The re-experience of trauma and its endlessness

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
There is a point in my memories of both traumas where memory "shatters" for want of a better word. There are bits and pieces, nothing solid, no timeline, just that feeling - everybody here knows it. When triggered enough or long enough, or having flashbacks I can reach those memories.
At that point, it becomes what van der Kolk described. That endless timeless "fog" after trauma. Bits and pieces. Shattered memories. It's the worst place to go. It takes a while to get back to stable after those events. Like i said to my T its like the trauma is a little crack - that leads to this huge dark cave. Every time I end up there I have to fight and find my way out.
That's right. That's another thing that I can relate to that van der Kolk talks about - the fragmentation of the re-experience. There's no cohesion or narrative to make sense of the experience, just shattered bits and pieces. I don't know if you ever saw the movie "Get Out" by Jordan Peele, but he has a scene where the main character is hypnotized and transported to the "sunken place". It's like he's reverted into himself but he's somewhere behind his body suspended in the dark in mid-air and is just frozen there. Your cave reference reminded me of that, but it was the best visual of re-experiencing trauma I've ever seen.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
To me, memory is cognitive, but a flashback is a mind-body, visceral experience. I wouldn't want to interpret my reactions to flashbacks as a choice I make over and above a staid, cognitive memory.

cognition uses cellular memory. as an ESL teacher, i incorporate cognitive memory into my lessons by standing and having my students stand with me as i teach the words "stand up", etc. there is not a doubt in my mind that incorporating cognitive memory helps them remember the words attached. no, flashbacks are not a choice. i have been tempted to frontal lobotomy to rid myself of my child prostitute memories, but. . . i had to settle for being more gentle with myself for the crime of not being able to eradicate these memories. on no level did i or would i choose to have those memories. ditto for the gems i am mining for amidst all that muck and mire.
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
There's no cohesion or narrative to make sense of the experience, just shattered bits and pieces.
My original trauma is very like that. Both eyes were bandaged. I have a general sense of what went on outside of the actual trauma event but everything outside that is fractured bits and pieces. The second trauma was the same in a way. Everyone and everything disappeared. I couldn't remember names or faces of people I worked with.

I haven't gone back over this stuff with my T but it seems the first event may have been extended too and more stuff may have been sucked into it as I was in incredible pain and they were pounding it down with some pretty heavy painkillers so I was kind of in and out of it for a couple weeks I think. All my memories of that time are pieces and bits - disconnected, fragmented, disordered.
 

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
cognition uses cellular memory. as an ESL teacher, i incorporate cognitive memory into my lessons by standing and having my students stand with me as i teach the words "stand up", etc. there is not a doubt in my mind that incorporating cognitive memory helps them remember the words attached. no, flashbacks are not a choice. i have been tempted to frontal lobotomy to rid myself of my child prostitute memories, but. . . i had to settle for being more gentle with myself for the crime of not being able to eradicate these memories. on no level did i or would i choose to have those memories. ditto for the gems i am mining for amidst all that muck and mire.
That's a great teaching technique. I guess all memory is somewhat bodily. By the way, I'm sorry to hear about your past as a child prostitute. Unfortunately, we can't eradicate our memories, but like you said, neither would you want to get rid of the gems.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
my own psychotherapy started in earnest in 1974 with a pretty harsh case of what was then being called, "trauma induced amnesia," that same year that i started my computer career in earnest. in 1974, not even super computers had memory. you had to reboot with a full deck of punch cards every time the computer crashed and they crashed often. my place in developing tech toys and repairing my damaged memory are irrevocably intertwined.

for what it's worth
proof is readily available that the organic super computers between our ears functions entirely on cellular activity, aka synapses. the early programmers and tech developers proactively used the human thought processes as a model for their designs.
 

Friday

Moderator
the early programmers and tech developers proactively used the human thought processes as a model for their designs.
So do modern ones 😁… to the extent of having neurologists &/or physiological psychologists on staff.

Some modern programs are more based off of the immune system, and other physiological systems, though.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
So do modern ones 😁… to the extent of having neurologists &/or physiological psychologists on staff.

Some modern programs are more based off of the immune system, and other physiological systems, though.

thank you for this update, friday. carpal tunnel syndrome forced me out of the biz in the early 90's and i've been pretty apathetic about keeping up since then. back then, the trend was to recruit poetry and philosophy majors to get past the numerical sterility.
 

Soleil

New Here
I haven't read the book mentioned, though my T has mentioned it a few times during our sessions over the years.

What I've learned to do whenever I feel strong emotions is to STOP. Whether current or triggers of the past, if I just stop I have time to figure it out.

And I do so by just saying "now's not a good time for me. Let's talk about this later?" Reasonable people, trustworthy people, have no problem with that (unless we're discussing what's for dinner lol 🤭)

And the unreasonable ones? They are phased out of my life. Some faster than others lol.

By doing this, by STOPPING, I get the much needed time *I* need to process, to understand, to decipher and determine whether it's a now thing or not, and how I want to handle it if it is.

Stop is a form of "freeze." The difference is, it's a conscious choice to not cause harm- to myself, others, or the situation.

Hth. GL! 😊💕
 
I think that's really wise advice @Soleil . And has the added benefit if in conflict to see how the other person responds or whether they have any desire to address it, too.

Idk if I have a great capacity for figuring out things on my own after the fact (as they said, the moment is timeless), but I do have the capacity at times to not make it worse for myself or others. Probably if I don't stop I make it worse for others. If I do stop but internalize it without feedback I make it worse for myself.

Interesting perspective to think of it as freeze. Since freeze for me is usually an involuntary response and leaves me unable to speak. And always played a role in most or many of my traumatic experiences.

Thank you!
 

Soleil

New Here
I think that's really wise advice @Soleil . And has the added benefit if in conflict to see how the other person responds or whether they have any desire to address it, too.
Yes, exactly. I find it especially valuable in moments of conflict. I also might say "I need time to process this. Let's discuss later?" And again, reasonable people get it.
If I do stop but internalize it without feedback I make it worse for myself.
"Know thyself" is still the first rule. Do what works for you. I think the "let's discuss later?" part might be particularly useful for you, since you're not confident in figuring it out on your own.

You can get another's perspective, which will help you figure it out.
Interesting perspective to think of it as freeze. Since freeze for me is usually an involuntary response and leaves me unable to speak. And always played a role in most or many of my traumatic experiences.

Thank you!
Yes, "freeze" and "fawn" are my go to autonomic responses as well, which is why making it conscious is so important.

This way, (saying "I need some time") *I* get to be in charge, not my limbic system. It's one way of taking back the control that was taken away from me by the traumas.

So happy you're 1) open to input and 2) have found my response to be helpful for you! 😊😊💕
 

Soleil

New Here
I ran out of edit time (TBI- Uggh). And I couldn't delete either??

Anyway, I wanted to add this:

It also takes practice. Some days more than others lol 🤭 (I think of recovery as a dance, so I don't get so hard on myself when I don't get my desired result/response when I want it).
 
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