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#461075 - 02/19/14 09:33 AM shower memories
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4151
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio

i don't know if i have heard of this happening to anyone else before, but i thought i'd memtion it in case it might be helpful to someone. it might work for you the way it did for me. what ended up happening was a way that i retrieved memories or added detail to incomplete memories. here is how it happened:

i was in the shower. i get lots of insights and restored memories in the shower. usually it is pretty traumatic.
maybe that is because several key events in my abuse took place in showers. the Sandusky reports were particularly triggering for me.

anyway - i was standing under the hot water after exercising and decided to just relax and let the water flow and to be conscious of it from head to foot. that was a new sensation for me - because i don't usually take time to feel physical sensations on purpose. in fact, during my middle school years i remember intentionally retreating into my head and determining that i would not feel emotions any more.
and somehow i also managed not to feel many physical sensations. instead i would numb or dampen down the physical feelings of tactile sensation as well. there had been times when i was being touched against my will - and my nerve endings were so hypersensitive that i felt like i would scream if i experienced one more touch on my skin. so for years i have operated on a very reduced level of sensory input - by choice at first, and then by habit.

so i was standing there and letting the flow of the water reawaken my nerves on the surface of my skin. it was exquisite feeling alive all over my body again! and along with feeling the physical sensations and water streaming over my body, i started having memories flow over me too. there were several.
one was from a very young age - showering with the step-dad - and the vivid visual image of his body returned to my mind in greater detail than ever before. then there was a memory of my mom that i wont describe here but was related somehow to that of the step-dad and from a similar time period. the last was views of the communal shower room in middle school with extremely detailed features of the walls, floor, and fixtures.
none of the memories were traumatic this time - but were definitely triggered by the feeling of the water on my skin.

bottom line for me was not some big new revelation - but just becoming more whole by getting back stuff i'd lost. i wasn't really trying to accomplish anything. but it might help others who have lost memories.

"My experience has shown me that I all too often tend to deny that which lies behind, but as I still believe, that which is denied cannot be healed." Brennan Manning, "All is Grace - A Ragamuffin Memoir"

#461121 - 02/19/14 08:32 PM Re: shower memories [Re: traveler]
Greg56 Offline

Registered: 01/10/14
Posts: 48
Loc: Upstate NY
I do this when I'm depressed, somehow it helps me not to think about whatever it is that's bothering me.

#461169 - 02/20/14 10:31 AM Re: shower memories [Re: traveler]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4151
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
i got more memories yesterday while standing in the shower. i said before that the recent ones were not traumatic. i will go a step further and say that though the memories seem neutral, they are actually quite comforting, because they add weight and substance to memories that sometimes seemed vague and somewhat unreal. the mundane nature of these details make the memories concrete and believable. it is almost like proof that the more bizarre stuff that i didn't want to accept really happened. but they also provide windows that open onto bigger views...

yesterday, i was just starting to lather up the shampoo in my hair and i got a sudden flash of something that happened when i was in 5th grade. my "best friend" was "Pete" - the first i had ever had. we walked home from school together and he was the source of most of my sex ed. some of it was incomplete or distorted - but it was much more detailed and more generally factual than anything i got from my parents.

but the memory that returned yesterday was triggered by the shampoo. Pete was merciless in pointing out my faults and nagging me about them. i had forgotten that. he would find and identify and helpfully bring to my attention some flaw in my appearance or behavior and hammer away at me about it. this time it was dandruff. he told me i had it and then kept up a daily barrage of questions and suggestions about why i didn't do something to get rid of it. i don't know why that was such a big deal. it was as if he thought it was some kind of moral failure or serious character defect. i don't know why he was such a perfectionist - or maybe he just loved to torment me and this was an easy pretext. with my low self-esteem, i was an easy sucker for that kind of attack.

