The Body & Mind Hold Onto Trauma

At the time of this post, it’s October.  October 3, 2017, I got the call that my father was on a ventilator without much time left to live.  He died twenty days later.

During that time, as I’ve shared before, I was subjected to cruel attacks, multiple times a day, from my family because I didn’t break no contact to say goodbye to my father.  My home & cell phones rang constantly, & often when they rang, they would ring for five to ten minutes straight.  I got tons of text messages & social media messages. I dodged all calls & messages as best I could, but there was no escaping reading the first part of some messages due to how texts, emails & social media messages are designed. The hatred & venom coming from even that little bit I read was simply astounding!  And, one of the social media messages was from the account of my aunt who had been dead for three years at that point!  I’d blocked her daughter some time before & she used her mother’s account to try to bully me.  Ain’t family grand?

As a result of that horrid time, every October, I struggle.  It’s like a month long emotional flashback.  I can count on depression, anxiety & nightmares plaguing me even more than usual on top of the natural sadness connected to my father’s death.  The fact this happens during my favorite time of year makes this even more frustrating. I just want to enjoy the beautiful leaves changing & cooler temperatures in October!

The reason I’m sharing this is in the hopes of helping anyone reading this who experiences something similar. 

Sometimes we go through things that are so traumatizing, that even well after the trauma is done, we can’t help but suffer effects.  Even if we try not to think about it, it’s still lodged in the back of the mind, not going anywhere.  We might get anxious or depressed around the anniversary of the event without even realizing the date.  Or, we experience the same emotions we did at the time of the trauma.  This is known as an emotional flashback.

The body remembers too, & as a result, we may feel ill, have some unusual aches or other odd symptoms without medical cause suddenly appear for a brief time.  If you were physically injured at the time of the trauma, you also may feel the pain of that injury again.  This is what is known as a somatic flashback.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic wand to wave & make these symptoms stop.  If only it was that easy!  Instead, if you want to survive this with some semblance of sanity, you are going to have to do some work.  Not all of it will be bad, but some will be pretty unpleasant.

You are going to need to face your feelings about what happened & feel those emotions.  You can’t ignore feelings or they will manifest in some pretty unhealthy ways such as in the form of addictions, self harm or self destructive tendencies.  My best friend says, “you have to feel your feels” & it’s true.  To do this, you need to find healthy outlets that help you.  For me, that means prayer & writing in a journal.  For you, it could be speaking to a counselor, pastor or trusted friend.  Whatever works is what matters. 

“Feeling your feels” is hard work, & you will need to take breaks when you start feeling that it’s just too much.  What helps you to relax?  Creative outlets are wonderful for relaxing & healing your soul.  If you don’t have one, it might be time to find one.  If you are out of ideas, notice what your friends are doing.  One of their hobbies might appeal to you.  Or, consider what you enjoyed doing as a child & start doing that again.  Get some finger paints, doodle, or buy a coloring book & crayons. 

Take care of your physical needs as well.  Make sure to allow extra time for you to rest since emotional work requires a lot of energy.  If you like exercising, go for walks, swim, ride a horse… whatever you enjoy that helps you to feel good physically.

Most of all, don’t forget to lean on God.  He will show you what you need to do, & help you to get through this trying time.  All you have to do is ask for His help.

16 Comments

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

16 responses to “The Body & Mind Hold Onto Trauma

  1. Cynthia, I am sorry you have to go through this angst every October. When I read the story, my question is why was it so important to the venomous relatives that you go? The fact you are a grown woman and can make your own decisions seems to get lost. Did the thought of she might have a good reason for not attending enter their heads? I understand a call requesting you come, but venomous, multiple calls? Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much.

      Well you don’t understand because you think like a normal, functional person & they do NOT. How can functional truly understand completely dysfunctional?

      I wrote some about it in my blog around the time things happened & honestly don’t feel like looking for the posts. I’ll give you the abridged version:

      I prayed a lot at that time & God showed me some things. It was so important that I go because of a couple reasons. 1- They thought my dad was a great guy & me not going proved otherwise. That means they failed to protect me & know it’s wrong (on some level anyway). If I went, it would’ve proven he was a good guy & all was right in the world. 2- They made some very bad decisions in their lives, which opened the door to evil forces to influence them greatly. Not saying they’re demon possessed, but at least influenced. 3- Me standing up for the truth made them feel badly. The worst of these tormenters had been abused as well but never admitted/faced it. They saw me as not an adult but the scared of everything, blindly obedient child I once was. That “child” being stronger than them made them feel awful for not being as strong as me. So again, if I went, it would’ve proven all was right in the world. 4- Bonus to me going- they also would’ve had control over me. Clearly these people love to be in control, which also explains the multiple, venomous calls, texts, messages, etc. They even tried bullying the one cousin I’m close to into bullying me to go. He didn’t & refused to tell me what to do. (He’s the other black sheep in this family.. probably why we’re close.)

      Sorry that’s rather long but that truly is as brief as I can make this. Clearly it’s a very complex & dysfunctional thing going on with these people & I’m more than happy to keep my distance!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cynthia, what a well thought out response. I am glad you have a kindred spirit in the other black sheep. I think the first reason is the one that comes to mind. People usually trace everything back to how it makes them look. Your not coming raises uncomfortable questions that create that “dissonance.” Plus, if you went, you would have had to answer questions that they may not want to hear the answer to. Keith

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        • Thank you. Glad it made sense. Was trying to keep it short & clear.. not easy on a complicated subject.

          Exactly. I think they wanted me to do as I was told & admit I was just a horrible person who was mean to my parents for no valid reason. Anything else would’ve created dissonance.

          One kind of funny note.. the worst of the abusers texted me at first demanding I come to the hospital & said something like, “I know you’re afraid of your mom so I’ll keep her away from you.” Really?! I was 46 years old, knew a lot about NPD & her personality. Mom was 78 & pretty frail. Why would I be afraid of her?! Such a stupid assumption! (If she asked if I was afraid & that’s why I wasn’t coming, I wouldn’t have thought it was so stupid.)

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Good insight. Learning to manage triggers is hard work, but important work. After experiencing the death of many loved ones over the years, I have learned that people grieve differently and have their reasons for how they respond. People need to respect that. Unfortunately, some people think everyone should do exactly what they do and end up layering more hurt on others grief. I am sorry you experienced that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!

      I totally agree! It’s very hard & important both!

      People really do think others should do whatever they think, with no respect to others being different than them. It’s ridiculous & cruel. The day my father died, our neighbor (who knew nothing of the situation at first) dropped by for a visit. He saw I was crying & asked if I was ok. I told him what was happening. To summarize & clean up his language a bit, he was furious.. said people need to mind their own business, guard my heart so their hate doesn’t get inside me & do whatever I needed to do. He also threw in a “f**k them” because he was that disgusted. He was 79 years old with his own dysfunctional family & in-law family, so he had an excellent perspective on these situations. I wish more people shared his feelings!

      Thank you again. I’m sorry I went through it too. I’m grateful at least I learned a lot from it. It was a painful lesson but important!

      Liked by 1 person

      • People who understand are true gems who validate your feelings. I have had several of those people come alongside me. They were a blessing in my life and they helped stop bitterness from taking root. Only through God’s Grace am I able to forgive and move on from some of the very hurtful things people have said to me in times of trauma and grief. May God continue to strengthen and heal you from the hurt.

        Liked by 1 person

        • They really are!

          I’m so glad to hear that! You truly are blessed. ❤

          Yanno something odd.. I hope this makes sense. I feel like I have forgiven the ones who did this to me but at the same time, the actions still anger me. The unfairness, the cruelty, the heartlessness & hatefulness. That lights a fire in me to keep making people aware of things like that, & not to fall into the manipulation trap of narcissists, especially at times like this where they're very vulnerable.

          Thank you so much. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember reading about this, back when it was happening in your life. You were put through so much by the flying monkeys in your family. It makes sense that you would relive this every October.

