November 14, 2008


The Drug of Dissociation

As I promised in my last comment on my previous (October--yikes!) post, here is an update on me.

For the first time ever--at least that I'm aware of--it doesn't look like I'm going to get a break between the "end-of-the-summer/back-to-school freak-out" and my annual "holiday freak-out." Good God! Can we really be coming up on Thanksgiving already? I can't begin to describe to you my exhaustion.

I've also been dealing with a lot of body pain lately. My therapist says they are body memories. I had no idea that my goal of being in my body would be so much fun. Not!

I want to go on record, right here and now, of saying that I officially apologize to anyone on this planet who deals with chronic pain. I'm sorry that I could not empathize with you before. Having been out of my body for most of my life, I must admit that I thought chronic pain sufferers were a bit on the weak side. Of course, I couldn't know their pain--couldn't empathize--because I didn't know pain. If one is not in one's body, one does not know physical, body pain very well.

I also want to admit that I can't take much credit for giving birth to my son without the help of pain killers. It was my goal to have a birth experience that was natural, and not have any drugs in my system or that of my newborn's. Even with back labor, I did not have anything to take the edge off. Now, I'm not saying that I didn't feel anything. And I did have a doula to help me. But, I did get through what must have been some pretty agonizing pain without any drugs, and it wasn't that hard.

I guess, all along, what I had was my drug of choice: it was the drug of dissociation.

Well, guess what, folks? My lifelong drug is wearing off! And, right now, the withdrawal really sucks!

As I think I said in a previous post, this "back-to-school freak-out" season, I've managed to stay out of the hospital. What I've done instead is a shit-load of therapy. Some days have required three hours of therapy. Some weeks have required as much as five hours.

We're getting down to the nitty-gritty of the most heinous torture aspects of my child abuse. I won't get into the gorey, triggering details, but the body pain has been freaky. I've especially had a lot of pain in my wrists, ankles, neck and back. A really weird one is sudden pain at the top of my my scalp! If you can imagine the logistics of immobilizing and torturing a body, you get the idea of maybe why these particular body parts would be telling their story through pain.

And they are telling their abuse story. The good news is that my therapist and I really are getting a lot done in trauma processing as of late. I just don't have much energy for anything else right now.

And sometimes I revert back to the place where I think these memories will kill me. I think, what I did is learn to dissociate at a very early age. I guess I'm convinced that the pain, fear, and knowledge of the abuse will kill me because--through my dissociation--I don't realize that I've actually lived through it already.

Just this Wednesday, I was at the end of my regularly-scheduled therapy session, and I was so consumed by the horror and actual, physical pain of an emerging torture memory, that I got white as a sheet and broke out in a cold sweat. I excused myself and went into the bathroom. I could see in the bathroom mirror that all the color had drained from my face. I felt a bit better when I returned to my T's office, but she was so worried about me that she insisted on walking me to my car. Outside, the fresh air revived me a bit. After sitting in my car for a while, gulping fresh air, I was able to drive home.

Because my T had a cancellation that day, we were able to make another appointment for three hours later. That way, I was able to get some completion on some of this particular trauma processing, and not have it hanging over my head until next week's session.

This is what it's been like for me, being in my body lately

The upside is that I've been much more consistent at taking care of, pampering, and comforting my body as well. I've been utilizing a lot of these comforting techniques and products these days: deep-penetrating cream for muscle pain, over-the-counter pain meds, calcium and magnesium supplements, my heating pad, massage from my wonderful husband's healing hands (when I can tolerate it), hot tea, soothing music CD's with nature sounds, the cascading water in my fountain, fresh flowers, various types of aromatherapy, cozy, soft pj's and loungewear, stuffed animals...and comfort food. Diet, be damned! As a matter of fact, I'm going for some mac 'n' cheese as soon as I'm done with this post.

When the pain starts to get to me, I've just got to remember some of these cozy, yummy, positive aspects of now being in my body.

Please continue to be patient with me as I continue to comfort, cocoon and convalesce. Thanks!

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You're not alone in the Holiday free out! hehe With the kid of communication and tension thats been going on in my family lately I'm scared to death of the thought that I will have to drive down and face them all.

