A while ago I did a post on body memory but focused mainly on physical pains. There are also a whole slew of other ways the body can remember. I deal with most of these and I am sure that many of you do as well. If I am wrong, email me a complaint. 😉
Physically, the body feels so much from your past. Even in people without trauma. We have lived a certain way and our body stores memories. Stressful situations that made you tense up your neck muscles can cause you to still have a tense neck years later unless you find a way to release that negative energy and body memory.
Today I am more interested in talking about other “body” memories that are a bit harder to understand and are rather difficult to deal with. There is no massage parlour or chiropractor for tastes, smells or sights that you have brought from your past in to your present. Unwillingly of course.
I will use the word “hallucinations” because that is what I call them but feel free to call them whatever you are most comfortable with.
Each day I see men coming in to my room even though I know there is no one there. I TOTALLY appreciate my dog for this sort of memory because if a person really came in the room, she would react. Sadly that does not ease the tensing up, the racing heart, the getting ready to run away or get ready for a fight. In my opinion the only way to deal with these memories that have turned in to hallucinations is to try your best to deal with the memories that cause them. I also find the simple act of taking a slow deep breath in, hold it for a moment and then as I blow that air out, I close my eyes and blow the hallucination from my mind out in to the air. It doesn’t always work but most times when I reopen my eyes, the man is no longer there.
I will admit something though. Last week I was hallucinating raccoons and they were so fun to watch that I didn’t even bother to try to get rid of them. 😉 I say if your hallucination is funny or makes you smile? Why fight it? You have enough to fight already. Enjoy the laugh.
Smells are another trigger for me but you can hallucinate smells as well. Your mind remembers certain scents LONG after they are gone. Some of these can be very pleasant. The smell of a certain type of flower, a steamy hot coffee or tea, being able to smell crisp autumn air just by thinking about it. Of course these olfactory (smell) memories can be unpleasant as well. I can smell my mothers perfume even though my house is scent free, I can smell sweat especially of older men, and I smell other things too but saying them here may trigger others. i don’t want to do that. One way to deal with these hallucinations can be to get a scented lotion. I use a hypoallergenic scent free lotion as a base then add some drops of pure peppermint. I often put this lotion on right under my nose and also on the top of my hand in case I need a really good whiff. You can use any scent that you find calming. No one even needs to know that you have it on. It should not be a really light scent though. You need something to overpower your brain in to smelling the here and now instead of the way back when.
Occasionally just the feel of something can trigger memories in to leaving their place in our pasts and jump in to our present. For me it is certain bedding, some couch fabric (remember the velvety stuff they had in the 70’s and 80’s?), some clothing, and oddly enough, holding an apple or a cookie is very triggering as well. I have not stopped eating cookies even though I should have but I will admit that the texture of the cookies I will buy or eat have textures that are not in my memories. Sometimes I think it can be important to expose yourself to some of these tactile triggers while reminding yourself that this is 2014 and you are safe. On the other hand, I think there are certain things that you should change in your home if it is triggering for you. My bed only has those nice fleece blankets on it. I sleep on top of one and under one. These blankets are newer and did not exist 30 years ago. Bedtime is NOT the time for exposure therapy. Any place where you spend a lot of time should be comfortable and non-triggering.
Exposing yourself to your triggers is healthy but living in them 24/7 will never allow you to heal.
Whatever you do, be respectful to yourself. There is no medal for riding out trigger after trigger all day long. Rearrange your home if needed, paint using a colour that is different from anything you ever had before, buy new bedding or cover your couch in a large cozy blanket. Remove scents that bother you and trigger you even if you don’t know why they do. it doesn’t really matter why. It just matters that it does.
More than anything, know you are not alone.
Maybe you only have one type of memory or you are like me and have a body that remembers and hallucinates in many ways. Whatever you are dealing with, make the changes that you can. Take care of YOU! Living your life as comfortably as possible is the reward we are after.