Flashbacks, Intimacy and Sex
(Trigger warning: There is going to be some talk of emotional and sexual abuse in this post)
His Hands on Me
I am on my back. His hands are on my shoulders, holding me down. My Master. He is using me the way I love him using me. I feel helpless and under his control. It is a blissful space. I feel his hard cock going in and out of my wet pussy. I can hear and smell my own arousal. My eyes are closed and I take in every second of what is going on. The weight of him on me. The strength of him on me. The power of him in me. I am moaning. I’ve already had dozens of orgasms and I am starting to feel exhausted. But I also don’t want it to stop, this moment, with him. Blissful.
I open my eyes and suddenly everything feels different. My heart starts pounding really fast. I am scared. I am so very scared. I try to focus, to not let myself get distracted by that feeling. I want to please my Master. I want him to feel pleasure. I don’t want him to see that something is wrong. I don’t want to ruin it. But the scene has changed. My mind is not where my body is.
His face becomes blurry. His body becomes the body of someone else. Old man. Big man. Disgusting man. The pleasure I just felt, turns into pain, incredibly overwhelming pain. His hands on me feel unwanted. They feel forced, and I don’t want them there. Why is he hurting me? Why is there something inside me? Why am I naked? I feel disgusted by myself. I feel disgusted by the person using me. It is screaming in my head. Someone is fucking me and I don’t want it to happen. But it is happening. He is doing it to me. I am scared. Scared for my life.
He is going to kill me! He is going to hurt me so bad that I am going to die. It hurts. It hurts so much. I lay still and don’t dare to move. I hear him say something in the distance. It is all blurry. He is going to kill me, his disgusting hands on my disgusting body. I start screaming. For a split second I push myself to focus: Squirrel! I kick, I push him off of me. I run out of the room, into the bathroom, lock the door behind me, sit naked on the floor. Shaking. Crying. Scared to death.
What I just described is called a visual flashback. If someone has been through trauma in the past, a flashback refers to an unwanted memory of the traumatic situation. It suddenly feels like you are there again, you are being hurt, you are scared, you are in shock. You see it all again, you experience it all again. It is like you are in that moment again. It is not something that you can control, it happens out of nowhere. A lot of times, you are not even sure why it is happening and what triggered you. It can be a sound, a smell, a certain touch. It can be related to you feeling vulnerable in general. Other times, it is very obvious what the trigger was. Once you are in a flashback, it is incredibly hard to control. Because it feels real!
I have been through sexual abuse during childhood. I was raped by many men on numerous occasions, for years. So sex is an iffy thing for me. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I need the pain or the subspace to push my into a mindstate that overrides the fear I have of sex. (Post on why don’t want vanilla sex ever again here. Post on pain and self-harm here). And it works, in the D/s and BDSM dynamic. Most of the time. Unfortunately, sometimes, it hits me out of nowhere. I am quite aware of my triggers and I am avoiding them.
There is just no way to totally control them. I don’t know what subtle things can kickstart my trauma again, especially on days when I am already vulnerable. Visual flashbacks are extremely overwhelming and just communicating to someone you play with that you are experiencing a flashback? That can be almost impossible at times.
He is in My Mind
I am on the floor, covered in his piss, masturbating. He is standing over me, my Master, my guide, the person I trust. We have been at it for hours now, playing. My whole body aches after the pain he has given me. I am his at this point, all his. I love how he can push me into a space where I am losing it. Where I am just a horny needy mess. Where humiliation and degradation are all that I crave. His words, in my mind. Covered in piss, I am needy and horny still. I do what I am told. His words push me further and further, into the wonderfully slutty space where I am nothing but sex. Nothing else but his. His words, in my mind.