I do have to say that I"m very happy to hear (read) that you are doing self care through this tough time of processing. That is so important in this healing journey we are on and many people including myself at times, forget that we have to do a little self-love to make it over the big hurdles.

I can also relate to the body pains you speak of. Mine is not a "story teller" as yours is. By this I mean that my body had just chosen one spot to attack and its constant. My back is the target. Since my mid teens I have had chronic back pain all related to muscle tension. It can be exhausting and at times debilitating. The only thing I can think of that brought this on is that fact that at 15 I broke through my repression of past memories and thoughts and images filled my mind and body. Since that point, I've had anywhere from low to severe upper back pain.
I think you are amazingly strong. You are going to school, raising a child, married and taking care of yourself and your needs. That requires TONS of strength and energy and I applaud you on your efforts.

You just continue to care for you. You are definitely deserving of it and those of us in your "fan club" will continue to drop by and read about your progress and life, because we care!

Keep on keepin on Sistah!
I am so so sorry you are feeling all this pain, I can't begin to imagine what it is like after not having some for so long. On the up side, I think it is great that despite the pain, you continue to face the past so that your future can be a lot brighter and you can truely enjoy the rest of your life

Thank you so much, Jade & S'onnie! I appreciate your kind words...and I appreciate YOU!
Glad to see you posting. I think trauma processing is so scary because we're back in the emotions (as well as physical sensations) of the child we once were. And what was happening WAS more than a child could or should have to handle. In a sense we forget that we're an adult with a lot more resources--because we're back inside that child we once were. Big (((((((((((hugs))))))))))).
Hope this new week brings with it strength, peace,healing and enjoyment for you :-)
i like how you write. after freaking out friday, crying and taking it out on my kids, the body memories. i get how you feel. i am sorry. hope your healing continues. thanks for being brave and writing about it. i am just beginning.
We have had a reprieve from all the constant dragging up stuff since we left mon, but essentially its lawasy there hiding so we get how hard it is.
Good for you for finding ways to let go of our all too common pattern of dissociation.

I also have chronic pain in my back, right behind my heart, which I think is my body's way of trying to protect my heart. Getting other people - chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist, acupuncturist - to help me heal has made a big difference.

I like that you have the list of healthier substitutes that you have. Meditation has also been really helpful for me because it gives me a short period every day to just focus on being in my body and notice what's there without judgment.

And I'm also starting a holiday freak out. You are not alone.
April: Dealing with the emotions and the physical sensations is new to me because the fog of dissociation was soooo thick. But, I'm getting there. Thanks for those big hugs!

Jade: Thanks for checking back in with me. You're sweet! I had a little enjoyment today after my T session by playing with my son's Guitar Hero game. Fun! ;)

Mile191: I'm glad you like how I write--thanks. Welcome and blessings and safe hugs to you as you start out on the healing path.

Welcome to you, CrystalHealer, as well! I have done some EFT and TFT and found some of the techniques quite helpful. I may have that web address on my dot com site, but it's pretty in need of updating--I'll have to check that out. ;P

Hey, JIP! I'm glad you're getting that reprieve--God knows you deserve a rest. I just hope that you don't let things go too long and they sneak up and bite ya in the butt...that's what always seems to happen to me. Safe hugs((((JIP))))

Karma: Maybe we can meet for a survivors vacation on some island somewhere where they have no holidays! Anyone want to join us?
Hope you're rockin out on Guitar Hero right now! (:-)
I have to laugh at dissociation as a about hitting the nail on the head.

I remember those days of intense therapy like you are describing. Hang in there, it will be worth the journey. Sounds like your T is very flexible, that's a really good thing with circumstances like this.

If there's something I can do to help, please let me know. I know that walking this journey can feel very lonely, but you are not alone. Others of us have walked and are walking it too.
Hi Marj, Glad to see you here and I believe I left a comment about your post...but in signing up I may have erased it, but glad to hear of the breakthroughs you are experiencing and can relate to much of what you shared...keep doing what you're doing!!!!
take care, Mike - Hope, Healing, & Help for Trauma, Abuse, & Mental Health through music, resources, & advocacy.

hope that all is well.. happy turkey day.. wanted to let you know that i had to change hte url to my blog... it is now


just checking in to see if you are doing okay.

i tagged you with an award. you can do the tag, or just take the award.

i love and appreciate that you wrote in the last sentence to be patient as you cocoon, etc. that is so powerful. i just understand that feeling. take care, i hope all is well.
Just thought I'd drop in and see how your thanksgiving went and also to see how YOU'RE doing with things.

