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Understanding the Incomprehensible

Children of incest or long-term sexual abuse grow up to be wounded adults with complicated emotional issues. Unfortunately, some symptoms are misinterpreted or often dismissed as "crazy", only serving to maintain a tormented victim status. We, as a society, have the power to change this dynamic. Each of us can make a difference.

Sep 19, 2008

The "wtf?" of remembering

Imagine having no knowledge of a childhood filled with adult men (and possibly women) constantly invading your body in every manner possible. And then you get a glimpse of some piece of trauma coming through as a first time memory and your body rattles with terror while body parts relive the sensations and the mind flashes strange and horrific images. What does it mean? What just happened? Am I going insane? Am I hallucinating? All or some of it happens. And then it happens again and again and again over the course of years. It's so intrusive you may no longer be able to work, you have no energy to be a wife or mother, perhaps you don't realize a therapist could help. More likely you've been raised to avoid therapists and psychiatrists at all costs. What a quandary.

And then you start drawing pictures or creating collages like this:

WTF? And there it is. The wtf factor for every memory. One puzzle piece at a time. The above collage had no meaning to the survivor but it is disturbing. One can only imagine but that doesn't help. Because whatever was done by organized pedophiles to intentionally create trauma is impossible for unperverted minds to conjure. That is why we can't make this stuff up. What totally baffles me is how these perverted men for generations and generations have had discussions of the best ways to intentionally induce the worst possible trauma without killing the child and leaving no scars.

The emotional havoc to one's mind and body from remembering bits and pieces of trauma is indescribable. Especially when that first memory ekes out from a world inside that the survivor never knew existed. It may begin in a nightmare and continue when wide awake. It may begin when wide awake and the experience will be terrifying and disorienting. The art the survivor may have been producing or begin to produce might be filled with images with no meaning--some seemingly mundane, others clearly of something awful. When meaning comes to art, it's another whammy. It's not as much an "aha" moment as a "wtf" moment with a bout of terror.

Flashbacks are pieces of frozen trauma playing like a disjointed movie preview. Or the survivor may begin to hear different voices or different noises inside. Other parts screaming or crying internally, heightened senses, a constant state of PTSD for days or weeks at a time are all examples of what a person might experience. It's different for everyone. The common theme is that it sucks. Also, this past trauma surfacing does not feel like it belongs. I initially remembered father abuse as opposed to graveyard things. My first memory with a graveyard was my "wtf" moment.

Survivors don't want to belief it either. It's not like we have these nightmares and assume it happened to us. Once the amnesia begins to leak, it doesn't stop. The best that can happen is a survivor can learn containment and coping skills to better work with the content. It's easy to deny. Especially when the outside world says cults don't exist and people in robes and chanting and graveyards come up again and again.

I had personally set out to prove that what I was remembering couldn't possibly be true only to find information that validated it. Knowing something that awful happened is not accepted easily. So when a survivor says "I was abused by a cult and made to worship satan", it's as incredulous to the survivor as to anyone else who hears it. During my early healing period when I had connected to other survivors for support, we had all figured out on our own there were bad people who were dressing up as something scary in rituals. Realizing we were not alone in our "craziness" was a relief. Something dastardly was going on nationally and globally.

For anyone who has DID, through organized pedophilia or a single pedophile parent, remembering is awful. Finding a good therapist to help is a frightening proposition thanks to the efforts of the people who would have you believe anyone who claims to have been abused in childhood (including a child) is lying or has vastly distorted memories that can't be believed. Actually, that's not the issue for the survivor. The survivors of abuse, for the most part, just want their life back. They want treatment to heal from the emotional devastation and to heal their internal dysfunctional dividedness. Remember that division of self was extremely functional during childhood. It only becomes dysfunctional in adulthood.

No one can attest to the validity of another's memories. Sometimes a survivor has proof for some things. Many have memories that are so accurate as to names, locations, and/or landmarks that it would be absurd for law enforcement not to tap into that knowledge. Survivors remembering sufficiently to get to those other layers is a way to transform the years of suffering at the hands of these disgusting people. Survivors have fought a war. Their bodies have been the battleground. Their minds have been raped. They don't deserve society's scorn when their truth becomes known.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this... I am in the WTF stage right now and don't know what to think or believe or do... I feel totally crazy and can't believe the things I am seeing...your blog brought me to tears as I read because I feel like someone understands..

Grace said...

It's crazy making but we are NOT crazy. I think what makes us most frustrated is not knowing what it means. It's okay not to know. When you are supposed to know, it will come to you. And there's nothing you can do consciously to make a meaning come to you. Knowing that, relax. Just let images be images. Record what you see inside. I describe it as "be an observer of yourself" rather than active participant. Does that make sense at all?

Anonymous said...

Great thread , as usual.

Last night i had strange memories coming back, again!

Theres loads of table in what i think is a massive wooden cabin. Im sat at this table and everyone is eating. I dont recognise anyone. Theres a man with blond hair that i seem to know on another table, and i gotup to him, and then return to the table i was originally at. I look up, and theres a big bird ( like a massive parrot, cant remember name). Theres also another animal climibing about, looks like a koala bear.
The next course arrives at the table. Someone then says that the 'QUEEN' will be here soon.

Thats as much as i can remember. Its really strange. WHen someone asks me - " how do you know it happened to you?", ill reply " have you got prove you brushed your teeth this morning? Nope! You just know you did it!" . I use that example. After every night i also feel more 'me' as if the memories have returned part of myself to me.


Anonymous said...

Yes it does make sense to you mean write what I see? Cause I have tried that and I don't even have the words to describe what I am seeing... I am trying so hard to just get through each day. I am a stay at home mom and just have no energy for anything except to feel ok like I did before... but I am beginning to see that will never happen.

Grace said...

Observing yourself...this is my explanation. It's what I did on my own long before I saw a therapist (as advised by my internal protector/coach). When a memory begins to surface (mind and/or body), of course the first thing that happens is panic. A little's panic is really strong. But if you are co-conscious, remind yourself you can step back and literally watch, feel, hear what is happening. I also told those giving me the memory it was okay to tell me.

Sometimes this involved watching my body contort in strange ways and even watching myself walk and re-enact something whether I knew what it was or not. This does several things (I realize from the therapist side). It removes you somewhat from what you are being shown. You are observing rather than stuck in the middle of the confusion. You empower the alters to "tell". You make it safe for them. That allows for more internal communication and getting to know the alters better. It's interesting in a bizarre sort of way.

For flashbacks, imagine you are watching from a theater. The flashback is on the screen and you are simply observing. That's all. The hard part is reminding yourself you can do this when it's happening. Hope this helps!