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Making peace with not remembering

Discussion in 'General' started by Catlovers141, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. Catlovers141

    Catlovers141 Active Member

    For those of you who don't remember everything that happened to you (including due to repressed memories etc.), how do you make peace with this? I believe I was sexually abused as a very young child, and have only very fragmented memories of this. I'm not even completely clear about who it was. This makes me doubt myself frequently, and question myself about decisions I've made given what I know and don't know.

    For some people, it seems like it isn't so important to have all the details. For me, it really feels vital. But since I can't force the memories, how do I make peace with the limited information that I have and still feel like my experiences are valid?
    Sietz, Abstract, Ronin and 5 others like this.
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  3. ladee

    ladee All the hard work has been worth it ! Premium Member Donated

    I absolutely relate to everything you shared. I almost drove myself crazier than I was already, trying to 'remember'. I too, was sexually abused before the age of 4, and have no memories, not even little snippets.

    My first really great therapist, helped me to focus on feelings and behaviors. As time went on, I was very relieved to not have the memories... I have to believe there is a reason it is locked down so tight. And, like you, I doubted myself for years.

    It is hard. But even if we have memories, we still have to work on symptoms and behaviors. People without abuse did not act like I did or do the things I did. I remember the emotional abuse and physical abuse of a marriage... but I am ok today not knowing the details of that first four years. Guess it's like this whole journey. It just takes time for things to fall into place...

    Learn to have some trust in your self. If something feels off, or wrong, it is.. I know it is crazymaking. Makes us feel like we are just bad people seeking attention. Not true. We were kids that were hurt, and coped in the only way we could.

    Sending you gentle hugs of understanding, if you accept. :hug::hug:
  4. Swift

    Swift I'm a VIP

    I went through a phase where I wanted, more like needed, to know everything about every single time. Like. All of the details, every single one.
    Nearly drove myself mad.
    How did I get out of that?
    Thoroughly unpleasant flashbacks, mainly.
    The brain represses what it can't cope with. It does that for a reason.
    I guess I accept that because the alternative is being flooded with all the horrible memories at once...
    I also came to the conclusion the details didn't matter.
    I was abused, it was bad, that's enough for me.
    I get that place, though, I hate having incomplete information... but most of my information is worse than the gaps.
    Faith Andrews, Sietz, Bkinder and 6 others like this.
  5. Freida

    Freida Been There, Done That, Lived to Tell the Story Premium Member

    I've obsessed about remembering because it seemed that if I could gain some kind of timeline or specific details I would understand more about what happened. It's helped some and made some worse. Now I'm at a point where I don't want to know anymore. And there are some things I don't think my brain will ever let me remember. I think I'm at peace with that....for now anyway
  6. somerandomguy

    somerandomguy Learning how to be myself Premium Member Donated

    There were three related traumatic incidents in my past. I only remember the very first one, and I remember it pretty well. The other two incidents I can barely remember at all and it appears my brain decided that I only needed to remember the first one since the next two were very similar. I'm actually pretty grateful for that and I see no reason to try to remember them beyond what I can now.
  7. EveHarrington

    EveHarrington _______ in progress. Premium Member

    The brain never remembers every moment of every event that we experience. I have enough memories to know that I was abused and that is enough for me.
  8. shimmerz

    shimmerz My silence spoke a thousand words you never heard Premium Member

    I had that driving need to know as well. Not every detail but my therapists kept telling me I was retraumatizing myself. I didn't care. I needed enough of an understanding of the events that I knew what I was dealing with. All of my preverbal abuse memories were causing my body to freak out in very dangerous ways. I am pretty sure that is why I needed to know.

    Interestingly enough, once I got verification from Children's Aid that the things I was remembering were actually true.... no more driving need.

    I think I just needed validation. Once I had that, I knew that I knew enough to continue working on myself without digging for answers.

    That is when the real healing started.
    Faith Andrews, Sietz, Freida and 4 others like this.
  9. Catlovers141

    Catlovers141 Active Member

    Shimmerz, I think I also am looking for validation. I wonder if I had some kind of proof -- a photo, medical records, etc. -- if some of my drive to know would decrease as well.
    Faith Andrews, Sietz, Swift and 4 others like this.
  10. Ronin

    Ronin Dark Wings Premium Member

    I take it what I lived changed me, some way. And is still fairly seen in how I think about things, decide, react, whether I remember it or do not.

    I also think completion of information (recall, details, confirmation whatever) are a different lair from closure or making peace with those experiences. If one brings the second for you, the better. It just may not do.
    Sietz, shimmerz, Freida and 2 others like this.
  11. Faith Andrews

    Faith Andrews My talent: pretending that I'm okay everyday Premium Member Donated

    Yep. I was obsessed with wanting to know at first after another thing happened.

    Several things have resurfaced and I’ve decided I’m ready not to remember another thing. But you may still. You just never know.

    Just know we are here if you do remember anything. I still can’t talk about a lot of it and may never but I think all that comes with time.
    Sietz, shimmerz and Freida like this.
  12. shimmerz

    shimmerz My silence spoke a thousand words you never heard Premium Member

    Yes, maybe very helpful. I mean, I think I would have gotten there anyway, because there were other things (timing, memories, rethinking past events) that showed confirmation, but it may have taken some extra time and I get the feeling I may have needed a therapist to help me through it. It was always hard for me to get a full picture of my memories because I hadn't figured out timelines (because I hadn't processed the trauma fully) so I wasn't able to piece it together properly. Really the memories I had processed were just snippets of flashbacks which gave me bits and pieces of the story but it was almost like seeing them happen to someone else.

    That documentation I acquired put the timelines together for me and allowed me to create a timeline of events in my mind. The timeline allowed me to process a cohesive story with contiguous moving parts that finally made sense.
  13. Swift

    Swift I'm a VIP

    I guess the other point to make is...
    What happened to you is real and valid and we believe you, whether you have absolutely perfect recall of everything or not.
    In fact, the fact your memory is patchy is just more evidence it did actually happen....
    I still don't have all the details of mine, but I felt like I had to know 110% of who, where, what, when in order to say it really did happen and it was bad.
    False memory syndrome is a con, perpetrated by people accused of sexually abusing their kids, and has no scientific evidence to support it.

    Traumatic memory works differently to normal memory.
    We're more likely to remember with sensory organs - smells, tastes, touch, body memories - than we are to remember with our cognitive skills or narrative memory.
    This is actually part of the reason PTSD causes intrusion symptoms. Our memories don't "file" into long-term memory, because we can't process them and assimilate them into our narrative, long-term memory, so they remain un-filed. The strength of the memory links to a sensory stimulus, usually. Our hippocampus, the bit of our brains that controls the where/when function, doesn't work properly, so when we are "triggered" by a stimulus, the full force of the danger in our memory is what our brain tells us is actually happening, because the memory hasn't been filed properly.
    In order to "file" a memory properly, we need to be able to 'understand' it at the time. This is often not possible with trauma, hence why it's "trauma" and not just "a bad thing that happened".'..

    So, I tried to stop beating myself up about my lack of cognitive framework for the memories. The fact that they exist as trauma memories and not as processed, normal ones is enough to "prove" the trauma happened....
    Faith Andrews, Sietz, Freida and 2 others like this.
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