Posts Tagged ‘emotional memories’


Cry Me a River Eileen Wimmiam

Cry Me a River
Eileen Wimmiam

Thank you.  I take a deep breath and feel the relief of once more having more of the fuller me engaged.  I think again towards Mama Bear, Thank you.


The last few days have been pretty miserable for me.  Even once I managed to get out of the most intense phase of wishing that my grandfather had killed me, I was still largely stuck in a child state that thought that I was in immediate danger.  Reaching out to those I generally get the most support from felt dangerous.  The thought of feeling loved frightened me.  Inside I was convinced that I would always be under my grandfather’s control.


I could just barely recognize that these thoughts were not rational and not reflective of my here and now reality, but try as I might, I simply could not break free of them.  I was able to go through the motions of doing what I needed to do with my family, but I wasn’t really here, in 2014, with the two people I love most in the world.


For whatever reason, my insides were convinced that I should cancel my next appointment with Mama Bear and preferably end therapy all together.  I could recognize that I was isolating myself in a self destructive way, but it was like I was watching myself acting out and I couldn’t do anything to stop myself.


This morning, Mama Bear e-mailed me to ask how I was doing and I told her a bit.  We exchanged a few short e-mails and in her last one, she ended with, “Remember that talking with me for a few minutes is one of your options.”  We have talked about how I can call her when I need to and she has encouraged me to call more often, but inside I just don’t feel comfortable with doing so.  I may desperately want to.  I may know that what would help me more than anything would be to hear her voice and reassure my insides that I am not alone, but at the same time it feels like if I ever rely on her being there, that will guarantee that she won’t be.


However, her invitation started me thinking and after a few hours, I realized that I simply was making no progress on present orienting myself.  On the other hand, if I could find the courage to reach out to her and talk to her, there was a chance that I might be able to break out of the trap that I was in. 


The few minutes turned into over a half of an hour.  At first, I was so confused that I kept on getting caught and having trouble talking.  At some point, she asked me something, and another part must have been triggered out because she suddenly couldn’t understand what I was saying.  We went through 3 or 4 minutes of her asking me to repeat myself over and over.  I tried talking louder, more clearly, directly into the phone, but whatever was coming out of my mouth just wasn’t intelligible to her.  I kept on ending up frozen in fear and then, finally, it penetrated that it just might be safe for me to talk to her- nothing bad was happening other than my being triggered.  I finally was able to start to connect and with that connection, I could start to notice that nothing terrible was threatening me at that moment.  Thank goodness, I was able to start to shift how I was perceiving the world around me.


We talked about how at that point, nothing that I did felt soothing, but I could still go through the motions of soothing actions and at some level they would start to help at some point.  It might take quite some time before I actually started to feel safe, but keeping on focusing on the here and now would help me eventually realize that I was not being tortured today, but that was a memory that was decades old.


After we talked, Mama Bear and I connected a few more times today.  She texted about needing to shift an appointment at the end of the month and after we settled that, I let her know that I was continuing to feel progressively a bit better.  Her response was heart warming for me, “Oh, glad you have a little relief!”  The parts of me that had become so terribly frighten of being connected started to relax and remember that Mama Bear and I have an established relationship that is based on genuine caring.


This evening, I was thinking a bit over what happened, and I could feel those young parts wanting to reach out to her and reassure myself that she really was there.  My first reaction was to feel silly, because I had already had contact today.  My second reaction was to decide to give those parts of me whatever they want, if it might help me work past this disruption.  The sooner I can at least re-establish my relationship with Mama Bear as feeling solid and safe, the better for me.


I wrote to her, “I’m just reaching out for a, “yes, I am here.”  The younger parts of me that have been so upset over the last few days are considering that it just might be safe to want for people to be there.  So I am reaching my hand out for a virtual hand squeeze.”


Her response: “Always, a virtual hand to hold, C.  And, Wednesday, a real one.”  


What a huge sense of relief!  I haven’t had everything  that came up over the last several days be magically resolved, but at least I feel as though I have a safe base to work from again.  I was able to use that safe base to then share a memory by e-mail that I needed to share.  I think that this memory holds the keys to some dynamics that make it difficult for me to feel free from my grandfather.  And I am pretty sure that it was underlying a lot of what I suffered through this weekend.  


