The Body And Trauma

I was in my room reading, when I heard my dad’s voice coming from downstairs. He sounded angry. I froze. Fear washing over me. Heart pounding in my chest. Senses on high alert.

Waiting…

Then…

Nothing.

Still, I waited. A flashback. Then another one. Panic hitting me in full force. The worse thing about these flashbacks is being in the past all over again. Reliving it. It feels so real. And then there’s the confusion when coming out of it. It feels like I’m not sure exactly where I am sometimes. What’s the present, what’s the past? What’s real, what’s not? Sometimes that confusion lasts a few seconds, other times minutes.

I don’t know how long this all lasted. It seems like an alternative version of time exists in these moments.

But some time later, I heard them all laughing downstairs, and I realized that his ‘loud’ voice had just been part of some story or joke he had been telling.

No, he wasn’t mad.

My mind was still all over the place, but a little more rational.

However, my body was slow in getting the message that there was no threat.

Almost 2 hours later, and I was still feeling the effects on my body. I felt tense and on high alert… As if waiting for something to happen. Or like something IS happening.

“Why did I have such an intense reaction to something so silly?” I asked myself.

I could never admit to myself that some things I had experienced were traumatic. I hated the word ‘trauma’. Which, as my therapist commented one day… There are a lot of words I don’t like or don’t want to say out loud. I have no idea why that is. But now I say, screw it. By continuing to run from it and avoid accepting that I have indeed experienced trauma in my life, I’ll continue to deny myself proper healing.

I have felt the effects of it my entire life. So giving it a name isn’t going to make it any more real. It’s already real.

I tried to do a body awareness mindfulness meditation a little while after this, thinking it will help me relax both my mind and my body. But that backfired. It brought flashbacks of a different kind. So I won’t be doing that one again. I don’t want to ‘experience’ my body.

I spent most of last week crying, and this week I had no tears left. But after this little ‘incident’ tonight, it came back. Along with physical pain (which I think is just a stress response). I felt anxious, depressed, terrified and like I just wanted to hide in my closet.

I used to do that a lot. Hide away. When I was a child, I would curl up under my bed. Under tables. Anywhere. When I couldn’t use my spaces, I resorted to wrapping my blanket or duvet tightly around my body and cover my head as well. Most nights I slept like that. My favourite place though was in a closet. I felt the safest there. It was a dark and small space, which seemed comforting. Which is strange, considering I’ve always been afraid of the dark. But the confined space made the darkness feel like a friend.

I even used to look for ‘safe spaces’ when I was in high school. I would lie under my bed, either reading with a flashlight, or daydreaming. I would do that for hours at a time. Once I had finished school, there were moments where I still wanted those spaces, but being an adult, I felt stupid about that desire. For the past 2 months now, I’ve had this same desire to just empty out my closet and sit there in the dark when I’m feeling anxious, fearful or overwhelmed. But there’s no space for that. And it’s just not appropriate anymore, I guess. Hell, it’s embarrassing admitting this here. But it is what it is.

I constantly feel trapped. Caged in. A lot of times I feel like I’m being cornered. That as long as I’m alive, I’m not safe. So I guess this desire to hide away is my way of trying to cope with these feelings.

The mind is powerful. It tries to protect us, even though it’s not always very good at it. Writing this post, I don’t feel real. The world around me doesn’t feel real. I’m floating somewhere between this world and a vast ‘nothingness’. I’m aware that it’s a defense mechanism.

Maybe tomorrow everything will feel real again. But I don’t know if I want it to feel real.

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47 thoughts on “The Body And Trauma

  1. I’m going to admit something I used to do as a child and still do today. I role play (by myself) I pretend to be all these different characters either from my own stories or characters from TV shows and movies. I don’t really like to admit it as it’s quite childish and strange to others as it just looks like I’m talking to nothing so I only do it in my room. So don’t feel bad for wanting to hide away as i still role play, it helps me to escape myself. My mum always said “use whatever gets you through the day”

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  2. If you want to separate out what is ‘you’ from the trauma you’ve experienced, you are going to need to identify you own traumatic experiences.

    I know how unfair that all sounds. Trust me. It’s a necessary part of your journey towards healing, friend.

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      1. I’m glad you said something, because I have a tendency to talk in riddles without realizing it, lol!

        It all boils down to who you believe you are. If you believe you are only your physical self, the experience of trauma is overwhelming! I believe we all have a “higher” self. It’s the essence of who we are. I think of it this way– we are souls with bodies. They are inseparable during our life here, but upon our deaths, they go their separate ways. The higher self, our soul, the true essence of who we are– the ‘you’ and the ‘me’– trauma cannot touch it. It can cause pain, it can confuse our personal boundaries, it can lead to anxiety, depression and despair… but all of those things belong to the body. Our higher self can be aware of them, yet is separate from them. If that makes sense? When we accept our negative memories and experiences and I observe them from our higher self, they lose their power over us. An analogy for you– your arm is broken. It hurts like hell… but, are you only your broken arm and the pain you experience because of it?

