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Author Topic: 4.02 | Remembering the Abuse - when is it therapeutic; when is it debilitating?  (Read 8287 times)
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« Reply #30 on: October 14, 2018, 09:02:14 PM »

Harri, I’m on board here. BTW, I didn’t realize how long you’ve been here. Let’s grow old together here.  That’s my cheesy attempt at humor.

Why is it important to remember the abuse as we heal?

Because we have to be aware of what we’re attempting to heal from. I wouldn’t rub aloe on a broken arm and expect it to heal. I assume that doctors have a checklist of sorts to determine an injury. Much like an ACE.  Remembering what we’ve been through is an important part of healing. Recognizing it, facing it and moving away from it is important.

What do we hope to gain from remembering the abuse?

We don’t want to remember the abuse, but we have to. If we don’t, the stored trauma will always emerge throughout our lives. It will ruin a lot of things that we wish for.

I hope to gain clarity. I wasn’t guided through my younger years properly. I didn’t see the clear path. I simply want clarity. At 41, I still have trouble with scheduling and healthy routines for myself. I want to emphasize “myself”. I keep it together for others.

What are some of the there a right or wrong ways we remember at bpdfamily?

I haven’t seen a wrong way to remember here. I’ve seen nothing but reception. I came to the PSI board saying some very disturbing things. I was embraced. I wasn’t ignored or run off.

There is no right or wrong way in remembering. It simply has to be allowed to come out. In learning here, I wonder about the things we hear about in the news. I don’t condone the crimes that I see, but I wonder sometimes. There’s a bit of empathy there. If these folks were raised right, they wouldn’t be posing for a mugshot.

There isn’t a right/wrong way. Just let it out and dump it here. IMHO, that’s the genius of this place.

How can we tell the difference between remembering and ruminating and injury submersion?

Sometimes we can’t, and it will affect our lives on a daily basis. It will cause dissociation and a car crash that will raise your premiums. The best thing to do is to put on our adult pants and push forward. I suggest therapy. I have a trauma specialist. She’s been a big help. She’s a master at showing me how so much is tied to my childhood.

I don’t ruminate over my parents anymore. They both died in 2010. However, I’m still cutting through the anvil that they chained to my ankle. I hate them.

How can we help others (in times of emotional stress) to be more centered?

Simply talking.
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« Reply #31 on: October 14, 2018, 10:24:30 PM »

No I never felt enmeshed. You might be into something since I wasn't adopted until 2.4.
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« Reply #32 on: October 15, 2018, 07:39:44 AM »

I use to think I was the only one in my family that got off scott free from all the abuse. My bro (NPD) and sister were clearly damaged, awkward people skills, bullied at school, low achievers, hiding from life. I held my own at school and achieved in business, and then suddenly, when everything was going well, my CPTSD kicked in, which is debilitating. Made sense as my sister fell ill first and I was the scapegoat so took most of the physical abuse.

I thought I was invincible, affraid of very little, CPTSD turned me into the polar opposite. I lost my patience, concentration, tact (as you may have noticed with some of my posts). It doesn't matter how high your stress threashold is, it can be broken. I was an MD at the time. In business I knew what to do, but at home I didn’t have healthy boundaries and took on too much. I was too forgiving and felt sorry for people who then mucked me about.

I think its important to recognise, and I'm sure we all do, that if someone breaks their leg, its not always because they have week/brittle boans, could have been a skiing accident. There’s no shame in a broken leg, and one day those statements will be true about mental health. Until then all these stars like Mel Gibson and Michael Jackson can pretend its bi-polar.

The level of fear you get with CPTSD will paralyse you, like a bunny in the headlights. CPTSD is disabling it's a listed dysablities under the Dysablities Act 2010. But as Turk indicates, if you don't have PTSD its makes a difference.

When is it no longer helpful to revisit the past, surely that’s once you’ve readjusted the behaviour to healthier behaviour ? The evidence of that happening is you stop revisiting ? I'm guessing here based on my experience - does that sound about right ?   Welcome new member (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #33 on: October 15, 2018, 10:53:41 AM »

We can heal from this and be better people for it. You know, I did some research on the success rate of recovery from C-PTSD, and one of the biggest factors for failure is quitting therapy/recovery because the survivor felt hopeless and saw no end in sight, which is big symptom of the condition. I understand this because it’s how I feel much of the time. I’m glad I read that article. I allow those words to be louder than my inner critic and continue to push on. If we really think about it objectively, we already survived the toughest parts of this. Now we’re kind of stuck with the leftovers. There is hope. Keep your eye on the prize, my friend.  
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« Reply #34 on: October 15, 2018, 01:16:48 PM »

The NHS only allows 12 sessions max of CBT (cost restrictions), so I've used self help books (I have studied psychology in the past) to top that up, plus the excellent advice on here.

