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Archive for June 25th, 2008

Purple flowers (c) Lynda BernhardtBefore I integrated from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), my memory was like Swiss cheese. I had a few vivid memories from my childhood, but they all involved my younger sister and me playing together without anybody else around. I have a few vivid memories from elementary school and can even tell you the name of each teacher throughout elementary school. However, so much was just gone, but I never realized it.

One fascinating thing about DID is a person’s ability to fool herself into believing that her memory is good when it is not. It was only after I started having flashbacks and analyzed what I actually remembered about my childhood that I realized how few memories were actually in my memory bank. That concerned me because people do not generally block out positive memories.

I saw the movie The Three Faces of Eve, which ends with the title character integrating after DID. She suddenly had the complete memory of her childhood. I always wondered if I would have the same experience. While I have recovered many more memories, my experience was a bit different.

In the movie, Eve wound up having all of her memories available to her. While many of mine have been restored, I still have some holes. My therapist is not concerned about this. He says that I probably “wasn’t there” for many things that happened. Also, I was probably in such a survival mode that I never imprinted many memories in the first place.

One wonderful thing has been the recovery of positive memories. One in particular was from when I was in the third grade. My family spent the day outside in the backyard doing yard work. I played in the grass and relished just being alive. I was so present that day. It was the perfect day. When we had to go inside, it was to watch my favorite television show, which was The Wonderful World of Disney. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Before recovering this memory, I had the wrong belief that every minute of my childhood was filled with horror. While there was plenty of horror in my childhood, there was also beauty. It was only through choosing to remember my childhood that I finally had access to the positive memories as well.

Also, my memories are not always linear. I have many memories that I can place within a certain time frame, but they are not necessarily in the order in which they happened. I guess the actual order does not matter, as long as I have access to the whole picture.

I do believe that I now have access to the whole picture. Some things exist in my head as memories. Other things I just “know” without being able to say how I know. Too many of those “knowings” have been corroborated by my sister, who was there, for me to doubt their authenticity.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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