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Author Topic: 4.02 | Remembering the Abuse - when is it therapeutic; when is it debilitating?  (Read 9466 times)
GeekyGirl
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« on: December 07, 2012, 07:26:16 PM »

Remembering the Abuse - when is it therapeutic; when is it debilitating?
Does frequently discussing past abuse help or hurt us in the healing process?

for bpdfamily.com members healing from relationships with Parents, Relatives or In-Laws with BPD
 
ACCORDING TO OUR SURVIVORS GUIDE [link to full guide]:
       Remembering [link to step 4] This step represents the major task of the first stage of recovery and may require the most time to accomplish. Often, survivors of extreme and prolonged abuse will need to return to this step again and again as new recollections of the same or additional episodes of abuse surface. This step essentially involves going through the memories of your abuse and expressing them at bpdfamily.com, to trusted friends, supporters or your therapist in as much detail as you can remember and to the extent appropriate for your listener(s). If at all possible, we encourage you to find a therapist before beginning work on this step. This is also a time to strengthen your support network and your participation in bpdfamily.com.

Good: Remembering to grow as surviving adults
 
Survivors of abuse often doubt their recovered memories. It is natural to wish that you could be somehow mistaken. Nobody wants to think that the adults we trusted when we were kids would have hurt us so badly. Remembering repressed information often takes the form of reliving the experience–and integrating this new and painful information into awareness.
 
As time passes, the exact truth of what happened often becomes less significant; but initially it seems crucial, and with good reason. We need to clarify relationships with our relatives who may or may not have been involved with the abuse. In clarifying its important to separate normal stuff and minor family scraps and get our hands around if there was abuse, what it was, the magnitude.  It is important to have perspective and be sure of what we think, especially since perpetrators are usually invested in denial.
 
Posting about what we remembering is to learn a new way of coping by reprocessing (not reliving) the experience of trauma. In this way, the mind can get a look at what happened from the relatively safe perspective of present time. Often, after a flashback, we experience a change in whatever post-traumatic symptoms were plaguing us, and we become able to make choices about how we want to act and be in your contemporary world.   Reprocessing the trauma gives us an opportunity to understand and undo the automatic nature of our reactions, reconsider the imperative, and respond with choice to present day events.
 
Bad: Remembering in a way that makes us more injured

Over-reacting, over-generalizing , globalizing, blaming, self-victimizing, and obsessing are something else - injury submersion.  While it may feel good in the moment, injury submersion only keeps the anger, hurt, and the pain present - re-lives it over and over again - without gain.  Many of us have done this - you may have even participated in it yourself.  Here are some actual quotes posted on bpdfamily:
 
     "I had hurt my hand [40 years ago] and medics had come and left. Mother came home from work and forced me to open my bandage because she just wanted to 'see' what had happened. It had hurt like crazy and she was not bothered in the least. "
 
"I can remember early memories like my uBPDm minding my cousins and being ever so sweet to them and hissing at me to be quiet because it was "their" day. She would buy them ice creams and I would have to go without. She bought my cousin ruby red patent leather shoes. They were so beautiful those shoes. I thought when my cousin grew out of them I might get them, but I didn't."
 
"My mother also took me to doctor after doctor  and I eventually had a lymph node in my neck removed that I'll bet was perfectly normal-but she was convinced I was seriously ill. Surgery at age 17 for nothing"

Do these events rise to the level of emotional abuse or is it just "run of the mill" childhood conflict that we need to let go of?  It's an important question to ask - the answer may be "yes". Is it not smarter to narrow in on the clearly abusive acts that we faced and process them. Over-generalizing (viewing a negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat) makes the problem so much larger and more unresolvable.
 
"Remembering" is a two side sword - and it takes discipline and help to stay on the healthy side of the blade.  A therapist will do that for us.  We can do it for each other by helping our co-members, when they are in a emotional state and entering into injury submersion, to come to the surface.
 
Questions to kick off this discussion
 
   Why is it important to remember the abuse as we heal?
What do we hope to gain from remembering the abuse?
What are some of the there a right or wrong ways we remember at bpdfamily?
How can we tell the difference between remembering and ruminating and injury submersion?
How can we help others (in times of emotional stress) to be more centered?
What is meant by "validate the valid but don't validate the invalid"?

I look forward to a meaningful discussion on the subject!
« Last Edit: April 21, 2019, 01:16:36 PM by Harri » Logged



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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2012, 11:02:01 AM »

I think it's therapeutic when it uncovers the truth after believing a lie for so long.  Something that happened when you were little and then felt guilt and shame.  Remember now and realizing, I was only a little kid and putting the responsibility back on the adults who were in charge and had all the control.  Putting the accountability back on them.  Gets you geared towards healthier relationships as uncomfortable as they are sometimes.  Getting more uncomfortable with unhealthy people and holding those boundaries.

My sister would flit around, now I'm upset about this, now I'm upset about that.  It gave her reason to be upset.  She is diagnosed with BPD.  It was like she just wanted to be upset.
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2012, 11:27:59 AM »

The critical part of recovery from child abuse is learning to distinguish what has really happened to us, and whether it really constituted child abuse.  

Some of the lists that we compile here are not child abuse at all.  Using the example in the original post, "my mom spied in my room when I was a kid" -- this can probably be said for 90% of the mothers in the domestic U.S.  This is very different than emotional abuse, such as we are being told we are "ugly" and "dirty".

One reason to make this distinction is so that we can focus in on the abuse and process it so we can move forward.  We don't want to clutter that exercise with thousands of annoying but more or less normal parent/child conflict.

And although we don't like to talk about it very often, if we have a BPD parent, there is a 48% chance that we inherited similar traits -- one being hyper-sensitivity to any type of real or perceived criticism.  If we are over-reacting to certain childhood events we need to see that so that we can process it and make adjustments in our own lives.

