Sometimes even non-disturbing memories can be overwhelming to the point of exhaustion and stress when they are shared by parts of me who insist talking about it, regardless of what I have to say about the matter.
For example, yesterday they kept insisting on showing me memories they had of when we were in elementary and middle school. They weren’t necessarily bad memories. In fact, many of them were memories that I already knew, but were things I had just put from my mind. The memories I hadn’t consciously recalled before (those things that I had knew before but had, for whatever reason, dissociated from) were met with the usual “wow, I can’t believe I forgot about that” response from me.
So they weren’t necessarily bad memories. But if you can imagine what it must be like to live life virtually deaf, and then all the sudden, to be able to hear. Imagine how the noise must be overwhelming after a lifetime of hearing only silence. Maybe this isn’t the best analogy, but it’s the best one I can think of to explain how overwhelming it can be to go along life not really consciously aware of very many memories, and all the sudden, to have a lot of memories flooding the mind at once and to be incapable of stopping them.
So this is how yesterday went.
And I finally got exasperated and asked myselves, “Why do you keep talking about school?!”
Of course, no one answered, because… well, I guess because it was a dumb question. They were talking about school because they wanted to talk about school. Why else?
And very early this morning, I was kept awake by a very young part of me who wanted to remind me of what my first day of school was like. These were things I had forgotten all about, but was reminded of again.
Being reminded by the parts of me about things I had forgotten: that’s an odd feeling to me.
… being walked into the classroom by a school monitor and picking a desk that was right beside my cousin.
… not really knowing what was going on, but standing with everyone else when the bell rang to recite the pledges of allegiances. I didn’t know them at first, of course, so that first day, I just stood there with my hand over my heart, watching everyone else recite the pledges.
… going to the church auditorium with the entire school for the daily devotional.
… sitting on the red padded pew between two older girls I loved and learning the patterns of counting.
… being pulled into the principal’s/pastor’s office and being afraid that I had done something wrong.
I hadn’t done anything wrong, I don’t think, and I’m not entirely sure why I was called in there that first day, but it terrified me at the time. Since there’s a vague recollection of being asked to look at a paper and read aloud, maybe it was just to see whether I should be placed in Kindergarten or first grade, but I’m not even sure that Kindergarten curriculum was available at that time. Regardless, I ended up beginning in first grade since I already knew how to read (I started teaching myself to read when I was two, and was proficient by the time I was four, so when I started school at five, there was no point in going through Kindergarten).
… happily swinging my legs back and forth as I opened my first PACE and read the instructions. (PACE stands for “Packets of Accelerated Christian Education,” and were our basic workbooks provided through the ACE program.)
… finding out at lunch that my cousin, whom I had considered to be my best friend up until that point, had friends that she loved more than me, and quickly learning that she was fast to ignore me and make fun of me just to make herself feel better. Over the years, I came to realize that she wasn’t a very nice person. In fact, she was downright mean. She’s since done a lot of growing up and apologized for being so nasty to everyone, and although I’m no longer in touch with her, the last time I was with her, she seemed to have blossomed into a wonderful and caring individual. So I don’t hold a grudge against her. I’m just stating facts.
So what’s the point of this post?
I don’t know.
Just wanted to share with you all the thoughts. Sometimes acknowledging the thoughts helps.
It is interesting how that works…how vivid the images are the way you describe them.
Thanks for reading. 🙂 It’s can be exhausting, and can cause a serious lack of restful sleep. It feels like some nights, I never really sleep. There’s just too much activity on the inside to get rest.
Very interesting, Loren. I’m wondering why I never get new memories!
When I became a teenager, I began wondering why I didn’t have a lot of memories of my life up until that point. This state of perpetual dissociation followed me throughout my life to one extent or another, and it bothered me. What I realize now, though, is that I DO have a lot of memories, but there were a lot of underlying reasons why I wasn’t able to recognize my memories. For one reason or another, my memories were locked away, usually trauma-related, and because I had been convinced by abusers that I couldn’t trust my own thoughts. And of course, many of the memories I had, I didn’t recognize as actually being memories, but as being bad dreams or evil, invasive thoughts.
Whatever the case for you, though, I pray you find peace and healing. Thanks for reading. 🙂 Blessings! ❤
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I can’t imagine how it is to be disconnected from memories. I can only read about it by others who have/had that sort of experience. I’m still learning about all that, but it will never be mine to comprehend it from experience. I’m still not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing, even though i understand how this overcame you and that’s not something i would want to happen for me in my life, of course.