Sending you peace and smiles!
Wow! I haven't kept up with these comments recently. I apologize, all. I do not mean any disrespect or lack of gratitude for anyone's comments (or an award I recently received--THANKS!) and/or support.

RR: thanks for your offer to help. It DOES help, knowing that others, like you, are on the same path...and a bit ahead of me, as a matter of fact! ;) ((((Hugs))))

Hey, Mike. Nice to "see" you. Yep, I think you did erase your other comment. Thanks for trying again.

Hi, Cassie! Thanks for the heads-up on your new Blogger address. I went and paid ya a visit! :)

Mile191: I DO appreciate the award. I will play the tag-game when I get my head out of clouds! ;P I just hope I can retrieve and post it. The last award I got was a slippery guy and I never did get the graphic to post on my sidebar. Oh, the joys of being a cyber klutz! hee hee!

Jade: Thanks so much for the peace and smiles! Right backatcha! As a matter of fact, I needed peace so much that I went up to a yoga retreat in the mountains and pretended it wasn't even Thanksgiving! LOL! I'll try to post about it soon.
Wow you went on a Yoga retreat! I'm so jealous! I'm not great at yoga but I really like doing it. Hehe I have 3 yoga dvd's that I have that help for different things. Its the only thing that can relax my back when my anxiety is super high. Hope you had a good time. :-)

Hope this finds you doing well :-)

Rock on Guitar Hero!
Marj, Your words are almost paralizing to me. I am going through many of the physical symptoms you speak of daily, but have not yet found therapy to go to. My memories of sexual abuse are locked deep inside, with the physical evidence and limitations to remind me. I feel trapped. I have seen numorous physicians for my ailments and noone has been able to point me in the right direction, I know I need some sort of intensive therapy. The type it seems you write about, but am partly afraid to let go and am partly unsure of how it fits in with regular life (job and family). I don't want to stop living, but am afraid at this point, I will come to a stopping point if I don't get some serious help now. I started my first blog today in response to another blog I read of yours. If you would read it, when you get a chance, I would really appreciate it. I understand you must be going through a lot and it really looks like you do a great deal as an advocate for survivors of child abuse and to speak out against child abuse. I thank you for that. I hope as I continue to heal that my voice will get louder and louder as well. Thank you for creating a safe space.
my blog is at:
I'm going to copy and paste Mike's lost comment here because it came through as an e-mail, but others might find it helpful:

Hello Jade, Cassandra, & Mikael, & Marj

I'm following up to the blog comments we posted and to introduce myself and my own blog that I set up after seeing Marj aka Thriver's blog. She & I network on other matters related to advocacy & awareness regarding trauma & abuse. New to the blog, I posted my latest e-mail list "Survivor Friends & Friends of Survivors" that goes out 1-2 times per month. If you are interested in being on the list, please let me know. Everyone's e-mail address stays hidden. I share websites, resources, info and other things for survivors and their friends, family, etc. If you visit the blog [please scroll down for the link] it will give you an idea of what it's about. I can also send it to you so all the links work if you like.

take care, Mike Skinner

ps. the song posted at You Tube is one I wrote to and for children affected by trauma & abuse.
A diagnosis is not a destiny. - Hope, Healing, & Help for Trauma, Abuse, & Mental Health through music, resources, & advocacy - musical endeavors only - live performance of "Brush Away Your Tears" from TV show interview 603-625-2136 141 English Village Rd. # 11, Manchester, NH 03102 - new site for public speaking & music presentation on healing for trauma, abuse, & mental health.
Searching for Answers: I'm glad you feel this is a safe space. I can certainly relate to your struggle. I know finding a good therapist is very daunting. It took me a long time to find my current T, but it was worth the effort and time. I will get over to read your blog and I am sending (((((safe hugs)))))
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