Confronting these profoundly traumatizing memories and the lingering emotional memories that they evoke almost always seems to stress and threaten to break apart my connections with those I need the most.  I am just grateful that Mama Bear understands the dynamics so she remains patient and that somewhere in there I have a part that keeps on moving back towards connection, even when the rest of me is fighting it.  That connection/ support/ love is going to be what gets me through dealing with the most horrific trauma.

Thank you, Mama Bear for being there and caring so deeply about me.

Read Full Post »

I won’t do anything to harm myself. I feel too much responsibility for how taking my life would affect those I love, particularly my daughter. Generally I am grateful for those ties, but at other times I wish that my ending all of this struggle wouldn’t impact anyone else.

Yes, there are things about my life that are very good, even wonderful, but so often I find myself wondering, “Is anything worth suffering through what happened to me? How long will it take for me to escape the memories of it now? How long will it take for me to work past feeling trapped by what happened?”

I struggle over the question of whether I would have been better off if I had never been born. There are things that I love about life, but there has been so much that has been inexpressibly painful.

Sometimes I wish that my grandfather had just killed me like I thought that he wanted to. Maybe there would have been some sort of afterlife that was a relief, maybe it would have just been oblivion, but it would have to have been better than what was happening to me.

I don’t understand why I feel this desire for it to all be over so intensely right now. In so many ways, things have been so much better lately, but it’s like I am drowning in a sense that he will always be able to hurt me in anyway that he wants. That all I was good for was for my body to be used by my father and grandfather and I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life.

I know that I felt more hope and self power several days ago, so I’m just going to go on faith that this will pass.

Read Full Post »

Torrent of Fear Leah Day

Torrent of Fear
Leah Day

I am massively confused, so please bear with me while I babble.

I don’t know what’s quite so wrong with me right now, but I don’t seem to be able to find my hope. I so rarely lose the sense that I am certain that things will turn out OK in the end, even if I know that it will be painful and may take a long time to get there. But for the last few days, that sense of hope is just gone.

I feel as though everything is wrong in the world and that even the best things are shadowed somehow.

I don’t know how much of this is a remembered sense of despair from when I was a child and how much might be depression right now. It doesn’t feel like a normal depression, but I don’t usually find myself in the grip of an emotional memory for days on end. In fact, I think that it would be a first for me. But that is more what this feels like.

After all, “I” know that this is a phase, and very painful phase, but I have been through painful phases before. I will eventually work through it. I don’t rationally agree with this thought, even if I can’t emotionally shake it off right now.

And then when you consider that I have had no desire to end my life for months, the fact that I had the wish tonight that there was some way to kill off all of me that remembers and feels anything about my family and just leave enough to be a mother for my daughter is a sign that something is amiss inside. Given how completely out of the blue it was, I suspect that it is a remembered desire to end the pain.

The last couple of weeks have been very, very difficult for me. I am trying my hardest to learn how to manage some very intense feelings of rage and grief, but I’m not really succeeding yet. I feel as though I have been sucked into this emotional vortex in regards to my dad, what happened with him, all of the unknowns about what happened, and my mother. My ability to disengage and give myself a break has been as its lowest level for the last several months. I’ve done a bit better today, but that isn’t saying much. There are a lot of different parts to what I am dealing with, but the most confusing of which are those that are memory related. I’m not going looking for memories, but it’s like I’m just surrounded by them and things are being triggered all too often.

Lately, I have been dealing with so many memories of sensations, emotions, and vague impressions that are I believe are from something real, but are so disjointed that I don’t know what actually happened. It is extremely difficult for me to deal with knowing that something really, really bad happened and having some vague idea of what it probably was, but not actually knowing. I strongly suspect that sometimes my mind may try to make sense out of the confusing information that I have and in the process fill in some of the blanks, without my being aware of it. This is hard for me to admit, because it is all too close to “making things up,” but I understand now that it is a need to make meaning and give some form to the terrifying pieces of information that I do have. And it isn’t like I’m doing it intentionally- it’s something my mind does in the background. For all I know, those blanks are filled in by pretty much what happened. Or they could be filled in by something that the information reminds my adult mind of, but might not have happened. I believe that this is why I keep on being warned that I can know in general what happened, but I can’t be sure of the details. I so seem to be developing a sense as to when this might be happening, and I try to take a step back and give myself an extra reminder to not rely on that memory to be literally accurate.