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        1. Thanks for clarifying and explaining it so beautifully. It makes total sense now. I love what you wrote, and I can see the truth in it. I’ll be processing this one for a while… Let it really sink in. Thank you. 🙂

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  3. Hello darlin, I’m so sorry you’re having such a bad time lately with your PTSD 😢 Don’t feel like you’re “over-reacting” because you are not. All kinds of things can trigger a flashback. Your mind is struggling so hard at the moment to process these traumatic memories, but they are things far too traumatic for rational analysis which is why they keep replaying and your body gets flooded with stress hormones. I might write an educational post on trauma and the brain and body so look out for that. It’ll be later on today as I’m out this morning. It is hard at the beginning to label your trauma as trauma (which it is) because of the denial and minimisation cognitive bias that victims have. It’s a big thing to process and cone to terms with how what happened was trauma. It took me ages and it can’t be rushed. One day it will click in your mind that it was indeed trauma. You have disclosed bits and pieces to me (off the blogs) and I can tell you “that was trauma” but it’ll be a while till you are able to see it. Once you realise it is trauma, then you may get VERY angry, so maybe you are subconsciously avoiding the anger, by minimising it as non traumatic. The sooner you leave home the better lovely. It’s a toxic environment. I know practicality makes it hard though. But it’s something to aim for. I love you to the moon and back huni Xx 💖 Survivor friends stick together always ❤❤

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    1. Hi sunshine! Thank you for your thoughts on this… It makes so much sense, and helped me gain some valuable insight. You have a way of doing that quite often, you know. 😉 To be honest, I feel a little disconnected from all of this at the moment. Sort of like a dark cloud in the background. I’m subtlety aware it’s there but it’s not close enough to really see and make sense of. I don’t actually know how I’m feeling. About any of this, and today in general.

      I’m looking forward to that post! I think I need to learn more about this stuff. I love you too my beautiful friend. ❤ xxx ❤

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  4. Thinking of you Rayne. Have you ever thought of really trying to enter the painful sensations with some help from a safe person near by. I just believe some part of our body/being/soul wants us to feel this through but that requires you have the anchor of someone or something safe to be able to shift your attention to, Peter Levine calls this pendulation. You could also try making running movements with your feet or reframe the situation putting yourself in power, kicking out against the abuse, saying a strong No, stamping your feet. You may have to do this over and over again but its about knowing that now you are no longer stuck there, that you can erect a boundary and that even though then you were overpowered, now you are not. Big hug to you sweetie.

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    1. Thank you for the thought and the hug. 🙂 I haven’t thought of that actually. But I don’t have anyone ‘safe’ close by who can help me with that. I don’t think I’m ready for that anyway. Just thinking about it makes me incredibly anxious. Thank you so much for the suggestions. I appreciate it. 🙂

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  5. I have always run from the word “trauma”, from feeling like it’s not “big enough”. I too loved small spaces when I was hiding in them, yet I am afraid of being trapped in them as an adult. I think it’s very brave of you to embrace the idea of trauma. Everything is going to be okay, hugs if you want them xx

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  6. I can really relate to your need to hide, I often feel like that too. I think it’s perfectly fine to make yourself a den in your room to hide in if you need.
    I also find it hard to accept that my past was “traumatic”, it was normal to me, it was all I knew.

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    1. I’m sorry that you feel like you need to hide too. *hugs* Didn’t you ever find by watching other children or teenagers that you questioned why ‘they’ seemed so different? That was my experience at least. Everyone always seemed so happy, and I often wondered why I wasn’t feeling the same way. Why I never fit in with anyone. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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      1. Other children were scary, so noisy and boisterous and then hitting my teens, I thought they were all crazy! I didn’t know then what had been done to me but I just couldn’t cope with the whole boyfriend/sex thing. I couldn’t do the growing up and being independent thing either. That was really the time I first broke down. Being a teenager is hard enough but when you throw in trauma that maybe you don’t even remember it is a terrible time.
        You are very welcome, I am so glad I am finding other survivors 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I can relate to that… Other children being scary and way too noisy. The teens… Even worse! I also struggled with the whole independent thing. But mostly because I wasn’t allowed to ‘be a teenager’. I had to be a quiet, perfectly behaved person or else… Amazing how parents can really stunt our self expression, under the guise of “I’m just protecting you, the world isn’t a good place”. While ‘home’ is even worse. It’s definitely hard being a teen, while having trauma lurking at every corner. Thanks for commenting, lovely. 🙂

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  7. Hi Rayne! I am sorry you have had a tough week and felt so vulnerable with the flashbacks. You have a lot of support on here and I am glad that there are so many wonderfully caring people to support you. (just read through all the comments as well).. I also used to like hiding as a child..I used to create a little nest for myself on my bed at night because I felt scared.and lonely…I used to curl the duvet up into a sausage shape and then place it around myself..as If I was a bird in a nest..that was the only way I could get to sleep sometimes..sending many hugs to you!

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    1. Hi Athina. I’m feeling so grateful, my heart feels full. I appreciate the support and the care from you all so much. When I first started this blog, I had no idea this would happen. So it’s a real gift.

