but to what sound her listening ear stoops she?
what netherworld gulf-whispers does she hear,
in echoing answers from what planisphere,
along the wind, along the estuary?
-dante gabriel rossetti
intrigued, i began to read the play, and for the next several hours nearly drowned in the tragedy of it. lavinia, as sweet a girl as shakespeare ever devised, is tormented, endlessly. after witnessing brutal murder, she begs
what i began to think about after reading the play was how she must have suffered, knowing her truth and her fear and being unable to express any of it for lack of the ability to speak or write. then i imagined what a flashback would have been for lavinia, what horror. there was a wanting in her to explain, to tell of what had happened, and she was unable for such a long painful time. i became so attached to her, and to what had become of her, that i could imagine her, shaking, crying wordlessly, and in her voice i heard her resentment, her pain, and, most importantly, her determination.
lavinia is a literary figure who has inspired me beyond explanation. i will always be thankful that i found her, that i understood the message that was delivered to me, which is that, throughout my struggle, i must be thankful for my ability to ask for help, for care, for someone to listen.
flashbacks are intense experiences, and come in many different forms. sometimes survivors suffer from flashbacks that are repetitive; the same image or sequence repeated each time the survivor has a flashback. sometimes they can be different every time, either based on memories or on subliminal images. there is no exact description of a flashback that is applicable to all survivors who suffer them, but they are in all cases difficult to handle and sometimes extremely emotionally painful. i wanted to provide here some tips for coping with flashbacks.
remind yourself that what you are experiencing is something from the past, and that the only person who can endanger you now is yourself. if there is someone with you and you feel comfortable asking, ask them to remind you of what is happening in the room right now.
understand that you are experiencing, rethinking and reliving a fearful time in your life. even if it is hard for you to admit fear, it is important for you to do in order to work through your flashback.
use your powers of observation to take in details of the surrounding area; trees, colors, bodies. focus on beautiful, unfrightening images. if it helps, go somewhere away from what might have triggered you (loud noises, a specific person or place).
remember to breathe deeply.
comfort yourself. touch your own hair and face in a gentle way, hold yourself. remember that you are a sacred temple that was once violated, and that your body is completely holy.
if you feel able to be confrontational, address yourself and the subject of the memories directly. tell them, aloud if you have to, that they are not wanted now and you will focus on them at a more stable time.
in the aftermath of a flashback, remember to take good care of yourself. pamper your body, your mind, and your resilient spirit.
write a journal entry about the flashback. remember images, sounds, and new memories that may have resurfaced. this can help you work through some of the confusion of a flashback. make sure you are well-grounded before you start writing so that you don't escalate into another flashback. here's what i recommend: make a peaceful writing time and place. plan it for a time when there won't be lots of people coming in and out. light a few candles (i recommend using an aromatherapy candle, particularly rose or lavender), and find some music that is particularly soothing to you. choose a protection mantra, something you can repeat to yourself in order to create a feeling of safety. if you start to feel frightened, repeat your mantra as many times as you want, until you feel safe. then stop writing and try again later.