About Ruminating Thoughts

Ruminating thoughts are very common after someone has experienced trauma, in particular in cases of PTSD & C-PTSD.  They are when a person can’t stop thinking about their awful experiences.

Like many people, I experienced them once C-PTSD developed, but I still had a slight degree of control over them.  Sometimes, I could force them to stop & think of something else.  After surviving carbon monoxide poisoning though, my brain was damaged.  Part of that damage was no longer having the ability to control those ruminating thoughts.  I had to learn new & effective ways to cope with them.

After my mother’s sudden death in April, my ruminating thoughts got really, really bad!  At first it was incredibly hard to handle them on top of everything else about the situation.  With God’s help, after a few months of this, I’ve gotten a much better grip on the awful ruminating thoughts.

When they happen, I’ve learned it’s best if at all possible to get alone & sit with the thoughts.  I let them run their course, reminding me of whatever awful thing they are about.  I also allow myself  to feel the emotions that the thoughts trigger.  Whatever it is, be it anger, sadness, hurt, I feel them.  No, this isn’t easy.  In fact it’s incredibly difficult, but it is also well worth it.  The more I do this, the less frequent the ruminating thoughts on that particular topic are.

Immediately following my mother’s death, I kept having ruminating thoughts about the night the police came to give me the news of her passing.  It was hardly a pleasant experience to say the least.  I would relive their visit over & over in my mind.  At first, I did my best to ignore these thoughts.  I didn’t see it could do me any good to think about that night.

As time went on though & the thoughts were still frequent, I realized something had to give.  I started allowing myself to think about that awful night, & to feel the emotions that I remember feeling that night.  I leaned on God to help me but even with Him, it was still quite painful.  However, the more I did this when they happened, the less painful remembering that night became.  As an added bonus, the less frequently the ruminating thoughts about that night became.  I still remember that night pretty frequently & it still hurts to be honest, but now I think it’s on a much more normal level.  After all, it’s only been just under 4 months since my mother died.  That isn’t a long time at all, so it’s totally normal considering the length of time, our lack of relationship & the rest of the odd situation that I’d still be very upset about her death.

If you suffer with ruminating thoughts, I recommend that you do the same things I have.  Get alone with the thoughts as soon as you can.  Let them run their course & feel your feelings.  Let God help you to get through them, too.  Tell Him what you feel & allow Him to validate & comfort you.  It’s going to hurt at first, but I promise, it gets easier as you do it!  I also promise it’s well worth the pain you feel at first when those ruminating thoughts come less frequently or even disappear in time.  It’s kind of like lancing a boil.  That doesn’t even sound pleasant & must be awful to experience, but it must be done in order to release the infection so the body can heal.  You’re doing the same basic thing – you’re going through the discomfort of facing these ugly things head on so your mind can heal.

Ruminating thoughts are a miserable thing, I know.  They don’t have to cause you unnecessary suffering anymore, however!  You can make these miserable things work in your favor.  You can use them as a tool towards healing!


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

28 responses to “About Ruminating Thoughts

  1. Did you have any epiphanies or lessons from allowing yourself to have these thoughts? About the night of your mother’s death for example? Or is it more about just letting the the emotions come up so they can be released?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Often it’s more about letting emotions be released than learning, but learning can happen too. I’ve learned some about her & some of her motivations over the years. (not that it makes the abuse ok, but I’m one who wants to know motivations- it helps me sometimes) I’ve also been able to release a lot of shame since her death. I don’t know the connection exactly, it’s just been happening naturally.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I only ask because I’ve been listening to Jerry Wise videos lately and he reminds us that the negative feelings we have – guilt, shame and even anger – are not really our feelings. They were programmed into us by the narcissistic family system as a means of control. He stresses the need for calmness and the need to rely on thinking more and feeling less.

    I don’t think what you are saying is contrary to that. You write for the importance to be alone and pray, so I assume you are letting these feelings come up from a place of calmness. And I’m sure you would agree to not react based on feelings – at least not in the heat of the moment. And of course, never letting the narcissist know they triggered an emotional response – because of course, this is what they want.