Right now, my most present conflict centers around a teen part. I know that I have had a sense/seeming memory of this part sitting on the floor of the bathroom of our house at the time, crying. I have seen this many times over the last 9 months or so. My intuition is that little to nothing physical happened with my father while we lived in this house, but what did happen is that I kept on getting triggered and so I lived with the sense of despair that nothing would ever be OK again. I do remember that for several months when I was 13, I would sob on my mother almost every day. The purported reason was because of social adjustments in school and while I was having trouble there I also seem to remember either at the time or afterwards thinking that my reaction was stronger than the problems warranted.

There is something that has been very disturbing to me in a vague way over the last while. I don’t have any physical memories that I identify of abuse during this time, but there is something else there. Then, tonight, while I was sitting in the bathroom, I got those memory type things that are almost too clear in the way that I identify as possibly being “fill in the blank” “memories.” Sitting here, writing, it has occurred to me that when I was a teen, I might have been triggered to being afraid and imagining certain things that might happen with my dad. He used to take me out on father/daughter “dates” to movies mostly and I can easily imagine that in my traumatized, dissociated brain, that would have been very threatening to me. It would have provoked fears of what he might do, which I probably would have dissociated, in an attempt to keep everything tucked away. This “feels” right- that I was terrified inside that he was going to rape me and I struggled to manage that fear the best that I could. It makes sense of why I have memories of crying in fear and emotional pain and I have images (with some emotional content) of being raped, but there are no physical or emotionally intense memories even though those types of memories are predominant in other ages. My heart goes out to the teen me; what a burden to try to manage without even really allowing myself to understand what I was trying to manage. I don’t know if I had some inkling of memory of abuse from when I was younger, or if I was as clueless as I seem to remember being. I don’t know which would have been worse: vaguely remembering being abused by my father or having these overwhelming fearful/despondent/painful feelings that I couldn’t make sense of.

Yesterday, I said something to Mama Bear about desperately wanting for someone to hold me while I sobbed on them and I immediately realized that I was experiencing a child/teen desire for my mother to hold and comfort me while I sobbed on her. I think that I was connected to memories of when I was 13 without being aware of it and that is why I have been experiencing this sense that everything is wrong and nothing will be right again. Even if I was mostly dealing with memories on the inside, I can only imagine how much despair would be evoked in a 13 year old who was going through sex education, starting to be aware of boys, and who had been sexual with her father and grandfather.

I just realized something… I was mostly an A student. I have only ever failed one course and it was that year. I failed PE the quarter that they did sex education. I refused to do the project for it and I wouldn’t go to school the day of the test. It’s like I tried to tell my mom that something was wrong. I don’t remember having any understanding of why I couldn’t deal with the class. I assume that I must have attended the class, in body at least, but I have no memory of it. I just remember all of the conflict and shame around failing that class, but being unable to take advantage of the opportunity to make up the test or turn in the project late.

I don’t know what to tell that 13 year old inside of me, because she is really hurting. The reassurances that work with the younger parts don’t seem right for her. And for the moment, nothing comes to me when I “listen”.

Well, I’m not sure that there was much here for anyone else, but I figured some things out that were quite useful. So thank you for “listening”!

Read Full Post »

Olga Norris- Ponder

Olga Norris- Ponder

Over the past several weeks, I have been working very intensively around my parents, particularly in regards to my father. That focus was called for because I have had this pattern of getting myself into a crisis in regards to my dad and as a responsible therapist, Mama Bear pointed out that I was harming myself. In “What am I going to do with my dad?”, I wrote about agreeing with Mama Bear that I need to decide how I am going to deal with my dad in the now, based on the information that I have now.

It has been an intense and incredibly painful struggle that has left me wiped out and feeling cut off from the world. I spent a lot of time sitting in my rocking chair, just crying so intensely. It was clear to me that while some of the pain and grief was present based, most of it was past based. That is why I would fear that the intensity of the pain would kill me and I would feel completely alone, utterly helpless, and unable to do anything to console myself. I was dealing with memories of pain and grief from when I was a child. I wish that I could say that I was done with the process, but I know that I’m not. There is a lot of hurt and loss to go.

