Sunday, December 2, 2007

Body Memories

On the post, Punishing the Parts Within I was asked anonymously to do another post. This one is about body memories.

For those how have not been victims of rape or other forms of abuse, you may not be familiar with the phenomenon. Body memories are believe by the experts to be the storing of the memory within the body itself. It is also believed that storing trauma in this matter can lead to actual physical illnesses as well as the "expression" of the experience.

Whether these memories are actually stored in the muscle or stored in the brain and expressed in the muscle, I don't know. But what I do know is that when a victim has no idea that such a thing can even happen, experiencing it can be quite terrifying.

Body memories express themselves as if the actual trauma was taking place for the first time. There may be no cognitive memory of the event to accompany them. Just the physical reactions of the body to the trauma will materialize. That includes physical pain, distinguishing marks, secretions, anything the body may have gone through because of the trauma. Sometimes emotional memories will accompany them without an picture memory of the event.

There were a couple of different body memories in particular that I used to experience that were very disturbing to me. The one would show actual physical signs of fingers wrapped around my throat. The finger marks were quite red and angry looking and whenever they appeared, I struggled to be able to draw any breath at all. One more than one occasion, I passed out from lack of oxygen.

The other body memory that really disturbed me took a number of different forms. I would get red marks, muscle cramps, even joint popping and other indicators of physical torture. All of these were accompanied by abdominal cramping, the excretion of gobs of sticky vaginal secretions and sexual feelings that were not only alarming but totally humiliating.

With those physical sensations and manifestations I also experienced extreme terror. Sometimes all I had to go on to identify what was happening to me were by what my body showed my and the emotional memories that accompanied them.

The most unnerving part of body memories seemed to be that they would come without warning. I could have been sitting in church, talking on the phone to a friend or walking down the street. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to their occurrence. The only thing I could count on for sure was they would be terrifying and humiliating.

Because they usually lacked a picture memory to go with them, body memories seemed to be much more insidious to resolve. It was so much easier to throw the blame on me as some sickness or perversion of mine than to accept that this was something real that had happened to me. But I found the sooner I was able to own this memory as real and resolve my feelings around it, the sooner I was able to get free from its occurrence.

I know that I have had body memories that were associated with my victimization by the cult but I have also had body memories associated with abuses that happened no where near the satanists. It just seems to be another way the mind protects us victims at the time that needs to be resolved if we are ever to get free.

While experiencing pleasurable sexual sensations during all forms of sexual abuse is common, it is one of the biggest traps for victims. Victims tend to believe because there were some sensations that felt good, they somehow asked for, were willing participants, or deserved the treatment they got. Betrayed by our bodies responding with pleasurable sensations to heinous acts is just one more cruel trick played upon victims that interfers with the healing process.


Fallen Angels said...

Body memories are terrible...we have had many. Mostly they take the form of sensations that show no marks, or sickness with no explanation. We have actually had procedures done by specialists and *possibly* one surgery also. We definitely had surgery...the possibly is that it was actually body memories and not an actual, current problem that necesitated it. Although there WAS an actual problem diagnosed at the time. The severity may have been due to body memories. However, about a year ago we had bruises appearing and disappearing in a matter of minutes, for several days. We truly thought we were imagining it or had gone crazy. Lisa spent time in t talking about what caused the bruises originally and our T commented that she was watching bruises appear and disappear while lisa talked. We had not said anything about them to her, she saw it and commented. It was very reasuring to have someone else see it!

Anonymous said...

thankyou for saying feeling stuff you know stuff when they were doing things down below didnt just happen to me i have alwasy thought i was sick nad twisted and that maybe the reason i never have a relationship with anyone is because im so scared the only way i can ever be normal is to be hurt in the same way they didand that maybe its the only way i can feel the same back then even though i knew it was all wrong
Because of this i dont do anything with anyone i didnt know others felt even though i didnt want it to.
still i stay ashamed and lonely

jumpinginpuddles said...

