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Lasting effects of the past

edited December 2014 in Chit Chat
I have gone through a few things in the past, and for the most part, I am over it.  I have seen counselors for these issues, but they still manage to bother me years later.  I just wish there was a way to wipe that part of the slate clean. I don't ever talk about these things in real life because I don't want everyone to know I am still coping with these issues. I just want to know if there is ever a way to get completely over something, or is it normal to think about it briefly. Talking about the past makes me think about it, I'll have nightmares and flashbacks for a few weeks, and then it is gone.
   A thread, last night, brought up the past, that I try to keep neatly tucked away in my head. Another thing that has had a lasting effect on me was being strangled, when I was a child by my step-father.  He almost killed me, because I mouthed off to him when he said dishes were a woman's work and his son wouldn't do the dishes. He picked me up by my neck and I was kicking my feet, struggling to get down.  My mother was screaming, and then the screaming gets farther away and everything went dark.  Yesterday, I visited a chiropractor, and I warned her not to touch my neck. If anyone touches my neck, I freeze.  I become terrified like it is happening all over again. I see it in my head. She accidentally touched my neck and I was just paralyzed by fear. And I hate to admit it, but I peed myself, a little. Sometimes, it takes a moment to come back to the present. My step-father is dead, now. I know he can't hurt me, anymore, but I just can't get over the absolutely terrifying sensation when someone touches my neck.  It embarrasses me to have to tell doctors, massage therapists,or anyone else to leave that area alone. Then they wonder why.
   I hate to bring up such a bum topic, but I just get sick of the nightmares.  They go away when I don't think about it, which is why I am not keen on going back to counseling. Is it normal when you go through something that 20 years later it still affects you?  It doesn't affect me, every day, but if I get a reminder of my past, my mind preys on it for a few weeks.  

Re: Lasting effects of the past

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    larrygagalarrygaga member
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    edited December 2014
    Yes, it's normal. I would suggest continuing some sort of therapy if it bothers you that much. It'll likely stay with you forever. I have spoken with people who are 100 years old and they still think about traumatic events from when they were a child. The second best advice I can give you, I think, is to remember that you didn't die, that people love you, that it most likely won't ever happen again, that you are safe and that you get to be alive. The first best advice is to see a regular therapist, who can get to know you well. Talk therapy goes a very long, long way. 

    If any doctor who asks you why you want them to say away from your neck, just tell them you don't want to talk about it. They should leave it alone unless it's a doctor who is worried about an injury. Anybody massaging you should know not to ask, and if they can't control their curiousity research for different massage people. 
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    Its normal, especially traumatizing memories like that. I guess the counselors you have seen havent been able to get to the root of these issues in order to teach you the mechanisms to overcome them. 

    I have been through some rough times, not as extreme as what you describe, but very emotionally challenging. and sometimes the same thing happens, but I know what the root of my problem is and when its triggered I often know how to manage .

    I really have no advice other that a big hug and don't let those things define you. You are bigger and better than your past. 


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    Thanks, larrygaga. I don't talk to my H about this or even my twin sister, I guess I want people to think I have handled it well.  For the most part, I do, but I have setbacks. 
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    Oh yes. I have stuff too, that I mostly don't talk about, but stuff that happened in the past, not just as a kid.

    This is why life is hard. Not because of a minor diss but because of a traumatic thing.

    Almost everyone has something. The ones who say they don't, well, maybe they have lived charmed lives, and maybe they are just covering up.

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    It's absolutely normal. It's got to be an evolutionary protection kind of thing - if you were able to truly forget things that scare or hurt you, you wouldn't be able to avoid them as well. It's not completely within your emotional control, even though intellectually you know your chiropractor isn't likely going to strangle you. Don't let yourself feel embarrassed about that.

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    I have never heard it put that way, lolo, but it makes me feel better, and less like a lunatic.  It is nice to know that there are reasons why my mind works the way it works. It's also nice to know that no one thinks I am crazy or dwelling.  Hugs to you, ladies.  Thank you. 
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    I'm so sorry that happened to you. I agree with the other PPs. What you're going through is absolutely normal. We all have times when past traumas come back to haunt us. It's good that you're talking about it, and not letting it eat you up inside.

