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PTSD and Memories of Abuse Can Diminish by Noticing Them

PTSD and memories of abuse interfere in building new relationships and healing old ones. The fear is hard to overcome, but knowing about PTSD helps. Read this.

Many abuse victims suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), me included. The other day in the middle of writing the post about my ex’s abusive anger, I had to take an hour break before I could finish it. My body reacted the same way it did when my ex ran up on me–panicky, wobbly, . . . fearful. It helps to know what is happening at times like these. If I didn’t know that PTSD influenced me both physically and emotionally, I may think I was just plain stupid for still being this way. As it is, I recognize the PTSD symptom and take necessary steps to ground myself and bring myself back into the present to deal with the PTSD and the memories of abuse.

Ways to Deal with PTSD and Memories of Abuse

I reminded myself that I was okay presently. My husband does not live here, so he cannot terrorize me the way he once did. I filled a glass with cool water and held onto the sink to stabilize my body.

Part of me wanted to jump in the car and drive far away because my safety net at the end of my marriage was to drive away. I resisted the urge. I looked around my home and saw only my things. There is no trace of my ex here (Top 21 Anxiety Grounding Techniques).

I grabbed a book, The Gift of Fear and flipped it open, reminding myself that my fear instinct, the one I ignored for the majority of my marriage, is not accustomed to me listening to it. I was married for almost 18 years; fearful for almost two decades. I ignored my fear responses because “He loves me. I love him. He won’t hurt me”. Basically, I told my body’s innate fear reactors to shut the hell up and stop bothering me.

What Should Happen When You Have PTSD and Memories of Abuse?

ptsd and domestic abuseSo what do I really expect to happen now, only three years out of the marriage? I have been free from his daily abuses for only one-sixth of the time I was captive to them. It seems reasonable that my body continues to react fearfully after I ignored its warnings for so long.

I accept my body’s reaction to fear, even to fear imagined, caused when I typed those memories of abuse into a blog post. I believe that in time, if I patiently soothe my body’s fear and let it know “I hear you, and this is what we’re going to do,…” that the reaction will disappear. That the PTSD and the memories of abuse will weaken.

PTSD and Those Memories of Abuse Shadow Me

In another example of PTSD symptoms, I responded angrily to my boyfriend’s question, “Where’s my toothbrush?”

I snarled back, “How should I know? It wasn’t my day to watch it!” Simultaneously, my body readied itself for fight/flight/freeze, and I felt stuck in fear. Fear over a simple question. Why?

The answer is simple: my ex rarely asked an innocent question. If something of his “went missing” from the house, it was my fault. And if I had nothing to do with losing the item, then it was my fault that I didn’t notice its loss and spend my day locating it so his life wouldn’t be disrupted. We argued over lost items a lot, and the arguments usually ended with me in tears, emotionally drained from his unwarranted attack.

But my ex is not here.

Max then asked, “What’s wrong?” and I responded angrily to that question, too! It took three angry responses before I realized what was going on. Almost immediately, I felt so embarrassed. I went to my room, alone, to pull myself out of the past, out of the fear that something bad was about to go down. I felt guilty and weak.

I apologized to Max. He was kind enough to allow me to explain what happened in my head; I felt a lot better, and we let it go. I sometimes wonder how long my boyfriend will be able to love me as the time-traveler I have become. It isn’t fair that Max has to deal with my past. It isn’t fair that I have stow-aways from a past relationship embedded in my head.

On the other hand, I must continue to pay attention to my fear no matter what the source. A while back I wrote about an incident between my son and me. My body reacted to his anger and intimidation with fear – just like in the old days. However, unlike the old days, I paid attention.

Instead of standing toe-to-toe trying to make my case, I immediately went outside and sat on the porch. I knew my son wouldn’t act the same outside where people could see and hear him as he did inside the house where there were no witnesses. I think that my reaction is a good sign. It doesn’t matter if anyone else would have felt fear in that situation; the point is that I felt afraid so I did something to feel safer.

Likewise, the thing I must remember about the conversation gone bad with my boyfriend is that I figured out what was happening to me much sooner than I could have three years ago. My reactions to writing down my memories of abuse are getting further and further apart too. I think it is happening because of time, distance, and the fact that I am building a different storehouse of memories. I have more memories of reacting appropriately to fear now than I did when I left my ex-husband. If practice makes perfect, then my symptoms of PTSD will eventually disappear under the weight of healthier choices and actions.

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

Kellie Jo Holly advocates for domestic violence and abuse awareness through her writing. You can find Kellie Jo on her website, Amazon Authors, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

39 thoughts on “PTSD and Memories of Abuse Can Diminish by Noticing Them”

  1. Thank you everything you said is true. It’s what all need to do get away from our abuser before they hurt other child. He would lie and pretend to care.
    Play Daddy then ignore her hurt her. Say and do horrible things to us then act like nothing happened. Them go back to his silent treatment. Verball abuvise games he play every day now. Can’t even stay in the same house with him he so cruel. Have save money to get a good lawyer my mothers helping me. I have Fibromyalgia.I disabled from it so I can work anymore so life will be hard for us but it better than staying here. With someone who doesn’t love anyone but himself.

  2. How do you get past this stuff? I had panic disorder when I married my husband. It is awful. I guess my husband could not handle it at all. He would curse me out with every name, scream at me to shut the f up, and on and on. This last year, it got even worse, with him throwing things, knocking over lamps, breaking furniture, chasing me around the dining room table, saying on his knees-I had better listen or there were going to be consequences. My 12 yr old started speaking and acting the same. No one seems to care. Told unless I have police reports, the courts will not care. My husband is pursuing a divorce and I am the mess dealing with all this. I worked with Domestic Violence victims for a decade, so should have known better to stop this. Should have called the police, as I would have advised anyone to do, but never did myself. I’m not looking to destroy my husband or hurt my daughter, but no one seems to understand why I need some acknowledgement this happened. Now, I have nightly panic attacks for hours. How does one get beyond this long term.

    1. My dear I went trought the same as you did and what the writer did. I had an emotionally and verbal relationship I suffered trought my entire pregnancy like that and whenever I needed emotional support because I felt alone and was alone home all day and with no family since I live abroad from my origin country he would say to me that I was crazy that I should be in a mental hospital it worsened when my daughter was born he was jeleous of her and didn’t accepted that she was now priority he didn’t cared about her he only wanted to play daddy when it was to play he’s manipulative games to break me. Told me several times if I divorced him he would take my baby away. I raised my daughter she is now 1 alone. I tried to make her bond with her but he was too selfish and narcissistic, he told me I should not tell him how to deal with the baby cuz she was he’s daugther and he could do as he pleased with her. I started to not trust him alone with her cuz he was too irresponsible and never ever had that caring love for her…to him she was a burden and I was mother and father since the beggining and altought I was really bad I fought to give all the love I could to her so she never lacks of care and the presence of a loving parent.he would pass his days doing music and typing on Facebook….he didn’t wanted to be a part of our family me and the baby were family to each other alone while would just live on the house. Then he started to try to control me using the fear I had to loose my daugther….eventually he started screaming in front of the baby being agressive with things….he pushed me several times and the last time I had the baby on my arms he came at me like manly growing to me ready for a fight I putted the baby down she was 8 months and then he pushed me I said that’s it I grabbed my baby and got out of the house and called the cops they putted him out of the house I sounded 2 days in a victims home with my baby eventually he came to the house to pick his stuff….for God sake dear and for your daughter leave him…your daughter is suffering the consequences of that marriage by showing the same ways that he is…think first of her and you…he doesn’t matter anymore on the day he decided to abuse you he no longer loved you…this is not love this is control and narcissism…I had fear of being alone but then I looked to my baby I know that I couldn’t let her Llive in a enviroment like that cuz I know she would develop psychological and emotional problems one day due to his discussions and screaming….he has no respect to her. He was immature and selfish. There is a time we have to say it’s enough don’t put ho0e into a failed marriage you did everything you could to reason with him and make things right….no man is worth our children well-being. You will feel relieve after the separation. Do it before your daugther ends broken like him and I know th8s little girl deserves so much more. I still cry over the things he did but mostly because of how he treated the little one but I know I did my job I protected her when the things were going on i was there for her when he wouldn’t I made her feel loved and safe. I’m a single mom and my baby continues to thrive after the break up. See children may not understand fully why those tensions but they feel it’s bad news children are very sensitive and before she grows and pick up this bad example I kicked him really hard out of this relationship. Be strong it’s gonna hurt an you gonna despair trought out all those court and minor protections meetings until it’s over but it will get better and you will get stronger you just gotta think and fight for your daugther be honest with the judge say what’s in your heart…people are not stupid and when they work on these fields they have seen plenty and they know who’s lieing and who’s the victims here. Be strong and get some self love back this is no love this is destruction….be selfish for once in a while kick him he doesn’t deserve you or the daughter you have. Think of what is best for her and you and forget about hurting him and caring about him cuz he definitely doesn’t care about you or the kid of he did he wouldn’t be setting this example in front of her. He’s trash treat him like so by turning your back and never even think on getting back to him

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