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Archive for October, 2014

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I hate body memories. Sometimes they linger and push and push at me until I finally find a safe time and place to let them come through. Other times, they just come crashing through without warning, generally while I am falling asleep.

Today was pretty much without warning. I slept terribly last night, so after getting my daughter off to school and doing things around the house for a couple of hours, I decided to take a nap. I was aware of a young part that needed to feel safe being close by, so I welcomed her to just feel the cosy safeness of my bed as I was falling asleep. I probably made it most of the way asleep when, bam!, suddenly I was In full blown body memory mode.

My body was being tossed around as if the assault was happening then and there. It was like I was being violently sexually assaulted- not that I was being beaten up, but that my body was remembering what it was like to be invaded fast and hard. I whimpered and moaned liked a frightened, bewildered child that was being hurt. And I knew that I was six.

For so many years, I used this type of memory to doubt myself. I don’t know who assaulted me in the memory. The identity is a huge blank. It’s almost like I was raped by a phantom. It felt like a rape, but that was awfully young, and I don’t believe that my mom could have ignored the sort of physical evidence that would have left. Also, the memory contains more terror than physical agony, which would have been present if I had been raped with a penis.

In the past, particularly when the memories started to surface, I would have used all of those doubts to skewer myself and convince myself that somehow I was “lying” about what happened. It simply didn’t add up and make sense immediately, so it couldn’t be.

I have since learned that things aren’t so cut and dried. I believe that the more intolerable the situation was for me, the more my mind dissociated the identity of the abuser and turned him into Him. Now, if I push, I probably can pick up a scent, smell, taste, sound, or just “sense” that indicates who the abuser was, if there isn’t an identity to start with, but I’m also probably best off not pushing for more details. Instead, I’m willing to go by location, if it’s in my grandfather’s bedroom, then it must be him. If it’s in a bedroom of mine that I don’t believe that he ever saw, then it was my father.

Rape doesn’t mean that a penis was used; rape simply means that my body was violated by someone with something that did not belong in it. Something else could have been used that was much better sized to my body of the time, but still used in a way that for a 6 year old would have felt violent. I could easily come up with a list of things that I know were used at one time or another, but you all probably don’t need any help understanding what I mean.

The upshot to all of this is that this body memory is all too likely to be accurate to my experience. I suspect that it might even be more likely to have a higher percentage of accuracy than a detailed memory, just because there are fewer details that could have gotten confused or distorted. It is the essence of the experience.

In this particular memory, if I really was 6, it could have been either my grandfather or father, because they both had access to me, although at different times and my father had much more access over all. I had no visual information at all in the memory, so I have no sense of the room. The violence is more like my grandfather, particularly at that young of an age, but my dad had far more access to me and I don’t remember much about what happened abuse wise that year. So, it really could have been either and at the moment, I have no interest in asking inside.

I’m also not saying that my insides cannot give me more information. It’s just that I know that at the moment I am feeling frayed and I have learned that if I keep on pushing, then I stand a good chance of ending up connected to a part that responds to feeling overwhelmed by wanting to be dead. I know from experience that I am likely to get more information about this memory over the next few days, so I am willing to give it some time to come out on its own. I will concentrate on soothing this part and dealing with the remnants of yesterday’s overwhelming situation and the part associated with it, which makes this one look trouble free in comparison.

I do hate body memories, though. It’s bad enough being forced to live through it the first time, but again and again as I try to heal from it now? The worst part is that I know that this is only an echo of my experience as a child. How do children survive these things? I know that the answer for me was dissociation, but what about those who didn’t have that escape? Or does every child who is raped dissociate, to some extent or another?

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I am not a big fan of change, especially the sort of change that I don’t feel in control of. I’m realizing that even “good” change makes me feel very uncomfortable when I’m not sure just what is going on and how long lasting it is going to be.

I continue to not feel pressure today and it is just so weird. I feel like I should be jumping up and down that this weekend has been so drastically much better, but I find myself being suspicious of such improvement. Why such a sudden improvement? When is the other shoe going to drop?

I know, I should just relax and let it be, but it is so strange. Not feeling like I’m in real danger of being attacked at any moment? How long has it been since I wasn’t feeling that? Not hearing 6 “voices” in my head at the same time, all trying to get their viewpoint across. Not feeling like I have to fight to be in this time stream.

I’m used to functioning in a particular way and while it is difficult, I’ve also figured out how to handle it. Right now, I feel at a bit of a loss. I normally spend upwards of 50% of my mental and emotional energy dealing with abuse related issues and the strains of living with a dissociative system. This weekend, it was more like 10% and that includes these worries! What do I do with the rest of my time and energy? Right now I am doing art, spending time with my family, and cooking again. Maybe I don’t need to do anything elaborate at the moment. Maybe I can give myself some time to make sure that I have a real shift here, before I feel obligated to go out and get a job or take on something else big. Maybe I need to figure out how to find a new balance that works for me, if I’m not going to be forced to work flat out, most of the time.

If I am shifting into a pattern of less pressure, then I am going to need to learn how to determine what the correct pace of work is for me. I don’t know what it is like to have a choice of how hard I work on something or even what I work on at a given time. I’m used to feeling like it is being jammed down my throat. I could try to avoid a piece of work in the past, but I always felt awful until I finally let out whatever it was that needed to come out. Now, I think that I am going to have to really look and listen inside for what my insides need to have done.

