Tag Archives: body memory

Body Memories- Yes, They Are Real!

Today, my lower back began to hurt after a long time of no pain.

 

I hadn’t pay attention to the date.  This time of year in 1990 was turbulent for me.  I was 19 & had moved out of my parents house immediately following my first nervous breakdown that May.  I had been engaged to my now ex husband, but broke up with him shortly after.  I dated two other men over the next few months, one of which I moved in with.  We were very ill suited for each other, & on our third month anniversary, November 23, I told him I was moving out.  He spent most of that night screaming at me.  (Sadly, I was so used to my mother screaming at me, I fell asleep during his ranting- he wasn’t nearly as volatile as she was).  I moved back in with my parents the next day.  That arrangement lasted until the 28th (yes, 4 days) before I had to leave my parents’ house again.  That was the evening my mother threw me into a wall & hurt my back during an argument.

 

Over the years, I’ve tried not to think much about that time in my life.  The man I lived with has since committed suicide, & after 10 years of back pain, God healed me.  It all seemed over & done with.  Apparently not, though since my body is acting up.

 

This is what a body memory is like.

 

Your mind may not remember a traumatic incident, but your body remembers everything.

 

I think body memories can be a good thing, although they certainly don’t feel good at the time.  They make you question what is happening, which can reveal a repressed memory.  Once a repressed memory is revealed, you must deal with it or continue to repress it.  The best thing I have found to do is deal with it.  Yes, it’s hard.  Yes, it’s painful.  However, I believe memories come back to the conscious mind at a time when you are most able to deal with them.  I think God allows things to be hidden when you simply cannot deal with them, then brings them back to your remembrance when you can.

 

If you experience sudden pain, anxiety or depression with no known cause, you too may be experiencing a body memory.  Often, body memories are physical but they can be emotional too.  Today  before my back began to hurt, I realized I’ve been extremely emotional, mostly anxious.  If such things happen to you, you aren’t crazy.  You are simply experiencing a body memory!

 

I would urge you to ask God what is happening, then listen for His answer.  That’s what I finally did, this afternoon when my back began to hurt.  I am glad He showed me what was going on!  Now I know I haven’t physically injured my back & I’m not crazy for being so emotional!

 

Once He shows you what is happening, then it is time to work with Him on your healing.  Ask God to show you what you need to do.  He truly will!

 

Also, you need to get your feelings out.  If you can, tell God how you feel.  Sometimes, talking out loud can be too difficult when the subject matter is especially painful.  During those times, you can pray silently, write in your journal or write a letter to the person who abused you.  I urge you never to send that letter- chances are, it’d only cause a great deal of trouble- but writing it then throwing it out, burning it or even keeping it hidden where it can’t be found can be surprisingly helpful.

 

Rest assured, Dear Reader, if you experience body memories like I do, you really aren’t crazy!  What you are is someone who has experienced trauma, & that is nothing for you to be ashamed of.

 

 

 

9 Comments

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

Coping With Flashbacks, Body Memories & Panic Attacks

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

A couple of days ago, I had a really rough afternoon.  I had 2 flashbacks.  Well, kinda 3 actually since the first 2 were one right after the other.  Not fun at all.  It made me glad wordpress lets you schedule blog posts so I could take a couple of days to just relax & heal!

I thought about it last night & thought it might be a good idea to post some ways to cope with flashbacks, body memories & panic attacks since coping with them all involves pretty much the same things.

First, I’ll explain each one for clarity’s sake.

Flashbacks are when a traumatic memory comes to the forefront of your mind, & you feel as if you are reliving it.  The memory threatens to overtake you- the fear, anger, the sorrow overwhelm you & it can be nearly impossible to tell reality from the memory.

Body memories are quite similar to flashbacks, except instead of you feeling the emotions of the traumatic memory, you feel the physical sensations.  You may not even remember the traumatic event, only how it made your body feel.  If you were in a cold place when it happened, for example, you may suddenly feel cold even though the temperature is 75*.

Panic attacks are anxiety related, & happen when anxiety becomes too much for your body to handle.  Suddenly your heart races, your blood pressure rises, you become increasingly agitated, & you may feel like you’re having a heart attack.  (I was sure I was having a heart attack when I had my first panic attack in 1996.)  The attack may last a few minutes, then gradually dissipates, & you feel drained for the next day or so.

While flashbacks, body memories, & panic attacks are all different, I’ve found ways to cope with them successfully are quite similar.

