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Admin Area => Stage One - Remembering => Group One March 2015 => CPTSD Course Group #1 => Step 4 (Mar 30 - Apr 5) => Topic started by: C. on March 29, 2015, 07:44:55 PM

Title: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: C. on March 29, 2015, 07:44:55 PM
Self-Help   

If you'd like...

1.   Record in your journal each episode of abuse that you recount in ASCA meetings or in your therapy.  Describe your story in your own words or in the way you have heard other survivors share their stories.  If you'd like, draw pictures (abstract, child-like, or real) to accompany the words and to create a fuller image of the surroundings.  Include as much detail and emotional expression as you feel comfortable with.  Writing and drawing in story form is helpful in organizing and integrating the past experience for you in a different manner, one that takes into account your adult perspective and knowledge.  Try to sort out exactly what happened and your reactions then as well as now.  Your goal is to develop  a more complete understanding of the abuse episode(s), one that incorporates the roles played by your parents, your abusers, your family and the forces over which you had no control.
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: C. on March 29, 2015, 07:58:14 PM
When I first read this step and the activities they sounded like too much.  But then I go to thinking if I focus on one set of memories, and process it well, I think that learning will transfer to other memories.  Especially if I re-frame the memory as my adult self and what would've been an appropriate action by my parents.  Re-parent me.  "Re-mommy" me.  So, when I have the emotional/mental energy this week, I will do so.
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: Kizzie on March 30, 2015, 09:58:36 PM
I really like the idea of reframing the incident C.  I'm so busy right now I'm really reluctant to do a lot of the activities in case I end up triggering.  But picking one at a time and then ending off with some reparenting seems like a positive strategy I can manage.

Great idea!  :hug:  (and this is why working as a group is so helpful!)
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: anosognosia on March 30, 2015, 10:11:55 PM
Just for the record, do we list them on here? I've made an extensive list in my journal but in the interest of privacy/anonymity I wonder if I should include as much detail as it stands....
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: C. on March 31, 2015, 04:38:06 AM
I think that's up to you.  This forum is open for the public.  I've started to share some details figuring that my FOO is unlikely to see and identify what I've written, but it has crossed my mind. 

I'd like to hear your story.  If you'd like, you could send it as a PM to the group members.
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: schrödinger's cat on March 31, 2015, 06:42:26 AM
Sounds like a good idea. I'd be open to that. Ana, it would probably depend on what it's like for you to share things: if it makes you feel too vulnerable, or if you have a feeling that you're not ready yet, then there's no pressure to share anything. If you get a feeling that this has been a secret for long enough and it WILL out, then we're here.

I'm kind of pussyfooting around this whole point. Writing each event down in depth is too ouch. So I'm making lists, and things get described briefly, in the style of those example case studies you get in books. That helps me get through it all.

But if I'm honest, I'm even procrastinating doing that. My family's so in denial about everything. There's almost a kind of unspoken doctrine that we're fine, "it was hard but we coped and it made us stronger". In that context, even just thinking about the past gets framed as unhealthy navel-gazing that will only create problems where there were none. So I'm having to swim against that particular tide a lot of times. The times I was physically abused by classmates or my FOO (only mildly) or the time I was sexually assaulted (also very mild), those are easy to acknowledge. But the relentless progression of event after event where it was "just" emotional abuse or neglect? THAT is difficult to write about. Because at the time it's happening, you're getting those strong signals that it's all fine and you're supposed to shut up and be fine with it. "I'm just being honest", that kind of thing. In order to acknowledge what happened, I'm having to de-brainwash myself a little.
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: anosognosia on March 31, 2015, 11:55:11 AM
I'll send you guys a PM because the details are what anchor my experiences into reality. Vague terms just make it sound general and generic, and it makes me doubt myself.

Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: marycontrary on March 31, 2015, 01:16:40 PM
Christ, what DIDN'T they (my perpetrators) do????
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: schrödinger's cat on March 31, 2015, 03:43:05 PM
Something occurred to me today. I don't have THE single traumatic event. Well, I have some of those, but I'm not sure I'm up to confronting them. And they only had the impact they had because of other things.

So... how does one journal "an episode of abuse" if that episode lasts for about two decades? I can't just describe ONE event, I'm having to describe my family's habits and style of conversation etc., lots of things that were just how things were done in our house.