Me on the other hand, i am not able to forget anything since my 3th birthday. Nothing! And with every smell or vision that i see, song or noise that i hear, memories accompanied with the smallest details are bubbling up at every random moment, good or bad, wanted or not. I can’t stop it. It’s like an ongoing train of memories and thoughts without any ending station. I used to think that everyone was like that. Now i’m just learning to live with all that.
Thanks for sharing your experiences, Hein. I can see how that can be over-the-top stressful at times!! Sounds like you have a photographic memory, maybe…? I can relate to a smaller extent, perhaps. Many of the memories regarding the events in my life that were very traumatic I dissociated from. But once the memory came back, it is exactly like a photographic memory, and it can be very overwhelming. Which is why I usually dissociate from the EMOTION of the memory. Which is why they are usually memories that I don’t feel connected to.
It can be a strange cycle of remembering and disconnecting at the same time.
I always thought I had very few memories of my life, and that began to puzzle me as a teen. But once the dissociative walls started to fall away, I realized I actually have a LOT of memories. And, yes, there are still “blank spots” where I know I SHOULD remember, because it was significant, usually for the bad, but I can’t right now. But overall, I have a ton of memories now, even many from when I was a baby. But sometimes I feel disconnected from those memories.
But being disconnected from memories doesn’t mean I don’t have them. It just means (for me) that I didn’t always RECOGNIZE them as memories. And sometimes when the memory comes back, it’s like I’m watching a movie of someone else’s life, except I know that it’s MY life. Or, thumbing through a photo album of someone else’s life, except I know that it’s MY life. It can be hard to connect to the emotions of the memory sometimes. That’s part of what dissociation can be like for me: feeling like I’m on the outside of my life, looking in, watching what feels like someone else live what I know should be my life. And part of healing from dissociation (for me), is learning to accept the feelings of what happened or what is happening as being my OWN feelings. That’s hard to do. But I’m learning. 🙂
Anyhoo… thanks for reading my thoughts and for taking the time to share yours! I appreciate it. 🙂 ❤
I have found abusive memories can be a heavy weight and a great hindrance, like an endless drama that plays on a continual ‘loop’ or carousel – going around and around, stirring up uncomfortable feelings and words and images, that all portray life from a distorted perspective. In the end I found my peace and healing simply by passively accepting these replays and then just letting them go.
I used to think it so important to remember everything but even to this day I’ve never been fully able to. Eventually I realised it wasn’t necessary to remember in order to find myself. Healing came about by accepting the fragments of my past and leaving them where they belonged – in the past – then turning fully away from it and focusing on the present. Leaving it all behind, in order to allow my true self to emerge.
The most wonderful thing about knowing Jesus as my saviour, was learning about His incredible Goodness and His passionate love for each precious one of us. In that safe place on His bosom, I learned to accept myself and see myself as He did. I knew then that the past was dead and buried and that it really didn’t matter. When I became a new creation in Christ, He wiped out all the hurt, confusion and fear and freed me up to make new choices. Everything now has a positive outcome, as new patterns are being formed in His wisdom and perfect will.
I discovered I was free to move forward into a better life, where I could make peace with myself and my past and even feel sorry for my abusers! As I learned to see life in its true light, I realised the abuser is the one with the problem. God shows us we no longer have to be that victim and we can refuse to take the load or ‘play the game.’
I love the abundant life I have in Christ, no matter what is happening to or around me…with Christ, there is always a choice. So many times He has said to me ‘come up higher’ – into that place of peace and forgiveness, into that place where I can remove myself and see the bigger picture. He reminds me too of that wonderful scripture where He reassures his bewildered disciples: “In this life you will have many sorrows but Take heart, I have overcome the world!”
I take great comfort in my God 🙂
I realise my last comment may have sounded a little ‘twee’ and that wasn’t my intention. I still have anger issues, I still find it hard to forgive my abusers (and there were so many of them). The worse thing is the betrayal I feel from those closest to me – my mother in particular, who gave me birth and should have protected me but instead took a sadistic delight in hurting me and making me fear her. In short, she enjoyed her power over me (as did all the others). God seemed to teach me a different angle on ‘forgiveness’ which was to recognise the poor, low state of my enemies and allow myself to ‘get off their hook’ by realising their end state and punishment will be far worse than anything I went through! That helped me to deal with the anger and pain better. But we’re all different and what helps one doesn’t necessarily help another.
I really do love that God is making me into a new creature (albeit rather slowly!) and when I said the past doesn’t matter, I actually meant that it no longer has the hold over me and the power to make me miserable, that it used to have. It really lifts me up to know there is a conqueror ‘Christ’ Who has over come all this crap and that He sees me as OK. ☺️
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