On my blog entry entitled How Do You Convince Yourself to Feel the Pain after Child Abuse?, a reader posted the following comment:
My problem is, I have blocked memories. I cannot remember no matter what I do or how hard I try. When I was really working on it, I just started having memories come up and I became so fearful, especially that it was all a figment of my imagination, that I mentally shut down to all of it- as a matter of fact, I would almost think I was completely healed, so detached I am from it all, if it were not for the fact that I still other issues that are not resolved. But the “remembering” part- fear shut me completely down. I try to do memory exercises and my mind just wanders away from it. ~ heavenly places
I have been dealing with this issue as well, so I took it as a sign that I needed to write about what happened.
I, too, still have blocked memories. I have learned from experience not to go searching for them, though. I actually have a few strategies that I used in the early years to go searching for repressed memories. They were effective in releasing them, but I was not prepared for the fallout of dealing with them. Getting the new information is interesting because I have the “aha” moments where another piece of the puzzle helps me to understand my life. If I could just remember the event without the emotions, I would probably just yank out all of the memories at once and be done with it.
The problem is that each new memory comes with a flood of emotions. The more trauma you experienced, the more anger, fear, grief, etc. is locked away with each memory. When each memory surfaces, you have to receive all of those emotions as “mine” and deal with them. I have learned that my subconscious mind knows better than I do when I am ready to deal with a particular memory.
Instead, I invite new memories to come out. I have learned what it feels like when I have another memory that needs to surface. When that happens, I tell myself that I am ready to receive the memory. I reassure myself that I already know the ending – that I survived the trauma – and that I am OK today.
The night before writing this, I effectively dealt with the part about not believing a memory. In the early years, I would go back and forth – Did it happen or didn’t it? Where is the proof? Doubting what the little boy or girl inside is telling you is not “inviting.” You need to believe what you recover in order to heal.
I recently shared recovering a memory of my mother/abuser being present for the ritual abuse, not participating but also not intervening. The next piece of the puzzle that came was her masturbating while I was being harmed (this is the new information from last night). My first reaction was to question myself – Did this really happen? Am I making this up? How can I believe this? How could I know?
This time, I just said, “Stop.” Instead, I chose to believe the little girl inside. I decided that whether or not my mother/abuser was actually masturbating during the ritual abuse is irrelevant to my healing process. What matters is that the little girl inside perceived that her mother was “getting off” on seeing me hurt. My actions and reactions as a little girl are based upon this perception. I am not in a court of law – I am alone in my bedroom trying to heal from deep trauma. I am not seeking to have my mother thrown in prison or even a confrontation. What she was doing and why is irrelevant to my experience. My experience is based upon a belief that she did this, and my belief as a little girl traumatized me. The little girl inside needs love, acceptance, and healing, not a cross-examination.
When I made this choice, I could feel the depths of the healing taking place inside of myself. It felt similar to when my host personality integrated, although it was not to the same degree. Something powerful took place when I made the choice to believe in myself no matter what and stop cross-examining myself. I have a feeling that this choice is going to lead to more “unbelievable” memories surfacing because I will just receive them with belief and focus on healing, not on questioning myself.
Photo credit: Hekatekris