Author Topic: Waking Up Is Hard to Do/ NEW ARRIVALS coping with your nightmare past  (Read 2015 times)

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Offline Tampa survivor

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Waking up is Hard To Do!

Welcome to the boards.  Welcome to the survivors family.

This is truly what we have found through our shared experiences and unique bonding.

It is our hope that you find understanding, help and healing during this difficult time.

 

The Terms. 

"waking up"  or "awakening"  We use to describe the process of memory recall that occurs years after leaving Straight (the average survivor,  we are finding upon waking up is approx. 20-25 years out).  This time frame is unique to the individual's circumstances also.  Current life stress/trauma can trigger the awakening process, or if one is not ready/able to process sometimes it is delayed.  We define it as waking process, as the memories return for many of us in fuzzy/fog like bits and pieces to very detailed memories.  Similar to waking up and feeling groggy, then more awake, until fully aware.  This may happen over many months/years or in a shorter time frame.  You might also see the phrase "out of the fog".

 

Why didn't/don't I remember?  How did I forget or block this out all these years?  Why am I remembering now?  Why can I remember some things/people/details and not others?

Dissociative Amnesia is a memory disorder characterized by extreme memory loss that is caused by extensive psychological stress and that cannot be attributed to a known neurobiological cause.  Dissociative amnesia is due to psychological rather than physiological causes and can sometimes be helped by therapy. Situation-specific amnesia occurs as a result of a severely stressful event, as in post-traumatic stress disorder, child sex abuse, military combat or witnessing a family member's murder or suicide, is common in cases of severe and/or repeated trauma. 

Straight was daily long term abuse/neglect.  As survivors, we witnessed violent abuse/neglect, lived in terrorized conditions over period of time, experienced profound sense of loss of control of being able to meet basic needs of life(nutrition, hydration, toileting, hygiene, comfort, love, emotional bonds, education).  We were forced into dependence on the abusive system, brainwashing/coercive thought reform methods.  While this process is typical for most of us, the time frames are more individual.  Some of us have come to into a full awareness quickly, some more slowly, and some not having reached a full awareness though they have found an understanding of what happened.   

 

What happens now that I'm remembering? 

1.  Physically - your body will respond to the stress physically.  Body memories can also manifest (i.e. feeling bruises down your spine, hunger pains when not hungry, sleep deprived when well rested).  Be aware of the changes that occur during this process.  The symptoms can vary greatly.  See "symptom list" in the Documents section.  Please make sure to eat well, sleep as best you can and exercise to your ability level.  Seek medical care if/when needed.  Taking care of oneself physically will improve your ability to cope better with this process.

2.  Mentally - Memories, some clear, some vague notions that may not seem real, anything in between.  People, places, vehicles, homes, even colors, clothing, chairs, etc.  The mind holds the memories as the body does.  Triggers may occur and bring on flashbacks, memory recall and nightmares.  A trigger is a specific item, person, place, smell, sound, song, etc that "triggers" a response based on those traumatic memories of the past.  Triggers can cause "flashbacks".  Flashback is seeing, smelling, hearing, experiencing the event all over again (partial or fully).

3.  Emotionally- Emotions will be a huge component of waking up.  The range of emotions is not limited to these, though these are the most frequently discussed:  Fear, anxiety, paranoia, anger, rage, shame, guilt, and pain.  Excruciatingly painful this range of emotions that occur can and will be overwhelming at best.  You may have already had many go rounds with these emotions prior to the memories resurfacing without really understanding what was happening.  Many report the fears and anger issues since their time in straight, and only now beginning to understand them.

4.  Spiritually (NOT RELIGION) - no matter what faith/belief/nonbelief system you ascribe to, this is a component that touched us all with various "God" issues while in straight.  If you have a faith/belief system that works for you, please rely on this/these practices to help with the process of healing.  If it's as simple as getting a walk in the woods once a week or sitting on a beach, star gazing, meditation, prayer, good thoughts, karmic living, becoming involved in or reconnecting with a church/religion, or finding a new spiritual walk of life, hopefully you find one that works.

 

Straight affected us.  Straight harmed us.  Straight was traumatic.

Please see the SYMPTOMS LIST(in Document section) for a more complete list of what you may have already experienced in life up until now and what you may now experience as a result of waking up.  It may offer you a better understanding of you, how you have survived and coped over the years.   

 

This is a PROCESS.

The following has been edited to more aptly suit the process of grieving our losses and facing the life we have left to live despite the damages done.  Some of us feel more damaged than others may; the damages may not seem severe at first and then may seem overwhelming.

The 5 stages of grief are a basic tool that explains some of what will happen also.  We lost important times of our lives, our families, relationships, education, opportunities, identity, innocence, freedom, and much more.  Each of us individually will wrestle with coming to terms with our own individual losses and grief.

