Trigger warning please exercise self care when reading this post.
This morning I woke and instantly felt fear, it’s not a pleasant feeling at all but then neither was the fact parts of my body felt numb. Numb in a way that reminds me of times long ago when I was being abused, numb in areas that I don’t want to feel numb. My body was basically talking to me about the past, about the abuse that was inflicted upon us years ago.
When I have flashbacks or body memories I feel myself spiral into that moment of terror that is so hard to escape from. Today I initially thought here comes the whole darn memory, and unable to move I had to wait, wait for the feelings to continue to build. It’s as if I am there in that time, it’s happening all over again and here I am in 2015 unable to stop my body fully recount being raped.
I can’t tell you how old I was when the incident occurred because it could be the memory of any number of events that span an age range that well covers too many years. I know I’m a child, I know it haunts me and my body to this day and I know I’d rather not experience these moments today. But they are a way of my body telling me what happened when I dissociated away back in the distant past when the original abuse took place. It’s also a way for my alters; parts of me, to share with me the horrors they endured.
The numbness meant I couldn’t actually move, my legs and other parts of me didn’t want to respond to the messages from my brain today, instead they were recounting messages and signals from the past. I lay there desperately telling myself I was safe, it was 2015 and I was secure in my own home and yet the numbness and feelings continued. I endured the various feelings that followed, desperate to stay in the here and now and yet trapped in the terror that builds in my mind. I kept trying to focus amidst all of the sensations and feelings, telling myself that it wasn’t for real, it wasn’t happening now. But if I’m honest it felt like it was happening, my body felt like it was hurting and I was powerless to stop those feelings.
Eventually the feelings stop, as suddenly as they start and it wasn’t as bad as some memories after all I didn’t feel the worst bit. I felt enough to know what was being remembered but my body and the part of me it relates to saved me from the worst, I’m thankful for that. But my legs still felt unable to move I was so traumatised I guess it takes a while to settle back and regain control.
I did regain control of this body of mine and I was off the sofa where I’m sleeping as soon as I could. I wanted to just move away from the moment, to be free of it, to no longer be trapped in that horror. Of course I didn’t at that point know whose memory the body had recounted and so began the gentle questions and reassurance to my alters. The first thing I did though was clean myself, I always feel dirty after a body memory like this, so I needed to do that physical act of washing, though in truth I’m not dirty I’m clean. You see I haven’t been raped or abused this morning, it is just a memory, but it’s hard to tell yourself that in the moment.
I then grabbed a drink of tea, I use that mug of tea as a security blanket so much in my day to day life, in meetings, in therapy, at home. People who know me well know I drink a lot of tea in a day, I need the physical reassurance of holding a mug of tea, knowing it stands between me and the world like a shield. I so needed that shield this morning.
Then began the fact finding mission in earnest, I asked who was around which parts of me were there, soon a little voice responded. My little me was clear but frightened all the same, she just said ‘bad people hurt me, I don’t like bad people’. How do I answer that, she’s right bad people long ago did hurt her, hurt me, and nothing can change that fact, it happened. But it happened a long time ago, it didn’t happen today and so I had to reassure her that she was safe with me.
I tried to ask if this was her memory, did she remember this and to be fair she can’t tell me and I’m not going to push her. I know that for whatever reason my body recalled that moment today it wants me to know about it and whichever part took that abuse when I dissociated as a child, they want me to know too. Other parts were also around this morning and so in the end I decided not to push for more information they will tell me when it’s the right time, all I’m to know right now is that it happened and it hurt. Maybe I’m to know they couldn’t move, or that they were terrified, or that my body was numb, felt weighed down and heavy. I’m not fully sure but I know they will tell me when the times right, so all I can do right now is wait.
It may sound strange but I thanked the alter whose memory it was, I thanked that part of me for sharing this information. Because as horrible as it was it is only by sharing information between us, by breaking down amnesic walls will I be able to deal with the trauma of my past.
My little me wanted me to write it down in the journal we keep, so I have done, at her request and then well we sat and did some self care. We watched cartoons, we read a little, we listened to the birds, all the while reassuring us all it was ok now, we are safe the bad people aren’t here anymore. Body memories they come without warning, they sweep in when you least expect and they leave you feeling fragile and vulnerable. The reality is that it’s the past impacting upon life today, in a way you’d much rather it didn’t and yet that’s just part of life after trauma, its part of life with D.I.D.
I wonder how many people out there in the world truly realise the impact abuse has on people like me, decades of turmoil, decades of pain and decades of body memories like I encountered today.