Coping Challenge: undoing the memory distortion

 My recovered memories come back in fragments and feelings with some kind of physical sensation attached.  The reality of those memories are different from my concepts of the past; often they contradict each other.  The contradictions confuse me (alters included) and bring feelings of anxiety that trigger obsessions, compulsions, and automatic coping strategies.

This weekend I realized that leaving my family was less stressful than the fear of their reprisal for walking away.  They systematically shunned me for months that turned into years as I became more successful amd whole (recovery).  By the time I left, almost everybody was rude and ignored me  except to shame or insult me whenever we saw each other.  

And the one time I did go back and try letting them back into my life led me to taking a one month leave of absence from work to sort out my feelings.  I went back because an uncle by marriage died after fighting cancer for many years.  Going back was selfish in that I needed the closure – to see for myself that he was really, truly dead.  The rest was to see what reactions I would get from different family members and if their opinions of me changed.

Some were happy to see me.  Others were resentful and ignored me.  Most were curious about how I was doing.  They all expected me to come back to the fold and treated me as if I never left.  Except for one aunt who ignored me as pumishment for standing up to her before the blow up.

But 3 months of being back around them confirmed that I needed them out of my life.  And so, every year between January and May, I get angry and depressed.  My body experiences extreme pain.  Amd I relive all of the interactions that had me contemplating suicide so many times.

My typical response is dissociation followed by ammesia and many negative coping straegies like picking my skin and scabs, pulling out hang nails in ways that cause bleeding, pain, and possible infection (usually goes away when I reopen the scab and clean with iodine before using antibiotic ointment), acting reckless, etc.

I also would lose enough weight to trigger relapse symptoms in my body and get sick.  And all of his stress opened up space for the obsessions and compulsions to take over my life…until the pain eased and I could think clearly again.

My challenges are many:

  • Finding successful alternitve coping strategies that are healthy and positive
  • Finding ways to counter the obsessions and compulsions
  • Learning to accept my depression instead of fighting it
  • Letting myself feel all emotions so I can sleep
  • Being ok with the need to get rid of stuff by throwing it in the garbage instead of finding a more sustainable solution that aligns with my values
  • Accepting that my beliefs are contradictory to my recovered memories for good reasons
  • Learning to accept that my memories are real and balid and more true than the beliefs drummed into my head for decades
  • Accepting that some of my habits will take as many years to undo as took to settle in
  • Fearing habits and rituals becuase they can become obsessions and compulsions

My strategies are many; and I learn more all the time.  But nothing is ever perfect.  Mistakes happen. Life goes on one moment at a time.  I am safe.  My alters are safe.  That is enough for now.

Thanks for reading.