    My deceased father’s birthday was two days ago. He would have been 87 this year. I am still writing my memoir every day, very slowly, a little at a time, which is all I can manage most days. All this week, I am writing about one of the worst times that my father screwed up my life. I did not choose to write about this now, because of the date. It just happened that I am at that point in my story. Writing about this, at the time of his birthday, is a double whammy. But through prayer and writing, I am able to “feel all of the feels,” as your friend says. Although it hurts to remember and write about it, it is also enlightening and healing. By the grace of God, I survived!

    And you are a survivor, too. ❤

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    • Hard to believe that was 4 years ago in a way isn’t it? Doesn’t seem so long ago. Yet at the same time, it seems like a lifetime ago.

      I know writing about this is so hard but you will do it! You will & be stronger once it’s done. Even if you opt never to publish it, it’ll help you. Seeing your story in writing makes it seem even more real & helps you to see how strong you are for having survived the things that were supposed to destroy you.

      Are you doing ok? It can be so hard, those birthdays & other special dates. Kind of funny/strange how dates work out sometimes isn’t it? When I published my book about toxic in-laws, I did so on my one sister in-law’s birthday. I didn’t plan it.. when it happened & I realized the date though I had to laugh. Tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor!

      Thank you my friend ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. 2017 seems like a long time ago to me, too. So much has happened in our lives since then. Hard to believe it’s only 4 years, like you said.

    You are right about the benefits of writing our story. I do hope to publish my memoir when it is finally finished. But even if I don’t, it has been a healing and enlightening experience.

    I am okay, thanks for asking, although I still don’t seem to have all my energy back after being so sick in July. I got a call from my stepdaughter a few minutes ago. She said she just found out that her deployment to help with the Afghan evacuees has been extended until December 30. She was supposed to come home at the end of October after 30 days, but now she is going to be there another two months. Today is her 20th day of working with the evacuees, without a single day off. She is working over 15 hours per day. I don’t know how she does it. Her dad and I miss her so very much. But she says she is honored to do this work.

    My husband recently was told by his cardiologist that he needs a heart catheterization done soon. It is scheduled for October 27. I am trying not to worry. Doing a lot of praying! This trying not to worry about my husband and stepdaughter is probably not helping my tiredness.

    Life. You never know what’s going to happen next. Thank God we have our Lord Jesus, our heavenly Shepherd, to see us through every step of the way!

    I laughed when I read in your comment about the date that your book about toxic in-laws was published. God has a wonderful sense of humor! 😀

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    • Time is a strange thing isn’t it? Amazing what can happen in such a short time like 4 years.

      I hope you do publish your memoir too! But even if you don’t, the experience is so valuable. It brings so much healing & clarity!

      Seems like it takes people forever to get their energy back. I’m sorry you’re struggling with that.

      Your stepdaughter sounds like an amazing woman! No wonder they want to keep her so much longer! It must be hard though, being away from her for so long.

      Geez.. I’m sorry your husband needs the procedure! If it’s any consolation, my mother had that done & it wasn’t too bad. She didn’t complain so that tells me it must’ve been quite easy since she liked milking attention for health things.

      No kidding! I have no idea how people survive without faith! I sure couldn’t!

      LOL He really does have a wonderful sense of humor. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Linda, best wishes to you, your husband and stepdaughter. Cardiologists can work wonders, but it is up to us to make improvements to our lifestyle. Speaking from experience, walking is our friend as is portion control on what we eat and light regular exercise. Those have been the cornerstones of my maintaining the weight I lost after my issues that caught the cardiologist’s attention. Keith

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  6. Robin Guerra

    So if you do not even remember the date you can have this somatic depression? I have been sad this week. Just realized it is the year anniversary of the passing of my stepdaughter. Logically this is hard for me to accept.. but if true i am glad to know! I have a terrible time of disassociation.. i am battling this coping mechanism.

    Thank you as always for your sharing.

    Robin

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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    • Absolutely you can!

      I’m so sorry for your loss!

      It’s weird, isn’t it? Logically it doesn’t really make sense, but it’s true.

      Dissociation is rough..I struggle with it too. My heart goes out to you. ❤

      Like

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