      Thank you for sharing your ‘safe action’. I think I should try that. 😉 Lots of hugs to you. ❤

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  8. I also shy away from the word “trauma.” It’s scary to admit that trauma might actually be something that applies to you. What you have been through (and are going through now) is very real and painful, and we are here if you need anything. Hugs. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s exactly it. I don’t think anyone wants it to apply to them. It’s not a good feeling. Thank you for the validation… Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be experiencing this, or feeling the way I do about it, because I’m just overreacting and it’s not that bad. Thank you so much for your support. *hugs* ❤

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  9. Your activation from hearing your dad’s voice makes so much sense to me, and how affected you were. It is so hard, when those external circumstances cause such a strong internal reaction, it is just hard to be in the world, when so sensitive to stimulation. I empathize, and think it was really smart of you to write this all out as a way to help yourself track what happens, so hopefully you get enough distance to not be completely flooded. That is what I have been finding somewhat useful, tracking and naming and saying “activation, etc.” to get a little space.

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    1. I’m glad it makes sense to you. I’m still struggling with that, haha! You’re absolutely right… It’s hard to be in the world when so sensitive to the external (and internal) and the constant stimulation. It’s exhausting actually. I wasn’t going to write this post, but I’m glad I did. It helped, even though I’m not exactly sure in what way. Thank you for sharing what you find useful. I’ll have to give it a try. 🙂

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  10. It is strange, I am reading about all the trauma you are feeling now and yet how hard it is for you to acknowledge the trauma of your past… and I see myself in this. You are not alone and you have helped me to not feel alone. I struggle severely with being in touch with the fact that I was traumatized. It seems insignificant, it was just me… I do wonder if when we have been traumatized for so long and it becomes a way of life and therefore “normal,” if it is hard to relate to it in the correct way. Sometimes this feeling can be traumatizing. I can now say the word and use it, but like you, I cannot take it in or feel it. It is almost an out of body experience to talk about it. I am sorry you are struggling so much. Thank you for sharing your experience, it is very helpful to see your own struggle through another person when you cannot see it in yourself. We had no control over what happened to us and we have no control over the effects of it either… only in how we manage it. This is what we must work on. Hugs!

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    1. I’m glad you feel less alone. 🙂 Reading everyone’s comments to this post has been really helpful… Knowing that I’m not the only one experiencing these things. Feeling this way. You described it so well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. “We had no control over what happened to us and we have no control over the effects of it either… only in how we manage it. This is what we must work on.” I love this. We’ll work on it. 😉

      I’m here if you ever want someone to talk to. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  11. “The mind is powerful. It tries to protect us, even though it’s not always very good at it. ” Wow, it’s only posts like yours and Secret Keepers that really jolt my repressions. Just today reading the pair of your posts back to back…just makes me want to write out everything thing I’ve ever been through, but like you said, the mind is powerful and it’s protecting us from what were unable to handle. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes that’s a bad thing. Repressed experiences need to come to the surface in order to have closure. The part about your father and how you had a flashback when you heard him yell. It was like a little crack forming on a brick wall just enough to give you a slight memory jolt. But what happens when that crack widens, right?

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I know what you mean about how the brain trying to protect us (or rather, itself) can either be a good thing or a bad thing. There are a lot of parts of my life where I seemed to have lost a significant amount of time. Will I ever get it back? I don’t think so. I don’t know much about repressed experiences and memories to have much of an opinion on that. Do I want to remember it? Maybe… I would like to know what’s ‘under the surface’. Those things that I have always been able to sense and feel, but have no visual memory of. On the other hand, there’s a part of me that doesn’t actually want to. That feels it’s just better left in the dark.

      “Repressed experiences need to come to the surface in order to have closure.” I hear you. I just wonder whether that’s really how it works, or if it will just cause unnecessary damage? Is it really necessary for them to be revealed in order to put our past behind us and move forward in order to have a happier life? I have no idea. It all just seems so damn complicated. Anyway, I’m rambling. Thanks for making me think. 🙂 xx

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      1. I once and still am curious about going under, meaning going under hypnosis. But a ther5told me NOT TO, and it wasn’t worth the pain of going through it again…
        But I need to know…what happened after I blacked out and woke up the next morning back in my bed where I fell asleep, but was taken from there the night before by my mom’s boyfriend’s visiting friend

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        1. I’ve done hypnosis once… To stop smoking… It worked, lol. Although it was still damn hard.

          I’m sorry you had that experience. I can understand why you would want to remember. I’ve also had an experience where I can remember the beginning of something happening, but then it just goes black, and I remember waking up the next morning in a daze (like I was dreaming) and then nothing again. It’s horrible not knowing. But I also wonder if it won’t be worse actually KNOWING. xx

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          1. Me too! I remember the beginning of it, but not the end…like blacking out, yes. I don’t want to know most times…but sometimes I have to know. I do know that years later that guy, (one of several) went to prison.

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  12. Hi Rayne You have been in my thoughts over the past few days. I would have liked to reply further to a reply you left on one of my blogs, but the style of blog I am using I have noticed only lets me reply to the first reply, not the second. I hope you are feeling a little less raw. It seems to have been a very intense and painful week for quiet a few people. Just wanted to let you know you are in my thoughts and prayers. ❤

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