So I'm now making lists and talking about generalities (instead of specifics). Easier to do. It works, too: with every sentence I write, I have such vivid memories of the many instances where it happened.
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: Kizzie on March 31, 2015, 08:06:40 PM
I know what you're saying Cat, ongoing emotional abuse can be difficult to capture in terms of single incidents, especially when it's covert and you have been trained not to look at it as anything but normal and in everyone's best interests (NOT!). Anyway, like you there are some incidents that are sort of representative so think I will pick one that is not really big to start. 

Anos - I'm good with PMing  :hug: 
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: anosognosia on April 01, 2015, 09:32:07 AM
Something occurred to me today. I don't have THE single traumatic event. Well, I have some of those, but I'm not sure I'm up to confronting them. And they only had the impact they had because of other things.

So... how does one journal "an episode of abuse" if that episode lasts for about two decades? I can't just describe ONE event, I'm having to describe my family's habits and style of conversation etc., lots of things that were just how things were done in our house.

So I'm now making lists and talking about generalities (instead of specifics). Easier to do. It works, too: with every sentence I write, I have such vivid memories of the many instances where it happened.

I recently talked to a psychiatrist about this. People who have complex trauma often present with an accumulation of "microtraumas", which makes it harder and trickier to diagnose as supposed to a series of sensational events.

I'm not trying to diminish experiences on either of those spectrums, but I'm saying especially in this community that it's totally expected that some of us have difficulty recounting traumas that are easily anchored in time and space.  It's complex PTSD, afterall. It's complex.
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: Kizzie on April 01, 2015, 09:19:32 PM
So in thinking about a representative incident I had a bit of a revelation.  I have always said that I was not physically abused and yet the memory that I chose to work on was of being spanked really hard (bare a**) and then put into a hot bath when I was around 5 or 6.  My B and I embarrassed my NPDM when she had a friend and her son over and when they left, wham.  She was furious and spanked us so hard it left red hand prints and man it hurt to sit in the hot water. I remember being really scared and then my M started to cry and that turned to shame about being bad and making her cry.  Yeesh.

In dredging up this memory I then remembered other spankings, some slaps on the face and being grabbed and pushed when she lost her temper.   I was thinking of physical abuse as being beaten up I guess, but in retrospect that was physical abuse and it only stopped when we got too old to be manhandled.  I do also remember my F slapped me across the face when I was around 19 for arguing with him and my M. (Hunh - I just said in my head as I wrote that "Well you were yelling at them" as if I deserved to be slapped. Wow, well trained to take the blame). 

So my "take away" from this is that remembering really is important.  And so far I haven't had an EF (really busy though so maybe that's helping me to distance myself). Right now I feel I know more about why I developed CPTSD by working through the steps and letting myself remember. Tks all  :hug:
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: anosognosia on April 01, 2015, 10:28:17 PM
Kizzie your anecdotes are so powerful and I see my own childhood in so much of what you wrote.
Thanks for that, really.
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: C. on April 02, 2015, 02:17:28 AM
It is great reading everyone's thoughts and experiences here, thank you.

So today I was feeling the urge to record my memories when I found a post-it pad.  It was perfect.  Because my memories are disorganized and non-sequential essentially.  Then I thought I'm just gonna start with year one.  So I did.  And I was surprised (although in  hindsight it's clear) that my birth story and my first year are classic to a N family like what I remember Cat describing at some point.  How the stories all evolve around the parents and facts.  Exactly.  Not one detail or positive about my birth.  Nothing about me, how I was and how I changed during my first year.  The one positive is to show how smart I was by crawling early (just and N showing off to the world, see I'm intelligent cause my child is...).  And a detail about an unpleasant, "funny" detail for my mom.  By itself that year to others might seem "normal," but I realized that an emotionally healthy family or one that's recovered would have many stories, including happy ones about the infant.  I know that I do about my two kids, and they're heard them.  Details about the wonder of their births, the joys of milestones the first year, little personality traits I picked up on that first year, etc.  As for me, zero.

So like I've mentioned before I decided to make a happy ending out of cookie dough instead...I told that baby me that I loved to look at her, and be with her, soothe her, etc. etc.  I'm sure I didn't get that as an infant.  Just sleep, feed, change repeat.  A cry for anything else was usually met with silence and being left in my crib to cry myself to sleep.  I've seen my mom with my nieces and own kids, she never notices their cues...she's always "playing" and "having fun" w/them, but it's her agenda...

