Childhood Can you block things off into different spaces

oakleaves

Confident
I have been in therapy for cptsd and I have begun emdr relating to some CSA that happened with a non family member. I also have been exploring some of the factors that made me vulnerable such as violence at home etc with my parents.

However I have other memories to do with one of my parents which are also csa in nature. I have never not known but I have sort of dismissed and boxed it off as not that bad. The problem I have is that I have talked about this parent a lot in therapy already but never mentioned the csa because it has been sort of boxed off. So my memory of this parent is from age 7 or 8 and after this time this parent became violent which is what I have focused on. I feel like I blocked them into two different people at two different times and blocked off the earlier stuff. I feel like how can that be possible and does it make me strange that I could do that when I did actually do some processing of the violence. I also worry it will make my therapist doubt me or not trust me that I haven't shared it yet but have been able to talk about this parent at length in terms of other things. It makes me not trust myself.

It wasn't as bad as the non family adult csa stuff but I feel like part of me wants to share it. However I am worried about how it will be seem or taken and also what it means that I only focused on the violence before. Any advice?
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I'm sorry you have experienced all this.

I totally and utterly understand what you are saying. I boxed off many many things. The reason we do that is: trauma. It's too hard for our brains to cope with so we dissaociate, deny, fragment memory, all to cope. And it comes back to us when we are more able to manage and process.

feel like how can that be possible and does it make me strange that I could do that when I did actually do some processing of the violence. I also worry it will make my therapist doubt me or not trust me that I haven't shared it yet but have been able to talk about this parent at length in terms of other things. It makes me not trust myself.
It's totally possible. Whilst it doesn't feel it in your discovery of what happened to you: if you read lots of threads/diaries here, you'll see that lots of us have done the same.
And then the doubting ourselves. (How can I not have remembered this? What if I have remembered it all wrong? What if I have this totally wrong? I don't believe me, so no one else will).
Thing is with your T, is that they have prob already suspected this and are unlikely to be surprised by what you talk about.
They will believe you.
They deal with trauma and impact on memory every day. They are trained in it.

I hope you feel able to bring this to your therapist.
It's a painful place where you are at the moment, but learning to believe yourself and learning to trust yourself is very healing.
 

internal

Sponsor
I feel like I blocked them into two different people at two different times and blocked off the earlier stuff. I feel like how can that be possible and does it make me strange that I could do that when I did actually do some processing of the violence.
this is very normel. it is also normel that it can happen with different tramatic events-even if there was violence but it was a different event or a different type of violence. humans are naturel with compartmentelization and that is often what of ends of happening. we don't always encode the same kind of memory the same way, either-sometimes it does come down to singular events.

but that you categorize and box off "types" of events? totally normal. because so many events happen to us in our lives, that's how human memory tends to work anyway, even if you don't have ptsd.

if just you want a more personelized answer,

there are parts of my trama that are locked off into specific parts of my mind that are almost seperete to me as i am now. i am a whole person. i have thoughts and feelings and opinions and they are complicated and nuanced, like that's a full personality. my whole self is contained in one thing.

but i can rapidly shift into being only partially formed-that is functioning purely out of these trauma states. (so for me these get really easy to identify, like even outwardly people can be like oh okay that's obviously what's going on because it's so obvious-i'm only doing one thing. i'm only being one way, i'm not being complicated, i'm being simple.)

what that means is that i remember the trauma episodically (what happened) but it is emotionally held within those facets. that when i am feeling the trauma i become partially formed, instead of fully formed. so i will act in ways that are actually contredictory to how i, as a fully formed person, would want to act.

so that's the more disordered end of this and that goes straight into a lot of things like: ptsd, borderline personality disorder (that's what i have, along with ptsd), or did/osdd. which i bring up all of those because they are all examples of the way that traumatic memories can be encoded in both a disordered fashion and a normal fashion, and the way that we evolve around those memories as people.

for you it sounds like you boxed it off which is completely normal for both ptsd and being non-disordered. and it doesn't mean any thing at all exept that obviously it was harder for you to cope with this so you boxed it off where it was less easy to get at. your therepist should not disbelief you if they are competent. because that is completely and totally normal for trauma processing. it's not strange at all.
 
