you that I was able to stay present throughout the class and keep my flashbacks at bay, but that wasn’t the case. I worked hard in yoga class today – physically and mentally. I am exhausted. It was a gentle yoga class, so there was a little more “down time” for my mind than in a typical vinyasa flow class. Had I known that the flashbacks were coming, I would’ve gone to a flow class instead. When we were moving and stengthening our muscles, linking breath with movement, I was ok. But when we stopped moving, when we were just staying present, I struggled. The images would start. New ones this time. Pieces of the unfamiliar movie playing in my head in no logical sequence; no clear beginning or end. I don’t want new memories. I try to shut them out and pretend they don’t exist. I try to think about positive memories from my childhood instead.
I wish someone could tell me that the flashbacks will go away. That one day I will be able to live a flashback-free life. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure that’s possible. It’s true that since starting my trauma work, they have become less frequent and less distressing. And yoga helps so much. Yoga helps me have better control over the symptoms from the flashbacks and better control over staying present. Yoga helps me live with the flashbacks. But ultimately, nothing makes them go away completely. Maybe one day, they’ll develop a pill for that 😉 Until then, I’ll just hang out in legs up the wall.