I'm going to try recording things w/post its and cards.  That way I can create pics/words that describe my experience as well as a new one I can create for myself now.  If there's a side note about my mom, or dad, or brother, or a place that gets a different post it.  Then I'll sort and put together later.
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: bee on April 02, 2015, 07:06:33 AM
I think I've mentioned that I've started writing down all the incidents that I remember. Of course I've written some down while journaling during the past many years, but this is a concerted effort to get them all together. I never record more than one incident a day, and I've taken several long breaks from it.
I also experienced what Kizzie did, as in remembering more things.
It also helps me when I start to doubt myself. Sometimes I start to think maybe it wasn't really that bad. I can look at what I've written and reassure myself that I am not being "too sensitive".


I have had some incidents get stuck in my head. Once I remembered them, and wrote them down, I couldn't stop thinking of them, and would have constant EFs. This is what usually works for me if that happens.
I envision a box that can be padlocked. I envision all my feelings associated with the incident as swirls of color, I put all of these into the box, and lock it. I then visualize putting that box into a heavy duty safe. The safe goes onto a plane. The plane flies to heavily fortified vault on another continent. The safe gets put in the vault. It may sound weird, but it usually works to stop the EFs. I can still visualize the incident, but it's like I'm watching it on tv. I get the feelings back out when I'm ready to work through them in T. If it still bothers me to even think of it, I do the same exercise again, but this time visualize my memory of the incident going in the box.
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: schrödinger's cat on April 02, 2015, 08:17:26 AM
Oh my words, C. I never thought to look at those stories of my early years. Now that I do - holy cow, do I ever see what you mean. Most stories are from how I inconvenienced my mother, or how I was convenient, or how I was embarassing. Not all stories. But there's a definite tendency.  :blink:
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: Kizzie on April 02, 2015, 04:40:43 PM
Bee - thanks for the idea about sealing that emotional goo up and sending it off  :hug:
 
I was thinking about pictures this morning and realized through this discussion thread that I just can't look at them yet because they tell a huge lie.  As you touched on C, it was all about my parents and how they appeared to others.  In pictures my B and I are carefully positioned and smiling as props to feed my M's fantasies about being a good mother and a wonderful family.

In one picture that I remember I am dressed in a pretty dress (age 5 or 6 again), sitting smiling in front of the Christmas tree with a new dollhouse.  Looks pretty loving and warm and fuzzy on the surface, but then I remembered I told my parents what I really wanted a carriage for my dolls.  Wham, big time shaming. In turn that brought up lots of those kinds of memories of not being grateful enough, a long term pattern of shaming. Really sad stuff these seemingly "small" acts, but they're not and they add up - death (CPTSD) by a thousand cuts. 

Anyway, I can see this now as a loud and clear message that what mattered was not how I truly felt, but that I go along with the story line (wonderful family, great parents). And if I didn't - lots of shaming and anger, all too much for a little girl. 

For younger me - You did nothing wrong and did not deserve to grow up feeling ashamed and afraid and like you were a prop in someone else's life by  people who were supposed to love and care for you.  You are not inconsequential, you matter so very much to me and I will take care of you.  And if you still want a carriage I will get you one because you're the best little girl in the world and I love you  :bighug:

Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: VeryFoggy on April 02, 2015, 07:33:20 PM
Like others there are so many things that were wrong and abusive it would be impossible to list them all.  It feels like most of my life, but I think that was because it is just hard living with someone who is mentally ill.  If you are not mentally ill and you are a child? Well you see it, you know it, you know it's not right, and there is something wrong with them, but you do not know what to do.

So anyway the other day instead of listing abuses I made a list of all of my cries for help that I sent out to the world before finally leaving home for good. Because I did do things to try to get attention for what was wrong at home.  I wasn't successful, no one heard me, but I think that part of that was due to moving so often that no single adult person really had opportunity to observe me long enough to know anything was wrong.  We moved 13 times in the 16 years I lived at home.

Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: C. on April 02, 2015, 07:49:33 PM
I hope that you got that carriage Kizzie!  I don't think anyone is ever too old to play ;D   I know someone whose parents asked what he wanted for xmas, then didn't buy it to teach him a lesson about life, that you can't always get what you want, so sad...  As we recall memories I am again reminded that my aunt really did step in in appropriate ways.  Like she (and later her husband who was also quite loving) would always buy me exactly what I wanted for xmas, the barbie airplane, roller skates, etc.  I always felt at least ok about myself around her. 