This whole healing process can be painful on both fronts.
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2012, 12:14:39 PM »

Below is a good statement of objectives for remembering from the guide:
 
A critical part of recovering from child abuse is learning to distinguish what really happened to you and whether it constituted child abuse. In this next section, we will be facing the reality of child abuse frankly. The purpose of this review is:
 
  • not to deny the past but to illuminate it;
  • not to indict your parents/abusers, but to hold them responsible; and finally,
  • not to blame yourself, but to develop a new understanding of your experience.

Your ability to understand the complexity of factors involved in your abuse will serve you well in making the past less overwhelming and threatening.
 
One reason to make this distinction is so that we can focus in on the abuse and process it so we can move forward.  We don't want to clutter that exercise with thousands of annoying but more or less normal parent/child conflict.

It's interesting to read on the "Raising a BPD Child" board.  Sometimes I see a thread and it's pretty clear that it is the mother that is having the issue, not the child.  I know this has been mentioned here before.  In that same way, the reverse is true, too - sometimes we are  having the issue, not the parent.  When there is BPD in a family, it can be very hard to for us to see what is:
 
     our stuff (child) <||> their stuff (parent)
 
These questions from the guide are helpful to identifying what is abuse and what is not (sample):
 
Physical Abuse
 
1.   Did your parents punish you by hitting you with a hand or some implement until you were bruised or injured?
2.   Were you slapped in the face and left with a black eye, bloody nose or bruised cheek?
3.   Were you ever punched, kicked or thrown against the wall?
 
More questions... .
 
Sexual Abuse
 
6.   Did your parent or another adult purposely expose his/her body to you?
7.   Did anyone have sexual contact with you when you were a child that left you confused or feeling ashamed?
8.   Were you ever shown sexual pictures or films or were you ever photographed undressed or provocatively posed?
 
More questions... .
 
Emotional Abuse
 
11.   Did your parents frequently rant and rave about what a horrible, stupid or ugly child you were?
12.   Did they involve you in some illegal activity?
13.   Did your parents prevent you from having friends?
14.   Did they refuse to take you to the doctor when you were sick (absent religious constraints)?
 
More questions... .
 
I think it really helps to focus in on the truly abusive events - grasp them - hold someone responsible - learn how this affects us - learn how to process them.  Making a list is helpful. Discussing specific events in detail is helpful. Then we can help each other characterize it (severe abuse, abuse, not ideal, etc.), break it down, grieve it, and process how it has affected our lives and how we can redirect ourselves.
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2012, 12:34:42 PM »

So, I'm going to take a shot at this.
 
I have to be honest in that I have a pretty distinct coping skill in this - I don't like to talk about it. Even when reading stories [here], I sometimes have the "flight" instinct. In my own EMDR sessions, I dramatically popped my eyes open and said "I can't do this" as I walked out of my therapist's office.  
 
I kept my secret of sexual abuse hidden for 25 years. Even when committed to a pediatric pysch ward at 13, I didn't say a peep. So for me, I think there is a spectrum in this - some people don't talk enough about it (or at all)... .and some talk too much (slash ruminate). Each end of the spectrum causing the development of many issues - anxiety, PTSD, victim-thinking, hypersensitivity, etc.    
 
There's balance. Healing involves recognizing/acknowledging the past and then leaving it there - and living your life in the now. Otherwise your past will rob you of having a fulfilling life in the present.  The final steps of the Survivor's Guide are all about being in the moment, today, and releasing the past.
 
It's not saying "fuggheda 'bout it" or minimizing what were terrible things that were done to me.
 
It's moving forward, and hearing the ringing of my therapist's favorite line "Now what?"
 
 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) Why is it important to remember the abuse as we heal?
 
        It's important, for me, because it helps me forgive myself in some of this. I sometimes forget that I was a little girl who truly was powerless - I can't change that. I have power now though. Like I mentioned before, I would tend to discard the memories because they are scary (and painful); but now I can have a memory and I am strong enough to endure them.
 
I let them in and in the same amount of time they surface, I let them go.
   
 
 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) What do we hope to gain from remembering the abuse?
 
        Power over myself. I don't want to be afraid or anxious. I want to be strong and resilient.
   
 
 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) What are some of the there a right or wrong ways we remember at bpdfamily?
 
        For me, I don't like to comisserate constantly. In group therapy, there usually is a rule on limiting "war stories" - because it gears the group to be problem-focused rather then solution-focused.
 
So when I tell the story of my father's neglectful ways:
 
"When I was 6, my NPDDad left me with family friends for two weeks, just dropped me off with these awful people with what was supposed to be a weekend. I remember I had to wear their daughters clothes and sleep in her bed even though she wet it. Every night, I slept on a garbage bag and got yelled at because I didn't like the mom's cooking and refused to eat the slop she called spinach. I actually got spanked because of it. My dad was supposed to take care of me while my mom was gone for a three weeks, but he didn't. He just left me there and I found out later he was instead having an affair with a woman in our home. I mean who does that to their child?"
 
If everyone chimes in with similar stories - and my anger is validated - sure we feel less alone in this world but then what?
 
I need to go further - I need to realize how that made me feel (afraid) and see how that has affected my abandonment issues in my adulthood. How I need constant reassurance from my husband. How I feel guilty as a parent constantly - and it makes me sometimes over-indulgent towards my own children (which doesn't help them either).
   
 
 Bullet: important point (click to insert in post) How can we tell the difference between remembering and ruminating and injury submersion?
 
        I think remembering is different then ruminating/injury submersion.
 
Remembering is what we do (and share with others) when perhaps we need that outside guage to help us acknowledge what was done wasn't OK. I can't tell you the release I felt when I could look at my childhood and finally think "this wasn't your fault" (step #5).
 
Ruminating/over reacting/injury submersion is what we do when we're angry and perhaps just want that feeling of validation. I've been known to plaster my frustration on these very boards, and it felt good to say what I had to say. It didn't fix the frustration, however. I could also see where I was almost a validation junkie - just sharing my story so I could get the validation (probably because I lacked getting it as a child).  
 
That's not the goal though.
 
I don't want to be a Victim of my childhood. I want to be released from it.
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2012, 01:32:49 PM »

Good points, everyone.

Like DreamGirl, it's hard for me to talk about my upbringing sometimes, because it forces me to face some difficult things about myself. It's especially hard remembering some of my behavior towards others as I was growing up and as a young adult.

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

For me, it's the best way to understand why I've done some of the things I've done and helps me identify and deal with some of my triggers. In some ways it helps the healing process.

What do we hope to gain from remembering the abuse?

There are parts of me that have been deeply wounded, and remembering them and dealing with them with the tools I've learned is how I can heal and move on.

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

We all need to have a pity party on occasion. I do think that's part of the healing process. It's important, though, to move beyond and really look at how you can take a sad/painful/triggering memory and turn that into a chance to learn and grow from the experience. Everyone who has arrived here has been through a somewhat similar experience, and sometimes we need to give each other a nudge towards dealing with those tough memories.

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

To me, it comes down to the reasoning behind the sharing. By remembering, you're looking to learn and grow, and that can be painful, but can also result in a more positive long-term outcome. Ruminating and injury submersion don't add to the healing process. They can help build a sense of community and establish rapport, but don't really bring any long-term comfort.
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2012, 08:29:44 AM »

From the guide:  
 
Excerpt
Excerpt
Survivor's Guide

Emotional Abuse
 
Emotional abuse is defined as a pattern of psychologically destructive interactions with a child that is characterized by five types of behaviors: rejecting, isolating, terrorizing, ignoring and corrupting. Emotional abuse involves the use of "words as weapons." The scars left may be more psychological than physical, which makes emotional abuse harder to identify. Physical signs of emotional abuse may include malnourishment, small physical stature, poor grooming and inappropriate attire for the season or circumstances. Behavioral signs that may suggest emotional abuse include constant approval-seeking; self-criticism; letting oneself be taken advantage of; excessive timidity or quiet aggression; indecisiveness; fear of rejection from others; and verbally hostile, provocative or abusive behavior. Because these signs can result from other social and environmental causes, we again encourage you to take care in assessing your own personal experiences.
 
Because much emotional abuse consists of words, and because the use and meaning of words are highly subjective, it is harder to quantify and clarify examples of emotional abuse. What is heard as abusive language by one child may be the norm for another, although it still may be abusive, even if it is not so classified by the community. Similarly, much emotional abuse consists of acts of omission, rather than commission, and so there may not be a sign or symptom to point to as evidence. For these and other reasons it is difficult to generate accurate statistics on the occurrence of emotional abuse.
 
Emotional abuse, more than physical or sexual abuse, must be measured in terms of severity. It is deemed mild when the acts are isolated incidents; moderate when the pattern is more established and generalized; and severe when acts are frequent, absolute and categorical. All parents are emotionally abusive to their children at certain times. Parents are not perfect, and they too are subject to stresses and strains of daily living that may cause them to lash out at others. It is especially important to determine whether there is an established pattern of verbal abuse or mental cruelty in order to label the behavior emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is the least understood, and perhaps the most controversial of the three types of abuse because of the confusion about how to define and describe it. It was psychologist James Garbarino who defined emotional abuse in terms of the five behavioral clusters described below.
 
Rejecting: Rejecting involves the adult's refusal to acknowledge the child's worth and the legitimacy of the child's needs.   Children experience rejection and abandonment when parents act in ways that minimize the child's importance or value. During infancy, this may involve not returning the infant's smiles or misinterpreting crying as manipulation. In later years, it may include refusing to hug the child, placing the child away from the family, "scapegoating" the child for family problems and subjecting the child to verbal humiliation and excessive criticism. The child begins to think, "If my parents don't think I matter, then I must not be very worthwhile. If I'm not very worthwhile, maybe they will abandon me."
 
Terrorizing: Terrorizing includes verbally assaulting, bullying or frightening the child, thereby creating a climate of fear that the child generalizes to the world at large. Terrorizing usually involves threatening the child with some kind of extreme punishment or dire outcome, one that is clearly beyond the child's ability to respond or protect him/herself. The end result is that the child experiences profound fear and is left to her/his own psychological imaginings. Examples of terrorizing vary according to the child's age. During infancy, the parent may deliberately violate the child's tolerance for change or intense stimuli by teasing, scaring or engaging in unpredictable behavior. As the child grows older, the terrorizing may take the form of verbal intimidation: forcing the child to make unreasonable decisions (such as choosing between competing parents), constant raging at the child or threatening to expose or humiliate the child in public. In families that practice strict religions (fundamentalist and other sects), children can be terrorized by parents who "put the fear of God" in them or threaten them with the devil's wrath, should they not behave.
 
Ignoring: Ignoring entails depriving the child of essential stimulation and responsiveness, thereby stifling emotional growth and intellectual development. Ignoring refers to the condition in which, due to excessive preoccupation with their own issues, the parents are emotionally unavailable to the child. In contrast to rejecting, which is actively abusive, ignoring is passive and neglectful. Ignoring behaviors include not responding to the child's talk, not recognizing the child's developing abilities, leaving the child without appropriate adult supervision, not protecting the child from physical or emotional assault by siblings or friends, not showing interest in the child's school progress and focusing on other relationships (such as a new lover) to the point that the child feels displaced. Emotional neglect may be the most common type of abuse, but it may also be the least reported.
 
Isolating: Isolating involves the adults' cutting the child off from normal social experiences, thereby preventing the child from forming friendships and reinforcing the child's belief that s/he is alone in the world. Isolating the child from normal opportunities for social relations is another form of emotional abuse because it impedes the social development of the child. Included here are efforts by the parents to put the child at odds with friends, presenting "outsiders" as the object of suspicion, reinforcing the child's concerns about peer acceptance and thwarting the child's attempts to be industrious and self-sufficient. Specific behaviors that tend to result in isolation are preventing children from seeing family or friends, preventing receipt of appropriate medical care, punishing the child's social overtures, rewarding the child for avoiding social situations, prohibiting the child from inviting other children home, withdrawing the child from school and preventing the child from joining clubs or dating. Because children tend to become more socially active as they get older, it is far easier to seclude a young child than an older one.
 
Families that are members of strict or closed religious groups may be especially prone to isolation and have been known to keep their children out of school because the "outside world" so conflicts with their personal beliefs and values. However, there are certain religions which de-emphasize, and even prohibit, certain contacts with the "outside world," especially those involving doctors and medical procedures. In these contexts the isolating behavior does not necessarily constitute abuse. If you grew up in this kind of atmosphere, there may be an explanation for why your family engaged in isolating behaviors.
 
Isolation is also common in families where father-daughter incest exists. In these cases the father wants to keep the child at home to preserve his access to her and to limit the possibility that she will tell someone about the incest.   Many times incest comes to light only after several years when the girl, now a teenager, tells somebody in her peer group what has been going on at home.
 
Corrupting: Corrupting involves encouraging the child to engage in antisocial behavior that reinforces deviant social attitudes. Most frequently the corruption has to do with suggesting inappropriate ways of handling aggression, sexuality or substance abuse. By encouraging antisocial values and behaviors and discouraging the learning of positive social attitudes and skills, the parents hinder the child's social development.   Sometimes a child evolves an identity that puts him/her at odds with the conventions and standards of society. Some examples of corrupting behavior include reinforcing the child for sexual behavior; condoning drug use; rewarding aggressive behavior; exposing the child to pornography; and involving the child in criminal activities such as prostitution, drug dealing or insurance fraud. Another example is parents who force their racist or exclusionary attitudes on their children and encourage them to act on these beliefs in ways that cause problems for them with peers, at school and even with the law.
 
https://bpdfamily.com/pdfs/survivor_to_thriver_3.pdf
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2012, 09:08:53 AM »

Thanks for the information.  I wanted to say that I find it helpful to share and think that by sharing with others perhaps I can help them.  Maybe we all need to add (or it is an idea at least) how what was  shared has affected us at the end of our post and how we are able/unable to find something postive in it.  For example, in my post about privacy, I tried to get across that this made me realize why I was supersensitive to privacy issues, not to say, "mom spied on me."   I was called every vile, vulgar curse word from childhood on and had so many emotional abusive stories such as being told to die, I should have been aborted, constantly berated on my appearance (when I seldom got this elsewhere, thankfully) that I could "ruminate"  all day ( I was also physically abused often) but I admit that I am afraid to share my more shocking stories for being seen as ruminating on the board.  I do thank you guys for the clarification.  I think sharing is also helpful because so many of us, thinking we "were the only one" think it is our fault and that we are flawed.  Seeing that others suffered similar things shows us, I feel, that maybe it was not us after all.  I think it is easier to see "our part" in the abuse, for instance, as adults setting/ not setting boundaries, but really, what part did we play- as in fault- as six year olds?  At any rate, thank you all again for the responses.  Maybe we should start a thread about how the abuse has made us grow positively.  In my case, it has made me more compassionate of others and aware of signs in children of potential abuse at home
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2012, 09:55:22 AM »

As children we were helpless.  

Now as adults we have the challenge to pick up the pieces, to "re-parent" ourselves (rebuild self esteem), and to take a leadership role in a parent-child relationship.  

Tall order  
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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2012, 10:39:14 AM »

I need a big ol' workshop on reparenting.  Is there one around here?  I mean, I understand the skills I am lacking due to the funky childhood but don't I need a good parent to model to reparent?  Where do I get one of those?  Do I find people that are healthy and glob onto them?   Smiling (click to insert in post)  Or read books on how to be a good parent?  I'm being silly but I'm really serious.
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« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2012, 03:18:57 PM »

For me, I had to "re-learn" the difference between what is being "private" (a practice in self care) and what is being "secretive" (a practice in shame). I wanted to tell anybody and everybody "This is why I am the way I am! I'm not crazy! I was [sexually] abused as a child and that's why I suck at boundaries!"

So how do we each individually gage it?

I think it starts with how we feel after we've shared a story/commiserated. Do we feel better by continuing with and feeding our anger? Do we feel worse? Do we have a greater understanding of how/why we feel that way? Or are we stuck at Stage 5/6 of the Survivor's Guide?  

We were powerless as six year olds (or even 15 year olds who manifested other symptoms and behavior). We don't want to practice self-blame either and it's important to free yourself of that kind of shame.

However, as an adult I learned that excessively blaming my childhood circumstances was counterproductive. It becomes a similar practice to my own NPDfather who had about zero accountability for anything he ever did. If we get caught up in injury submersion, then we remain as the victims we once were. I had a beautiful soul tell me once that you are only a victim in the moment, the moment you are able to walk away (no matter how scathed), you become a survivor.

It almost becomes a practice in self-flaggelation if we remain in that victim-like thinking, thinking that if only our lives would have been "better" we would be "better".  It's a common affliction of adult children who were abused as children -this low self worth.

So if we keep talking about how we weren't valued - how can we ever see that we are actually valuable?

We have to take the lead in this, not let our feelings be our absolute guide. If anger leads the way - then angry will be what we are. It's not what I want. Not even close. Smiling (click to insert in post)  
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« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2012, 06:57:13 PM »

We were powerless as six year olds (or even 15 year olds who manifested other symptoms and behavior). We don't want to practice self-blame either and it's important to free yourself of that kind of shame.

I agree. We have to forgive ourselves--remembering brings on a lot of shame and guilt in many of us. I think that's what's so painful about remembering vs. ruminating or injury submersion. When we remember as part of the healing cycle, we have to revisit the shame we felt as children.
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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2012, 06:05:39 PM »

I think it's therapeutic when you're still at a stage of not being able to believe it yourself, i.e., that it really happened and was wrong.  Because as children it seems normal.  I went through a stage of sharing on these boards, then a stage of sharing with people in my normal life, and now I am at a stage where I don't need to share as much.  I think it helps to have people to sympathize and also to have people who are surprised, or else who can relate with their own experiences, to know you're not alone, either in having these things happen to you, or in your reaction to them (thinking it was normal, or your fault, etc.)  And even if the person doesn't relate they can sympathize, which is great to see too - that our experiences are not so far outside the norm no one could possibly understand them or feel for us.

Now when memories come up I'm able to reframe the feelings around them myself rather than relying on others to do that with their reactions.  I can replace feelings of shame or blame with feelings of kindness and love.  I think a lot of the sharing at first came from my habit of relying on my mother to tell me I was okay and my feelings mattered and made sense.  I had gotten beyond wanting that from her, but I still wanted it from SOMEONE.  Now that I can give that validation to myself, processing these feelings goes a lot faster. 

I think it's really hard for someone else to tell when a person is going through a healthy stage of processing their abuse and when they're doing something unhealthy.  Maybe it's possible but I wouldn't feel confident in my own ability to make that call about someone else.
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« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2012, 05:09:33 PM »

I think it's really hard for someone else to tell when a person is going through a healthy stage of processing their abuse and when they're doing something unhealthy.  Maybe it's possible but I wouldn't feel confident in my own ability to make that call about someone else.

That's a good point. I think it's about looking at the overall picture. We all need to get our feelings out and be heard, and the members who are in the further stages of healing seem to be challenging themselves and pushing themselves. Healthy, IMO, means being able to recognize the abuse for what it is/was and grow from it. I also think that they're more likely to offer support to others.

How can you tell when someone else is going through a healthy stage of processing the abuse?
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« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2012, 09:04:25 PM »

Maybe it is more likely to be healthy if there's a process of change going on?  Rather than stasis?  I know I was unhappy with my relationship with my mom for many years, and would talk about it very minimally and as though it were entirely my problem, my burden to bear, my bad luck of having been born to this person.  It wasn't really a conversation, just a responsibility I was taking on myself.  Very static.  Whereas when I started healing, I was interested in other people's opinions and reactions, I was curious what they had to say, and I didn't have the same conversation over and over again.  I did speak about my mother to different people but not the same stories to the same people.  It was like I needed to express what had happened, but having done that, I was ready for the next thing. 

I don't know if that can be generalized, but it would have applied to me... .
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« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2012, 10:49:23 PM »

For me, one of the most important reasons for remembering the abuse that happened is so I can see my part (no, it's not "fault" in it. The coping methods I learned during those times became deeply ingrained, automatic. I created "survival skills" that were necessary at the time, but that are no longer necessary, and in fact, often hinderances. Revisiting (if you will) some of these past abuse events helps me understand the source of my "coping skills" so that I can better change and update them. If I do not change/update them, then I unconsciously invite similar situations into my life in a misguided attempt to relive the situation and attempt to change the outcome (hasn't worked well so far    )

In my situation, it's not too hard to sort the abusive from the "regular". In fact, some of what I consider "regular" would still be considered abusive. My mother is a Sadistic Personality Disorder with Borderline features. Abusiveness made her feel better. Here's an example, as well as an example of the point of revisiting the past (in my family, this particular incident was called "the tuna fish incident" and it was what we would call a "medium velocity" incident--there were many much worse, and many not quite as bad)

My mom had a weird thing about food. She didn't like any of the rest of us to eat and constantly called us "filthy greedy pigs" for eating food (not our eating habits--just eating food at all). She would buy the cheapest food she could find for the family, and expected a gallon of milk to last a family of 6 for at least a week. When it did not, a massive rage would ensue that sometimes entailed harsh verbal abuse, and sometimes entailed physical abuse as well (beatings with belts or boards or electric cords until she drew blood, punching, kicking, etc). Then she wouldn't buy any milk again for several weeks, as punishment for our "greediness". none of us were allowed to eat food without explicit permission--ever. And often, permission was denied. But at the same time, she regularly bought hundreds of dollars worth of expensive, exotic, and imported foods for herself that she kept under the bed in her bedroom (away from us filthy greedy pigs).

OK, so with that backstory, here's what happened: when I was about 11 years old, I was really hungry (it was summer time--during the school year, I secretly frequently ate food out of the trash can at school that the other kids through away--this was not available during summer vacation). I had already been denied permission to eat food, but I was seriously hungry. So I snuck into the kitchen and looked for something I thought might not be missed by anyone else. There were 10 cans of tuna fish in the cabinet, so I took my chance with one of those. Ate part of it in my room and hid the rest (carefully--it smells!). I was caught almost immediately. A 4 hour "interrogation" ensued, that included punching, slapping, spitting in my face, hair pulling, etc. At the "end", my mom dumped the remaining tuna in a bowl, opened the other 9 cans of tuna and dumped them also in the bowl, and told me that since I was so greedy I could just eat all of it. Right now. With my hands (there were lots of curse words and screaming involved in this "request" as well). I ate as much as I could, and when I couldn't eat any more, she started shoving it down my throat herself. When I puked in the bowl, she became enraged and shoved my face in it and ground it in. My stepdad finally meekly intervened and she turned her rage on him and I escaped.

What was my part in this? 2 things. (1) For many years (until this year, in fact) I believed that I was at least partly responsible for what happened--even though I thought her reaction was "overboard"--because I STOLE a can of tuna. I continue to eplore the myriad ways this kind of thinking has effected the way I interact with people as an adult. (2) I felt immense guilt (and sort of still do) that my stepdad unfairly took some of "my" punishment. When I tell myself that he was an adult, and actually should have intervened more strongly and more often, I feel guilty for thinking that.

These kind of thought patterns are not serving me well. They serve to create dysfunction in my interactions and relationships, lead to serious codependency problems.

So when I "revisit" past abuse, I most often ask myself "and then what did I do?" This is not to continue to blame myself for what happened, but to see what my reaction was, so I can see why I think the way I do, why I react the way I do. So that I can begin the process of changing those ingrained, automatic (unconscious) patterns.

To this day my "self-talk" (which is ingrained and ignored on the conscious level) is beyond rude--it's severely abusive. Self abusive. It's a long slow process changing it. I see that my mind ruminates over these past events until I consciously pay attention and ask the next step process: "and then what did I do?"

Perpetual victimhood is useless. I must grow.

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« Reply #16 on: December 25, 2012, 01:00:46 AM »

As it may be to believe, I didn't recognize this as "abuse" (that particular word) until I was in my 30's. I just thought my mom was really mean. And it wasn't until my T told me a couple of months ago that it wasn't actually abuse, it was torture, that I understood THAT. It's not exactly like I had a "point of reference 101" class as a kid. Perhaps I should have asked my mom for the phone number for social services so I could report her? Even though I had no idea even of the existence of social services?

Why don't kids report their parents to agencies they don't know exist? Because little kids instead struggle to cope. They internalize what is happening to them, because they are dependent on the very people who are abusing or torturing them. They are struggling to gain the love of the person who is abusing/torturing them.
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« Reply #17 on: December 25, 2012, 07:23:16 AM »

doubleAries, your point about focusing on WHAT we did - without judging it! - is very well-taken.  

I hadn't thought about it that way, but it's true that when my focus shifted from my mother and what she was thinking and what she thought of me, etc., to what *I* had wanted out of the relationship, what I still wanted and felt was missing in my life, I started changing.  

I started feeling freer to make different choices, and able to leave the endless loop of obsessing why someone else acted the way they did.  Judging ourselves (and others!) offers a feeling of control, but as you point out it's really so much more helpful to just understand ourselves, why we made the choices we did in the situations that continue to haunt us, and what that illuminates about the hopes and fears that still drive us today.  

Actions can be helpful or unhelpful in accomplishing a particular purpose, and so right or wrong in those circumstances, but what our fundamental drives are, what we love and what we hate, what scares us, gives us a much deeper insight into ourselves, and really don't apply to those moral categories.  It's never right or wrong to want love, to fear pain, to try to function successfully in the life circumstances we find ourselves in.  

Seeing ourselves in that way helps us love ourselves unconditionally, as people who want what all people want - love, safety, and peace.  Rather than trying to control ourselves as tools to accomplish certain goals - which is the way I experienced my mother's view of me.  
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« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2013, 12:55:35 PM »

It's never right or wrong to want love, to fear pain, to try to function successfully in the life circumstances we find ourselves in.  Seeing ourselves in that way helps us love ourselves unconditionally, as people who want what all people want - love, safety, and peace.  Rather than trying to control ourselves as tools to accomplish certain goals - which is the way I experienced my mother's view of me. 

In the end, we all want the same things. Many of us were denied these things as children, but what's empowering now is that we have the freedom as adults to move past the abuse. Remembering it can remind us and motivate us to move forward, as long as we don't get hung up on what we didn't have in the past and focus on what lies ahead.
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« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2013, 02:15:07 AM »

Remembering helps us stop denying and minimizing the abuse. It becomes out in the open, where we can feel the emotions, and process them. There, we can begin to peel away the negative scripts that we apply to ourselves-I'm guilty, shameful, ugly, etc. When we share our stories, we can receive validation, reassurance, and the knowledge that we're not alone.

I think the line for ruminating and remembering healthily lies between over-sharing for the sake of receiving pity, and not sharing at all. If we don't look at the abuse, we can't really heal because we can't face it. If we pour out our guts-abuse and annoying childhood things-we can't really heal then either because we're stuck on feeling self-pity. Healing comes when we can face the abuse and feel pity for our young selves, but keep moving forward.

We will get stuck at times (I've gone to both ends of the spectrum and gotten stuck there), but that's ok. It seems to me that as long as we focus on healing, we can get unstuck again.
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« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2013, 10:17:54 AM »

Remembering helps us stop denying and minimizing the abuse. It becomes out in the open, where we can feel the emotions, and process them. There, we can begin to peel away the negative scripts that we apply to ourselves-I'm guilty, shameful, ugly, etc. When we share our stories, we can receive validation, reassurance, and the knowledge that we're not alone.

I think the line for ruminating and remembering healthily lies between over-sharing for the sake of receiving pity, and not sharing at all. If we don't look at the abuse, we can't really heal because we can't face it. If we pour out our guts-abuse and annoying childhood things-we can't really heal then either because we're stuck on feeling self-pity. Healing comes when we can face the abuse and feel pity for our young selves, but keep moving forward.

We will get stuck at times (I've gone to both ends of the spectrum and gotten stuck there), but that's ok. It seems to me that as long as we focus on healing, we can get unstuck again.

I really like this outlook. 
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« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2013, 08:47:15 PM »

I love this thread, and how timely it is in my healing.  Currently reprocessing memories and recalling buried ones--started as the silent treatments from recent ex started.  Familiar FOO feeling led to it. 

Happily started schema therapy last week to really drill down.  Ready for the bumpy ride!
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« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2013, 02:33:49 AM »

Remembering the abuse was essential when my fwBPD started sending me, "Come back!" correspondence and I started feeling sorry for them and their situation and considered for a moment if I should return to the friendship.

Remembering the abuse was essential when my fwBPD sent me more hate messages that amounted to, "Though you're a monster, COME BACK!" which confused me thoroughly and also did something to my sense of self and self esteem and self understanding.

However, remembering became counterproductive when it started eating away at my mind and I started experiencing - really experiencing - anger issues that I hadn't had before.

For this reason, I will be going back to therapy and I am looking forward to having a chance to address this counterproductive ruminating my brain is getting stuck on. 
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« Reply #23 on: November 24, 2013, 08:36:06 AM »

I think I've struggled with this issue quite a lot.  Many years ago, it was recommended to me to do a psychodrama program.  Now, I think that hurt me incredibly because it re-traumatized me in ways that dysregulated me.  I needed to really be resourced as I recovered memory and became more able to gradually see and assimilate the experiences of having been abused, abandoned and betrayed as a child. A sudden, jarring, supposedly "cathartic" experience just re-traumatized me and sent me into uncontollable depression, grieving and rage.

What I have learned since is that regaining memories and gaining a new understanding of myself and my experience, giving up denial and minimization and gaining an integrated understanding that I was abused, neglected and betrayed by the people who were supposed to love me, is extremely important.  But most of all in the presence and with the support of a competent, effective, caring therapist and a community of friends who are loving and supportive.  In other words, we repress the memories in an environment that is abusive and unloving, our inner life goes underground and we can only truly re-surface in an environment that is safe and loving.  The re-traumatizing through something like a psychodrama was injurious because I wasn't resourced, I wasn't given a safe environment in which to feel all of my feelings, all of the feelings which were not allowed in my family of origin.

One of the most terrifying things about remembering what really happened is that it challenges the official narrative of my uBPD mother and my enabling and dis-ordered father, trying to cover up his collaboration and appeasement of the BPD.  There was a massive cover-up of the abuse by them, a framing of it as "discipline" or as a response to my "bad" behavior. They accused me of being "sensitive," ungrateful, a flake, you know the usual script of the BPD and the enabling, denying parent. So, I needed to splice these parts of reality out of the story, "forget" them, minimize them dismiss them as a figment of my imagination, because they challenged my mother and father's fragile sense of self.  And the response of my parents to challenging their reality, when I was a child, was physical pain, emotional abuse and abandonment or threats of abandonment.  Too terrifying for a child to hold memories of those things in such an environment.

To regain those memories as an adult, to talk about them openly, to assert yes, this was all terrible abuse of children, is to bring up the old terror, yes terror of annihilation and abandonment.  So, it is so important to recover all of this resourced by safe and loving people, which of course we did not have when we were children.  And it is so important to reframe that inner reality by bringing it to the light of consciousness because our bodies know.  And if we don't remember we are fractured people, at war within ourselves, maybe not to the same degree as our BPD parent or our enabling parent.  But I know that true joy for me lies in finally becoming a truly integrated person, where my mind, spirit and body, all aspects of my being are in accord, all are integrated.  Living with a fragmented uBPD mother and a weak and capitulating father, cut off from his strength made that impossible for me as a child.  Now, to regain the memories and deeper understanding of what went on, in the presence of love and support, and emotional resources I never had as a child, makes that integration and fullness possible for me, day by day.  I stop having a part of me punishing and sabotaging myself and bring all of what is inside me in the service of growth, thriving and love. My mind listens to my body, and I can truly feel and act from within.

Thanks again,

Calsun
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« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2017, 06:57:09 AM »

I'm not sure that I have much to contribute to this discussion, except to say that this has certainly been on my mind as I continue to try to find words to put to my own childhood experiences around my uBPDm and our family dynamics.  Assessing what was actually abuse and what was normal family stuff has been a challenge for me.  I certainly do feel myself to be very sensitive and it is possible that I have over-reacted to uncertainty given that I had received no childhood training around the differences in the two.  I want to be fair to my mother (who is still a human being, despite being ill) as well as to myself.  I guess I can only reiterate that there is true importance to this line of discussion and thought.
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« Reply #25 on: October 09, 2018, 11:18:51 AM »

Assessing what was actually abuse and what was normal family stuff has been a challenge for me.

I think this is the hardest thing for me. It has caused me to accept abusive relationships as normal, and unhealthy and unbalanced friendships. Not knowing what is healthy and unhealthy has really hurt me in my ability to enforce boundaries.

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

For me - it is going back to validating my experiences as a child - I knew my mother's behaviour was wrong but I was constantly gaslighted by BOTH my parents. I was the problem in the family. There was something wrong with ME - and that narrative didn't change until I was in my thirties and started to put down boundaries, that is I walked out of their house during holiday get togethers because I was no longer accepting to be scapegoated.

What do we hope to gain from remembering the abuse?

Perspective. Understanding how the abuse affects us today and how we can work through it so that it no longer affects our present.

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

I'm not sure there is a right or wrong way - everyone has their own path. Sometimes remembering and acknowledging is good enough. If it comes out as anger I don't think it's a bad thing. As long as it's allowed to bubble to the surface.

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

I don't know what injury submersion is.

What is meant by "validate the valid but don't validate the invalid"?

Perhaps that it is valid that we were powerless to stop the abuse as children, but as adults we have power to take control of our lives and move on from the abuse and we owe it ourselves to do that.
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« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2018, 05:59:03 PM »

Injury submersion:From the OP: 
Excerpt
Over-reacting, over-generalizing , globalizing, blaming, self-victimizing, and obsessing are something else - injury submersion.  While it may feel good in the moment, injury submersion only keeps the anger, hurt, and the pain present - re-lives it over and over again - without gain.

hotncold said:
Excerpt
What are some of the there a right or wrong ways we remember at bpdfamily?
I'm not sure there is a right or wrong way - everyone has their own path. Sometimes remembering and acknowledging is good enough. If it comes out as anger I don't think it's a bad thing. As long as it's allowed to bubble to the surface.
Maybe a better way to look at this would be healthy vs. unhealthy ways to remember.  healthy would be to remember to get perspective, validation of our own experiences and perceptions and learn how to work on healing any hurt so that we can function better today.    I agree there really is no wrong way to remember and I agree that anger is fine.  Healthy even.  We do need to be cautious however, that we are not caught in the emotions to the point of immersion / submersion.

What is meant by validate the valid, don't validate the invalid: We only validate what is true.  From our article on validation: 
Excerpt
Validation, on the other hand, is not mindless submission to another person. "Yes dear, thank you for pointing out that I am wrong again, it's so wonderful to know you will correct me in front of others". We never need to validate the "invalid". Validation is not about weakness and submission. Nobody respects that.
  You can read more about validation here and see how it applies to this discussion:
  Communication Skills - Don't Be Invalidating The principles of validation can be applied to what we give ourselves.  Being able to recognize when we are ruminating, involved in injury submersion and are validating invalid things is important and a skill we can develop.  Another example would be "I feel like I do not matter" You would remind yourself that feelings do not equal facts and that you might be over generalizing or using some other form of distorted thinking.

make sense?

Excerpt
Perhaps that it is valid that we were powerless to stop the abuse as children, but as adults we have power to take control of our lives and move on from the abuse and we owe it ourselves to do that.
Yes, this is excellent.  And valid... .and validating! 
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« Reply #27 on: October 09, 2018, 10:54:19 PM »

I don't remember ever feeling debilitated.

However,  my mom brought up the time when I was 14 and age was raging on my so much that I feel to the ground and had a seizure.  My reaction was thy culmination of a few years... .living like 1884 with no electricity or plumbing (literally cropping in the woods), eating meals cold from dented canned food---later eating government cheese was a step up,  running from multiple county agencies and the sheriff, taken out of school for 3 months in 8th grade (no home school), being caught by CPS... .I'd survived and moved past it by decades. When my mom said,  "remember that time you had a seizure? That was the only time I may have abused you." Why would she bring it up over two decades later? It pissed me off. It wasn't debilitating to me,  but it was invalidating.

I remember it all,  VERY well,  but I don't feel it healthy to write a book,  despite so many people on my life encouraging me to do so over the years. 
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« Reply #28 on: October 14, 2018, 06:05:53 PM »

My thoughts...

Why is it important to remember the abuse as we heal? I have mostly remembered all the major happenings in my life at least the ones that are related to the abuse I experienced.  Now I have found I am remembering more of the good things, or the more normal stuff that I once thought was very scarce or even non-existant.  Remembering is important because it shows me where I was and gives me context for where I am now, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically.

What do we hope to gain from remembering the abuse?Perspective, meaning, understanding, context.

What are some of the there a right or wrong ways we remember at bpdfamily? I don't think there is a wrong way really, but I do think some ways can be harmful.  For example, ruminating or staying stuck, sharing as a way to defend or excuse our own behaviors.  As in I was abused so therefore I am angry... .as an explanation for lashing out indiscriminately.  It does not happen here that often but it does happen.  It can also happen more quietly if we get stuck in the past and feel it is our right to take a particular stance in the present because of hwhat happened in the past, not as a way to illuminate or help but to defend and deny or derail a conversation.

How can we tell the difference between remembering and ruminating and injury submersion?
Remembering:  
- to recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory; think of again  
- to retain in the memory; keep in mind; remain aware of:
- to have (something) come into the mind again:
--- I would add that what we do here is uncover events and try to process them in new ways that are less disabling and less of an negative influence
Rumination:
- to go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly
- to chew repeatedly for an extended period
--- I think of this as remembering without purpose or without then seeking understanding or purpose, meaning

Injury Submersion: As defined in the OP--->
Over-reacting, over-generalizing , globalizing, blaming, self-victimizing, and obsessing are something else - injury submersion.  While it may feel good in the moment, injury submersion only keeps the anger, hurt, and the pain present - re-lives it over and over again - without gain.

How can we help others (in times of emotional stress) to be more centered?
To help them find a place of stability, something to hang on to in the storm.
It can help to focus on one aspect of the issue and use words that are less emotionally charged.  To validate their experience and offer support and empathy
To remind them to breath and slow down so they can feel without being flooded.

Who's next?  there are no right or wrong answers so lets talk about this together.
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« Reply #29 on: October 14, 2018, 08:06:08 PM »

Hey, Turkish. I don’t recall feeling debilitated either. I remember feeling fear, but for whatever reason I was able to survive. I’m not one to be defeated by this crap. For reasons that I don’t test or question, I’m relatively ok considering what I’ve been through. It’s confusing, but amazing, how some people can pull through this stuff and some can’t. Both have considerable damage after the fact, but both don’t pay it forward. Maybe it’s as simple as nature stepping in to end the cycle. Maybe the mind is so complex and it can’t be pinpointed yet as to why some do, and some don’t.

I have something in common with you. We had a brief discussion about our parents not being blood, and how that may have played a part in not becoming enmeshed with our parents. Damaged? Yes. Enmeshed? Never felt that way. You?
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