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#410499 - 09/18/12 01:23 PM difference between dealing w abuse and reliving it
DannyT Offline

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 645
Hi guys,

I was thinking as I was meditating that there is a big difference between dealing with the pain of abuse and reliving it.

I have a friend who is going through a long healing process from a breakup and is still (months after the fact) hurting over the way things were handled, what was said, etc. I got to thinking that in some ways this is like the process we go through in healing from CSA.

First the bad things happen, then we push them away by repression and not talking, then when we start to heal we face the facts. Then we start dwelling in them. We circle back to them over and over again like vultures circling a kill. The difference is that the vultures eventually consume the kill, whereas, if we're not careful, we can feed off that old pain for years and years.

Obviously we have to tell the story and get it out. It is the vital first step to healing. But I think this pattern of revisiting the pain is one of the great problems of our healing. Of course it's important to face the facts and deal with them (consume them so they pass through us and are digested and dealt with). But if we continue to face them beyond that point, I think we reabuse ourselves and actually create more harm.

I think we get into this damaging narrative cycle because the trauma was so great, and there's even a trauma in telling the story. We carry this burden around so long that it might even seem terrible to have it go away. Letting it go will necessarily be a trauma as well because it means becoming a new, whole person. It's like that E.M. Forster story, "The Machine Stops," where people live in an underground space that is ventillated by these big machines. They get so used to the noise that when it stops many of them go crazy.

So I think we keep telling the stories and moaning our complaints long beyond the time when they're useful because we don't know what else to do with our minds and because we're in a habit mode. It's the classic PTSD go back there go back there go back there.

I would encourage all of us to think about where we are with the narration of our stories to ourselves and others. I think that if we go beyond a few months of "why me?" and "That's so terrible that this happened to me!" and "I want to kill those evils perps!" or "They stole my childhood!" that we should think carefully about what we are doing to ourselves with these repetitions.

It can be really helpful if we've passed the first few months of healing and are still in the narrative cycle to use the healing technique I described in another post:

I hope this is helpful.


#410502 - 09/18/12 01:53 PM Re: difference between dealing w abuse and reliving it [Re: DannyT]
peroperic2009 Offline

Registered: 10/09/11
Posts: 3866
Loc: South-East Europe
Hi Danny,
thank you for bringing some wisdom here, we need it smile
I've heard recently words: life has to stream freely and ever since I'm thinking about it. Must say that something like your words "go back there go back there go back there" came to my mind when I've thought about all that.
Braking such cycle is core of healing of traumatic experience I guess.
Please share further with us your findings and thoughts, I've found it very helpful smile !
Be well!

My story

#410516 - 09/18/12 03:31 PM Re: difference between dealing w abuse and reliving it [Re: DannyT]
unhappycamper Offline

Registered: 10/21/11
Posts: 756
Loc: VA
Trudat, Danny T--thanx for the thoughts. I have another question: When I've "gotten past it," how do I =stay= past it? Over the past 18 years I've felt many times that I'm over the crisis phase, the Bad Stuff has gone through me and is in the past, I'm a better person because of what I learned... only to be ambushed all over again by the rage, grief, depression. Maybe not back to Square 1, but awfully close. Sometimes there's an obvious trigger, sometimes there is not.

It's never been "useful" to tell my story or moan about my complaints--like most of us, I was silent for decades, and for 18 years it hasn't been very useful to tell anyone, even doctors and psychologists, about it.

I'm painfully aware that obsessing is useless, but I have yet to find a way to keep it from starting. Any suggestions for preventing "re-runs"?


#410615 - 09/19/12 02:45 PM Re: difference between dealing w abuse and reliving it [Re: DannyT]
DannyT Offline

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 645
Hi John,

The same thing happens to me, that I feel fine, then it hits again. For me the best solution seems to be regular meditation, which I really like. That tends to keep me pretty centered. I also go for long hikes.

When the re-runs start, especially if there's an anxiety attack involved, I start with an anxiety pill, then do visualizations, sitting quietly and reminding myself that I'm safe, that I'm a good person, that I'm worthy of happiness. I've used Shakti Gawain's book Creative Visualization for these techniques. They're really helpful.

If I'm feeling anger or bitterness I do her forgiveness visualization, and that tends to really help.

I think the sooner we intervene during a re-run the shorter it tends to be.


#410884 - 09/21/12 02:31 AM Re: difference between dealing w abuse and reliving it [Re: DannyT]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
One of the characteristics of dissociative disorder is that people who have it keep reliving their experience. I have a book by a T which says that DID patients will bring up their trauma issues over and over in therapy.


#410891 - 09/21/12 02:43 AM Re: difference between dealing w abuse and reliving it [Re: DannyT]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4286
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
i think the difference can be identified by the end result of the repetition.

if it is like re-playing the same broken record or tape loop (- really dating myself here!) it is likely to be "re-living it" and is not helpful or healthy - in fact quite probably is unhealthy and destructive.

if the end brings a new insight or realization of previously unrecognized truth or connection to another thought or feeling or memory - then it is most likely "dealing with it."

so the key seems to be doing something constructive with it - as my T likes to say - "re-wiring your brain" to take it in a new direction and start to think differently about it - or decide to make a change or affirm a corrective truth or whatever - not just wear the ruts deeper and reinforce the same old repetitive negative messages. that has helped for me.

How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#410980 - 09/21/12 09:07 PM Re: difference between dealing w abuse and reliving it [Re: DannyT]
Dragon Boy Offline

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 29
Loc: uk
I often find myself revisiting things that I have already been over, but each time I make a progress that I didn't make the last time. It's like it's too big to do all the healing in one go.

I was once told 'when we feel like we are going in circles they are often really spirals, gradually moving upward with each circit'.

Maybe like puffer said it's the dissociation aspect though.


#410986 - 09/21/12 11:35 PM Re: difference between dealing w abuse and reliving it [Re: DannyT]
Country Offline

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 654
Loc: Alabama
I think for me, in my case, it is very important not to stay stagnant too long. I don't want to go back to things that I am over already either. The past made us what we were but it doesn't have to define us or imprison us. Alot and I mean alot can be said for us. We overcame great adversities and are still here. The fact that we address issues means we are moving in the right direction. It means we want better for ourselves and that shows self worth. So everyone here thinks some good about themselves.
Ephesians 6:13

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

#411041 - 09/22/12 01:02 PM Re: difference between dealing w abuse and reliving it [Re: DannyT]
Farmer Boy Offline

Registered: 08/23/12
Posts: 442
Loc: Australia
G'Day guys

This helped answer my questions a week ago (about how long I should feel like a victim). This post was worded heaps better!

I am so thankful for ALL of you!

More than meets the eye!

#411306 - 09/25/12 01:33 AM Re: difference between dealing w abuse and reliving it [Re: DannyT]
DannyT Offline

Registered: 09/14/03
Posts: 645
I think that when we go back to the past and have new insights, that could be great in that there are new insights. But it's also possible that those insights are part of one's personal growth and would come from visiting new issues, new things that are arising in the current world.

There's something about attachment to the past, whatever it is that hooks us and brings us back to those old stories that is part of the problem. The hook itself needs discarding. I think the sooner we can do that in our healing the better off we will be in the long run.

What I've discovered is that as I get rid of the hooks to the oldest stories from my abuse, I get hooked on newer issues that might also have stemmed from that long ago problem. It feels like the disentangling is forcing me to deal with things chronologically.

It's also interesting to see what it's like to choose to revisit the abuse stories for some kind of therapeutic reason rather than being dragged back to them by a willful mind. It's the latter that I see as the real problem.


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