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Starfire

Confident
I have been in therapy for cptsd and I have begun emdr relating to some CSA that happened with a non family member. I also have been exploring some of the factors that made me vulnerable such as violence at home etc with my parents.

However I have other memories to do with one of my parents which are also csa in nature. I have never not known but I have sort of dismissed and boxed it off as not that bad. The problem I have is that I have talked about this parent a lot in therapy already but never mentioned the csa because it has been sort of boxed off. So my memory of this parent is from age 7 or 8 and after this time this parent became violent which is what I have focused on. I feel like I blocked them into two different people at two different times and blocked off the earlier stuff. I feel like how can that be possible and does it make me strange that I could do that when I did actually do some processing of the violence. I also worry it will make my therapist doubt me or not trust me that I haven't shared it yet but have been able to talk about this parent at length in terms of other things. It makes me not trust myself.

It wasn't as bad as the non family adult csa stuff but I feel like part of me wants to share it. However I am worried about how it will be seem or taken and also what it means that I only focused on the violence before. Any advice?
I find it happens in layers...onion analogy. Can't get to center until pulled outer layers off. Something reminds you of something you haven't thought of before. Or some outside comment, event reminds you.

Bet your therapist is very familiar with that. Doubt he would think you are lying. People don't make up this stuff (using polite word!). Trust him/her.
 

oakleaves

Confident
Thank you for these responses they are really helpful. @Movingforward10 @Survivor3 so I think that is what my therapist said when I said I have memories that are different that I boxed off and that feeling of knowing something but also not knowing it not letting yourself know it even though you do know it. That it is about feeling safe enough. I sort of feel a pressure to share like it has to be now. Not from my therapist but from within myself. The thing is that with other things I remember deciding to box it off and not think about it but with this thing I more remember others responses and that it just isn't talked about so I just didn't. I don't quite get how I can talk about this family member in detail but not be even bothered by this memory until recently because it felt like it happened to a different person but now it makes me feel so horrible and uncomfortable and scared. It feels worse than the other stuff I have been working on before. I talked about my dad being violent and processed memories about that but not this. I don't feel like it can be real.

@grief that description does make sense and I do have cptsd more because of being avoidant and shut down rather than other things. I feel like I have been getting back in contact with parts of myself.

@Starfire yes that analogy feels like it it is like I have trusted my therapist and gone with the process to a point that now I am at this and I feel terrified. It feels so much worse. I don't think my therapist does suspect because of who it was and that I have talked about them in therapy before but not this. The idea of undermining my therapists trust in me feels awful.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I said I have memories that are different that I boxed off and that feeling of knowing something but also not knowing it not letting yourself know it even though you do know it. That
I know that feeling! The not knowing but knowing. It feels odd. Subconscious knowing and conscious unknowing.

enough. I sort of feel a pressure to share like it has to be now. Not from my therapist but from within myself.
The time and the circumstances are right now. That part of you that has been boxed off is ready to be heard. And you are ready to deal with it. And your T can help you. It's time. It's a brave and bold step you are taking.

. I don't quite get how I can talk about this family member in detail but not be even bothered by this memory until recently because it felt like it happened to a different person but now it makes me feel so horrible and uncomfortable and scared
It makes sense when you see it from a trauma lense. That we box off, of fragment ourselves into bits to cope. You've identified that acknowledging this abuse from this person feels very big and a lot of emotional pain. So it makes total and utter sense that you can talk and process all the other stuff that person did, before you remember and tackle this stuff. Sounds a very sensible thing to do. You have protective elements inside of you who have kept this from your consciousness until the right circumstances allow it the space and attention it needs, and you can give.
 
I don't think my therapist does suspect because of who it was and that I have talked about them in therapy before but not this. The idea of undermining my therapists trust in me feels awful.

I understand your thought process here.

