Unexpected Triggers

It wasn’t until the last couple years that I ever knew I have been experiencing flashbacks to the incest of my childhood for most of my adult life:


I recently have had two very specific flashback experiences that took me off guard, one of which was on my way to the wedding.

POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNING! The first was a few months ago. I have been having some neck and back-of-head pain and decided to see a chiropractor. Over the course of six visits, two things happened. One was this electronic massage table he would put me on for about 20 minutes. He wasn’t in the room or anything but the table had a rolling massage bar underneath the top of the bed that rolled back and forth from the neck down to the buttocks. Each time it got down to my buttocks, I became very uncomfortable and my memories immediately went back to my brother. I hated it but I dealt with it – I mean what was I supposed to say?  “Excuse me doctor, but this table makes me feel like I am being molested all over again.”  I wasn’t going to have to explain it. On my last visit, the chiropractor was massaging my neck and told me that I smelled nice.  That’s it!  Too familiar for me, especially after the damn massaging table! I never went back. Who would have thought that visits to a chiropractor would trigger me?!

The second experience was traveling to my son’s wedding. We flew into San Francisco and took a particular route to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. As we drove down a certain street, a terrible feeling came over me. It was one of dread. I was so confused – this had never happened to me before. It dawned on my that this was the route my father and I took when we used to drive my mother to a college there. She had went back to school and would stay in the dorms during the week and would come home on the weekends. Ok, so why was it bothering me now? It was like I was feeling something that I felt as a child, something long ago. Then I realized how old I was during that time period – it was during the years when my brother was molesting me. The only times my brother got his hands on me was when no one else was home, which was rarely. If both my parents were gone, the chances went up significantly.

As we continued driving, a memory surfaced.  We were at church, my parents and I, talking to the youth pastor. I was to be in an up-coming church musical but a rehearsal fell on a day when my dad and I were supposed to take my mom back to school. We were asking if I could miss the rehearsal. I remember clinging to my mother’s leg as we asked. I think I knew what it meant if I didn’t get to go with them. The youth pastor told my parents that I had to be there – so I quit the musical. I can’t believe a church was like that but whatever.

This was the first missing memory I have recovered. With the feeling that came back with it, as we drove 19th Avenue on a sunny, bright day in San Francisco, I wish I hadn’t remembered. Honestly, with as many blocks of my life that are missing, I am afraid of what there could be to remember. I remember the beginnings and middles of individual instances of abuse but never how each ended. Did my mind just shut off or is there something my mind won’t let me remember, something worse than what I do remember? All I know is that I don’t want to feel like I did that day in San Francisco.


19 thoughts on “Unexpected Triggers

  1. “mind won’t let me remember, something worse than what I do remember?” I’d say that is definitely true. (for me) And sounds like those shadows exist for you too, though I’m sad to believe so.
    I used to think if only I’d remember I’d be alright, but I don’t anymore. If I’m being protected from the very worst, even now in my later years, then there’s a reason.
    I’m sorry these feelings, of dread, of surfacing memories or hints of them, are there. It’s a dark chest of skeletons to carry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your understanding. I had actually tried so hard the last couple years to remember things but wasn’t been able to. It’s hard because I also don’t remember the good things either. I can’t say that there are really bad things in the memory loss, at last I am hoping not. I had moved on and let it go that memories are lost – until the triggers above happened.


      1. Yes, when things come up unintentionally. That is so hard. Today I apologized to my physical therapist because I jumped so much when he dialed up the electronic device and the vibrations hit me all at once. My jumping made him jump. I’m very touchy, sensitive and scared about anything that has to do with my body or with others being where I didn’t expect them to be.
        I jumped again when I looked up and saw the gentle PT guy behind me thinking he had left the room. I’m sure he jumped too!
        Dark clouds still descend unexpectedly, and I’m sorry you deal with that too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am sorry you are experiencing this as well. I can completely understand your jumping – it makes perfect sense to me. Although I do not jump, I am very protective of my personal space and do NOT like people touching me. I tense up and think to myself, “Get your hand off me!” But I try to remain as calm as I can. HUGS go out to you my dear!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe these flashback are a hint that you actually want to surface these things for yourself in order to let them go or to restore them somewhere within where they make more “sense” and where they can no longer do you any harm? Obviously these memories are still there and don’t want to be ignored. You know, our brain is miraculous, strange place. It is never resting. Even when we releax, sleep or dream, it is running at high pace to make “sense” of what we have experience consciously or subconsciously when our body is active during the day. Things that happened to you … your brain and your soul knows about it. It cannot make things “unseen” or “unexperienced”. These things are there.

    Liked by 1 person

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