I worked in the early child field for a long time.  I think b/c of that I see and understand the reality of those years for me.  Like I can "see" the unhealthy attachment between myself and my parents by my facial expressions, body positioning, and their role in the photo(s).  Anxious attachment (mom), Avoidant (dad)  - in my 0-3 y.o. (even older child) pics i'm usually with eyes wide open, "flat" facial expression(s), body a bit tense, parents seldom in the pic, and never a parent looking at me.   I was thinking how grateful I am for having worked in early childhood, I think that it saved my own children b/c I learned what "to do" for healthy attachment.  My work was all about helping parents have healthy parent-child interactions.

What a great insight about the photos.  That's probably why I hurt so with my more recent ones, I feel like they're all a lie about the happiness/devoted father role of my ex...

I really like the locked box idea.  And I appreciate the honesty about this work possibly causing an EF. I've used that strategy for stressful work days in the past and it was quite effective.  In fact I'm thinking that I'll have a "place" for my written/drawn memories where I can put it away when I'm done-a box, a drawer, car trunk.  I find that helps move my thoughts on to another topic.

Also, re-reading those memories for a reality check.  Perhaps that's why I like some of those baby picks where I can see I'm already anxious...though painful, it confirms the truth.

Very Foggy, kudos to your efforts as a child to cry out for help.  You knew something was wrong and cried out.  I am sorry it didn't work then, but it's working now.  Moving a lot might be one reason people didn't help.  I also think that times have changed some.  Now if a child has been moving a lot there's sometimes extra attention at the school setting or efforts to connect w/social service agencies say at the high school level and awareness that kids who move a lot fit in to the "at-risk" category warranting more help.  Adults are also a bit more trained, I hope, in noticing the cues of kids who are struggling.  But, sadly this is still a reality for children even as we speak.
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: anosognosia on April 03, 2015, 02:44:21 AM
Because my memories are disorganized and non-sequential essentially. 

Me too!
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: anosognosia on April 03, 2015, 02:46:53 AM
I'm gonna try to PM you all and I'm wondering how I would most efficiently do a group message to everyone who is participating? I also don't know who is a participant in this group work and who isn't.... (Sorry, still relatively new).

Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: C. on April 03, 2015, 03:59:25 AM
Sorry I just saw this message.  I will send you a PM to help to describe how to do so and who's currently in the group. :thumbup:
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: bee on April 03, 2015, 04:06:32 AM
C. Ans SC
Oh my words, C. I never thought to look at those stories of my early years. Now that I do - holy cow, do I ever see what you mean. Most stories are from how I inconvenienced my mother, or how I was convenient, or how I was embarassing. Not all stories.
This fits for me too. So much so that it was noticed by my sister in law. She said that the stories my M tells are weird, not what a normal parent likes to talk about.

Kizzie - interesting note about the pictures telling a lie. That rings true. They make us look like a normal family. Always had to play happy family for the camera. Oh, and my M only ever gave me what she thought I should want, not what I actually wanted. It was very painful. I have purchased some of those things for myself, that I wanted, and did not get.
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: C. on April 03, 2015, 04:18:11 AM
yeah, one of my first clues was when I learned that an in-law didn't find some of the stories funny, they sounded like neglect to her and made her mad...
Title: Re: Activity 1 "Journal about episode(s) of abuse"
Post by: Kizzie on April 03, 2015, 04:26:42 PM
My H has often said that he thinks there were/are some in my FOO and friends who saw things more clearly than I thought. I was so utterly convinced that my M had everyone fooled about her and about me, and that they believed I was a bad daughter I couldn't take it in. 

As I read your posts though Bee and C (we have a bit of an alphabet thing going here lol), I realized that last week when friends of my FOO came to visit, it was because they wanted to see us, they like us and they don't see me as some screwed up, bad daughter, blah, blah, blah. So maybe my H is correct. 

Now the FOO I am NC with definitely are FM's of my M's, but perhaps I have not given others credit for being able to think for themselves and too much to my NPDM for being able to fool people. That said, I still don't think anyone understood that my FOO were actually abusive, dysfunctional maybe but not traumatizing.   

C- Once my NPDB gave us a book about planes for our anniversay because his picture is in it (he's a pilot)!  Now it that NPD or what lol?!  :doh: