The Psychology of Phraseology

by Lori Dwyer on August 3, 2011 · 25 comments

Charlie the trauma psych tells me that a lot of psychology is about phrases and words. Things to we take to have meaning, sayings we internalise as our own.

Like ‘post traumatic stress disorder’, I guess. Like ‘flashbacks’. Like ‘widow’. (Flashbacks… I always thought that was just phraseology, another word for an intense memory. I was wrong. A flashback is a whole body experience… it’s knowing where you are, but being unable to stop the movie reel that plays in your mind, that projects images you don’t really want to see just a foot or two in front of your eyes. It’s smell and touch and temperature… it’s the feel of glycerin on your lips, the same greasy softness you felt months ago, left over from where you kissed the corners of his eyes, the glycerin they’d used to lubricate them… it’s feeling that, as if it were real, as if you could touch it, taste it, and being unable to stop.)

There are new sayings I’ve picked up, from my trauma pysch, sayings that ring like clear dew on a fresh morning in my mind. Phrases such as “Authentic living.” There’ll be much more on that one later, I assure you…

Phrases like “post traumatic growth”. because, according to Charlie, that is what I’m doing.

Is it possible, to grow from this? To experience a trauma like this, and have it leave you not a better person, or a happier one, but one that’s more in touch with yourself, your core, your strength?

I think that’s possible. i think it has to be. I look at myself… I look how far I’ve come. From the hysterical creature who roamed the halls of her Purple House, with sleeping tablets and trauma battling it out in the early hours of the morning. I look at he person who moved in here, to the cottage in Paradise, who sat outside every night and cried to the stars…. I’m so different now. I’m growing. I’m tortured and anxious and insecure, my self esteem has taken a beating… but I’m still here. I’m still standing.

And, ironically, I’m much less afraid now, of life, of the world, than I ever have been before. After what I’ve done, what I’ve had to do.. the rest is bullshit. Day to day life doesn’t freak me out much anymore. I know that there are far worse things that can happen.

(But… and there’s always a but… what if that’s an illusion too? What if the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do pales in comparison to what the future holds…? I can’t imagine worse, I don’t want imagine worse… but, as they say, God punishes us for what we cannot imagine. What a terrifying fucking thought.)

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelloggsville August 27, 2011 at 9:09 am

This post made me remember the quote "we are the sky, the rest is weather" did you teach me that one? I don't believe God punishes, I just think shit happen sometimes and by the time we find out why it is too late to share the reason. XXX


hpretty August 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Yes and yes. i absolutely believe that. I heard someone talking about losing their husband to cancer the other day. She described it as the most enriching experience of their lives. From my experiences in the past 4 months I believe in that.
Your situation of course is different, and it is difficult to glean much positivity to what has happened. But I do believe you will grow in ways you didn't think possible, or ever needed to , before. You have already grown.
The link i think is that out of trauma can come enlightenment.



Annabellz August 8, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I love that… "Post-traumatic Growth!" Wow! It's a wonderful turn of a phrase. A positive way to move ahead. As well instead of "falling apart"… you are "falling together"… Giving yourself a break… you don't have to let this take you down the rabbit hole into hell!


Neeny August 5, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Lori, not sure if you truly believe that God punishes, but the God I know loves and cares.

Perhaps in one of those moments when you're sitting out under the stars, just ask God, if he's real, to make himself known to you. Ask him for comfort, as he really does care.


Shellye August 4, 2011 at 11:47 pm

I think there is growth that has to occur from a situation like this.

Flashbacks…that's an interesting way of putting them, a whole body experience. My memories of EVERYTHING are so vivid that perhaps they are all flashbacks.

As always, you're in my thoughts and prayers today, love.


Hear Mum Roar August 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm

You can do anything, Lori:) We're all so proud of you


Vicky August 4, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I remember a time where I was constantly frozen … in the midst of flashbacks… the smell, the sound, the place, the feeling… And believed at the time that it was never going to end.

I agree with easypeasykids, from my own experience, the power of them starts to dissipate, and while you don't forget, you learn to stay in your body, and in the moment your in.

The journey of PTSD is a bloody hard slog… as much as you may question at times what the hell am I doing?? … you are doing brilliantly in exceptional circumstances.

sending you love and light Lori


Jess WhoaMamma August 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Oh Lori…..

I only discovered your blog today and have barely scratched the surface of your recent experiences. Sometimes words just don't seem enough. At the end of your post, you welcome comments by saying 'Leave Some Love'.
And that's what I want to send out to you and your precious ones today, and everyday. No words for now, just Love. xxxx


Crystal Cheverie August 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Wow, I never realized flashbacks were so… so real. That must be awful. I, too, wish I could promise you that the worst is behind you, that nothing else could possibly happen. All I can do is pray. Sending light and love…


Melissa August 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I wish I could say that you have had your quota of "bad stuff" and that the rest of your life would be winning lotto tickets and surprise parties – but it wouldn't be true. I imagine your life will have ups and downs, just like anyone else – but you will have a spine of steel, and serious muscles to get you through. You are strong, you are good. And that's the truth. Lots of love.


River August 3, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Hugs Lori. You're doing fine. I'm pleased to read this, how far you've come.
and the others are right. God does not punish.


Miss Pink August 3, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Do you think that you are less afraid or it's that you're more reckless?
Just me being curious due to my own personal feelings and experiences. (And tell me to fuck off if i've upset you. It's not meant mean, it's meant as a genuine question.)


Amy xxoo August 3, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I would hate to imagine would could possibly be worse than what you've already endure Lori – however, should the " worse " ever come, i'm sure the strength you are gathering now should hold you in good stead….


lizzymint August 3, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Oh, Lori, please don't doubt yourself. It isn't an illusion. This probably IS the hardest thing you'll ever do. Don't let 'them' undermine your confidence that you WILL feel better; that the flashbacks WILL fade; that you WILL progress towards recovery; and that every day will be less and less traumatic. No-one is punishing you; you didn't do anything that you should feel 'punishable' about. Shit happens (sorry) BUT so does magic – just concentrate on finding it in any way that you can. Just look for it in your kids, in theses posts, in all the people who love you; and stay strong. I know you can do it xxxx


Glowless @ Where’s My Glow August 3, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I could give you a Mars Bar… xxx


wishihadakarmaanghia August 3, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Hi Lori – I pop in now and again to see how you're doing and the progress, if I can call it that – and not meant at all in a patronising way…. the progress you've made in these months is GIGANTIC! When it happened to you I had no idea how anyone could go through a husband's suicide and keep living. In the same way as people asked me "How on earth do you do it?" when my youngest was so very ill for the first year of his life. But we do because we have to. And you are doing it with aplomb, lady! Don't worry about the future. No point whatsoever. Find the tiny bits of good in your days and build them up into a mountain of good instead. Carpe Diem. xxx


Julia August 3, 2011 at 6:46 pm

"They" say WRONG! The Bible urges us: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; while you throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”—1 Pet. 5:6, 7


Stephani August 4, 2011 at 4:14 am

You're an awesome human being, Lori.

I am continually inspired and awed by you.



Stephani August 4, 2011 at 4:13 am

This comment has been removed by the author.


Just Jennifer August 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I don't believe in a punitive God. Just get that out of your head.

I've had some pretty strong flashbacks to the night my husband's heart stopped 3 times. It literally takes my breath away.

It really effing sucks! There's no 2 ways about it.

You're doing the work. Just keep it up.


A Daft Scots Lass August 3, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I hear what you're saying…Your triggers may still be there but more manageable.

Its called progression.



MaidInAustralia August 3, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Sweetie, it is, it really is. I came back from my visit with my shrink today (and I also see a psychologist and do other counselling stuff). There have been several events in my life which caused PTSD, and at first, the memories/flashbacks were unrelenting. As you say you can see, feel, taste what occured before to fuck you up. They even come in your dreams.
But gradually, as you deal with the baggage, the flashbacks, the horror, becomes easier to deal with.
They do fade.
Doesn't mean you'll forget it, but you are more able to cope with it.
My psychiatrist took a look back at his notes from when he saw me in Jan 2009 (this was a different one to previous events). I am now a completely different woman to the one he saw back then.
I was broken then, and although I'm not completely together, the superglue is holding together nicely.
Day by day, step by step, you will get there.
The key is dealing with it before it completely does your head in.
And it seems you are.


Lynda Halliger-Otvos August 3, 2011 at 4:04 pm

You said, " they say, God punishes us for what we cannot imagine. What a terrifying fucking thought.”

Whoa !~! Can we back this convo up to the part about “they”? That’s the terrifying part-they don’t always know whereof they speak.

Also-this punitive god of whom they speak-does not exist any more than some old aunt stuffed in the attic telling you how to behave. You know what’s right and wrong and you follow you brilliant mind. Let the weak ones depend on some guy in the sky !~!

I hate to see you get caught up in the fantasies of a confused populas.


Easy Peasy Kids August 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Lori, the flasbacks do finally relent, I know from personal experience, they eventually become a sudden quick flash that you can deal with in a better way.I'd love to say it all eventually diasppears but traumatic events unfortunately suck big time, and do mess about with our brains. Surround yourself with peolpe that love you and I know from your posts how may people simply adore you and unlike me who can't talk about the trauma, you are helping so many. Big hugs Nx


Catherine Dabels August 4, 2011 at 1:23 am

Is it possible, to grow from this? To experience a trauma like this, and have it leave you not a better person, or a happier one, but one that's more in touch with yourself, your core, your strength?


You can do hard things. The hardest things possible. You are doing them.



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