Accessing Positive Memories

LittleBigFoot

MyPTSD Pro
I know my soon to be therapist is going to ask about positive times growing up eventually and I know there’s positive memories stuck in my head somewhere. But they get grossly overshadowed by the negative ones and I can’t seem to access them. It’s like my memory is just trauma after trauma and I know there’s more to my childhood. How do I access them?
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Difficult question isn't it? I don't really have happy or positive memories of my childhood. My dad's violence and abuse overshadowed everything unfortunately.
 

internal

Sponsor
my therepist didn't quite ask me this but she did ask me if i ever had normal interactions in my childhood or if i ever had conversations with my dad in any real capacety (the answer of which was no, even though i tried, he was never logical in his responses.)

some times i do think of this on my own and there are a few things that i can come up with. i had wide open spaces and i was alone a lot outside in the summer. i built forts and climbed trees and lit fires and picked flowers and collected stray animals.

(and i stop there because my brain goes "well, and then he killed them, and then he pinned you down out side, and then-") up until that point, it was posetive. up until it starts being abnormal and awful? it actually was positive!

my mom and i had a mostly okay reletionship. we talked a lot even though the bounderies were not there. she told me a lot of stories of different things. and we had jokes and things. she gave me food and pills (which wasn't great but it was better than what else was going on).

it's hard for me to go down this road though because it is real easy for me to say well the answer is evidenced that it wasn't really that bad. the truth is some where more in the middle-it was normal. that's just how i grew up. it was normal.

everybody normelizes their experiences. i didnt have any thing to compare it to. of course i had some posetive experiences. i'm a person. you can have a posetive experience anywhere. even in hell. the posetive experience is "being less tortured."

which is ultimately where i draw my posetives from. the times when i was being less harmed.
 
J

jblman1

Seems to be a common thread for so many here. I have similar feelings myself. I think some of the memories are there but how to access them....... i don't have the answer to that either.
 
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Friday

Moderator
During my Volvo-driving-soccer-mom years (Jeep), I had locked away the 8 or so years of military, contracting, disaster response, crime, etc. away in a box, series of drawers and boxes, inside of other drawers and boxes. Shrug. Something like that. It wasn’t that I couldn’t access them, I don’t think? As I did, from time to time, with no ill effect. Need something? Reach for it. Put it away, again. It was just a rarity. Snort. Like twice a decade kind of thing. When I close chapters on my life? I tend to close them pretty dang permanently.

It wasn’t until Pandora’s box got kicked wide open and I couldn’t stop remembering everything, all the time, 😫 that I realized how many good memories I’d had locked away. As those came flooding out, too. 😲

It was one of the only reasons I was willing to do therapy, in the beginning, to not lose those parts, when I locked everything away again. As that was my entire goal when I started therapy… I wanted my compartments back! Now. Yesterday. Fix this f*cking mess.

Once in therapy… attempting to reach any memory -good, bad, indifferent- you’d think would be pretty easy… since for the better part of 2 years that’s ALL I could think about, and I was freaking hip deep wading through this wreckage attempting to do anything. But no. They were as out of reach as if they’d been on the moon.

🤬 Can’t win for losing sometimes, I swear.
 
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LittleBigFoot

MyPTSD Pro
Ya this is what I’m scared of. I’m going to go in there and she’s going to ask and I’m going to completely blank. And then I look like I’m just coming in to be a whiny asshole who minimizes the fact that there *were* good times and only focusing on the bad. I don’t want to screw this up this time. It’s just when I look back right now all I see is the bad. I know I’ve had times where all I can see is the good (like the bad never happened at all) and other times where I just blank on anything at all.
 

Chris-duck

MyPTSD Pro
So for me trying to explain good memories, it's like my brain adds in hindsight. I can remember good times but then my brain is like "lol yes.. but mind what happened next?" And I guess for me it's more like at least I know good things did happen, even if hindsight blurries it. Or adds meaning I wasn't aware of at the time etc. So it's like "okay. Happy time. Freeze it there. It's not a movie, you're inside a photo" one bit of time, no before or after etc.

I also don't necessarily think it's always relevant. It's good to know that things didn't always feel bad and you weren't always treated bad. I don't think you need to know or remember many or whatever, it's just a kinda "there's hope here" when you think everything is shit, has always been shit and will always be shit.
 

Sues

Confident
Ya this is what I’m scared of. I’m going to go in there and she’s going to ask and I’m going to completely blank. And then I look like I’m just coming in to be a whiny asshole who minimizes the fact that there *were* good times and only focusing on the bad. I don’t want to screw this up this time. It’s just when I look back right now all I see is the bad. I know I’ve had times where all I can see is the good (like the bad never happened at all) and other times where I just blank on anything at all.
I had this happen in a session. My therapist asked me to come up with 3 good memories. I sat there frozen. I finally told him, "I don't have any." He was ok with that. I'd been seeing him for a while at this point and we knew each other and were able to work together. Still, it was horrible for me. I told him the following week that I sat there trying to come up with one good thing, and all I could think was that I feel like sh*t, I am sh*t, and my life is sh*t.

I think it's pretty common for all of us trauma survivors to be overloaded with the bad memories and have trouble remembering any good ones. Hell, my therapist has to remind me of what I said in the previous session a lot of the time. This memory loss thing is common. Memory comes, it goes, it comes back, etc.
 

Friday

Moderator
Ya this is what I’m scared of. I’m going to go in there and she’s going to ask and I’m going to completely blank
It’s diagnostically / clinically useful. And it gives a good therapist a whole helluva lot to work with.

Because there’s a difference between these types of things (cognitive distortion land, avoidance, flooding, disassociation, etc.) and differences between the differences. It’s keeeeerazy useful, for someone who is good at their job, rather than some kind of failure on your part.
 
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