The power of flashbacks

I generally appear (I think) to have things together. But even though I know that’s not really true I’ve been completely taken aback this week at the power of certain memories.

It comes about because our eldest, Matt, was off to New Zealand as part of a gap year; spending time exploring and learning whilst being based with my friend Rob who is the pastor of Opawa Baptist. He was understandably a mix of excitement and trepidation as he prepared to leave. We know we will miss him but are pleased for him and are sure he will have a great time as well as growing through the experience.

But I hadn’t expected to find myself transported back to my childhood. In the airport being put on a plane back to boarding school in England aged 10; the sense of abandonment and loss, conficting emotions and sense of responsibility for the emotional wellbeing of significant adults.

I’ve been gobsmacked at the power of the intruding memories of packing, feeling physically ill (and sometimes being actually sick) at preparing to return to school for another term. The shear dread which accompanied the return to hell.

Yet, in the midst of the last couple of days I find myself suddenly back there; as real as if it was happening again with the sounds, smells as well as the images. Flashbacks that drown out what I was actually doing and thinking at the time.

Lots of things might be said about this and about me but I share it because, as well as being a helpful way of processing these experiences, I recognise that it is only as people are willing to acknowledge and share pain that we can walk together in truth. And while we don’t need to share everything with everyone, we do need to acknowledge our feelings to ourselves and to God and be willing to allow others to walk alongside us. Watching over each other, encouraging and supporting each other can only happen as we are willing to be authentic (and therefore sometimes vulnerable).

Recognising the power of emotions, memories and triggers is part of the process of healing. What do you need to acknowledge today? Who can you share these with?

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