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    I'm sorry you are suffering. I also have PTSD and my doctor explained it to me in biological terms, which really helps. She said the neurons of a PTSD sufferer are physically changed by trauma. The neurons actually get shorter, which means the impulses have to "jump" further to transmit nerve signals. This can cause all kinds of issues, make you feel frazzled and stressed, etc. And flashbacks occur because those neural pathways just replay themselves over and over, and it becomes an ingrained pattern. So-- the way you feel had physiological roots and causes. It's not just that you aren't handling it well or you're weak or whatever. This is a physical problem. Good therapy (including eye movement therapy) can help re-wire those neural pathways but it isn't going to just heal with time.
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    I agree that your reactions are normal and you likely won't ever forget about it.  Continued therapy may help more with emotional issues regarding it.  You may also want to look into possibility of exposure therapy to help you get better about dealing with people touching your neck. Basically, it retrains you, through repeated exposure to what terrifies you (not a fun process), that you can experience it without anything bad happening.  And after repeated exposure, it kind of forces you to learn to deal with it better and not freak out as much. So, basically for you it would involve a lot of neck touching until your reactions reduce to a less extreme level.  Because your reactions are so extreme, I'd recommend seeing a trained therapist experienced in exposure therapy to oversee this process.  It likely won't eliminate the fear completely, but it could help you handle it better and maybe not fully relive the past each time it happens. 

    I will add the disclaimer that I'm not a therapist and I haven't actually done exposure therapy, but I have looked into it and researched it for a phobia I have.  So, it may or may not be right for you... it was just an idea of something to maybe look into or consider.

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    lc07lc07 member
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    edited December 2014
    My doctor told me what lolo said, too. Which makes so much sense. And there are ways to re-condition the brain that allow you to focus on positive experiences and heal from the damaging ones. But please know your body is doing exactly what it was meant to do. To help you quickly spot danger and avoid it. Your body is smart. You are not weak or stupid. My doctor also explained that the part of our brain that protects us in this manner works more quickly than our logic centers which is why even though you know logically your chiro isn't going to strangle you, you still panic. Unfortunately, it probably involves facing this again to learn how to re-condition your brain or re-wire or whatever the right term is and only you can decide if/when you are ready for that. I'm glad you feel like you can talk to us about it.

    Also, just another reason why no one should force their loved ones into a specific hair style or using a hair stylist for their wedding day. There are 40 million reasons people have for being uncomfortable in those situations and it's no one's business as to why.

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    I just need to say that it's a relief to hear someone talk about trauma that she doesn't mention to her twin. DH knows my baggage and talks to me about it when I need to. I can't talk to my sister about it without everything hurting more.

    I think I've mentioned this before but I'm a big fan of mental health "tune ups." I go in from time to time when I have nightmares, when I'm going through major life changes, etc.

    It helps.

    Also, hugs!
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    edited December 2014
    I guess I don't share things with my twin because she left my step-dad's house.  This happened to me when she was living with our father.  I know she feels guilty for leaving me, even though she shouldn't.  ANd the other stuff I think hurts her too much, to know that I have been hurt like that. But it is pretty much the only thing I don't share with her, that and anything in the bedroom with my husband. 
      I have insurance, now, so I definitely think I may seek counseling for my issues to make sure I am dealing with them the best way possible.,
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    This sounds like a normal reaction to me, although very very unfortunate. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.
    I am in no way speaking from any kind of experience or knowledge here, but I've heard about therapy programs that work to desensitize people to the things that cause them great fear or anxiety. Perhaps you could find treatment that will not only help you with the emotional aspect but also the physical aspect... desensitizing you to being touched on your neck? Either way, hugs and healing thoughts to you.
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    I'm sorry. Your reaction / fear is completely normal. You should not feel embarrassed about it.

    Maybe try working with your SO to help you overcome that negative response to the stimulus of something touching your neck. Positive reinforcement training works if you have the patience to stick through it. I know it may sound stupid, but try rewarding yourself with little treats anytime something touches your neck. Your brain will then associate the touch as something to look forward to and not a paralyzing event.
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    I think it's pretty normal. I was at an ATM machine with my dad when I was 11. We were robbed at gun point. My dad ran down the street to get away so that if he was harmed I wasn't right there. Instead the scum put the gun to my head. Years later ( I was like 22 or 23) I was with my dad (again) and walked into a store that was being held up at gun point. Scum #2 put the gun to my chest bc he thought I was a cop. I had an NYPD tshirt on. My BF at the time was a cop. Till this day I get flash backs of both. A few weeks ago H and I were walking into target when all these cops pulled up and went running in. I immediately panicked. H knows all about it and is totally supportive. I never mention it to anyone. I feel like people will be like it happened when you were 11 get over it. But it's tramatizing. I get panicked over flooding too. Every since Irene. We're all here for you <3
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    Thank you, all, so much for your support.  I swear, it is so comforting that I can tell people these things I haven't told anyone. I feel people IRL would judge me.  I am definitely going to go to counseling for a tune up as wandajune suggested.  It feels nice to know I among friends, here. Hugs
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