On my blog entry entitled Can You “Let Go” of Abuse You Don’t Remember?, a reader asked the following question:
If either the early age or later possible drugging makes those memories permanently inaccessible, how am I supposed to heal? Is there a way to process what I may never recover? If not am I just condemned to half a life? ~ PW
I first learned about healing from preverbal abuse when reading Kathy Evert’s book on mother-daughter sexual abuse entitled When You’re Ready: A Woman’s Healing from Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse by Her Mother. You can read what I wrote previously here. While in therapy, the author recovered sensations that she didn’t know how to process because they were preverbal. She had no language attached to them, so they didn’t make sense to her.
Thankfully, the release of preverbal memories made sense to her therapist. Her therapist encouraged her to allow her body to release the memories just as she would allow her brain to release flashbacks. It was a grueling time, but she did heal by allowing her body to release the pain.
Over on Isurvive (a message board for child abuse survivors), we had a discussion of this topic. One member was releasing lots of body memories from preverbal abuse and felt like she was losing her mind. She felt an uncontrollable need to be comforted in a way that would comfort a baby, which wasn’t easy in an adult’s body. She really needed to be “rocked,” so she bought herself a hammock to give herself the sensation of being rocked. As soon as she did this, she was successful in processing the memories. She would release them and then self-soothe through rocking herself in the hammock.
As other child abuse survivors have explained to me, healing from preverbal memories involves feeling unpleasant sensations in your body that don’t really make sense. You might feel like you are falling, feel like your body is burning, or whatever simulates what you actually experienced before you developed language. If you don’t fight or analyze those feelings and, instead, just let your body tell the story, people tell me that they experience deep healing.
Photo credit: Faith Allen