In the midst of all of this, I lost my voice. I believe that to some extent that was because I was dealing with the emotional memories of very young states and so the vocabulary simply wasn’t there to be able to describe what I was experiencing. Really, I feel as though for the past couple of weeks I have gone around half way in one of these child states. To some extent, I was dealing with controls put into place as a child that were designed to keep me out of trouble. (Defense mechanisms and silence)

But the end of yesterday’s post marked a turning point for me. I realized that while I have felt trapped in a tiny space with my parents I can choose to emerge into the “open” and deal with it there. There is so much more to me and my life than my parents in the here and now. Even if the worst should happen and there should be a complete break with my mother, it would be terribly painful, but my life would go on and it would be a very good life.

Coming to this realization seems to have given me my voice back and it has helped me to focus on the fact that my understanding of my relationship with my father is only important to me in regards to my mother. I have no desire to see him or have contact. I do not fully understand why there is such a deep lack of trust and a need to shield myself from him, but that’s the way that things are. One painful truth that I continue to have trouble fully accepting is that my father hurt me. I’m not talking about in the horrific cruel way that my grandfather did. Maybe there was real cruelty there, but it’s all very complicated and figuring out that part isn’t actually important right now. What’s important is accepting that being my father’s daughter hurt me. It is a source of pain in the now and was a source of great pain as a child, for whatever reason. My father was not the father that my mother needs to believe that he was. As hard as it may be, I have to be solid in my acceptance of the fact that I hold a truth that is in opposition to my mother’s beliefs, so I can hold on to my truth, despite the desire that I most likely will have to make things easy on my mother whenever I engage with her again.

I suspect that there will be some form of engagement in the not too distant future. You see, I’ve realized that I have tentatively tried to get an appropriate response from my mom, but in all of the time that I have been working on dealing with the abuse, I haven’t ever flat out said from her, “This is what I need from you.” I have hinted. I have obliquely asked. I have tentatively started to introduce the subject of dealing with the abuse and given up when she repeatedly changed the topic. But I haven’t ever clearly said, “You have asked how you can help, because you know that I’ve been struggling, this is what I need from you.” I have been too afraid of how much it would hurt to have her refuse and lose the hope that one day things might be better with her. But this can’t continue indefinitely. She is getting older and I don’t want for time to run out. If I don’t give something clear and direct a good try with her, I will always wonder what would have happened if I had tried. I don’t want to live with that question over my head. So I have to find the courage to break several basic family rules at the same time: don’t talk about something that upsets my mom; don’t ask for something that she might not be willing to give to me; don’t talk clearly and directly about any problems of any type; keep quiet and pretend that nothing is wrong.

It’s a tall order and it’s intimidating to consider. But helps when I take a step back and remind myself that those were the rules of my childhood. I couldn’t do anything but follow them then, but now that I am an adult, they only apply to me if I allow them to apply to me. That is something that my fuller, outer self can appreciate, but I also know that I will be dealing with the memories of child states and in those states, I will fully believe that I have to follow the old rules. Hopefully, over the next weeks and months, I can bring the two close enough together, so that I can hold both beliefs at the same time. It is in that state of dual awareness that deep change can take place. The more that I can help all of me understand that I don’t need to live by the old family rules, the easier it will be to manage some sort of contact with my mother.

Read Full Post »

Caryl Bryer Fallert Migration #2

Caryl Bryer Fallert
Migration #2

These last several days have been challenging for me, but not in a way that I am used to. I’m doing much better than I have been for many months. I am at least mostly present more of the time, able to enjoy more activities with my family, starting to think about things that I might want to do for myself, and just plain not in pain a good portion of the time. Dare I say it? I’ve even felt happy some of the time!

So what’s challenging about that? Unfortunately, I’m not only doing reasonably well, I am also experiencing periods that are just as painful/frightening/flashbacky as they have been in the past, and sometimes it seems that there is no transition time from doing well to experiencing terror. I have spent the last week and a half or so feeling as though I am being buffeted back and forth between different states, out of control. It has played havoc with my memory, because I am bouncing between different states and not able to sustain a sense of continuity between them. Suddenly I will feel like a frightened child and then I will get distracted and 10 minutes later I will feel like a calm adult and not have a clue as to both why I got frightened and what happened to calm me down again.

In the same e-mail to Mama Bear, I will rationally tell her that I don’t understand what is going on inside but there is so much energy that it feels like something is going to explode and it is making me feel off balance, and then I will plaintively tell her “I am just so scared,” not asking her to, but wishing that she could just make it all better. I simply couldn’t make any sense of what was going on or why it was making me feel like things were so terribly wrong, when as far as I could tell there wasn’t anything that was so wrong.

