Hi Sue! I am glad to hear from you.
I am so sorry that happened to you. You are very brave to face this and deal with it.
It can feel overwhelming to have images and flashbacks that you feel you cannot control. It can make you feel as you did
during the trauma, especially when they are triggered by something you have no power over like thunderstorms. The key to dealing with the flashbacks and the images in your mind is to learn techniques that help you cope.
The first step is to accept. It may sound hard but if you break it down you'll find it easier. When the image comes into your mind, try not to fight it. Instead, let yourself accept that it is there. The more you fight it, the harder it is to keep out. If you find it hard to do, give yourself a short time in which you focus on telling yourself that it is ok. Eventually you will be able to calm yourself by just saying "accept".
The second step is to recognize the feelings you have around the image in your mind. It can help to write them down but it's ok if you don't. What are the feelings associated with the image? And let yourself feel them. You are safe now and no one can hurt you.
The third is to give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions you have about the image. Anger, fear, sadness, etc. Realize that these feelings are normal and they belong to the trauma.
When you hear a thunderstorm, it can be hard to not associate it with the trauma. By using some ways to distract yourself, it can help. Try to engage your senses. Use smell, taste and touch to help you. Try using things that make you feel good and help you associate the storm with something else. Turn up music very loudly, make a special dish that you love, visit a friend.
What you are doing, Sue, is the best thing you can do. You are working hard to cope with a very horrible and traumatic childhood. It takes time but you will work it through.