Tag Archives: repressed memories

Purging Of Repressed Emotions

Since I have been no contact with my parents, strange but good things have been happening.  One of those things is God has helped me to get in touch with the negative emotions I had stuffed inside for years.

 

I’ve had a lot of nightmares, repressed memories & flashbacks to deal with, especially in the last few months.  While it hasn’t been fun by any stretch, it’s been a very good thing.  I’ve been able to remember things I hadn’t thought of in a long time, then deal with them.  This has enabled me to make great strides in healing.  I feel freer & even physically lighter, as odd as that may sound.  I feel cleansed of things I didn’t even realized I needed cleansing from.

 

I can’t help but thinking that this is happening as a result of going no contact.  I noticed this has happened to me after being no contact with my parents for several months & also years before after going no contact with my narcissistic mother in-law & sisters in-law.

 

When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist- be they your parent, sibling, spouse or anyone- so much of your thinking is taken up by that person.  Either you’re trying to find ways to appease her to avoid her rage, or survive the relationship with your sanity in tact.  Either way, you simply don’t have time to cope with the constant wounds inflicted on you by her abuse.  You’re functioning in survival mode.

 

Once the narcissist is out of your life, it takes some time for your mind to feel safe enough to stop functioning in survival mode.  When it does though, finally, it seems to demand that you work on all those issues you weren’t able to face due to constant trauma.

 

If you too are faced with nightmares, flashbacks &/or repressed memories after going no contact, please don’t panic, Dear Reader.  Your brain may be doing as mine has done- it stopped functioning in survival mode & wants to be healed.  I would suggest going with it.  Work on your healing from narcissistic abuse however helps you.  Pray.  See a therapist.  Whatever works for you.  After all, maybe one of the reasons for you being out of that toxic relationship is so you can heal.

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What Can Happen To You After Going No Contact

Going no contact with a narcissistic parent (or two) is an incredibly difficult thing to do.  It takes a tremendous amount of prayer, thought, discussion & energy to make that decision.  Chances are you feel peace about your decision even though it hurts things came to this.  You read about the smear campaign & flying monkeys, so you feel prepared, but the truth is, you aren’t.  Other things can happen that no one warns you about.

 

One of the other things is the incredible influx of memories, nightmares & even flashbacks that happen.

 

I functioned my entire life with my parents in survival mode.  It wasn’t until they were out of my life for almost one year (this past May 5) that survival mode finally stopped.  I finally felt safe enough to let my guard down, not worry that at anytime they may show up at my home, may call or I may see them in a public place.  It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders!  At least until the nightmares, repressed memories & flashbacks started.

 

While I’ve experienced them all for many years, the sheer amount was shocking.  It seemed like I couldn’t go a day without something happening, often a few times a day, & frankly, it was overwhelming & scary at first.  Upon praying about it, God spoke to my heart saying I no longer have my parents in my life demanding so much of my attention & focus, so now is the time to heal.  When memories came up, or nightmares or flashbacks happened, pray, & He would enable me to heal.  He truly has!!

 

Each time something happens, I pray about it.  I feel the anger or hurt, & tell God about it.  I often journal about it too, because something about seeing things in writing is so validating.  It’s a good reminder that I didn’t deserve the things that happened to me & that none of it was my fault, as I was told.

 

Doing such things has brought me a tremendous amount of healing in a short time!  Yes, it’s been difficult, but I’ve been through much more difficult things.  And, as a bonus, at least these difficulties have a purpose- to help me to heal.  Thankfully, things have slowed down quite a bit.  I can go a couple of days without a nightmare, repressed memory or flashback.

 

If this happens to you too after going no contact with your parents, Dear Reader, don’t be surprised.  In fact, I would encourage you to go with it.  This may be a time of great healing for you.  If it happens, I would recommend you start by praying.  I don’t even know why I didn’t pray as soon as things began to happen, but it was a mistake on my part.  As soon as I did pray though, my healing started to make real progress.  I’m sure yours will too!  All you have to do is trust God & work with Him however He suggests.

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The Difference Between Flashbacks & Repressed Memories

Not everyone realizes the differences between flashbacks & repressed memories returning, so I thought today I would explain them.

 

Repressed memories are memories of events so traumatic, you were unable to deal with them at the time they happened.  To cope, almost immediately, you unconsciously pushed it to the dark recesses of your mind, & forgot about it.  Then some time later (could be months, could be years later), something triggered a reminder of the event.  The trigger could be anything- a facial expression, a scent, the sight of something that resembles an item that was there when the event happened or a sound.  When the trigger forces the memory back to your conscious mind, suddenly you remember what happened.  It feels the same as remembering anything else you forgot in the sense that you are well aware it is simply a memory.

 

Flashbacks are quite different.  Flashbacks aren’t necessarily something you forgot.  You may or may not remember the event before the flashback.  The main difference between repressed memories & flashbacks is flashbacks feel like you’re reliving the event.  For me, this is what makes flashbacks so much worse than repressed memories- the feeling of reliving a traumatic event while trying to stay in reality.  Flashbacks can be triggered by something, such as the soldier who has flashbacks when he hears fireworks, but sometimes they simply happen without an obvious trigger.  Also different than repressed memories are the physical symptoms that can accompany flashbacks, such as elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, sweating or chills, & trembling.  My husband has seen me have flashbacks many times, & even so, he can’t always tell when it happens.  I tend to get very quiet & still.  Sometimes I cry, sometimes not.  Flashbacks aren’t always obvious to those witnessing someone have them.  Not everyone having a flashback is vocal or shows obvious physical signs when they happen.