Our worst body memory that comes takes place in a huge red welt type burn it always sits under our right breast adn its a red raised burn. After a day it smells and we have to bathe it for days then it simply disappears like it never occurs.
The only other one we have thats as embarssing is sometimes when we see M if we know a particular alter might come out we often now go in protected becasue she bleeds in a place that is personal and the first time it happeend we got so embarassed ever since then we dont take a chance and wether she comes out or not we know it wont matter

Cheesemeister said...

After I was sexually assaulted 10 years ago I would wake up and automatically go into a panic attack. Also my arms were covered with self inflicted scratches. Many times I would wake up swinging punches.

Daisy said...

Hello RR.

Do you also believe that our illnesses of today are telling us something about our past?

If so, do you know any good links to help me understand what my body is telling me?


April_optimist said...

Absolutely right. No matter how our bodies responded, the shame and guilt belong to our abusers--not us.

Marj aka Thriver said...

Now that I'm back from my trip, it looks like I've got some great reading to catch up on here. But, I'm taking my time catching up and procrastinating with a meme. Hee hee! And..."TAG!" You're it!

C'mon, play with me! It's frivolous, but it's fun!

Rising Rainbow said...

fallen angels, yes body memories are terrible and they take many forms including illness. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

anonymous, it is hard sometimes to sort out the feelings from the past when they creep in and interfer with the feelings now. There is no way you are alone in this.

jip, yes I have heard of that happening too. There are just so many ways the experience can happen.

cheesemeister, those panic attacks are the bits. And it's also a pain to have to fear such things waking us up.

daisy, I know that many believe that our illnesses of day can be reflective of our pasts but I'm not familiar with "interpresting" them. That might be interesting to research.

Apri_optimist, yes unfortunately way too many victims believe it is their fault and not the fault of their offenders. That is so very sad.

Enola said...

I can relate - that's all i can say at the moment.

Thanks for being open and willing to share.

ora said...

What can I do about body memories. I was fondled and I have body memories exactely at the place where I was fondled. But I cannot control it. It will pop up whenever it wants. But it's not too bad, since it is just one major and a few minor body memories, and nothing inside my body.

But if someone was abused for years, so there will be loads of different layers of body memories. So the person will be desperate never to go through it... I mean I have one memory and it keeps popping up, so if someone has hundereds of them and they keep popping up, what can they do?

jen said...

body memories is one of the only things left from the abuse... I'm a lot better, but tonight: Intense pain, fear, and a desire to scream...

There was a time when I'd get bruises, seizure-like flashbacks, losing time, dissociating, and that's all better... just trying to sort out this last piece.


Rising Rainbow said...

jen, every now and then I have something "new" like that pop up. At this point I think it must be something I have not yet remembered but not anything I really need to deal with other than to accept it's from the abuse.

I find doing self nurturing things helps make the situation better. Just knowing what causes it and that it's not my fault, I'm not crazy because of it and that it's in the past helps ease the emotional turmoil that body memories can bring.

I'm sorry you went through abuse and that it's still haunting you. I hope this too resolves soon.

Rising Rainbow said...

Jen, I tried to leave a comment on your blog but blogger will not let me log in there. I cannot post comments on any blog that has the comments come up on the same page as the post content. For some reason it only recognizes me to comment when the comment page comes up separate from the post.

I don't know if you subscribed to the comments on this post or not but if you did here is the comment I tried to post on in regards to your Who is the Better Friend post.

Sounds to me like you did much the same as I do when something pushes my buttons like this. I hope when you found your answer to this questions, it finally brought with it some peace.

This is a thought provoking post. Trying to make my way in the world of relationships is tough. So many different expectations, I couldn't conform if I wanted to.

It took me years to figure out who "me" really was and once I did, it probably took more years to figure out if someone didn't like me, they were not my friend. Thankfully I no longer feel the need to be what others think I should but I still feel twinges of rejection when someone doesn't accept me. I am definitely much more comfortable in the company of horses than people.