But you're right, we do get better with the right treatment and I'm proof of that. I'm statement dyslexic, so I also get word blind when I'm anxious (words jump around the page). My nick name when I was a consultant was "The Professor." , these days I can't even read properly. I'm practicing being a waif, how am I doing ? That said I'm becoming more positive as I get better (pretend you've noticed). I see it in the music I play. I've also been inspired by Trump; who need knowledge, reading or real hair these days ? So WTL what have been the main symptoms for you ?
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« Reply #35 on: October 16, 2018, 04:14:08 AM »

I’m inspired by the openness here. It's validating to know others feel similar, but have not been defeated. I would say not talking about it is worse for us all. It is tough admitting to how CPTSD effects you. Especially when you see Comedies still joke about how war vets bang on and on about past trauma (The Simpsons etc... .) thats a basic symptom of PTSD.

If you hit someone in their broken leg and they shout in pain, we don’t criticises the victim for shouting. But if a BPD purposefully triggers your PTSD, society does still criticise the victim for overreacting.

I attempted suicide as a child, so I keep remembering all the good stuff I’d have missed had it worked.  In honesty medical cannabis, comedy and music have been the best thing to relieve symptoms, and CBT and walks in nature the best cure.

Thanks again for your openness and well done in minimising those symptoms. On your point of destructiveness, I did once pick up a glass, but had the presence of mind to go outside (less mess) and smash it against the wall. My kids burst out laughing, and still kid me to this day. Their mother does proper spure of the moment damage, apparently if you announce it and spend 5 minutes preparing, its not as effective.

Way I see it is people that do nothing about it and expect those around to change (sound familiar) are the ones guilt was designed for, but ironically they don’t suffer guilt. We work tirelessly to improve and I'm proud I've avoided a hard drug habit, and homelessness.
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« Reply #36 on: October 16, 2018, 04:56:17 PM »

I just want to put in a link here. It is to our workshop titled: Dealing with trauma: PTSD, C-PTSD and emotional flashbacks which may help those of us struggling with coming to terms with c-PTSD symptoms.  It is not easy and remembering is both a part of healing but can also turn to rumination and injury submersion/immersion.  
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« Reply #37 on: October 16, 2018, 08:29:33 PM »

thank you for sharing your experiences with c-PTSD. While I have not received any diagnosis I have to admit that I recently experienced some symptoms that seem to be very similar to what you have described. For the longest time I considered myself to be resilient, strong, tough, etc. I took most of the abuse in my childhood. My sister was the ally to my mother, and my father used me to shield himself from from the attacks from his unhappy wife. I became the saviour from a very young age. Taking the hits to save everyone else because I thought I could handle it. I could but I sustained injuries from it.

Remembering the abuse... .since I was recently severely triggered I began to make links with my childhood. Moments when I was little and I was given the silent treatment, the evil eye and my mother ranted to my father in a hateful voice loud enough for me to hear about what a horrible creature I was. She used her alliances with others to castigate me. It was never me against her. She always enrolled allies. Remembering these moments I have been able to identify situations that now trigger these memories. I have had especially bad moments and one in particular where i also contemplated dark things but I don't even take those moments seriously. When I was seven I held a knife to my stomach and threatened to stab myself. My father only laughed as I pushed it harder against my stomach, without ever breaking skin. Perhaps it was the right thing for him to do because I never seriously considered the option again even though it passed through my head but never presented itself as a real option. 

I think I've also finally made the leap in my mind - that my childhood was abusive, but I don,t blame my mother for it anymore. Because if I blame her, then it means she has power, and that I don't. I am pretty sure that my mother does not have the power to heal me from the wounds she inflicted on me, because she simply transferred her own wounds on to me.

I am really glad that you have shared some of the ways you have overcome your symptoms. Walks in the woods, CBT, watching comedy (which I have recently started doing as well because it helps so much) and other important things.

Last summer I was experience especially high levels of anxiety. I decided to seek natural remedies through herbs and acupuncture. The doctor treating me told me my sympathetic nervous system (adrenals) was in overdrive. He worked wonders on me and I started to really feel good about myself in ways I never had before. The difference between my default self and the person I was turning into was mind blowing to be honest. I saw the world differently. I felt happy. I could connect to people so easily. I met tons of new people, did lots of new things. My confidence in myself was growing.

