Making a list of abuses

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Oscen

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Making a list of abuses
« on: May 03, 2019, 12:51:01 PM »
I think I should possibly make a list of the abuses M (and S2) have done to me (offline, of course), because I often forget.
Meredith Miller of Inner Integration recommended this - can anyone say whether it's useful?

I understand that with C-PTSD, the traumatic memories are stored differently to regular ones, making it hard to retrieve them when you're in a normal state.
If you do manage to retrieve them, you run the risk of triggering the traumatic state you were in when they happened.
Having a list may make me feel more confident that it all happened, and it was all as bad as I think it is.

One part of me is telling me that that would be wallowing in the misery of it all.
However, I suspect that that's actually unhealthy programming from the narc and society (the part that enables family abuse).

Has anyone made lists of abuse, for various reasons - to help guard against gas lighting or to feel more confident in their informal diagnoses of the narc, etc?
What were your experiences from it?

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Blueberry

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Re: Making a list of abuses
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2019, 01:40:22 PM »
I've never made a list. I'm not sure I could stand writing it all down. I start dissociating at the thought.

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Three Roses

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Re: Making a list of abuses
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2019, 04:21:30 PM »
Quote
... traumatic memories are stored differently to regular ones, making it hard to retrieve them when you're in a normal state.

This has been my experience. For me, it's difficult to access those memories in a normal setting, or even a therapeutic one. Writing them down to take into a therapeutic setting for examination with a trained professional can be a great tool, to help you remember what you want to say.

However, I would caution doing anything without benefit of guidance from a therapist, if at all possible. This is exactly what I did (following instructions in a book), and what resulted in a HUGE re-injury for me, as I inadvertently forced myself into remembering some surpressed memories that I evidently wasn't ready to remember. Now, several years later, I'm just coming out of it.

Hope this info is helpful.  :wave:

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woodsgnome

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Re: Making a list of abuses
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2019, 04:48:16 PM »
I think the idea of creating lists focused on specific recall of certain things most likely depends on the personality of the compiler. And/or the reason for the list (e.g. legal or job-related).

Personally the high [low] lights of abuse are unfortunately and sadly so embedded it would take monumental effort towards dialing the emotions down to where I wouldn't risk being triggered. I once started a sort of memoir but didn't get very far before I felt overwhelmed with uncontrollable triggers popping up all over  :aaauuugh: . A solution might require a sort of emotionally neutral ghostwriter, but I wouldn't be keen on that either.

Just my opinion, which parallels what I said before -- that one's personality and/or safe emotional boundaries probably affects this more than anything. For me, the memories are there, and I know there's more lurking behind which I wouldn't be keen on finding. I'd rather refocus on where do I go from here, with or without (hopefully) my old life to drag me down.

Thanks for referencing the Meredith Miller/Inner Integration site. I hadn't run across her material before.

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notalone

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Re: Making a list of abuses
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2019, 09:50:39 PM »
Having a list may make me feel more confident that it all happened, and it was all as bad as I think it is.

If having a list would help you to believe your memories and to know it was all bad, maybe it would be helpful. However, I would join the others in encouraging you to be very cautious if you decide to do that and to discuss it with your T. I only wrote a memory down one time. I did it to try to diffuse the intensity that I was feeling from the memory until I could share it with my T. I burned it immediately after writing it down. I found the process of writing it to be very distressful and in the process of writing, the emotional, mental and physical flashbacks were very intense.

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snailspace

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Re: Making a list of abuses
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2019, 10:02:05 AM »
Hi Oscen

I really admire the work you are doing, and at a much younger age than I was when I first starting figuring things out.
 
What helped me was writing out a timeline - I found that it offered me a framework, a context within which to place these experiences in.  For me it didn't diminish any of the abuse - events still come back to me today as I sometimes relive the full impact.  Growing up with an (undiagnosed) NPD mother I was often confused as to what was going on, especially as I was gaslighted to makes it seem as if it wasn't so bad.  I've spent many years adding things up but it has helped me by slotting these into the timeline to also get some distance.

Re: Making a list of abuses
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2019, 05:06:51 PM »
I tried writing a journal to figure out when I started to feel the emotional abuse from my NPD Mom. I would get a few sentences down  then would have a flashback and start crying uncontrollably. I just recently got diagnosed with C-PTSD, so itís still pretty new to me.

I guess it depends on if it will trigger you or not, and how it effects you if youíre triggered. For me it takes days to bounce back. You could try and just stop if it seems to overwhelming.

I did find that when I started to write the abuse down I remembered stuff that I had suppressed for decades, maybe that was part of why it was just too much for me.


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ellachimera

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Re: Making a list of abuses
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2019, 07:18:11 PM »
List of abuses - it always became triggering and exhausting, the flashbacks lasted for months, every single time I attempted it. I ended up being a walking talking list of abuses in the first phase of my "awakening", as I was growing aware of what had happened to me and how it was affected me.

List of unhealthy thoughts that she put in my head, some of which made it into my adulthood - I think that was the most useful list that I ever made. Just blurted out there every unhealthy idea that she infused me with as a kid (doesn't help that she was, well, not part of a religious cult but probably trying to create a cult herself, minus the charisma she didn't actually have much though she did think she did).

