On my blog entry entitled “I Don’t Know If I Have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)”, a reader posted the following comment:
Do any of you readers or Faith have this experience that you initially did not remember your trauma because it was at too young an age? When I ask non-survivors about their memories before age eight (which is the age DID usually develops), they respond that they have hardly any memories, so I’m wondering why so many survivors seem to have so many memories of their trauma at such a young age? Or is it a thing about trauma that you should remember it? ~ Astrid
I have been told that “normal” memory for someone who did not experience childhood trauma includes basic memories of what was going on at home and at school beginning with elementary school, so presumably around age five or six. I did not have a “normal” childhood and cannot attest to this standard being accurate, but others have told me that this is the baseline.
Before recovering flashbacks, I used to pride myself in my very good memory. I have crisp, clear memories from as young as two years old (when my sister was born) that have been independently verified as accurate. There was a snowstorm when she was born that knocked out the power. I remember running in the snow and also sitting in the dark around the fire in the fireplace.
However, when the flashbacks started, I came to realize that my memory had a lot of holes in it. I could recite the name of each teacher and facts about school from age four on up (and still can), but I could not recall any memories at all with my parents in them until middle school. I always had vivid memories of S & L’s house (my most sadistic abusers) but not of the abuse.
The flashback memories filled in many of these gaps in very crisp detail, down to the color of the clothes I was wearing at age 3. When I have a flashback, it feels like I have traveled in a time machine and am re-experiencing the trauma right now. Those memories are very clear when I recover them. Then, by the next morning, they “feel” like all of my other memories. They lose their feeling of happening now and are just another set of memories in my memory bank. I don’t know if my experience is similar to anyone else’s, but that is how the memories work for me.
Photo credit: Hekatekris