Tag Archives: memory
Your body remembers everything that you’ve experienced, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, & stores such memories on a cellular level. Your brain may or may not remember things, but your body does. This is why certain smells, sounds, tastes, feelings or sights bring specific feelings to mind.
Body memories are especially common with victims of sexual assault. Even if the assault happened when the victim was too young to recall details, smelling the same cologne the attacker wore, or hearing music that was playing in the background during the assault can trigger incredible anxiety in the victim, even a panic attack. The victim’s mind may not recall the assault, but the body remembers every detail.
Body memories aren’t only linked to sexual assault, however. They also happen with victims of other types of abuse, including narcissistic abuse.
Often, narcissistic abuse is a series of constant traumatic events. I think of it much like a machine gun of abuse- one trauma immediately follows another then another & yet another in rapid succession. You don’t have time to heal from one trauma when another five are thrown your way. It may be too much to cope with, so your mind forgets some of the abuse as you try to survive the constant trauma. However, your body remembers it all. That is why certain things trigger anxiety, fear, anger, etc. in you for no obvious reason. It is your body’s way of trying to protect you from things like that happening again.
A couple of years ago, I went to my old high school with a friend. They were having a craft show & we thought it’d be fun to check it out since we both love crafts & both attended that school. From the moment we set foot on the campus, I became anxious & even panicky. I had trouble holding back the tears until we left. It turned into a miserable experience for me. I had no idea exactly why I was in such a state then. Since, I have remembered a few instances of abuse at the hands of my mother on the property of that school though, which apparently my body remembered even though my mind didn’t at the time.
When things like this happens, you need to remember you aren’t crazy! Your body is remembering something pretty terrible. There is pain that you need to acknowledge. Some people suggest talking out loud to yourself. Remind your body that what happened won’t happen again, & that you survived. You’re OK now.
I think prayer is a better idea, however. Asking God to help you to cope. Or, maybe a combination of prayer & talking to your body. Whatever works for you is what matters. Body memories can be a very unpleasant thing to deal with, but at least they can help offer some insight into areas where you need healing.
James 1:5 “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it.” (TLB)
As many of you know, I have C-PTSD. It’s badly damaged how I think & my short term memory. Then in 2015, I got carbon monoxide poisoning which caused me to pass out & hit my head, further damaging my brain. Thanks to these problems, I’m really not as smart as I once was, & it can be simply maddening.
The above Scripture has helped me a great deal with my physical limitations. I lean on God so much more than I used to for giving me wisdom, & He has not disappointed me. I’m not bragging about my intelligence. I am bragging how generous God has been!
So many times in my life, I have been stuck in a painful situation I didn’t want to be in, & God has shown me creative ways to get out of the situation or to cope with it so it isn’t so painful to me. One that comes to mind immediately happened a few years ago. My narcissistic mother told me I was going to take her to & from the doctor who is almost 30 miles away. I had things going on that day & didn’t want to do it, but she refused to reschedule her appointment. This had happened many times & I was tired of it. It also bothered me we’d be taking her car & not mine- I hate being trapped without my own vehicle. I asked God to help me get through the day & I needed a creative way to either get out of this in the future, or for Him to put it on my mother’s heart to be more open to my schedule, not only hers. As we were leaving the doctor’s office, God gave me an idea- drive home like we were on a NASCAR track. There wasn’t much traffic, so I did. I had a lot of fun speeding down the highway, & my mother was especially angry because it was her car I drove that way. That was the last day my mother saw this particular doctor. LOL He wasn’t doing her any good anyway- she just got narcissistic supply from him & his staff because they listened to her. They didn’t help her pain at all.
So many other times in the past few years since developing my physical problems, I have needed wisdom & asked God for it. He has answered those prayers every time. From simple things, like creating a routine for maintaining my home that keeps my place very clean but isn’t hard for me, to more challenging things like how to deal with financial problems, God has helped me every time. He has even helped me to understand my narcissistic parents, which has helped me so much! Understanding them has shown me that I’m not the problem, & they have some serious issues that aren’t my fault. Talk about a blessing! After hearing how I was always the problem, this knowledge has truly comforted me more than I can say.
What areas do you need wisdom in, Dear Reader? Whatever your needs, I encourage you to ask God for wisdom. He will grant you wisdom & creativity far above & beyond anything you can imagine. Whether your situation is like mine where you need more wisdom to handle daily life or it is a one time frustrating situation, be prepared to be amazed when you ask God to give you wisdom.
I realized something this morning. When I know I’m going to have some sort of interaction with at least one of my parents, the same thing happens almost every time. I have either a nightmare about my childhood or a repressed memory come back to the forefront of my mind.
For the longest time, I assumed this was simply because I was thinking & worrying about what was coming. I believe this is wrong though. I believe God allows these things to happen as a way of enabling me to deal with my parents.
As I mentioned before, I want to go no contact with my parents, but God isn’t allowing me to tell them this. Instead, He wants them to be the ones to pull away. He has told me that by me getting healthier & tolerating less of their abuse, this will happen naturally. So far, it really has. Keeping that in mind..
