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Mental Imagery - How Do I Get Abuser's Face Out Of My Mind?

Discussion in 'General' started by metis-siren, Apr 27, 2007.

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  1. metis-siren

    metis-siren Active Member

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    Hey guys,

    I had quite the nightmare the other night - so disturbing that I can still, days later, remember the most minute of details about it. The nightmare in itself isn't so hard for me to work through, it's the unexpected inability to lose the mental image that appears every time I close my eyes, even just to meditate or relax. The man that raped, sexually, physically, and psychologically abused me for eight months when I was fourteen (which ended in me miscarrying) - I can't get his face out of my mind. I see parts of his face in people who are walking by me, and it took me moving five hours away from my abusers' hometown to feel safe (death threats and such).

    I don't want to ignore this, or wait for it to pass. I know I'm in a relatively safe place to deal with this now, and would like to work through it, but it's not something I know how to work through. It's not making me feel unsafe, more uneasy for the most part, and is causing sensory memories to resurface.

    I went to yoga today, and tried to relax into my practice, but every time I closed my eyes as part of my practice, his face would appear, hauntingly. It got to a point where I was holding back tears, and not closing my eyes for my practice. I did eventually close my eyes in my practice and focused on my breathing to guide me through it. At the end of the class, one of my fellow yoga practitioners who I speak with on a regular basis gave me a hug, which honestly made my day - I needed a hug, and though he wasn't aware of why I was so upset, it made me feel safer. He kind of reminds me of my grandfather.

    So how do I work through a visual image? Aside from breathing through it - which I will continue to do - is there anything that I can be doing?
     
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  3. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    siren, if you try to purge forcefully the image it will haunt all the more. Nightmares can stick so hard and is part of the intrusive thoughts we cannot get out of our heads. Why can we not fight them back? Well, for me and being down this road and seeing your post is fighting. PTSD is fighting. How to heal... Stop fighting. We fought so long and now as it comes to surface it is time to surrender.

    I know it makes little sense as it is natural to fight this back as it is to struggle against panic or anxiety. But to those seasoned in this, fighting back is the last thing you need to do to feel better. Of course you want to fight those feelings away. But in doing so you make it worse. Like a bad panic attack where you feel death is around the corner. To find relief from the panic symptoms is to give up and say fine, let me die. And when you truly surrender with no fight to die the panic can and will go away. Suddenly you notice you don't think you are dying.

    Give into the face and relive the pain. Your mind is crying out to. It will hurt like no other but at the same time you will feel pain and process it like you need to. We held so much back. At some point we need to feel the pain and relive it to do so. It will hurt. But once your mind is given the chance to process it and you grieve you will find yourself in a better place. You have to welcome it in and hurt. That way you can grieve correctly and not block it. Once you grieve you will find relief.
     
  4. Marilyn_S

    Marilyn_S Well-Known Member

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    Hello siren,

    I agree with veiled on this one, speaking both from knowledge and from experience. Our natural inclination is to push it out because that is what we as survivors did to survive. But there comes a time when one has to process the emotions that for so long were pushed away to survive. Until one feels the brain will continue to plague with unwanted images. You have the right cognitive framework in that you are telling yourself you are safe now. This will help you process the feelings in the now and not feel quite so revictimized. Its kind of like grieving a loss. You feel the grief and the pain, understanding all the time that, that was then and this is now, putting yourself in the present while feeling the feelings that occur as a result of something that occured in the past and resulted in a great loss for you. You sense the loss, betrail, pain, anger... But accept them as your own current emotions. You have the right to feel those emotions that were unsafe for you when the trauma occured. Good fortune to you. My heart goes out to you as I truly know how difficult this process can be. Know you are not alone. Take gentle care of yourself.

    LOVE & CARE
    Marilyn S.
     
  5. metis-siren

    metis-siren Active Member

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    Thank you both for your help in this matter. I took it to heart and spent a good deal of time working through it - and it has passed. Actually, it passed very shortly after I let my defenses down and felt the pain and didn't try to push my way through it. Feeling my way through it didn't hurt nearly as much as I thought it would.
     
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