Maybe that is part of the reason the pressure has vanished? I started to really listen to my insides, even when to the point of accepting things that I have spent decades not believing. It certainly can’t hurt.

I suspect that a large part of what is going on is that I have worked my way through all of the major traumas and put them on the table. So up until now, I would get one trauma out and then my system would turn around and start pushing to get the next one out. I never had a chance to fully process anything. I have spent from the beginning of the year having trauma after trauma come out, both for my father and for my grandfather.

With my grandfather, these were the traumas that were too terrible for me to take on when I did therapy before. They came out in a way that was fairly chaotic, but probably roughly followed how traumatic they were for me. I’m not even sure of my age in some, probably because that type of abuse happened at different ages. Some of these memories may have sunk back down to where I no longer remember them again. I’m hoping that my mind will only pick those that really need to be processed and let some others that are similar enough to sink into obscurity. It isn’t necessary to process every abuse memory, just the ones that the mind needs to. By the end of this process, I was dealing with memories that left me feeling as though I had died and someone propped me back up, so I could keep on functioning. Somewhere between a month and six weeks ago, I managed to write to Mama Bear about some very confusing memories that seem to be about a type of abuse that took me to and past the edge of what my system could handle. When I told her, I also told her that it was extremely destabilizing to my system and that I while I needed for her to know, I couldn’t tolerate talking about it. As a result, the only additional reference to that abuse was a few days later when I wrote to her said that it felt to me like I had told her all of the things that I had been hiding about what happened with my grandfather. I no longer felt as though I was hiding secrets about him and it was such a relief.

With my father, the process was different. It has roughly followed an age progression, starting at age 3. I spent more time dealing with different age ranges than others. I don’t know if that’s because there was little abuse then, as compared to other times, or if I seem to most strongly remember the periods when something new was added on that hadn’t been done before. Either way, I know that I have not dealt with strong parts from certain age ranges and while I remain open to dealing with anything that might come up, I have zero interest in going looking for what my dad was doing during those times.

Anyways, I worked my way through 3, 6, and then starting from 8 or 9 constantly through until I was a teen, other than the year when I was 10, which is when my dad was gone for most of the year and I spent 2 1/2 months being terribly abused by my grandfather. I have fought accepting that I was abused by my dad for a long time, but I fought even considering that he abused me as a teen until the last few weeks. I had memories of sobbing in the bathroom of the house that I lived in as a teen, I knew that I had a teen watcher part that just sat there, watching for danger even though she knew that she couldn’t stop it, and I knew that I spent most of a year crying on my mother every day (according to her, I only very vaguely remember it), but I was convinced that these things were just related to the abuse that happened earlier.

But last week, something shifted and I finally simply said, “Yes, my father raped me in that bedroom and that bathroom. Yes, I remember being put into those positions. Yes, I accept that this happened.” Once I spent a few days letting that settle in my mind, the pressure vanished. I think that I had finally made it through all of the most important abuse memories. Maybe there will be others that will come up later, but I have a strong sense of, “Nothing gets worse than this. This is the edge for me and now that I have found it, I can rest assured that I can deal with everything that happened to me.”

I am dreading what it will be like to deal with some of these memories, although I hope that now that the parts that held the traumas are no longer so buried, they will have been able to take in a bit that the world of today is far different from the world of my childhood. I am more confident now than I was 6 months ago that I can tell Mama Bear anything and she will believe that there is at least a core of truth to the memory, even if I find it very confusing and am not sure what to make of it, but the most obvious interpretation just seems too bizarre to be real. I know that she respects and thinks highly of me and the work that I am doing, so venturing into the weird won’t put her opinion of me in jeopardy. I’m also more willing to lean on her when I need to and better believe her when she says that she wants for me to contact her when I start to be in a type of distress that I cannot handle on my own.

I wish that the work on these memories was done, but at least I know that as I go back, I am better equipped to deal with all of those facets that I could only barely tolerate naming before. Now I need to really deal with them, so the parts involved can start to heal.

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The pressure is gone

This is such a strange experience for me… I’m haven’t experienced any internal pressure to figure anything out or deal with any memories today. Things have been blessedly quiet.

I always experience pressure of some sort, sometimes even around the clock. Mama Bear keeps on having to remind me to take some sort of a break and when she does so, I want to say, “If you can figure out how to turn down the firehose, I would be happy to take a break! I’m not being very successful at figuring it out!!!” So going for an entire day without a single body memory, urge to figure out some facet of my past, or being strongly drawn into a child state is a remarkable thing.

The oddest part about it is that I haven’t even made a big effort to do this. I have started to think about a topic that currently concerns me (but I can’t actually do anything about at the moment) a few times and then deliberately turned my mind away from it, but other than that, I’m not making any other special effort.

So what is different? The only things that I can think of are that this week I finally stopped fighting myself about whether my dad abused me and instead started to focus on accepting and comforting the parts that hold the abuse, plus I came to the conclusion that I have to speak to my mother, even though I am not yet sure when or what I will say. These are two things that I have been fighting with myself about for over two decades.

I don’t know how long this will continue for. I do know that I still have a lot of work to do, but at least I no longer feel as though I am tearing myself to pieces and that seems to have given me the room to finally be able to take those breaks that Mama Beat has been advocating for so long.

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I password protected the previous post so that people will not accidentally read it and be triggered. It contains an intense description of my emotional experience of being raped. The usual password will work on it.

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