But I think that losing my anxiety also brought my defense mechanisms down. So when I was triggered I simply couldn't function as I had been able to function in the past when triggered. In the past I was angry. I would lash out, yell, lecture whoever I felt had wronged me. I was prepared at all times to get hit with this kind of stuff. This time around I felt like I'd been ambushed emotionally, and while there was anger, I was mostly paralyzed with fear and sadness, and therefore wanted at all costs to avoid the people who had hurt me. I protected myself instead of engaging in conflict. I recovered. Although my anxiety has now returned.

Remembering is not difficult, and just writing this post has actually caused my anxiety to increase. I think i just have to take it easy... .but definitely a list of things that can help bring that anxiety down is kind a priority. I once heard about a group that got together once a week and for one hour all they did was laugh... .I can imagine that it would do incredible things for anxiety. There are many things we can do to help ourselves. Having had my mind clear of the anxiety, even if it was for just two months before my parents decided to drag me back into their world, means that i can be in that space... .I've already crawled out, I can do it again.
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« Reply #38 on: October 18, 2018, 02:46:02 AM »

I can just keep working the tools that have sunk in thus far. I’m tired of it all, but giving up is a detrimental symptom.
It is exhausting. I find the more stressed I am, the more likely I am to be triggered. Its worth noting that CBT and ERDM do not work if you are too agitated. When you get to that stage, the best approach is to problem solve to reduce stress. If not, you can be setting yourself up for failure, which isn't good either.

I’ve just ended a period of unavoidable stress, and the difference it makes to my CPTSD is massive. Now I can use the various techniques to avoid being triggered, before, not so much. Are you aware of any areas in your life you can reduce stress ?
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« Reply #39 on: October 18, 2018, 08:31:35 PM »

Hey there, hotncold. Welcome new member (click to insert in post) I’m sorry for the delay in getting back into this thread.

What kind of methods does your therapist specialise in?

Good question. I don’t really know of any methods that she is approaching me from. She gives insight from literature. She mostly provokes my thoughts. She brings them out and gently makes me investigate them. She’s able to break things down to where I choose answer A. or answer B. It’s not black or white or coercisive thinking. She’s slowly helping me to see what happened.

I had a session this evening. After talking with her, I came to the conclusion that things went one way, so it’s possible for them to go the other way as well. This gave me hope.

You spoke about funds being tight as far as being able to start therapy. Is it an insurance issue? My Sis is a T and did some shopping around for me when I wasn’t able to do it for myself. If there is a university or college close to you, inquire there. Many psychology programs have students (perhaps master’s students) performing therapy under the direct guidance of a PhD psychologist for free. Look into it.

I remember something that happened when I was seven. I was brutally yelled at by mother then left alone. My grandfather was around and took me on his knees. This was unusual for me because no one ever comforted me normally. I felt a kind of discomfort from my grandfather which I later discovered was concern.

Comfort feels foreign to survivors. It’s a foreign feeling. Why do you think your G’pa took you under his wing to comfort you? Maybe he saw or knew something. What do you suspect?

My G’pa on my mother’s side (BPD) was an amazing man. He pulled half dollars out from behind the kid’s ears at family gatherings. He was a good man. My G’ma was cold.

It's like my body is so used to it that it simply wants to stay in that default mode , that it's the only thing that can keep me safe.

You’re right. Your mind finally hit a default mode as a child when it comes to abuse. The mind shuts off certain parts when those parts of the brain become overwhelmed. “Fight or flight” is what we’re left with. Worst case scenario, in slang terms, the reptilian brain.

I poured a lot on you. Does any of it make sense to you?


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« Reply #40 on: October 22, 2018, 12:11:04 PM »


Hey there, hotncold.

Comfort feels foreign to survivors. It’s a foreign feeling. Why do you think your G’pa took you under his wing to comfort you? Maybe he saw or knew something. What do you suspect?

My G’pa on my mother’s side (BPD) was an amazing man. He pulled half dollars out from behind the kid’s ears at family gatherings. He was a good man. My G’ma was cold.



Hi WTL,
Thank you so much for the responses and my apologies for the delay in getting back on here. Your responses are incredibly helpful and eye openning. Yes to the comfort feeling strange. I am now using kindness and compassion to interact with my parents and I can see them feeling the same way I felt as that seven year old being comforted.