I was in therapy for 8 years (1 year on then stopped for 3 years then back on 4 years) before I mentioned my CSA to my therapist. I was in marriage counselling with her (and had individual counselling with her) throughout that time. I wasn’t ready to talk to her about it until after I separated from my ex (who had NPD and was abusive) and he was no longer seeing her himself. She didn’t have a clue, although I assume it helped explain a few things for her, including ending up in a toxic relationship (or two).

I had decided, long ago, that it ‘wasn’t that bad’ and suppressed it, refusing to acknowledge the possibility that it had long term consequences for me. It almost felt like it had happened to another person and I’d ‘forget’ about it for long periods of time. I had told only 1 person before her, almost 25 years earlier and, despite this person being my best friend at the time and me sharing this with her to try and support her by letting her know she was not alone, I almost instantaneously regretted it and lost my friend. I ‘learned’ that sharing this secret was not safe for me. That it would only retraumatize me.

Interestingly, I never viewed the 8 year delay talking to my therapist about this as possibly undermining her trust in me. Rather, I was worried that she would think that it took me 8 years to fully trust her.

In the end I was ready when I was ready and my therapist didn’t bat an eye. Sharing with her brought me a lot of relief and was a positive experience for me.

Your therapist is there to support you. It sounds like you are ready to share and I hope it brings you some relief as well.
 

oakleaves

Confident
It makes sense when you see it from a trauma lense. That we box off, of fragment ourselves into bits to cope. You've identified that acknowledging this abuse from this person feels very big and a lot of emotional pain. So it makes total and utter sense that you can talk and process all the other stuff that person did, before you remember and tackle this stuff. Sounds a very sensible thing to do. You have protective elements inside of you who have kept this from your consciousness until the right circumstances allow it the space and attention it needs, and you can give.

Thanks for saying this. Yes it feels really difficult and like my brain is just not coping at the moment with this like I just can't cope with it at all and I feel so confused and bad so I guess I must have felt even more confused when I was actually young. I did sort of mention it to my therapist and they said it is necessary sometimes to cut things off rather than a choice. Thank you for describing it likethat.

I had decided, long ago, that it ‘wasn’t that bad’ and suppressed it, refusing to acknowledge the possibility that it had long term consequences for me. It almost felt like it had happened to another person and I’d ‘forget’ about it for long periods of time. I had told only 1 person before her, almost 25 years earlier and, despite this person being my best friend at the time and me sharing this with her to try and support her by letting her know she was not alone, I almost instantaneously regretted it and lost my friend. I ‘learned’ that sharing this secret was not safe for me. That it would only retraumatize me.

Interestingly, I never viewed the 8 year delay talking to my therapist about this as possibly undermining her trust in me. Rather, I was worried that she would think that it took me 8 years to fully trust her.
I am sorry you had this experience. it is really hard. That sounds similar to me like I always knew but I also forgot about it sort of put it away for long bits of time like years. And then the memory would pop in and I would push it away again and I have been able to do that. The person who did this is not alive anymore and I am also confused about why I didn't just let it come back into my mind from then but I think at that time I didn't have any people in my life I really trusted so. I was really angry when they died and no one could understand my anger. I don't think I understood it myself.

The trust thing. It is funny because I am terrified absolutely terrified of undermining anyones trust in me. I have always had a belief that if I do things wrong as long as I own up I know at least I have done that. But this feels so messy I don't think anyone would believe me. I could literally talk about this person in my life from like age x but not before I just ignored the before.

Thanks for sharing your experience I am glad sharing was a healing experience for you.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
It's very painful stuff you are delving in to.

And confusion is part of the process. I view confusion as two competing narratives in my head. The "I think X happened" versus "stop making things up". What has helped me is learning to take a step back and try and work out what is going on. And learning to trust myself . Why on earth would I make this up?

Your T will believe you. You won't undermine anyone's trust in you.
We all believe you. And we don't even know you.
Everyone that knows you, they have already decided about your character. So your T will know you are trustworthy and that this memory and this trauma is now ready to come out.

We've been through this. It's so hard.
But you are not on your own.
 
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