Trauma Memories and Body Image

I have been attempting to share more about this whole disordered eating mess with the therapist. I was talking about River and myself seemingly become less and less dissociated from each other, thus causing me to feel some of the intense emotions around food and body image that she regularly experiences.

But then I admitted that the body image issues aren’t entirely River’s fault. Yes, I do experience some of the very thoughts I know she sorta “sends” to me, but my relationship with this body has been complex since the beginning. Sharing a body with other Parts is in itself a strange and complicated way to live. But, also, as I’ve received more and more information about our collective history, it makes it very hard to feel comfortable or safe in this body.

I’ve always known that “I” was abused and raped by more than one person at various points throughout this life. I understood that on a factual level since the moment I came into existence around 2009 as the shiny new host of a System I didn’t even understand existed yet. What I didn’t initially have, however, was any emotional attachment to that fact. 

But throughout the last several years that has changed. As the internal walls start to come down, I feel more and more integrated with the memories and emotional experiences that are shared with me. There are moments where I feel completely overwhelmed – as if I’m drowning in the reality of that truth. 

I get these memories…these images and sensations and feelings that come to me, either in dreams or flashbacks or thoughts. As I piece them together, I get a clearer idea of what, exactly, was done to me. Most of the time I try to keep it far away from me. I create distance by reinforcing that this happened to another Part. 

Not me. Not Andi.

But I am them and they are me and we are all this body.

So in reality, those things did  happen to me. I AM that little girl. I AM that teenager. I AM the person who was hurt so many times. We all are.

And that information – the awareness of what was done to me and to this body is what makes it sometimes unbearable to exist inside it. It makes me hate it, hate myself, hate to look in the mirror, hate to exist at all. It makes me want to scream and cry and rip off all my skin. It makes me feel insane.

And, admittedly, it makes me want to starve until I disappear into nothingness. 

A nothing that no one can hurt ever again.

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21 thoughts on “Trauma Memories and Body Image

  1. Cat's Meow says:

    Hi, Andi. I wrote a long response to your post and it was just eaten. We’ll just say that it was about how I identify with a lot of what you said. Sending hope that you can begin to find some peace around some of this before too long. Because it hurts so (string of expletives) much!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Andi says:

      Oh man, I hate it when that happens! WordPress has been eating a lot of words lately….

      Thank you for your support and for sharing that you can relate. It is always soothing to know I’m not alone in this ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cat's Meow says:

        No, you are not alone, at all. The whole body thing is very present for me right now. It doesn’t come out as starving myself, but there is a desire that my body could just evaporate. There is such a need to not feel my body.

        Recently, I suddenly started to believe myself that my father raped me in multiple ways. I don’t understand what changed and why it now seems untenable to deny that it happened. The only thing that was different was a memory of something happening at a young enough age that I’m not even sure that it could have happened then.

        But now that I Really believe that these things happened to my body, I can’t bear to feel my body. I can’t even use my normal grounding techniques, because they involve my “sinking into” my body. I tried to ground in my session yesterday and just made myself even more triggered and dissociated each time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andi says:

        Yes! That’s what’s been happening to me – my usual “go-to” grounding techniques are somehow making it worse. I am finding it unbearable to stay in my body, which is creating all sorts of problems. Such a mess. I’m sorry you’re experiencing being triggered and dissociated. That’s so tough. Hang in there xoxo

        Liked by 1 person

      • alicewithptsd says:

        I don’t know if this is the same thing or not, but when Bea first started working on grounding with me, anything that directed me to pay attention to my body, or to feel something (like the grass under my feet, or the chair against my back) was too much, and would trigger instant panic. Instead, she started having me do things like using mints or sour candies and focusing on that, or counting how many yellow things i see around me, or naming 5 things i see, 5 i hear, and 5 i smell. But she stayed away from the really grounding into your body stuff, because it was too much. Maybe those things would help (either of) you?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. kat says:

    your body is neither good nor bad. but it is yours. the dwelling place for all of you, for your soul. i can see how you see your body has allowed you to be hurt, how it has let you down, and how it is disgusting because of what happened to it. but thru it all, it was/is still your body. still you. it has still always been there for you, it has done good things with you, it has healed many wounds. i hope you can soon be able to see that it needs love as much as you and all the others do too. that when you and the others are loved, you progress. and that when you love your body and help it heal, you may begin to see how wonderful it is.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Andi says:

      You are the best, kat. This comment is so beautiful and supportive. I hope so very much that I can internalize this sentiment and truly FEEL okay (or even good!) in my own body someday. Xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rachel says:

    You’re blowing me away with all this insight. Integrating your experiences and River’s experiences is HUGE, and being able to accept that those experiences did in fact happen to you and your body is so courageous. I understand that feeling of wanting to be anywhere except in your own body, and I’m sending my support your way. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Andrea CH says:

    The “like” button is a strange thing.

    I absolutely HATE that any of this happened to you. I can only imagine how jarring it would be to start to emotionally realize abuse that happened to your body when you weren’t there yet. It’s hard enough overcoming the instinct to not believe oneself as a survivor. There’s this whole other dimension and maybe the feeling that as the host, you didn’t have control over what was happening at all? and lack of control can be so terrifying. (I’m really not sure if I’m phrasing this right and feel free to correct my language if it doesn’t fit).

    Despite all that I like how you’re showing love and understanding to yourself and to River as you go through this journey. You’re worth all that love and care and then some. Wishing you all the best in the recovery. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andi says:

      I think that you phrased that very well. It’s a tricky thing. But yes, there is definitely a feeling of not having control. I think knowing (under the surface, on *some* level) that something happened, but not feeling like it was really me…and trying to integrate the information that, yes, it WAS me – feels very out of control.

      I both want to know everything and absolutely nothing at the same time. Sometimes using compassion for the other Parts as a tool to facilitate that awareness is the only thing that makes it bearable. But then I grow resentful (and exhausted) from being compassionate in the face of such horrors. Ugh.

      Hoping River will let me in a little more…

      Thanks for all your support xo

      Liked by 1 person

  5. ambivalencegirl says:

    I so get this. In a different sort of dissociative way, I so totally understand what you’re saying. I think it’s far more complicated though. It’s not as simple as having the insight. There’s so much more to it and it really feels as if all that “stuff” happened to someone else and not me. The reality often bites so hard or maybe we connect or integrate better at times and it’s scary as all else so then we go back to a dissociative state to protect ourselves. I’m feeling so flipping overwhelmed today and not wanting to work thru any of this anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. manyofus1980 says:

    I hear you, I feel similar things about my body. I hate it. Mostly I hate me too. I was used and abused and nothing I do say can take that away. All I can do is try to heal from it. Its a sticky and horrific mess. XX

    Liked by 1 person

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