 

If you’re having a flashback, it is vital for you to know how to ground yourself so you stay in reality rather than get lost in the awful memory, which obviously is different than having a repressed memory return to the forefront of your mind.  Grounding techniques basically assault your senses, which forces your mind to focus on them instead of the flashback.  Touching something with an extreme texture such as a soft fuzzy blanket, silk or even burlap can help.  Some people swear by holding ice cubes or stomping their feet hard on the ground.  Smelling something with a strong scent can help too.  Lavender is good because not only is it strong, it has anti-anxiety properties.  A strongly scented cologne, perfume or soap can help.

 

I’ve found that pets can be very helpful while having a flashback, even if they aren’t specifically trained to be service animals.  While taking my cat, Sabrina, to the vet when she was a baby, I drove us past a place I used to work when I was a teenager.  Looking at the building, I immediately had a flashback to a time when my mother screamed at & berated me in the parking lot.  (Thankfully, I was stopping at a red light when it began- I can’t imagine having to deal with a flashback while driving!)  As I sat there & tried to ground myself, Sabrina reached over & scratched my hand.  Not bad, but it was enough to jolt me out of the flashback.  She’s never scratched me before or since, but I’m grateful she did that day. Her brother, Zippy, will get in my face & head bonk me to get my attention.  Neither are trained service animals, but they instinctively know what their mommy needs.

 

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Learning About Anger

As I’ve mentioned before, like most children of narcissistic parents, I learned young never to show anger.  Instead, I stuffed it down inside & never dealt with it.

 

This year, I finally begun to stop stuffing anger & dealing with it in a healthy way.  It feels foreign, & like I’m disobeying my mother, but good at the same time.

 

I’ve realized something recently, & I think it may help others who are also finally learning how to manage anger in a healthy way.

 

I’m getting angry often over things that happened a long time ago.  Things have started just popping into my mind at random..bad memories of times when I was abused, invalidated or mistreated in some way.  Not necessarily repressed memories- things I remembered, but never really thought much about.   I finally asked God about it.  This was getting on my nerves, & I wanted an answer.  He reminded me that I  have had a lot of years of not allowing myself to feel the anger I had a right to feel.  Now that I’m getting a better grip on anger, I am finally able to process certain unpleasant events in a healthy way.  That is why these things are coming up so many years later.

 

Dear Reader, if you too are learning how to deal with anger in a healthy way for the first time, don’t be surprised if this happens to you, too!  It just may!  I doubt I’m the only person who this has happened to.  It seems like this is a logical course of events, yanno?  Especially since God wants what is best for His children, & what is best is to deal with painful things so they are no longer so painful.

 

When these events pop into my mind, I talk to God about it as soon as possible.  For whatever reason, they usually come to mind as I’m about to get into the shower, which is good- I have some private time to talk to Him uninterrupted.

 

Once alone with God, I just let it out.  Cry, tell Him how unfair it was, tell Him how much it hurt, whatever needs to get out of me.  He listens & that helps me a lot.  I also sometimes write it out in my journal at a later time.  When you feel anger, you need to purge yourself of it so it gets out of you.  It’s poison if left inside, & can cause many physical & mental health problems.  Getting it out is so much better.

 

When I’m done getting the anger out, I just sit quietly in God’s presence for a while.  It’s amazing how doing that can soothe your soul & mend your broken heart.  He doesn’t even need to say anything to you- there is just something peaceful & restorative about sitting quietly & focusing on God, His greatness & His love.

 

Once these things are done, I often find I’m a bit tired for a while & feel sort of raw emotionally.  Emotional healing is very tiring, very hard work.  If you feel that way, it’s normal.  Just try to take it as easy as you can for a little while until you feel better.  Be gentle with yourself.  You’ve been through something painful, & need to recover.

 

I hope this helps you, Dear Reader.  I know it’s no fun remembering something traumatic or painful, but it really can be helpful in your healing journey.  When things come back to your remembrance, you might as well just deal with them & get it over with rather than continue to ignore it.  Ignoring it does not benefit you in the least.  Dealing with it, especially with God’s help, however rids you of the damage it was doing to you.

 

 

 

 

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Repressed Memories & The Brain’s Ability To Cope

The brain is truly amazing.  It will do some very impressive things to protect you!

A visit with my parents in August showed me this.  During the visit, my mother threw an immense amount of verbal abuse my way.  After they left, I told some people what happened & I knew there was much more too it, but couldn’t remember.  It was very frustrating at first.  God showed me something though…

In my younger days when things like that happened, I remembered everything.  I may later repress it & it would come out years later, but usually I remembered things right after they happened for a while at least.  As I got older & more terrible things happened, I started developing more symptoms of C-PTSD.  Sometimes when these events happened, I’d forget a few little details, then remember them a few days later.  Once the C-PTSD fully developed, I’d forget more & more, then over the next few days, I’d remember those things.  Since my concussion last February & have had so many problems resulting from it, I forget a LOT, then remember it up to a week after the fact.

This has turned into a good thing.  I am able to cope less with things now than I once could, & God showed me that my brain is allowing only what I can deal with to come up.  Amazing, isn’t it?

This happens with memories that have been repressed for years as well.  Sometimes, something is too traumatic to deal with, so the mind hides it until you are able to deal with it.

If this describes you, please know that it is happening for a very good reason!  Your brain doesn’t want you to become overwhelmed or depressed.  It is allowing you to cope with only what you can cope with.  Don’t try to force yourself to remember something.  Allow it to happen in its own time.  Ask God to reveal things to you only as you are able to handle them.  It is best for your mental health!  Forcing things can set your healing back rather than helping you to move forward.  It can negatively impact your self-esteem.  It can depress you or make you extremely anxious.  It’s just not worth it!  Let events progress naturally for the sake of your mental health!

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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.  

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