How interesting there are similarities with our grandparents. My grandfather loved to play card tricks and magic tricks for us. His specialty was making candy fall from the sky. My grandmother on the other hand was a woman who was hard as bricks. 

I suspect that my grandfather likely told my mother that she was inflicting damage on me and he was concerned enough to speak to her about it. Normally I think he was someone who smoothed things over with his charm and prevented any uncomfortable discussions. But seems like he intervened in my favour this time. My mother took it as though I had betrayed her... .even though I realized I had to double down on controlling myself because my body was the one doing the betraying.


You’re right. Your mind finally hit a default mode as a child when it comes to abuse. The mind shuts off certain parts when those parts of the brain become overwhelmed. “Fight or flight” is what we’re left with. Worst case scenario, in slang terms, the reptilian brain.

I poured a lot on you. Does any of it make sense to you?



Fight or flight is exactly the mode I've been in for so long, and it's no wonder I suffered a burn out in my late twenties/early thirties. As I was being treated for acupuncture I realized that sound is a huge trigger for me. I would be lying down letting the needles work their magic and a sudden sound of traffic outside would shake me into realizing I was on the fourteenth floor near a window and my fear of heights would kick in. Any sound was startling and I realized just how alert I was.

A recent triggering episode with my parents was especially discouraging for me because I had been rid of chest palpitations for a long time and it brought them back. I was waking up in the middle of the night with them all over again. And then... .I went for another acupuncture session on Friday and the PALPITATIONS ARE GONE! I had the most productive working weekend since before these triggers. I am beyond happy about this. It means that I know how to return myself to a non heightened baseline. No one has the power to debilitate me anymore because I know what to do to "fix" myself. This is perhaps the most empowering discovery I've made in years.
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« Reply #41 on: October 22, 2018, 12:18:32 PM »

I’m stopping this from happening because I have failed at implementing the tools to help the process along.

This sounds like you are being harsh on yourself. It does sound like there is something blocking you though. Have you managed to identify it?
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« Reply #42 on: October 23, 2018, 03:18:26 AM »

I would agree with hotncold, you sound like you are being harsh on yourself. What processes have you not implemented out of interest ? We should never apologise for CPTSD, people that break their leg skiing don't apologise and that was their fault (I have to remind myself of that every day, it helps me).

she could stop using him as a means of control. That she would allow me to be his parent instead of a resource.
This would upset most people. It must be very frustrating for you. Of course you and your child deserve a relationship.

In my country you can get a court order that tells each party how the access should happen. Typically 50:50 would be a starting point, and the courts are very familiar with parents using kids as bargains chips. You can represent yourself and you can not be penalised for a lack of knowledge of how law courts work. Is there something similar where you are ? If someone breaks the agreement, we can ask the courts to enforce it for free. Worth a try ?


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« Reply #43 on: October 29, 2018, 09:50:21 PM »

How can we pull this back to healthy remembering?  The rest of Step four of the Survivor's Guide says:  

         https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=331826.0
"Re-experiencing the abuse" comprises many things. First, you will need to allow yourself to re-experience the various feelings, express them as they arise and eventually be able to label them so they do not confuse and overwhelm you. Second, you need to try to describe any sensory impressions connected to the abuse: visual images, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile sensations. Third, you will need to recall your thoughts about the abuse, both during and after each episode.

Try to notice if you have any body memories of the abuse while you are reexperiencing it. Body memories include aches, pains, numbing or other physical sensations that appear suddenly in key locations of your body such as your arms (suggesting you were hurt while trying to ward off blows), genital areas (which may have been physically injured during episodes of sexual abuse) and face and mouth (which may have been injured when you were slapped, or gagged your abuser). These body sensations mean something. By allowing yourself to re-experience them, you will help to discharge them and thus allow them to gradually fade away.

Finally, try to remember what behaviors you engaged in during and after the abuse. Did you try to run away and hide, roll up into a ball to protect yourself or fight back and scream? Or were you immobilized and unable to move while the abuse occurred? What about later? Did you run out of the house, crawl under the bed, hide in a closet or wash off in the bathroom?

This step likely will be very difficult to achieve because it means returning in your mind to the scene of the crime. But this time you can have all of the control you need. The experience will not be as painful or scary as when you were a child. Remember that you are dealing with memories, not present reality. Move slowly, step by step, memory by memory so that you can manage the feelings and share your reactions with your therapist and trusted members of your support system.