And then last night I finally realized that it was the contrast between doing well and having real difficulties that was distressing me so much. I was used to being in terrible pain, dissociating all of the time, and being only partially functional. I hate the way that it feels, but at least it’s something that I’ve gotten used to. I know what feeling OK feels like and I could deal with that just fine. However, going back and forth between them several times a day was a different story all together. It was driving me crazy- literally making me feel crazy. For the last couple of days, it felt as though it had gotten to the point where I was so disoriented that it was like the mental equivalent of being in the mirror room at a carnival.

But something shifted during my session today. I’m not quite sure what or where, because it was one of those quiet sessions where when I look back, I see that a surprising amount of ground ended up being covered.

I brought up how sometimes when I am having a difficult time and I badly need help feeling safe, it seems that I reach for the part of me that generally can help me feel safe and I just can’t find that part. Mama Bear reminded me that sometimes all I can do is know that I know that I am safe, even if I can’t feel it at all. She has said this before, but it hasn’t ever made sense to me. When I stared at her doubtfully, she said, “You don’t understand what I am saying, do you? I am sure that you can know that you know that you are safe, because you talked about reaching for the part who can help you feel safe.” I sat there for a bit, struggling with the concept, feeling as though it was bending my mind into odd shapes, but then it started to make sense. I’m still not clear on what good it does to know it without feeling it, but I will trust Mama Bear that keeping a hold on that knowledge is better than just trying to white knuckle it through being scared.

We talked about my difficulties with going back and forth between doing OK and not and I could see that Mama Bear really got what I was saying. It was a relief to hear someone say, “Oh, it makes perfect sense that this is what has been going on for you!”

I told her about the things that I have picked up from the mindfulness reading that are making a difference for me: 1) being aware of when I am tensing up, because it actually creates a feedback loop between the body and the brain, increasing the sense of being under threat and 2) starting to become aware of when I am beginning to go down a well worn path that won’t do me any good and realizing that sometimes I can make a choice to not go down that path, but rather to feel my body sink into the now.

At some point while we were talking, I started to feel sad and like crying. Mama Bear encouraged me to cry, if that was what felt right and I started to, but then I felt overwhelmed by fear and the sadness was drowned out. I remember sitting there with the fear, not allowing myself to retreat into it and thinking to myself how difficult it was to tolerate it. And then somehow, I was through it. We talked about how I can hold myself in the knowledge that I am in a safe time and place and allow myself to feel whatever the emotion is that is there for me to feel. I do not need to be afraid of the emotions. She emphasized that this is why the mindfulness is so important, because as I practice it more, I will be better able to do it. “I can already see that you are starting to integrate some of the mindfulness practices, because of how you were just able to handle the fear and that you were able to bring yourself back so quickly.” My thought was, “Great! Now if only I understood what I just did!” But I guess that I must understand it in some part of my brain, even if it isn’t the part that I’m most aware of and I guess that will have to be good enough.

About an hour after I got home from my session, I became aware of a lot of emotional pain. Without really thinking it out, I made my way over to my glider rocker, curled up in it, and drew a blanket around myself. As I started to cry, I was aware of a split, there was the me who was experiencing tremendous amounts of pain and then there was the me who was cradling the rest of me in the knowledge that I am safe right now. Eventually I wasn’t just crying, but I was making these sounds that I don’t really know how to name- wailing or howling maybe. But they expressed pure, unrestrained pain from the very center of me. They are the sort of sounds that I am afraid to make in Mama Bear’s office because I know that other people in the building would hear them and find them distressing. But today I was able to help myself find a sense of safety even in the midst of that pain. My hope is that I have both gained a bit more confidence in my ability to remain supportively present for myself in the face of difficult emotions and that I have helped the part of me who holds that pain experience how despite the pain of then, there is safety in the now.

I couldn’t help but notice the unjustness of the fact that I spent so much time struggling with a lot of fear earlier in the day, so I could then go home and be able to tolerate experiencing unbelievably intense pain. All because of something that I had no control over that happened decades ago. It does no good to dwell on it, so I won’t, but every once in a while, it really strikes me how completely unjust this whole thing is.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »