Body Memories Nov 12, 2022 9:34:20 GMT -8
Post by Morgan on Nov 12, 2022 9:34:20 GMT -8
There are many symptoms that childhood trauma survivors experience, but none are more disturbing than body memories. During a body memory, you may see, hear, or feel bodily sensations connected to trauma.
This piece shall explore body memories and ways you can help yourself when you experience one.
Childhood trauma refers to frightening, violent, life-threatening, or dangerous events that happen to children or children you may have known who were maltreated.
Childhood traumas may include any or more than the following listed events.
• Sexual abuse
• Physical abuse
• Physical neglect
• Emotional abuse
• Emotional neglect
• Witnessing a parent being harmed by violence
• Observing substance abuse in the home
• Narcissistic abuse
When these experiences occur, your child selves become overwhelmed and upset and feel helpless and hopeless.
Children exposed to overwhelming abuse or neglect grow into adults who often suffer from a myriad of mental health problems, including dissociative identity disorder.
What is a Body Memory?
Body memories are terrifying experiences that enable trauma survivors to relive the pain and fear they experienced during child abuse. Although firmly rooted in the past, these sensations significantly disrupt the survivor's life.
Body flashbacks manifest in many ways, including pain in the pelvic region and face, and can affect almost all body parts. Body remembrances range from annoyance to severe debilitating agony.
Body memories are somatic memories expressing themselves through physiological changes in the body. During these flashbacks, your body feels what you felt during an abusive episode.
One may not experience a body memory flashback for the first time until they are in their early adult life, and can trigger memories of the experience as if you were back there as that little child. Some people don't have the full-blown flashback and hold back the experience of the traumatic event tucked in their minds.
The Body Truly Does Keep the Score
In 2014, a book that changed how people see trauma was published. The Body Keeps the Score, authored by Dr. Bessel von der Kolk, broke onto the scene and quickly rose to become a New York Times best seller. In his book, Dr. von der Kolk used scientific advances to showcase how trauma reshapes the brain and body of a trauma survivor. The trauma, von der Kolk theorizes, compromises survivors' ability to experience healthy engagement, self-control, and trust in others and themselves.
Dr. von der Kolk's groundbreaking book brought to the forefront how our bodies are impacted by trauma in childhood. He believes, and many would concur, that your body remembers sounds, smells, touches, and tastes that the memory cannot store. Indeed, trauma becomes trapped in the cells that make up your body down to the molecular level.
This molecular memory is made possible because information about traumatic experiences, habits, sensations and everything we encounter is stored in your unique method making your memories only apply to you. That is what makes you uniquely you. Your skin, muscles, tendons, and nervous system hold our day-to-day experiences, good or bad.
Body memories aren't those that we consciously remember. Renee Fredrickson, Ph.D. states in Repressed Memories: A Journey to Recovery from Sexual Abuse
"The traumatic and the trivial are the two kinds of information your mind represses."
Your body remembers forever the sensations and emotions that went along with the neglect and abuse you suffered as a little child at the hands of a perpetrator.
Some people argue that those who experience repressed body memories cannot possibly remember the events that caused the mind to splinter in dissociative identity disorder, but as stated, the body remembers.
How to Deal with Body Memories
Everyone is different in how they experience body memories, so there is no cookie-cutter method of dealing with the pain and discomfort of body flashbacks. However, below is a list of some things you can do.
Practice good grounding techniques. When you experience a body flashback, it is critical to ground yourself quickly in today.
• Practice deep breathing
• Put your hands in water and focus on how it feels
• Hold an ice cube in your hand
• Notice the smells and sights around you
• Keep a picture of a friend or family memory in a conspicuous place and look at it
• Move your body around
• Pick up items near you that were acquired in the present
Allow yourself to feel the sensation. This is challenging, as your first instinct will be to dissociate and run away from the sensations. However, denying the pain won't make it go away. Describe what you are feeling in a journal and to your therapist. Speaking out takes power away from the flashback by ending the silence and bringing what you experienced into your present memory.
Pay attention to self-care. When dealing with body memories, it can be challenging to remember to care for oneself, especially since your body is affected the most. Make sure to bathe, brush your teeth, and eat right.
Allow yourself to acknowledge the truth. Allowing yourself to remember and admit to yourself what happened brings the power you did not have as a child back but with an adult's perspective. It is critical to remember that you are no longer a helpless child and that you are no longer experiencing trauma. Tell yourself the truth, no matter how devastating that truth can be. It's over, and you survived.
Explore unconventional treatments. Explore innovative treatments such as neurofeedback, meditation, drama therapy, or yoga.
Ending Our Time Together
It is crucial to have the help of a qualified mental health professional when working on body memory issues. You had to survive the abuse of the past alone, but that is not the case today.
Body memories aren't the end of the world. Indeed, body flashbacks are essential to remember what your mind refuses to think about.
Like other symptoms of dissociative identity disorder, there is hope, but it takes developing a lot of self-awareness and willingness to face the truth head-on. In other words, it takes guts, and people with DID have that in spades.
When you experience a body memory, try to remember what you've read here, and I encourage you to read Dr. Bessel von der Kolk's The Body Keeps the Score as it describes in deeper detail what is happening in your brain and more.
"Just like there's always time for pain, there's always time for healing." – Jennifer Brown
"Feelings are much like waves, we can't stop them from coming, but we can choose which ones to surf." – Jonatan Martensson
"Healing is embracing what is most feared; healing is opening what has been closed, softening what has hardened into obstruction, healing is learning to trust life." – Jeanne Achterberg