A big part of remembering in a way that focuses on recovery is this part:  Finally, try to remember what behaviors you engaged in during and after the abuse. Did you try to run away and hide, roll up into a ball to protect yourself or fight back and scream? Or were you immobilized and unable to move while the abuse occurred? What about later? Did you run out of the house, crawl under the bed, hide in a closet or wash off in the bathroom? What did we do in response to the abuse?  I shut down, held in my feelings until they built up and I either directed them in towards myself or let them explode out of me verbally.  My coping skills back then have carried through with me and are things I have had to face and accept as a part of me, regardless of how they got there.  I too have the diagnosis of PTSD though my current T does not say c-PTSD it is understood that is what it is.

So what have you carried on that contributes to the difficulties you are having today?  I don't mean you are like me and can be verbally abusive.  We each do our own things.  but the way we coped then followed us to now and I think, at least for me, contribute a lot to my PTSD and triggers.  

I am a big fan of this from AA:  We are not responsible for how we came to be who we are as adults but as adults we are responsible for whom we have become and for everything we say and do.

So how can we work our remembering to our advantage and use it as a way to focus on healing?
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« Reply #44 on: October 30, 2018, 09:05:54 AM »

So how can we work our remembering to our advantage and use it as a way to focus on healing?

The hypervigenlance can send me into bouts of fear, when someone doubles down on their lying. In business I can normally find a way around anything, but a NPD will have me ruminating for ever. I now realise, its better (in business) to walk away rather than around a BPD / NPD.
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« Reply #45 on: October 30, 2018, 01:52:05 PM »

So what sorts of things can you do when you feel panic in your personal life?

For me it was telling  myself over and over "I've got this.  this reaction is tied to the past and it no longer owns my butt.  I will get through this panic attack, I will survive."  The best thing my T ever did was say Pffft, so you are having a panic attack... .it won't kill you no matter how bad you feel.  Stop feeding the fear".  talk about a smack upside the head!  For me it was like gold.  So I sat there shaking hard, clutching a waste basket while on the verge of being sick, soaked in sweat and did my best to talk my way through it all.  Strange it gets easier.  Telling myself the past is over and they can't hurt me like before.  My reactions seem almost like a culmination of all the times I stuffed my fear and panic and anger and terror all coming out at once.  But I can handle it now... .or I can learn to handle it.  

I don't know what will work for you.  the above worked for me.  I used to try to sit with my feelings but it made them worse... .I was feeding them.  Avoiding my feelings did not help me much either... .but fighting them and saying 'like hell i will let you continue to rule me in this way' worked.

Has anyone read the article on ruminating?   Dealing with Ruminations Not only does the article talk about what rumination is and what is going on when we do it, but it also talks about how we can stop them.

We are not powerless or at the whim of our PTSD.
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« Reply #46 on: October 31, 2018, 08:43:13 AM »

So what sorts of things can you do when you feel panic in your personal life
For me it was telling  myself over and over "I've got this...

My T told me something similar, "Anxiety always goes if you just wait." As a child I would repeat "Its not my fault." over and over, as I was the scapegoat. Turns out I was right. Which links into your "who validated you as child" post.

But exchanging tips is a good idea. It depends how badly I'm gripped, but lower level stuff, playing music distracts me from rumination. Also problem solving , taking away the unknown. If it get worse, then writing jokes takes away the fear PTSD builds, laughter is a release - I've not cryed since I was 10 ish. Wish I could, but I guess laughter works the same. Trouble is my customers for that all want political satire and politics these days is very triggering, so I've stopped. If it gets even worse, then its yoga, exercises and walking. Lots of walking. If it gets worse still, I have around 4 friends I can call, who know. They don't know how to help me, but they listen, sometimes they get me to laugh - that works.

So what other things do you do ?
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« Reply #47 on: March 24, 2019, 02:42:19 PM »

Excerpt
So what other things do you do ?


I use mindfulness a lot when I catch the panic in time (I mean before I get into a panic attack... .then I need my defiant 'I will not let this rule me' schtick).  I identify and then observe my feelings without judgement, knowing they will pass, I have survived them before.

Distraction with busy stuff does not help me much as for me it means i am stuffing my feelings rather than accepting them and developing confidence that I can handle it all.  What does help me is doing work.  Posting here, volunteering here, working on my 'art' reading a book all help me.  I do not work so it is all too easy to get caught in my head.  When i did work, I was able to still work through my panic attacks, I had no choice as I had to to survive.  Now I have too much free time and too many physical problems that I can get caught up in on top of the emotional stuff.
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     everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. ~ Viktor Frankl
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