All three require something to keep your focus on the here & now, where you are safe.  To do this, you need things that involve your senses.  Strong scents & extreme textures seem to work best for most people.  I like the scent of lavender (it’s also used in aromatherapy to calm anxiety) & Sweet Honesty perfume.  When I was quite young, my paternal grandmom gave me a bottle of that perfume, & I’ve loved it since.  It brings back a memory of her, plus it’s a fairly strong scent, so it helps keep me grounded.  I have 2 small vials (the type perfume samples come in) with each scent in them & keep them handy at all times.  Regarding textures, I like something either extremely soft or very rough.  Focusing on how those textures feel helps to keep me focused on the “here & now” rather than the traumatic memory or anxiety.  Snuggle a stuffed animal, touch some rough carpet, hold an ice cube in your hand or snuggle up in a very soft sweater or blanket.

You also can focus on what is around you.  Focus on whatever details are around you.  If you’re at the park, for example, focus on the feel of the breeze blowing on your face, or the shapes & colors of the leaves on trees.  If you’re sitting on a chair, really feel the texture of it & focus on it.   Whatever you can do to keep your mind not focused 100% on the flashback, body memory or panic attack  helps to take some of its power away.

Remind yourself that you are safe.  The trauma isn’t happening to you again- it’s only a nasty memory that can’t hurt you.  If you’re near a mirror, look at yourself in the mirror & reassure yourself that you are safe.

Don’t close your eyes.  This can make it harder to distinguish reality from memory during a flashback.

Breathe slowly & deeply.  In & out through your nose.  Feel your chest & stomach take in the air, then slowly release it.  Be aware of when your heartbeat slows as you calm down.

Create a small container of items that can help you during these situations.  Those small vials I mentioned that are used for perfume samples?  Get a couple of them & fill them with whatever scents help you to feel safe or bring back a happy memory.  Include something that feels good when you touch it as well, such as a small river rock or polished gemstone.  Keep this small bag of items with you at all times so when flashbacks, body memories or panic attacks happen, you can be prepared.

As frustrating & painful as flashbacks, body memories & panic attacks can be, there are some ways to cope with them.  They can be managed!  Above are some ideas that can help you, & I hope will inspire you to come up with some more ideas of your own.

1 Comment

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

Repressed Memories.. January 14, 2014

Good morning, Dear Readers!

The other day, I had a bizarre experience.  i was gathering some wood from the pile outside to bring inside for the fireplace.  Suddenly a breeze came up & moved the big plastic tarp- it looked for a second as if the tarp would cover me, then the breeze stopped, laying the tarp down.  During that fleeting moment the tarp was elevated, a blind terror enveloped me- I was too scared even to scream.  I came inside my house, & prayed about this.  It occurred to me that I get anxious when plastic is near my face, such as the shower curtain- I can’t tolerate it even touching me- & have been like this ever since I can remember.

This was all very unsettling to me.  I couldn’t understand what was wrong.  Then, God reminded me of repressed memories.  Repressed memories are created by trauma that is too much for someone to tolerate at the time it happens, & the mind pushes it into the dark recesses of the mind.  Many times, they resurface at a much later date, when you are safe & able to cope with the pain.  They can be triggered by a look, a scent, a phrase spoken, the feel of a certain texture or about anything.  

What happened with me, I believe, was a type of repressed memory- while I still don’t know why I feel the way I do, obviously something has happened to me in my very early life to trigger such a drastic response, as well as creating the very odd anxiety I have always had about plastic near my face.  I think I have a basic idea of what happened to me to create this repressed memory, but I’m unsure.  

I’ve had many repressed memories come back to the forefront of my mind over the years- although admittedly none quite like this- & have learned a thing or two about them.  I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you today.

First, if you have a repressed memory come back to the forefront of your mind, don’t panic.  You aren’t crazy, you aren’t making this up or looking for attention.  Something very traumatic happened to you, & your mind wasn’t able to cope with it at the time.  You have become able to handle it now.  That is a good thing- it shows you are getting stronger!

Second, be gentle & understanding with yourself.  If something was so traumatic your mind hid it from you for a long time, then the event will be hard to handle.  Be patient with yourself- realize that sometimes you’ll be angry & be sarcastic with your children or cry when your husband asks what’s for dinner.  It’s frustrating to be that way, but it does happen when coping with trauma!  Apologize when necessary, but don’t beat yourself up about it.

Third, remember, what happened to you was not your fault!  Keep the blame where it belongs- on your abuser!

Fourth, don’t push yourself to remember!  Allow the details to return on their own.  I know many people believe in using hypnosis or other things that can bring repressed memories back, but I am not one of them.  If the memory isn’t coming up on its own, it’s because you are unable to handle it just yet.  Let it return in its own time, otherwise you can do more damage to your mind.

Lastly, pray!!  God will help you to get through this.  He will show you how to cope, & to help you forgive your abuser so you don’t go through life angry or bitter.  Besides, you need to get the negative emotions out of you anyway- who better to help you do this than your Heavenly Father?  Sometimes there are times you will feel unable to talk about it, & that is ok too.  Keep a diary, or write letters to your abuser (but never send them!), scream or beat up a pillow.  God sees these things too, & understands your pain.  

Leave a comment

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