My father plans to visit me on Friday (I’m writing this post on Thursday to publish Friday), & last night I had a horrible nightmare that reminded me of exactly how miserable I was growing up. I was utterly depressed, even suicidal, yet had to pretend to be happy to appease my mother. She would get mad at me if I looked depressed, so I had to hide it rather than have her yell at me & shame me. Remembering this has made me angry. Angry that my mother would shame me for my feelings, angry that my father never even noticed anything was wrong with me, angry that there was absolutely no concern that I was suicidal.
This anger I feel will help to strengthen me around my father during his visit tomorrow. As hard as I try, sometimes I still tend to fall into bad, old habits around my parents. But, when I am angry with them, the chances of that are much slimmer. I have a better focus on just how dysfunctional & abusive they really are, which helps me not to fall into their traps or for their manipulations. Once the visit is done, I will deal with my anger about the situation & heal a bit more.
Remembering traumatic things isn’t easy, I know. But, God isn’t into waste. He doesn’t allow things like this to happen for no reason. There is always a purpose. I have learned to use such things not only to help me heal by coping with the trauma I remember, but also to help me when I must deal with my parents. It’s turned out to be a good thing, albeit not an easy one.
Does this happen to you too, Dear Reader? Does something happen to make you angry before you deal with the narcissist in your life? If so, you’re not alone! It actually can be a good thing, although it doesn’t feel that way at the time. It certainly has been for me, & if it can be for me, it can be for you as well. Use that anger to help strengthen you against her manipulations. Use it as a reminder of exactly how dysfunctional the narcissist is.
I saw an interesting special on TV recently about Andrea Yates, the mother of five who drowned her children in the bathtub. I always wonder what makes people do what they do, especially when what they do is so unbelievable, such as in the case of Ms. Yates, so this show intrigued me.
Apparently she developed post partum psychosis that became worse after the birth of each child. She had hallucinations & heard voices that told her that her children needed to die now so they could go to heaven or else they would grow into evil adults & go to hell. Thankfully, this is quite rare! But one of the most amazing parts of the story to me was that when Ms. Yates & her then husband sought treatment, she received very little treatment. One doctor told her she just needed to “think happy thoughts.”
Think happy thoughts?! Gee, I bet she never thought of that! *facepalm*
Guessing this doctor never heard of “intrusive thoughts.”
Intrusive thoughts come with some mental illness. They are thoughts that come to mind that you can’t distract yourself from. Having C-PTSD, I have experienced them myself. Sometimes, they’ve been in the form of a memory of abuse, other times they are anxiety laden thoughts (what if this doesn’t go right? Then what do I do? What if that doesn’t work either?!) or they are depression related (things aren’t going to get any better, I’m a horrible person, etc). Since getting a concussion last February, mine are much harder to deal with than they used to be.
When intrusive thoughts happen, I’ve found the best way to deal with them is to talk to God. Ask for His help. 1 Corinthians 2:16 states that as children of God, we have the mind of Christ. Although it doesn’t feel like it during painful & frustrating intrusive thoughts, it is still true. What did Jesus do doing His most difficult & painful times? He talked with His Father, & received answers & peace in return. Following Jesus’ example truly helps.
Try to slow down, & deliberately focus on your thoughts. Question them, tell them they are unwelcome, ask God to tell you the truth about what the thoughts are saying- do you have a real reason to be so anxious? Why is this awful memory back in my mind- is it something I need to deal with?
Understand intrusive thoughts. Everyone has them, but to varying degrees. If you’re fortunate, you don’t have them often, & can distract yourself from them. If not, they may be a sign of a mental health issue that needs addressing. It may be a good idea to discuss them with your doctor or a therapist if you find yourself having them often & unable to distract yourself. Intrusive thoughts don’t mean you are crazy or broken beyond repair! Often they are a symptom of anxiety, depression or having experienced trauma.
Lately, I’ve been having a hard time writing. Even these brief blog entries are an issue most days. It kinda stinks, because I love writing so much. Having C-PTSD contributes to my difficulties with focus sometimes, but it isn’t always why I have trouble focusing.
I’ve been feeling very burned out lately, & I realized why. Focusing on one’s healing & mental & emotional health is a very good thing. It enables you to work through issues, to forgive, to heal. However, it really is possible to focus too much on such things. The mind needs breaks from hard work, just as the body does, & focusing on healing is certainly hard work! The mind also needs a break from negative things as well. (Please know that I’m not saying be positive about the truly negative things in life, as that isn’t healthy either.) If you too have C-PTSD I believe these breaks become even more important to your mental health.
When you grew up with a narcissistic mother, it can be hard to be a balanced adult. Early on, once you first realize that your mother is abusive, you’re angry. Very angry. All this time you thought what she did to you was your fault, & you finally learned she lied- it wasn’t you, it was her. That is a tough pill to swallow! Then you learn more & more about narcissism, & so many things finally make sense, things about you & about your mother. It’s very easy to become consumed & focus constantly on your mother’s abuse, on NPD, on the problems you have as an adult that stem from that abuse & more. However, this is not healthy to do at all! Like I said, the mind needs breaks sometimes, & it needs balance.
