You’ve heard of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, I have a similar policy for the spiders in my home…don’t show, don’t kill. Don’t show yourself and I won’t have to kill you. I know spiders serve a purpose, they eat bugs and some of them even protect us from the poisonous spiders…but still I don’t want to see them or know that they are there.
That is precisely how I feel about my memories of trauma and abuse. Why can’t they just stay hidden? Why do they have to work their way to my consciousness, and whisper to me though nightmares, flash backs and feelings? Why, why, why?
I have not found a completely satisfactory answer to that, but I have some guesses. I think it is like garbage….it doesn’t just go away. We put it in land fills or dump it in the ocean (ewww!) both which have their problems and drawbacks. These days people are becoming more aware about recycling, for this reason, and trying to take better care of the earth.
Traumatic memories (or any feelings for that matter) don’t just go away. They need to be dealt with and processed. I believe that dissocation, is a good defense mechanism. It stores the pain away for you, to deal with at a later time…but deal with it you must.
The pain will find an exit…if not by us feeling it and processing it…then through our bodies. One benefit I have received from therapy is that my health is much better. The joint pain from my autoimmune disorder and the muscle pain from fibromyalgia are so much better than before I started therapy. And yet, if I try to ignore my emotional pain, rather than dealing with it, it flares up again.
There are other ways that the pain sounds a warning though our bodies, and that is somatic pain, which I think of as a ghost pain…a memory of pain experienced in the past.
The Body Remembers by Babette Rothschild
Denial is part of the healing journey and so sometimes, I try to tell myself, I’m making this up, or imagining it. But The Body Remembers is the validation I needed. This book, thought it is scientific, is quite readable for us “lay” people. She explains body memories, PTSD, somatic pain and other related issues.
While reading this won’t make your pain go away, only working through it can do that…if all else fails, you could always throw it at a spider if one dares SHOW itself in your home!
Photo attribution: Bernard Goldbach