The latter list helped me understand most of what I was going through, I memorized it at the time unwillingly and was reciting of it whenever I was confused of what was real and what was not in the world, or brought bits of it in my discussion with my husband who always was my only and closest thing to a therapist I could tolerate. Then, when I felt I was on the safe side, I destroyed it. It was liberating.

I kept contact with my Mom, and so I need to make another list of unhealthy thoughts she put in my head by now, I think. 

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woodsgnome

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Re: Making a list of abuses
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2019, 08:49:44 PM »
Ellichimera said:

"List of abuses - it always became triggering and exhausting..."

"List of unhealthy thoughts ... was the most useful list..."

I think there's an important distinction in how these sorts of lists might affect one's cptsd symptoms/reactions. Listing the abuses does fire up everything -- the events, reactions, defenses, anger, etc.; all in one infuriating package that stirs and roils the emotions. While the overall sense of what happened is real enough, each time a certain incident is recalled a cumulative bad vibe is set in motion.

Regarding the thoughts alone -- they're almost impossible to stop, resembling a waterfall pouring into the mind, and are very resistant to attempts to change or divert them. Trying to stop them might even increase them and the thoughts take on human characteristics of countering attempts to rein them in. Thoughts seem to thrive on attention.

So while avoiding thoughts themselves seems hopeless, listing the harmful ones can indeed prove helpful at deciphering where the greatest dangers were; the ones most likely to create the destructive emotional flare-ups. At least that's been my experience.   
« Last Edit: May 05, 2019, 08:52:30 PM by woodsgnome »

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ellachimera

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Re: Making a list of abuses
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2019, 09:18:34 PM »

Regarding the thoughts alone -- they're almost impossible to stop, resembling a waterfall pouring into the mind, and are very resistant to attempts to change or divert them. Trying to stop them might even increase them and the thoughts take on human characteristics of countering attempts to rein them in. Thoughts seem to thrive on attention.

So while avoiding thoughts themselves seems hopeless, listing the harmful ones can indeed prove helpful at deciphering where the greatest dangers were; the ones most likely to create the destructive emotional flare-ups. At least that's been my experience.

Thanks for that clarification.

My experience was a bit different, by thoughts I meant the things that were said to me and were unhealthy, which yes, later on turned into thought patterns that I followed. With a bit of help I was able to trace them back to their origins and put them down on paper. That was the beginning of it.

For me, it was a rubbish bin. I really made a mental picture of a silver, bit cartoonish rubbish bin and each time I was going on one of the thought patterns that were owing to my traumatic experience, I would simply "bin them", that is, I would recall that mental picture and imagine binning them.

I know, it's childish and actually this little exercise took two or three months to become effective. But after those months passed, I realized I was needing to picture that rubbish bin less and less, I realized that, while the thoughts were not completely gone, they were less painful and easier to just dismiss, without the effort of actually-portraying-a-rubbish-bin-in-my-head. It lead to some five years now of mental hygiene that, if it didn't keep me safe from emotional angst and other side effects of my still-happening contact with the perpetrator, at least it kept me safe, along with mild medication, from psychotic breaks and functioning incredibly well given my initial diagnosis.

My two cents, just in case someone finds this useful somewhat.

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Oscen

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Re: Making a list of abuses
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2019, 04:04:32 PM »
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, everyone.

It sounds like triggers are the biggest issue here, and any attempt at an endeavour like this must be handled with great care.
I never considered that it might dredge up lots of painful memories and trigger me into EFs and dissociation. That's a real concern, so thanks again for the warnings.

It's funny, the thing I was most concerned about didn't come up - would it make me a petty, bitter person, convinced that a normal childhood was in fact terrible?
In my case, I'm afraid that I'm wrong about all this, that I haven't been the victim of abuse, and I'm creating a false worldview.
I'm worried that if I'm wrong, writing out a list would feed and reinforce this worldview, rather than challenge or put it in perspective.

But in reality, I should trust myself enough to be objective if I do compile a list. If anything, I am biased in my family's favour rather than against them.
That's the tough thing about abuse by emotional neglect - there are so few signs; it is all about the words unsaid, the hugs unoffered, the autonomy crushed as it arises.

In compiling the list, I may well see that there is a body of evidence pointing to actual emotional abuse - acts of commission, not omission alone - but perhaps I've been unable to access enough memories all together at the same time to be convinced that, on balance, M was emotionally abusive.
I suspect that is the case and the reason I doubt myself is because of the typical FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) that comes with a PD mother and dysfunctional family.

I suppose it is worth trying, though I now know I must be extremely careful of triggers.
I will experiment in tiny doses and pay very close attention to my moods and reactions.

Thanks again, all.

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CheshireCanary

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Re: Making a list of abuses
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2019, 04:23:16 PM »
Oscen,
I totally understand why you want to write the list, as proof of what you've gone through and a way to try to understand it.  I agree with others in thinking this would be best done with a therapist who can help you through the feeling it will dredge up. If you do go ahead and compile the list on your own, perhaps you could make it as vague as possible (for example, 'emotional abuse on family trip to Texas'  rather than delving into the details of what she did), which you could then take to therapy, or if  not seeing a therapist you could later focus on one listed item at a time to protect yourself from being overwhelmed. Just a suggestion, and I hope your list will help you find some peace.