Sharing and Grounding

October 31, 2009

I just read a post called: Trauma Therapy Tools: Grounding. It is on The Survivor Manual blog done by the Angela Shelton Foundation. This particular post is written by Dr. Kathleen Young.

Boy, did it hit home with me. She writes about how to learn how to stay present…especially in doing healing work. This is especially true of when sharing our stories. While we need to share our stories, how and when we do it can be either a positive thing or a negative thing. Telling before developing coping skills can lead to retraumatization.

One thing she wrote that really stood out to me is this:  “In fact, some trauma survivors are able to tell their stories easily, but in a dissociated manner.”

I have noticed how I can often talk about being a ritual abuse survivor without it effecting me. Sometimes, I can even describe some of it (in general) without it effecting me. I can sit and let my mind wander back over it…and just not be all that bothered. If I am not careful, it makes me wonder if what I remember is even real.

Then there are those times when I will allow my mind to wander a little too closely. As I really start to think about what happened, I find the dissociated emotions starting to kick in and reconnect with the visuals. I find myself choking up. At times, this can even lead to more memories.

I want to be able to talk to someone about this…yet…talking does make it more real.It is as if…by not really talking about it…I am able to keep it to the side…within the realm of “maybe it is not real”. If/when I start to really talk about it…one of two things happens. I either push it farther away and feel almost as if I am trying to deceive someone…or the emotions come closer…making it more real.

It is like this tug of war…less real vs more real. Typically, I stay somewhere in the middle of it all…caught between not wanting it to be real and wanting to reconnect it all together because I know that it is real.  I want to be able to have the freedom to actually talk about it…to describe the bits and pieces that try to float through my consciousness. Yet…when I try to grab those bits and pieces…I think I tend to automatically dissociate it away.

Everyone has to do healing in whatever way works best for them. For me…to do life…pretty much means to present in a mono-minded fashion. It also means to not talk much about the RA or allow it to “effect” me. Dealing with RA means dealing with those parts of myself that hold the memories the closest. I have no real avenue for doing that. I wish I did. I wish my environment at least allowed me to do it with myself. I don’t even have that.

There is power in the spoken word. There are things I can barely even write about (unless I do it in that unphased state — dissociation). Even less can I verbalize about them. Speaking it has power. It makes it real. It is validating. It starts to reconnect the emotion to the event…which is probably why I find myself so distanced from the emotions. It is probably also why, when I do start to speak of it, my mind tells me that I am being deceptive…that it could not possibly be real because of the lack of emotion.

A Catch-22. If I speak…the emotions can come more easily. The emotions are validating. My mind…in order to protect me…instantly holds the emotions at bay…keeping them back. The lack of emotions feels like deception…so memories must not be real. What a circle:   Speaking brings the emotions. Mind holds emotions back. So speaking feels like deception. So validation turns into subtle denial.

Reading that post led me into this train of thought. Dr. Young has a more complete post on her blog. I am going to go read it:
Staying Present During Trauma Therapy: Grounding Techniques and see what else comes up.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I must admit up front that I don’t talk much at all these days about memories. I know that I can easily get into a very dissociated (hazy) state where I talk about memories and that this is almost never good for me. I am so destabilized after the session, it’s very hard to come back, and very hard to go on with my life (i.e., go home and appear somewhat normal). And another reason why that’s not good is because I can never feel “authentic” about what’s been told.

    Instead I now more focus on the here and now (dissociative symptoms, day-to-day life issues). But, there is a catch, because you can easily get into denial mode. And that’s not good either.

    Memories do come up when there are triggers. But I do try to keep the discussion around them “easy”. Some would say I end up minimizing, which is probably true.

    There’s a delicate balance to be achieved and I have not found the best way to achieve it.

    • I, too, struggle with the balance. How easy it can be to slip into denial…yet the PTSS symptoms hit me in the face. I cannot deny that there are things that impact my functionality. Yet…oftentimes…confronting those things head on results in more struggles to function rather than less. It oftentimes feels like a Catch 22. Yet…if it were not for how my inability to function in certain areas impacts others, I could probably live with it on my own. Of course, whether I could support myself in that situation…I really don’t know. I would like to think that I can.

      Authenticity: that is SO hard. Because my memories are in so many pieces, it is difficult to feel as if what I share is authentic. Yet…if I get in touch with more of it…like the emotional parts that make it “feel” real…I automatically tend to pull back…leaving the emotions that bring authenticity behind. *sigh*

      I am with you, Paul…I don’t know the best way to achieve balance. I think it would be easier if I lived on my own…but that is really only a guess.

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