The difference between processing memories and hiding them away?


How can I tell the difference between processing memories and hiding them away? 20 years ago I know I hid them away. I know I put them in a box and attempted to send them to a black hole somewhere. Obviously that didn’t work and it’s not like I thought it did…I think. I had memories come up but for the most part it was like a book opened but once I saw what was on the page I quickly shut it, it didn’t immediately go away but the images didn’t come with it. The occasional flashback would happen but again it never ran beginning to end before I was able to pull my mind away from it. Then J died and I realized that I was merely building a dam, and I was a mighty beaver because it pretty much held, then a flood happened and I decided therapy or death.

so how do I now know the difference between memories being processed in some way versus my auto pilot reaction to shut it away? Am I actually doing the work or am I resorting to old habits? I’m truly not sure, but todays EMDR session scared me a bit, it was too easy. I know, how twisted is my brain to think that progress can only come in the form of a hard won, painful battle.

Its not just today either. For awhile now my EMDR sessions have been less in living color. Not that I’d say they’ve been easy…they haven’t. But the first 10 times or so it was as close to a flashback as possible, and for those who don’t know you play the memory a few times so it was overwhelming to say the least to have one, then willingly go back to the memory.

Now the intensity is determined by how adverse I am to her reactions to him, rather than the event itself. So I question is this progress or my brains way of attempting to close the doors? How do I know?


New Here
I feel willing to sit with the memory if I don’t have to sit with the minutiae of the details. For instance the current memory has me on a floor that is dirty. I can remember focusing on the details of that grit size and shape. I don’t mind remembering that but I do mind feeling that. So I would say I was braced anticipating feeling it and then it didn’t happen. Product of pushing it away or my brains protection mode or just being able to start processing the memory without that?

I can't explain even to myself how I totally understand what you mean by this........but I do


@Charbella , I wonder if asking yourself what fully processing looks like for you might help? Because I wonder if you're putting too much pressure on yourself?
Because, from how you're expressing yourself on here and how I'm interpreting that: I see you processing and not blocking out. It's a process that has it's own path, and you seem to be on iit.
But that maybe you don't believe you are?
I do think this is possible. I guess I just hate the uncertainty of it. Like what if I’m putting this work in and yet the program running in the background is sure deal with that, you won’t notice all the sealed boxes back here ready to launch into the black hole.

Maybe the bottom line is I don’t trust easy, if it’s not so hard it must not be what I’m supposed to be doing?


Once my T said to me that I seemed to be preparing for a thing to be traumatic, when it might not be. It might be hard still but it might be ok. Her opening the door to it being ok rather than traumatic really helped.
Maybe you're doing the same?

Maybe this bit of processing is ok?


I have

- fully processed trauma (rape & sexual assault; both in various flavors)
- SemiProcessed Trauma (domestic violence, amongst other things)
- Unprocessed trauma (nope, no cliff notes here, not even gonna think about it, much less write about it)

My fully processed trauma? I can talk about as easily as horses, hockey, hopscotch, hamburgers, horoscopes or any other amazing to boring fact of life, A-Z. Total non-issue for me. Even when it’s in the middle of things -IE other traumas- that ARE an issue (like torture, or domestic violence).

My semi & unprocessed trauma? If I’m LUCKY I have a choice to box it away, and be functional. If I can’t box it I become very dysfunctional >>> unfunctional >>> nonfunctional … very fast.

What I’ve learned about trauma therapy is that SKILLED trauma therapists deliberately teach you to work with those boxes, in deliberate ways. McTherapists often want to Pandora’s box traumas, which very predictably results in rapid decompensation / psychosis / losing everything &/or death (often, but not always) suicide. Skilled trauma therapists, on the other hand, will actually teach both “compartmentalisation” (and or be conversant with your own innate/learned abilities to compartmentalise) AND coping mechanisms / containment. So that you can work with your boxes in deliberate ways, for very short periods of time, and then put them away again. So that you’re able to chip away at your traumas, but still maintain -or create- a brilliant & amazing life for yourself.

Yes, it’s a tightrope walk. Yes, there will be falls. Both from pushing too far, too fast & locking things away too tightly. But? There’s also a net. And a skilled highwire artist to teach you.