My first flashback came after cooking supper and then going to a movie.
“This is probably the last thing Daddy had to eat,” I told my husband while I fried the salmon patties. “How do you know that?” he asked. “Because Mom was heating up their leftovers for lunch when I found him; I’m not sure if he had breakfast.” I said. Somehow I sidestepped then reliving the memory.
After supper my husband left his plate in the sink and hurried to get dressed. We were going to see a remake, Godzilla 2000. Cleaning the kitchen, I got mad, “I’m not your damned maid, you know.” His only defense was a smile. I swallowed my anger, halfway smiled, and got ready for the movie, too.
In one scene of the movie, Godzilla was shot. It moaned and fell face-forward. Its head was cocked to one side with its forelimb crumpled under its body. Jumping at the shot, I thought, “That’s how Daddy was laying when I found him.” The death scene had just completed the brain-circuit for my flashback—from salmon patties to Godzilla. In my mind, all over again, I found my father’s body.
I jumped up and ran out of the theater. My husband followed me. In the hall, I tried to convince him I was okay. “Just go back in; I’ll be back. I just need a minute. It’s only a movie—for God sake,” I said, but my hands shook. I was angry, frightened, and didn’t want him hovering over me. “Let’s just go,” he said. “Fine,” I answered, jerked away from him and walked toward the door.
Outside in the truck, my mouth began an uncontrollable quiver. Sweat soaked through my clothes. It soaked my scalp. It rolled like tears from my armpits to my waist while I hyperventilated. We sat there till my breath came back. I felt like I was losing my mind.
Emotions and physical reactions to traumatic stress are like piling a bunch of small bouncing-balls in a box. They bang into each other and go everywhere. It’s easy for you and others to think you’re crazy. You’re not crazy. You’re normal. Talk about it with someone who listens.