It's important to note that these stages are not meant to be complete or chronological. Not everyone who awakens feels all five of the responses nor will everyone who does experience them do so in the order in which they are written. Reactions are as unique as the person experiencing them.  Not everyone goes through all of the steps or goes through them in a linear fashion. Some steps may be missed entirely, others may be experienced in a different order, some may be re-experienced again and again and some may get stuck in one.

Denial — "I feel fine."; "This can't be happening, not to me."  Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of what really did happen with validation.

Anger — "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; '"Who is to blame?"  Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy.

Bargaining — "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if..."  The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay the pain/awakening or undo the damages.

Depression — "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm not able to change the past...What's the point?”

During the fourth stage, the person begins to understand the extent of damages done. Because of this, the individual may become silent, isolate and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the survivor to disconnect from the damages becoming all consuming.  It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.

Acceptance — "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."

In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their trauma, their damages, and their life now.

Understanding is only the beginning of recreating ourselves, rebuilding our lives and living fully.

Validation and support from other survivors is a valuable asset in the process of grieving our losses and healing.

 

Diagnostic terms you may see/hear or you may have been diagnosed with yourself:  (these are not complete, just a fraction of the actual definitions...they are not meant for self-diagnosis, just informational purposes)

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Diagnostic symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and increased arousal – such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger, and hypervigilance. It has three sub-forms: acute, chronic, and delayed-onset.

C-PTSD (Complex PTSD) - is a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, disempowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment, i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim. C-PTSD is distinct from, but similar to, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Stockholm Syndrome - is an apparently paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness. (i.e. why do I feel this trusting, close and intimate with those who abused and tortured me?)

Dissociation - is an altered state of consciousness characterized by partial or complete disruption of the normal integration of a person’s normal conscious or psychological functioning.  Dissociation is most commonly experienced as a subjective perception of one's consciousness being detached from one's emotions, body and/or immediate surroundings. Dissociation is a "compartmentalization of experience." Under normal conditions, consciousness, memory, emotions, sensory awareness, affect, etc., are integrated; with dissociation, in contrast, these traits are discretely compartmentalized to greater or lesser degrees.

Dissociative Amnesia - see above.

Depression - characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities.

Anxiety/Panic Disorders - is a blanket term covering several different forms of abnormal and pathological fear and anxiety. The term anxiety covers four aspects of experiences an individual may have: mental apprehension, physical tension, physical symptoms and dissociative anxiety.  Anxiety disorder is divided into generalized anxiety disorder, phobic disorder, and panic disorder; each has its own characteristics and symptoms and they require different treatment.  The emotions present in anxiety disorders range from simple nervousness to extreme bouts of terror.

Traumatic Brain Injury - occurs when an external force traumatically injures the brain. TBI can be classified based on severity, mechanism (closed or penetrating head injury), or other features (e.g. occurring in a specific location or over a widespread area). Head injury usually refers to TBI, but is a broader category because it can involve damage to structures other than the brain, such as the scalp and skull.  While many of us may not have had an actual blow to the head, motivating may have played a part.  Damages to the brain consistent with TBI are present in our survivor subclass, which indicates there may be a psychological component to TBI with or without physical trauma.

 

Given the information about what is/may be wrong, it is natural to react.  Many of us have experienced all forms of regressive behavior patterns ranging from mild to severe.  Drinking, smoking, drugs, eating disorders, carving/self harm, acting out (physically, mentally/emotionally, sexually, financially, etc), gambling/over spending, abusive relationships (being abused/being abusive), isolation, suicidal thoughts/behaviors are some examples of how survivors have reacted.  These avoidance behaviors are methods that don't typically help our healing and can delay the process or create additional traumatic/damaging events to cope with.

 

Many of us struggle with relationships overall and our marriages/significant others, parents, siblings, children and close friends have suffered greatly as we come to terms with our past and present issues as survivors.   If currently in a relationship, please know that while those people who care and support you (friends, family, spouse/significant others, children) will not understand what you are going through, they may be supportive and helpful.  They may not be, they may become jealous of time spent with survivors, time spent online, time spent isolating to cope.  They may not believe you.  If your relationships need help, please seek appropriate help.

 

The questions that will rage on.....

Who's to blame?   What really happened to me?  What is wrong with me?  How did they brainwash us?  How did they get away with this for so long?  Why is it still affecting me? Why can't I just get over it?  Will I ever get better?

NOW WHAT???

MOST IMPORTANT - SEEK APPROPRIATE HELP -

If you have physical issues see your doctor.  Stress can aggravate and create physical illnesses.

If you have mental/emotional stresses that you need addressed, PLEASE find a therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist that SPECIALIZES in TRAUMA, this is a unique field with specialized practitioners (see doc on finding a therapist).  If you can't afford one, many states and veteran centers(if you qualify) have ones available at low/no cost.  If you can't get in to see one and need immediate help Call 911 or go to an ER or call a HOTLINE - see docs for Hotline info and numbers.

WE ARE NOT THERAPISTS, WE ARE SURVIVORS!

We are here to be supportive, helpful and are healing ourselves.

HELPFUL HEALING:

1.  Slow down the best you can.

2.  Take time to breathe deeply, slowly and often.

3.  Develop a written self care plan that you can follow even when overwhelmed.  Address your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. (i.e. eat, sleep, nap, exercise, meditate, garden, draw, watch a comedy, go out with a close friend, etc.)

4.  Don't lash out in your anger and rage.  (Regrets, shame and guilt are only additional damages you can incur with this).  Find healthy outlets for these strong emotions.

5.  Pace yourself.  Take time off when you need to.  i.e.  2 days online, 1 day offline.

6.  Exercise is great stress relief and anger/rage management, moderation is the key.

7.  Vent on the boards or private messages with other survivors.

8.  Write or journal, draw, play musical instrument.

9.  Music is very meaningful and helpful.  Create playlists that help, that are readily accessible.

10.  Set healthy boundaries.

11.  No rash/major decisions while overwhelmed.(i.e. calling/bashing parents, threatening them/anyone, or vandalizing, divorce/separation(unless needed for safety), job changes/quitting).  Allow yourself time to process the emotions and make healthy, positive decisions.

12.  Learn coping skills that work for you.

13.  Prioritize.   

14.  Have fun/meaningful activities.  Make time to feel and heal, yet make time for fun/enjoyable activities also.

 

This process is difficult at best, please be gentle on yourself.  Many of us have been there and still experience much of this, know that you are not alone.  You are a survivor of a horrific experience at a very vulnerable time in your life.  You have made it this far, hang in there.

Just know that you are not alone anymore, you are understood, you are beginning to heal.

Healing is possible.  Hope is here.  Help is available for you.

Much peace, love and healing.

Thanks to , well, we will call her One Happy Bunny!!
Great writeup
Bill H
St Pete & Atlanta, never surrendered!
12/80-12/82

Offline none-ya

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Re: Waking Up Is Hard to Do/ NEW ARRIVALS coping with your nightmare past
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2013, 07:01:00 PM »
So you sat it takes 25-30 years to come to grips with your time in the program WHY?? Unless you drank the koolaid,and now you feel guilty about what you had to do,to save your own ass. I wasn't in straight. I was in the the program that BECAME Straight. I did my time 10-10's started over, and when given the chance, I split! I didn't think ANYBODY really bought into the "party line". They just did whatever just to survive. UNLESS you were an asshole to start with. Everybody else..............(And I'll probably get banned again)
GET THE FUCK OVER IT!!!
?©?€~₯@

Offline DannyB II

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Re: Waking Up Is Hard to Do/ NEW ARRIVALS coping with your nightmare past
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2013, 10:53:36 PM »
 ;D  none ya's on a roll.
Stand and fight, till there is no more.

Offline Tampa survivor

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Re: Waking Up Is Hard to Do/ NEW ARRIVALS coping with your nightmare past
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2013, 12:25:33 PM »
Well, good morning to you too Sunshine of the Seed.
I share what I like.  I liked what bunny wrote for the weepy crowd. 
Start a thread on compact recovery with full frontal perfection and a side order of happiness if you wish.
Personally, I split and got dragged back 4 times. 
5th was the charm
Bill H
St Pete & Atlanta, never surrendered!
12/80-12/82

Offline none-ya

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Re: Waking Up Is Hard to Do/ NEW ARRIVALS coping with your nightmare past
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2013, 08:08:48 PM »
Well, good morning to you too Sunshine of the Seed.
I share what I like.  I liked what bunny wrote for the weepy crowd. 
Start a thread on compact recovery with full frontal perfection and a side order of happiness if you wish.
Personally, I split and got dragged back 4 times. 
5th was the charm


From the morgan yacht building? Or from home?
?©?€~₯@

Offline Tampa survivor

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Re: Waking Up Is Hard to Do/ NEW ARRIVALS coping with your nightmare past
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2013, 06:08:11 AM »
right in my sig line...St Pete and Atlanta.
Ruthie the Fang thought I wouldn't run away in a far away city...bwahahaha.
I Missed Morgan Yacht by  just a bit, but heard all about the pews and how we should thank gawd and heaven for the blue chairs.
Bill H
St Pete & Atlanta, never surrendered!
12/80-12/82

Offline none-ya

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Re: Waking Up Is Hard to Do/ NEW ARRIVALS coping with your nightmare past
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2013, 08:54:24 PM »
right in my sig line...St Pete and Atlanta.
Ruthie the Fang thought I wouldn't run away in a far away city...bwahahaha.
I Missed Morgan Yacht by  just a bit, but heard all about the pews and how we should thank gawd and heaven for the blue chairs.
Where did the St.Pete straight move to when it left morgan yacht?
?©?€~₯@

Offline Tampa survivor

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Re: Waking Up Is Hard to Do/ NEW ARRIVALS coping with your nightmare past
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2013, 04:44:07 PM »
bldg on gandy, 3001 gandy.  now it belongs to knowlogy cable.
Bill H
St Pete & Atlanta, never surrendered!
12/80-12/82