I might as well include the rest of today’s story here in another post. Perhaps there is a warning in here for other severe infant/child abuse and trauma survivors about how the SENSES of the body interplay with the choices and actions taken with our mind.
I could say, “It’s your own dang fault, Linda. You touched the raw nerves, awakened the sleeping giant today with those two posts you wrote.”
Yup, I did. But there is no fault in doing that. The warning is this: The memory of every experience we have ever had is stored in the cells of our body, most often as implicit memory that will never be available for conscious semantic/autobiographical FACTUAL or literally verbal recall.
We ALWAYS live with these memories as long as we are alive in a body. Those sense-based memories are alive and well and often glue themselves together to form what we might notice consciously as a ‘feeling state’, a ‘mood state’, or even as a generalized SENSE about our self in our body in the world.
If and when we turn our attention to consciously considering the severe abuse and trauma that we endured when we were babies and growing up from there, we can then feel very physical reverberating sensations within our body that are most likely NOT going to be comfortable — or comforting.
I am experiencing trauma memory reactions in my body in part as a consequence of going as close to my childhood as I did in writing my last post.
At the same time I am ALSO aware of body-based memory reactions as this winter begins to settle in that I have never noted before in my life the way I am now. There is something about winter — its increasing darkness, its clamp of cold, its demands to increase time spent indoors — that is triggering some form of memories of abuse and trauma from my childhood that I DO NOT want to know about specifically.
It’s enough to know that winter is a big deal in Alaska. It’s enough to know that given the chronic cramped quarters our family lived in that the pressures of my mother’s madness escalated during the winter months. If there are experiences that my body is just ‘popping’ to tell me about — well, let’s just say I am not going to listen to specifics willingly.
I suspect that both body-based sense-related memory experiences are active as I write this. Last night reached 16 degrees, cold for here, especially within houses that have zero insulation — and for those of us living on poverty incomes that mean increases in heating costs — hurt.
I am also extremely aware of the sense my body has right now — and it IS very much a foreboding one.
I feel as if I am a tiny mouse, or a little rabbit, on the run from a gigantic predator that flies above me. It’s talons repeatedly rake across the top of my head and along my back as I race as hard and as fast as I can to find a place to hide where the great taloned beast cannot reach me.
I am very aware that I cannot extricate myself from the shadow of this beast that follows me every place — and I mean EVERY PLACE. There is no safety.
My body remembers what this condition not only FELT like during the 18 horrific years of abuse from my mother, but also remembers NOW what if felt like-feels like. I am not sure HOW a person can change what the body remembers about things. Is it even possible to do so?
Only my MIND today can rescue ME from these influences. I think about how now, as I approach age 60, it has been two-thirds of my lifetime since I experienced those traumas that filled the first one-third of my life.
Today I think/feel that the first one-third does overshadow and outweigh the succeeding two-thirds of my life experiences — because the trauma was built into my growing and developing body-brain from the time I was born.
For example, my recliner sits in my living room with its back to the wall and to the picture window. Every time I sit in that chair I have to exercise being able to do so with a lesser degree of ‘sense of impending trauma’. I don’t move the chair or sit in another one because that would be, to me, the same as admitting defeat.
Often my body senses the prowling darkness because it has way, way too many memories of this feeling. As winter approaches the feeling is getting worse. I have spent as much time as I can outside in the daylight/sunlight, but I ALSO hate to be cold. My body with its memories of trauma and I with this mind of mine have to negotiate all of this.
So when people suggest that severe early trauma can be ‘dealt with’ and moved past — personally I don’t think so — not for me. I work to be OK with this fact — the dealing with it is the living with it — learning where it came from, how it feels, what triggers it, what I can do to help sooth it/myself.
And one of those ways is for me to be very, very careful about returning to any specific memory and its details from my abusive/traumatic infant-childhood. I DO NOT advocate returning to the ‘scenes of the crimes’ as if we can ever do that easily. If there is good reason to do so, I will — but never do I go any closer than I have to for any longer than necessary.
My body ALWAYS remembers EVERYTHING that happened to me ‘back there’ — and always will.