now that i think of it, we never used to hang out together at school - only on the way home. i am beginning to think that i was just his project - and that though i thought of him as my best friend, he did not feel the same. at the time, i was desperately lonely but this was before the worst of the abuse began. i was already being abused at home by the step-dad but not yet at school by my peers. he was the one who introduced that phase of my miserable life. and i now - as of yesterday, realize that he was bullying me too - undercutting my already fragile self-image with constant and relentless criticisms and pointing out and magnifying all my flaws - real or imaginary. i was a nerdy but clueless and relatively content kid who didn't yet worry that much about popularity or social acceptance. he was no prize, either. we both wore glasses and he was smaller than me and not a gifted athlete either. i was like his entrance ticket to the "in crowd." by selling me out to them, he gained status. as the naive early bloomer who was physically mature but socially infantile and pliable, i was like a coveted sex toy or prized piece of porn that he owned and shared with them - producing instant access for himself into the inner circle of popular jock pervs.

back to the memory trigger - in the shower, i was looking at a blue flattish plastic bottle with a streamlined flip-top, but suddenly saw a much larger, round/cylindrical orangish-brown bottle with a white swivel nipple type top. the label was typewritten with a faded ribbon and attached with clear tape that was buckling from the moisture. i could even smell the tarry scent of the contents - slightly gritty and not as thick as commercial shampoos.

somehow, goaded by Pete's nit-picking, i had convinced my mom to get a prescription for this anti-dandruff shampoo. this was unusual, since i did not like going to doctors and the step-dad would have thought it was foolishness and my mom would not have done it without his permission. it must have been as part of another required visit for inoculations or something. and ironic that i was able to express this sudden need for help with my dandruff problem - when i couldn't express the much greater need for relief from the abuse that had been ongoing for 5 years or so. anyway, i got this special prescription shampoo and i don't even remember if it helped.

the thing i took away from this is that i had not realized how abusive my "best friend" was - or how deeply he had hurt me by betraying me. i had not remembered how obsessive he was about tearing me down - and how successful he was - or how seriously this had affected all my other later attempts at friendship - which were sabotaged by fear, distrust and self-doubts.

i think his abandonment and falseness was just as harmful in its own way - though in a different way - as the overt sexual abuse.but - of course - his deceptive "friendship" led to and fueled the group groping and gang molestation and other forms of sexualized bullying that quickly followed at the hands of others. it is hard for me to separate all of it. now i can see that this is why there is an edge of sexual tension and fear - combined with both a desire for acceptance, affection and closeness - as well as a fight-or-flight wariness and self-sabotaging refusal to trust or reveal too much of myself or my feelings - in most of my friendships now. those elements were fused together at an early age. and i am the rope stuck in a tug-of-war deadlock - torn between longing for friendship and acceptance - and fear and avoidance of anyone who gets too close.

who knew a simple shower could reveal so much?!

Edited by traveler (02/20/14 10:36 AM)
Edit Reason: clarification
"My experience has shown me that I all too often tend to deny that which lies behind, but as I still believe, that which is denied cannot be healed." Brennan Manning, "All is Grace - A Ragamuffin Memoir"

#461245 - 02/21/14 10:58 PM Re: shower memories [Re: traveler]
kcinohio Offline

Registered: 06/06/12
Posts: 501
Loc: Ohio
Wow - very detailed, glad it held insight. Think that's something a lot can relate to, fear of getting too close. It may not have the same intensity as something tied to an abusive experience, but I find it helps to understand that others can relate to it, in their own way as well.

#461274 - 02/22/14 11:30 AM Re: shower memories [Re: traveler]
OCN Offline

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 396
Loc: Western Europe
I'll try the same today, since one of my memories which i worked on with EMDR was a memory in the shower too..

thanks for sharing Lee.. really like the idea of being conscious of your feelings!

Trust me, you are worth it to love yourself!

I now know who I am - I've never been anybody else!

#461285 - 02/22/14 02:51 PM Re: shower memories [Re: traveler]
TJ jeff Offline

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 3543
Loc: Northern Wisconsin
I hear ya Lee

I've got a few memories tied to showering also - a couple somewhat abusive - a couple that have given me insite into friends that I did'nt understand at the time - memories sure can hold all kinds of info when we look back at them
Who will cry for the little boy? - I will... - Antwone Fisher

Abuse happens in silence/isolation - Recovery happens only when that silence/isolation is broken...

TJ's History


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