    Let me know if you disagree. (Thanks again for all of your insight!)


    • I’m not sure I agree.. I think those feelings are natural, & even God given. There are definite times we should feel guilt, anger & even shame. They let us know that something is very wrong & needs to change, which of course is a very good thing. Unfortunately narcissists exploit those feelings in us & make us feel them for the wrong reasons, such as making us feel shame for having any wants, needs or feelings.

      We do need to remain calm & not act out of our feelings, but we still need to feel them. If we don;t, they’ll manifest in unhealthy ways. Feeling them in God’s presence & letting Him help you cope with them is a good thing since it enables you to heal & not react out of those feelings.

      You can say that again.. never let a narcissist know they triggered such feelings in you!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Perhaps it’s just a matter of perspective. Having emotions, but not letting them run your life. At least not letting the narcissist trigger your emotions to run your life as a means of control.

        Liked by 1 person

        • One other thought, I do remember a Julia Cameron quote where she said anger is your friend. It’s an unpleasant friend, but it reminds you that something is wrong. But to direct it in positive ways. Her idea was to use the anger to fuel creative work, rather than fighting. This sort of mirrors what you just said.

          Guilt would be the same if you intentionally did something wrong. It would lead you to make corrections to specific behavior.

          Shame – the idea that you are just bad at your core, seems like a different thing. I can see it being helpful to lead us to Christ. Once redeemed though, I’m not sure how shame would be useful. Other than to know you are being shamed – and the person doing it is not the true judge of whether or not you are bad at your core.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I like that Julia Cameron quote. That makes sense. No one likes anger (well, not a functional person anyway..), but it really can be an excellent motivator

            I totally agree with what you said about guilt & shame. It all makes perfect sense.

            Liked by 2 people

          • I agree with all the points you just made, Doug. I see this blog as a positive thing that has come out of the pain. Who knows how many people are being helped today just knowing that they aren’t alone or “abnormal” in their feelings?
            As for the guilt feelings, as with so many things, you’re right, the difference is where you stand with Christ. Without Him, guilt can be the Holy Spirit’s conviction that leads us to salvation – a blessing! When we belong to Him, though, and we have confessed and renounced every sin we’re aware of, it’s the voice of the “accuser,” trying to hinder our walk with Christ.

            Liked by 3 people

        • Agreed… emotions aren’t a bad thing, it’s what can be done with them is bad, such as being angry & getting revenge on the one who made you angry.

          Also agreed. Most likely narcissists will trigger certain negative emotions of course, but so long as they don’t run your life & give them that control.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Another question if you don’t mind.

            You said your mother had written things down about her hurts etc. A sort of journal.

            Did many of her writings have much to do with you?

            I have a theory that narcissists don’t really think about their adult children.
            They always have other resources.
            But they want to keep their children jumping in case they need more.
            This keeps us adult children always thinking about them,
            but I think don’t think about us in the same way.

            So, since you have had the rare opportunity to read through your deceased mother’s writings, I am very curious to know how and what she said about you,
            and if in fact she mentioned you much at all

            especially once you figured out what she was
            And the game that she was playing on you

            Liked by 1 person

            • I don’t mind at all. Ask anytime. 🙂

              Honestly I’m not really sure.. I haven’t read most of what my mother has written. I’d find something, see a couple sentences & put it aside. Right now I don’t have it in me to cope with whatever I may find, about me or otherwise.

              The little I have read, I saw one thing where she complained about how I barely spoke to her & when I did, I was sarcastic when I was a teen (this happened during the worst of the abuse, so yea, I wasn’t her biggest fan at that time.). Most other things though were about how miserable she was with my father.

              Apparently my father did the same sort of thing… I recently started going through some of his things & found more notes/journaling mixed in with other paperwork. What I saw of his was much the same, writing about how miserable he was with her. I did see one thing of his.. apparently my parents were talking about divorce (for the thousandth time) & he wrote “I wish M (my mother) would do something to make C happy for once.” Looked like everything else was about them, but I didn’t read more to find out. Just kinda skimmed the document a bit.

              For now I’m putting everything I find that both parents wrote aside. Maybe one day I’ll read it, maybe I’ll burn it, maybe I’ll write about it. I don’t know yet.

              Anyway I think you’re right, they do want to keep their adult children jumping & always thinking of them. We’re easy supply so gotta keep us close, after all!

              Liked by 3 people

  3. Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote

    Reblogged this on A Blog About Healing From PTSD and commented:
    Cynthia Bailey-Rug never ceases to amaze me. Her insights into narcissism, and her thoughts on living with the aftermath of narcissistic abuse, are incredible.

    This past week has been extremely difficult for me. In addition to the horror of gun violence in our country, I have experienced a tremendous amount of pain in my personal life. I’m not talking about my marriage, thankfully. But a situation happened last Monday that hurt me so deeply, I am still reeling from the aftermath. Even more hurtful, perhaps, is my shock over how much this thing has affected me. The events of last Monday triggered some of my long-ago trauma issues. Not only has this caused me an inordinate amount of emotional suffering, it has also upset me very much to realize that my PTSD apparently isn’t as healed as I had thought.

    While it’s still true that my PTSD symptoms are tremendously better than when I was at my worst, these past six days have really knocked me for a loop. A lot of my pain throughout this ordeal has been caused by me beating myself up for being in pain!

    I have been trying, without much success, to push away my ruminating thoughts and emotions concerning this sad situation. But I love what Cynthia says in her post about allowing herself to think her thoughts and feel her feelings, in a prayerful, healing way. I’m going to try that.

    I will allow comments here, but please also visit Cynthia’s terrific blog and share your thoughts with her. Thank you for stopping by and God bless! ~ Linda Lee @LadyQuixote

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Confronting any past pain is not easy but necessary because what we do not confront cannot be healed. Praying the Lord’s help for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. atimetoshare.me

    I don’t know much about PTSD, but it would seem to me quite normal to have these thoughts that hang on forever. As a reminder of how much we need God’s strength and wisdom – to show us our sin – to turn us to the only One who can take away those feelings and has already forgiven our sins. Think of it as a virus on steroids. Sometimes you have to just let it run its course to work it out. I’m always praying for you, Linda and thank you for attaching Cynthia’s post.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. You said you kept reliving the moments over and over. When I have done that, I think somewhere in the back of my mind I was hoping that if I relived it enough times it would somehow end differently, but of course it never did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That makes sense.. I can see how that could be. People naturally want to fix painful things, so that easily could happen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • After sleeping on this, I think the point of ruminations may be our inner child demanding to be recognized. Personally, I think I’m so goal-oriented that I just want to find the solution and move on. However, I think my inner child and God want me to really feel the extreme trauma I was forced to endure. Perhaps to recognize the bravery and resilience I had. And to learn how to “gird my loins” properly in the future. Even though it feels like I have been ruminating the last several months, I think it’s more that I haven’t really embraced what was done to me. Rather I’ve been trying to understand it so I can “sweep it under the rug” and move on.

        I think all the comments about how writing it down has helped. I have written things down, but have been reluctant to revisit. I will do that today and respect what I’ve lived through.


        • That makes a lot of sense. I really haven’t studied much about the inner child, but even so it makes sense. We all need validation, especially from ourselves.

          You should recognize your own bravery & resilience! You survived some pretty horrific things. That’s amazing!

          My best friend has a saying.. you’ve got to feel your feels. It’s true. And it’ll be hard to revisit those things today but it’ll be worth it since it’ll help you to heal! ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  7. The last time I went through this, it was like a train, endlessly going around the track because of some trigger, re-thinking things I had already thought out before. It didn’t stop until I wrote down everything that had happened.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s