Posts Tagged ‘memories after child abuse’

On my blog entry entitled Talking about Child Abuse is Not “Rambling”, a reader posted the following comment:

I have found that some people with PTSD tend to have a better memory for many things and trust it less. I have a PTSD friend and we can go back years and recount events. Together we can remember the rack that the pool cue was taken from in a fight. We both noticed during the fight that one guy did not know enough to break the cue so he was likely not a major threat, the guy who broke the mug was the threat. That sort of thing. ~ MFF

One way I know that a memory is really a flashback is the “crispness” and level of detail held in the memory. When I think about a non-traumatizing memory from a couple of weeks ago, I will have a difficult time telling you what I was wearing, what the weather was like, and a million other unimportant details. However, I recovered a memory from age three in which I could describe the pink pants I was wearing, exactly where I was, what was happening, the positions that my sister and I were in, etc.

Sometimes a flashback will begin with a stream of consciousness memory, such as the one I had the other night.

*** sexual abuse triggers ***

As I was falling asleep, I had a stream of consciousness of a man lying on his back. His pants were pulled off, and his body shape was different from hub’s. Then, it was like the lens went into crystal clear focus. It was my father lying on his back (I think he was drugged – looked like he was asleep), and I was forced to perform oral sex on him while pictures were taken.

*** end triggers ***

It was very disturbing but makes complete sense in light of other events that happened. My sister and I both recovered memories of my father being photographed hurting her while blindfolded, and my sister believes he was blackmailed with those photos. My guess is that these were more photos in the arsenal, which begs the question of how much he knew was being done to me as a child. I don’t know. He never approached me sexually (and he had plenty of opportunity if he had wanted to). I just don’t know what he knew and didn’t know. My sister thinks that is why he moves us 30 miles away – so he could still work at his company (which he owned) but get us away from those monsters.

If not for the crystal clear focus of the flashback, I might have beat myself up for having a sick mind or whatever. However, for me – the telltale sign of a flashback is the very crisp and detailed quality of the memories – very different from my regular memories.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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When I was in the early stages of healing from child abuse, I often wished that I could go back to my life as it was before I started healing. I wished I could wave a magic wand and “forget” about all of the information that I had recovered through flashbacks. Hub sometimes asked if I could do that as well because he liked it better when I was “happy” all the time instead of dealing with deep issues for years on end.

I no longer wish that I could just stuff it all back inside. Yes, the healing process has been grueling, and, yes, I have images in my head that are not pleasant. However, those are my experiences, and they are all part of what shaped me into the person that I am today. To “forget” my experiences is to lose who I am, and I don’t ever want to lose “me” again.

One of the bizarre realities of healing is that I sometimes feel worse (for a time) as I am healing. One day I might reach a plateau in healing and feel really good and “zen.” The next day, I might become triggered and work through more unresolved pain. It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I am actually in a healthier place in the midst of all of that pain than I was when I felt more at peace.

Every day, I am becoming much more whole, and I am discovering the beauty of my true self. I no longer feel the need to pretend to be someone else. Being me is much more interesting than any shell of a personality that I used to hide behind.

So, if I had a fairy godmother or a genie give me the option of going back to not remembering about my child abuse history, I would politely decline the offer. For better or for worse, this is who I am. I would much rather be myself, warts and all, than go back to being a shell of a person, always running from my truths.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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