Many, many of the survivors in our community have asked me questions about the nightmares, the dreams, the visions that persist. These are the nightmares, visions, and dreams that continue despite the passage of time and despite the distance that has been created with the toxic, narcissistic abuser.
In the subconscious, below the line of our conscious awareness, lies our perspectives on events; our past actions, the memories, the thoughts and emotions that linger.
These emotional flashbacks can come in the form of nightmares or dreams about the past.
These are the imprinted film clips from our memory. These mini-movies may even be consciously forgotten and reside undisturbed per se in our unconscious. Or they can be recalled when we are awake in vivid detail.
Underneath lies this energy, the emotions that are inhabiting our minds and our bodies. These patterns of thoughts and the trauma that lives in the body many times can be revealed in our dreams or should I say the nightmares.
These lingering images and the triggering and disturbing events from the past have a way of disrupting and persisting for varying amounts of time.
Based on what I have read and studied, I strongly feel that the thoughts, the emotions, the thinking patterns, the anxiety, the negative self-talk and the underlying beliefs systems of:
- Our need for security and safety
- Our need to be feel truly valued
- Feelings of unworthiness
Are all there under that line of conscious awareness working in our brains while we sleep.
Evidence suggests that perhaps the brain is preparing for future threats. This would come from our amygdala the part of our brain that is lower on that brain ladder.
The amygdala has a direct impact on the body. It can cause this looping between the mind and directly impact the body.
This all functions outside our conscious awareness.
These nightmares cause incredible distress. Many times after you awake it is as if the event actually occurred.
You may feel the effects in your body. You definitely experience the anxiety and perhaps the intense fear.
You can see this function of simulation in our daily lives when perhaps you relive the trauma of the abusive words and actions of the abuser. This can also happen when you bring yourself back to something or some action you took and start berating yourself and actually reliving it.
So why do the nightmares persist?
One theory is that the brain is reprocessing the events of the past and preparing for the future. Actively problem solving, processing, and working through the psychological trauma that has been endured.
After trauma, you may disconnect from your feelings. You become confused and have difficulty identifying feelings and sensations on the inside.
There are feelings that automatically arise from the body as if out of nowhere from past conditioning and limiting beliefs.
This is where we can bring compassion and kindness to ourselves. Can we find a balance here? Can we find an opening where we don’t push down, push away, and/or don’t get lost or caught up in feeling overwhelmed or out of control?
What can I do?
One theory is if you can bring some conscious awareness to these dreams/nightmares that continue to plague they may lessen in intensity and in frequency.
How do you do this?
If you recall any bit or portion of the dream; write it down, feel it in your body and then bring some calm, kindness, and compassion to your body and to your mind by using your breath.
Just breathing in and out calming the nervous system,assuring yourself with your words that you are here now. You can write down the objective facts. You are at home. You are safe. You are no longer entangled with the abusive narcissist.
You are safe. Breathing in calm. Breathing out calm.
Just repeating the words to yourself and creating and repeating new habits creates new neural pathways in the brain over time. Assuring yourself with honesty, clarity, and empathy that you are loved and valued.
All this is part of the process of healing. Healing the body and the mind after the abuse.