“Look at yourself! You disgusting fat pig!”. My mind blanks for a short second. Yes, I am disgusting. Yes, I am fat. He is right. I hate myself. What am I even doing to myself? I am a pathetic person. I am so fucking pathetic. I am okay with someone pissing on me? Of course I am, a fat unfuckable person like me, that no one would want anyway. All I can get is the worst possible treatment. I don’t deserve better. It is all my fault, I don’t take care of myself. I am fat and disgusting, I am surprised he is even looking at me. Who would want to fuck someone like me? This fat, disgusting, the worst person in the world? My hands start to shake. The words on my mind are his, but not his.
I want to hurt myself. I need to hurt. My feelings are screaming at me. All the bad feelings I have ever experienced when I was hurt, they hit me, all at once. My soul is being raped. My mind is being raped. I hear him say something. I don’t know what he is saying. I am sitting now, tears streaming down my face. Fists holding my hair. My own fists. I need this to stop. This needs to stop. I can’t take this. I can’t take this. It needs to stop!! I am screaming. I am starting to hit my head. I can feel him hold my hands down, gently. His head on my shoulder. I need to die. It needs to stop.
This was what is called an emotional flashback. Emotional flashbacks are about re-experiencing the feelings that you had to endure during a traumatic situation. Just like visual flashbacks, they are caused by triggers. Those triggers can be extremely subtle. It can be a certain look, a vibe of a situation, one word. They are even more confusing than visual flashbacks because you don’t always read them as caused by your trauma. You just suddenly feel like absolute crap. Your whole mindset changes. Your feelings intensify until it seems like someone is trying to rip your heart out. All you can do is break down. You are shattered. You want this feeling to stop.
Most people don’t recognize that they are suffering from emotional flashbacks. It is first when they read up on it or hear about them during therapy, that they are getting an aha-moment. Instead, they often think they are emotionally unstable and maybe are also being told that they are by other people. Personally, I find emotional flashbacks more difficult to deal with than visual flashbacks. When I am experiencing a visual flashback, somewhere in my mind, I know that this is a flashback, however scary it might seem in the moment. With an emotional flashback, I can’t distinguish between the realities in my mind and my feelings. An emotional flashback is very internal, it is in my mind. How am I not supposed to trust my own mind?
Avoiding Intimacy? – You don’t have to!
Flashbacks are definitely a huge downer on intimacy and sex. If you experience them during sex or even foreplay, you rather want to avoid those activities. Personally, I have found that it is about who you are with and what you are doing. If I am with someone I trust and who is safe, and the things that we do are something that I am into, then sex works perfectly fine. For me it becomes triggering when the sensations aren’t strong enough, mentally and physically. I need pain, rough sex, humiliation. Those things are needed to override my fear of sex and intimacy. I don’t have time to think or for memories to pop up when my mind and body are distracted by intense sensations.
That is definitely not the way for everyone though. You might need tender touch and reassurance for your mind to be soothed. And that is okay, too. The important thing is that you try to find something that works just for you. I can understand if you want to avoid intimacy because of triggers and because you don’t want to experience past hurt. But in case you want to have sex and enjoy it, there are ways to make that happen!
Flashback management is something that I actively work with a lot. (You can read up more on flashback management here). I am more and more aware of my triggers. Certain words just can’t be uttered during play. I need to feel emotionally stable to do certain scenes. I know what helps me ground, and what I need to avoid doing when a flashback takes over.
But the most important thing is communication with your partner. You need to be honest. You need to discuss your limits, your triggers, and safewords. See, this is where I think BDSM and D/s play has a huge positive. There is an active way to stop any kind of sexual play happening. Sometimes I think everyone should have a safeword, even people in vanilla relationships!
If your partner can read you, can read your reactions and knows what to do when you are experiencing a flashback, then sex and intimacy can definitely be pleasurable. I know that it can be difficult to communicate about these things. It took me years to develop the ability to talk about parts of my trauma, and admit that I need certain kinds of safety measures to be able to enjoy intimacy and sex. But the communication helped. I have an awesome sex life now, even though I sometimes experience flashbacks during intimate moments.