On Monday, I asked the question Is it Possible for an Abuser to “Forget” the Abuse? but only introduced the topic. Yesterday, I wrote about the Evidence of My Mother/Abuser’s Subconscious Memory of Abuse. Today, I am going to take my best stab at the topic.
I truly do believe that, in my mother’s case, she does not carry a memory of the abuse she inflicted in her conscious memory. As I shared in my blog entry yesterday, I have no question that she carries memories of all that she has done in her subconscious memory. I shared two big examples, but I have little examples as well. I have enough validation based upon her reactions and things that she has said and done that must come from her subconscious memories seeping out.
I don’t know if her ability to repress the memories comes from her schizophrenia or from her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she has dissociative identity disorder (DID), suffered from ritual abuse, and has “programmed” alter parts that drove her to deliver her own children over to a cult. Honestly, that theory makes the most sense to me. I do not recall ever seeing my mother at any of the cult sessions, even though I remember her pulling me out of bed and driving me there. I have memories of her picking me up and seeming surprised that I was covered with dirt or whatever.
I suspect that she suffered from similar abuses in her childhood that she and others inflicted upon me. I also suspect that the abuse broke her whereas I was strong enough to fragment myself to survive the abuse without losing myself. Is she responsible? Absolutely. Does she remember at a conscious level? I doubt it. This makes my choice to remove her from my life more complicated because I don’t want to cause her to have a psychotic episode by telling her why I don’t want her in my life. However, because she does not “remember,” she seems to be truly baffled (at a conscious level) at my decision. So, my answer to the question is yes, it is possible for an abuser truly not to remember the abuse (at least at a conscious level).
This situation certainly does not apply to all abusers, however. I have no doubt that S & L (my most sadistic abusers) remember every minute of it and relished it when they did. S was a psychopath who could pass a lie detector test. She could look anyone straight in the eye and deny that the abuse ever happened. She was truly evil, whereas I think my mother was broken.
This is probably why my therapist advises against getting into my abusers’ heads. He says that their motivation, whether it is brokenness or pure evil, is not going to help me heal but has the capacity to make healing more challenging. I have been able to heal while still speculating on the workings of my abusers’ minds. My childhood was destroyed – It only stands to reason that I would want to understand why.
Photo credit: Hekatekris