Flashbacks before bed (abandonment issues)


New Here
this has been a constant and reoccurring issue for me over the last couple years and I felt I needed to bring it up and ask for advice.

Anytime my partner (or previous partners) have expressed the desire to be alone before bed or have expressed that they don’t want me to sleep over I struggle with that initial feeling of panic and rejection but what’s bothering me is the moment I go to sleep alone after these interactions I immediately begin to have flashbacks and/or panic attacks.

The other day my partner expressed that we had been spending a lot of time together and thus starting to step on eachothers toes (totally understandable) and so she wanted a day to herself with our mutual friend (she’s closer with her) and upon her requesting this I felt a sense of dread? The routine hangout before bed and sleep together wasn’t happening and I was fearful she was going to leave permanently. As I tried to go to bed I had one of my handful of flashbacks about abandonment.

It was the night my dad left for deployment when I was 7 years old. He tucked me in and planned to head out that night to Iraq. I remember not long after he left my room i I began to panic and cry out for him hysterically. I had just processed the potential death of my father at 7 years old, alone, in a dark room having just said goodbye to him. I cried for a while as my parents debated on if it was a good idea for my father to come back to see me one more time. He did. For 13 months I cried daily. I watched my mom cry. I lived in a sense of fear that one day I might have the news broken to me that my dad had passed away. He missed my 8th birthday, several holidays, and our family being involved in an on base mass shooting (also hard for me to process at literally 7 or 8) while he returned for Christmas and eventually from war as a whole I feel I never got him back. He has PTSD now that he leaves untreated so as a result my brother and I watched our father experience night terrors in the living room regularly among other symptoms. We couldn’t help him.

That being said when I’m left alone at night after my partner has said goodnight and plans to hang out with friends or sleep elsewhere I simply cannot sleep without crying out for my father all while experiencing a full body remembrance of that night. Every inch of me, mind and body, feels like the 7 year old little kid screaming for his dad only this time there is no dad to come to his rescue.

My girlfriend suggested I was being manipulative by calling her and asking to sleep over anyway due to the flashbacks. I totally understand why she felt this way and honestly I have felt so guilty sense. I was trying to seek out the end of that memory by bringing a loved one into my space to reassure me they were still apart of my life and all is well. I know I should have looked for someone else since she expressed her desire to be alone that night so.. if anyone else experiences these what do you do?
Since it’s such a specific event? I would very highly recommend EMDR.

Since it’s such an incredibly predictable outcome, however? I would personally do the opposite of what you’re doing… and sleep alone more. And I’m not someone who sleeps alone by preference, so it’s not taking that part lightly, whatsoever. Instead? Predictable = Preventable = It gives you treeeeeeemendous opportunity to be

- working on the stressor >>> How to use triggers as a means to recovery?
- find out which coping mechanisms tailored exactly to this situation work best, & how best to use them, in which combos.
- shorten/eliminate the recovery time / hangover afterwards
- shorten/eliminate the stressor altogether >>> Working with triggers

Whilst EMDR is amaaaaazing for specific events? All of ^^^this^^^ is done on your own, at your own pace/in your own time/day in and out (a few seconds here, a few hours there, a few minutes later, as it suits your own life and needs… rather than something you wait a week to talk about wih someone else… so it’s both something that you don’t even need to be in therapy to do, as well as a badass adjunct to any trauma therapy you may already be doing, or will be doing. <grin> All the power/control in your own hands. Love that!

Lastly? Speaking as a military brat, from a military family, I am sooooo incredibly sorry that your mother did that to you. What she put you through was unconscionable, inexcusable, and flat out wrong.

The Wive’s Club tries to intervene when they see -or teachers, neighbors, base med, chaplains, etc. report- a military spouse terrorizing their children, but there will always be some who either slip through the cracks, or who deliberately remove their children entirely from stablizing/ normalizing/ empowering/ & therapeutic resources; isolating them from strength and support, & subjecting them to things no child should have to suffer.
Apologies if my post is not appropriate as a newcomer. Delete if you need to.
Inkiing, your father did not abandon you. He did what many feel was right, was patriotic, was expected.
If I had the choice in some bizarre time continuum intersection of realities between choosing between being there for my son or fighting for everyone's son, and I knew the outcome, I would choose being there for my son.
But we dont have the gift of hindsight when needing to choose between that which tugs at our hearts and feelings of duty.
You were loved then, and nothing changed but his ability to portray it for you.
Trust me.
The next time you are ready to fall asleep and fear that doubts about above will create nightmares, just resolve to take control of those nightmares in your sleep and tell them to #%^^^ off - you ARE loved. You ARE worthy of the love. You ARE the son all of those of us who have gone through hell but are proud of our sons.
Peace, my friend.