Yesterday, I blogged about a memory I just recovered. In that blog entry, I just wrote about the memory itself. I wrote that in the morning. I am writing this in the afternoon as the emotions are starting to wash over me.
I remember this process from when I was recovering memories on a regular basis. When I was ready to release a memory through flashbacks, I would get a bad headache and experience anxiety as I relived the experience. Afterward, I would calm myself down and accept the truth of whatever the flashback revealed. This almost always happened at night.
The next morning, I would awaken with the flashback being stored as any other memory, so what was hidden from me only a day before was now accessible just like any other memory. In the morning, I would think about the flashback logically – OK, that it explains why ___ always triggered me, why I did X, Y, or Z, etc. I would think that I am OK – that it is so much better to remember than repress it. In fact, releasing a new memory gives me a lot of energy, like finally putting my arms down after holding them up for too long.
If this is where the process ended, I think healing from child abuse would not be that bad. Sadly, that’s not where it ends. Later in the afternoon, as is happening as I write this, all of the emotions that I “froze” along with the memory of the event get “unfrozen” and wash over me – the shame, guilt, sadness, despair, and all of the other painful emotions that I was unable to process when the event happened.
My emotions were interesting as I processed the memory last night. I had previously recovered a memory of seeing my sister “killed,” which I blogged about here, here, and here. The emotion I felt most strongly as I relived that memory was despair. I wanted to die because my reason for living – my sister – was dead (I believed).
I did not feel despair or suicidal with this flashback, which is unexpected. Instead, I felt immobilized. I had already been through believing my sister had been killed (after “witnessing” her “murder”) and then the shock of processing that she was alive the next morning. So, I was uncertain how to react this time. I knew I was seeing her dead body a second time but did not know what to believe, so I just shut down.
Whenever I think about a Christmas tree, I see myself immobilized in front of it. I see my limp body unable to move. I think that captures how I felt as I saw my sister’s “dead” body being carried toward me.
My head is really hurting. I’ll write more as I process more. This is a hard one.
Photo credit: Hekatekris