A message from the Universe, I suppose. Everywhere I turn I am seeing videos and stories about repressed memories.
To some, using the words “repressed memories” brings up the idea they are not true memories.
I have to admit, I don’t even use the words “repressed memories” when I often think about or fight to remember all that has been forgotten from my childhood.
For me, I have always known I was the victim of a lot of child abuse. I just did my best to not think about it, and to try to move on with my life as if that didn’t happen.
There have been moments in my life when I was able to get away with not feeling like an abused person. It isn’t hard to pull off looking normal when people really don’t look that closely at you.
For instance, when I was in high school, my behavior was full of contradictions, but nobody really cared enough to pay attention or say anything to me.
In high school, I was the nerd who excelled in ROTC. I also skipped school and hung out with the druggies. I was a nervous wreck when it came to dating boys, and I was also spending a lot of time having sex with boys and men in dangerous situations. I was both super responsible, and super reckless.
I later learned this was my Dissociative Identity Disorder playing out without me realizing it was doing so.
Even with all those contradictions in my behavior, I didn’t try to figure it out. I was hell-bent on repressing my past and trying to pretend I was alright.
I could remember plenty of abuse if I wanted to. When I was in college and got raped, that stirred the pot for sure. After that, I fell in love with a man, which I later learned didn’t work so well with the idea of keeping my past repressed.
I had plenty of meaningless sex in high school, but now in college, having fallen in love for the first time, sex was extremely difficult, and becoming more difficult with each day that passed. My past was really coming back to haunt me as I experienced flash backs and younger parts while trying to have sex with a man I loved.
Being the martyr most CSA survivors are, I told this man to leave me enough times that he finally did. I was heart broken, which is probably what led to my first psychiatric demise and hospitalization.
Fast forward 30 years, and I can still remember countless episodes of me being sexually abused as a young child. What’s missing is that I often don’t remember right before, some of the during, and definitely not afterward. It’s like I don’t have complete memories of anything, but I know with certainty these incidents I do remember are true.
Nowadays, I am finally working to try to process these memories, and for me, I honestly have no idea when new pieces of the memories are coming.
Yesterday, I was sitting in my car after therapy thinking about a specific abuse situation I had mentioned to my therapist, and I described it in session as a random occurrence that happened to me. Not 45 seconds in my car I was consumed with flashbacks and voices of my mom telling me to get out of the car right before I walked toward the man in the parking garage. I must have been refusing which is a little surprising to me as I normally did what my mom said, but she wanted me to get out into a darkened parking garage by myself when I was around 5. I was terrified and knew no good was coming from me getting out of the car. But the flood of memories could feel her anger and her demands and her pushing me out of the car.
This little piece of repressed memory has left me intensely suicidal for days. Somehow it was better to think I randomly encountered the creepy man in the parking garage than to know this was yet another man my mom had set me up for.
It is not like this is news to me that my mom was a disgusting, narcissistic, psychopath. I have known that for a long time.
But, this little piece of the memory still hurts so much. I guess it is hard to come to terms with someone’s evilness when you keep getting new pieces of evilness tossed your way.
It is not that I forgive, I don’t. It is not that I love her, I don’t. She deserves my hatred and worse, but I am limp with weakness when it comes to having any appropriate or real feelings toward her.
Incidentally, I ask my parts to tell me more, and I am often frustrated when they don’t. I feel like I can handle it, but now I realize each new fact brings new pain.
So what is it like to receive repressed memories. It is fucking awful, and there is nothing you can do to prepare for it. The best I can hope to do is to ride it out without killing myself.
Staying alive has been really hard with this stupid new piece of a memory. The worst part of a memory is not always what seems like the obvious worst part.
I do believe it is important work to work through memories to move toward recovery. I disagree with those who avoid it and say it is not necessary.
For me, I may not heal, or integrate, or even find happiness, but I will at least know who I really am before I die. And that has to be enough.
4 thoughts on “What it is like to have repressed memories resurface”
Thank you so much. It is SO difficult. Thank you for being so real. TS
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Thank you for writing your truth with courage and vulnerability. I have DID with similar trauma, and reading your posts makes me feel less alone. ❤
~the Beloved Sanctuary
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Oh, you nailed it with your comment at least you will know who you are before you die. Oh yes! That’s why I keep resisting any therapist who says it’s not necessary to fill in blanks or remember past experiences. It’s me I’m going back to find, not a video tape, but who was/am I during that and since that. What am I carrying from that, what changed in me. Thank you. I don’t have real feelings for my mother either- have no clue what they would be.
Wendy, I think some of these therapists say not to go there because they know most humans cannot tolerate what they find, so be careful what you search for. Or at least be ready for what might be your experience.