How do you achieve balance? You make a conscience effort to do these things. I know it can be hard, especially with the obsessive thoughts that often happen with C-PTSD, but it can be done! Force yourself to focus on something fun. Watch a movie. Play with your kids, furry or human. Go for a walk in the woods. Visit a local park. Go for a drive. Buy a coloring book & crayons. There are many things you can do to bring a little joy into your life & those things needn’t be expensive or require a lot of planning. Be creative, & I’m sure you’ll come up with some fun things to do.
Spend time in God’s presence. Spending time in nature, admiring the beautiful creations He has made is not only good for drawing you closer to the Father, but it’s also very restorative to the soul. Many people are affected by the weather such as in cases of those with Seasonal Affective Disorder. If that describes you, I would suggest holding off on the nature time until the weather has a more positive effect on your mood. Fall is my favorite time to do this, so if you catch me wandering around during the summertime instead when the heat & bright sunlight depress me, something is very wrong with me! lol
Another thing I have found that helps me is to collect some things that you enjoyed as a child. I’m a child of the 70’s-80’s, & I think we had some pretty cool toys! I have Spirograph, Magic 8 Ball & Lite Brite apps on my tablet. I have an atari with quite a few games. I have a few stuffed animals, my old Merlin handheld game, Rubix cube, Snake & Bowlatronic. I just saw a hot pink Tonka jeep that I had (& loved!) as a child on ebay, & am considering ordering it. I also ordered a set of the Crystalite animals- I collected them in first grade. I’ve also purchased a few board games over the years that my husband & I both remember from our childhoods & we enjoy playing. Although my childhood was less than stellar, some of my fun old toys do make me smile to this day. Having them helps me to remember some positive memories for a change, & it feels good.
Also a nostalgic thing I enjoy is collecting old pictures. There are a couple of facebook groups I belong to- one is for the area where I grew up & the other is for the area where my family is from in Virginia. Both are history groups, & share many old pictures of both areas. I save the more interesting pictures of places I enjoyed growing up. It’s so much fun looking back over the pictures of how those towns were when I was a kid. It does make me a bit sad how much they’ve changed, but even so, it’s fun remembering how things used to be.
Music is another wonderful way to break away & feel good. I still love the music I grew up with, & listen to it often. Some songs take me back to a happy place. Journey always reminds me of going to dinner with my wonderful paternal grandparents at a tiny local Italian place when I was a kid. My grandmom gave me change for the jukebox- something my mother always refused to do. “Who’s Cryin’ Now” was one of the Journey songs played, so yes, their music takes me back to a fun evening. Listening to good music that transports you back to a happy time can be very good for your mood & very relaxing.
Pamper yourself. Also hard to do when you grew up with a narcissistic mother who undoubtedly told you how selfish you were for showing yourself any kindness, but remember- narcissists project their flaws onto other people so they can then get angry about those flaws. Your mother was wrong- you aren’t selfish! Doing nice, pampering gestures for yourself aren’t selfish either- they are healthy, & they show you that you care about yourself. Nothing wrong with that!
I think distractions like these are also very helpful because they empower you. If you think about what you’ve gone through constantly, it’s as if your mother still has power over you. She’s still controlling you, by being in your thoughts so much. If you purposely kick her out of your mind sometimes, you are taking back control of your life, & your thoughts.
Also, distracting yourself sometimes is good for your anxiety & depression levels. The more you focus on the abuse you endured, the more anxious & depressed it can make you. Focus on healing- get angry, cry, do what you have to do- but take at least the same amount of time to relax & have some fun! It’s good for you!
Just when I get comfortable thinking I’m finally familiar with C-PTSD, it seems like something else rears its ugly head. It can be so frustrating!
Last night, I went to start knitting a hat. I cast on my stitches (the foundation), then went to join this long trail of stitches into a circle. I suddenly realized I completely forgot how to do it. I stared at my knitting needles & yarn for quite some time, but the next step wouldn’t come to me. My husband asked me what’s wrong & I told him I forgot how to start knitting in the round. He was surprised, since he knows I have such an addiction to knitting & have since before we met. He then asked if I was that nervous about Monday, & I realized that must be why I forgot this ridiculously simple task. Monday I have a doctor’s appointment that I am dreading- not because anything is wrong, it’s a simple check up, but because most of the staff can be so hateful. It’s very triggering for me. Unfortunately I’m stuck with them for now, so I must endure the nastiness from these people. Anyway I hadn’t realized just how anxious i was about this appointment until that moment last night. That anxiety is filling up my brain too much- so much so, it temporarily pushed out knowing how to do a simple knitting technique.
I also had a difficult conversation with my mother yesterday afternoon, which added to my anxiety levels being higher.
If this describes you, too, know you aren’t alone. Yes, it can be so very frustrating to forget things, but it is a part of C-PTSD. You aren’t crazy. You have a disorder. Be understanding of yourself & gentle with yourself when these things happen.
As for me, I looked up on youtube how to continue knitting on my hat. I’ll continue working on it this afternoon. 🙂 “Yarn therapy” is very helpful.