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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.

Oct 30, 2008

The puzzle of memory


Anyone with DID who has gotten to the point of processing memories will likely relate to this at least from some perspective. Since it happens differently for everyone, I can only explain my experience. While not all agree with "everything in its own time", I began my healing process already completely trusting my protectors. I've already spoken about my magazine image collages which was an obsessive task for months. I always had the answer in a collage or collages after I had a memory. The first couple years I had no therapist. I'd usually have flashbacks at night and would run downstairs to my "art room" and fly through the collages in my triggered state to find the collage that told the story. I would see the context of my flashbacks and words that accompanied them.

If I didn't have a collage, I would go to my uncollaged images and watch myself frantically put a collage together. In retrospect it was just amazing. Always the right images. And the process of having that activity helped to calm me down after having the flashback or memory. I view a memory as coming through more like a movie whereas flashbacks are very quick images coming at me just long enough to see what was happening. The other aspect to cutting out images from magazines is it is a safe "cutting". I didn't realize that diversion until I was a therapist. I was overwhelmed with the realization at how much I "cut". Thank goodness!

Even though I have collages for all memories I've had, I don't know all of their meaning. And sometimes I'd go for a year or longer before getting another piece of one memory. I first had the Halloween memory 11/1/97 (also my first anniversary memory). And now "the rest of the story" (or at least another major messsage) 11 years later.

I wrote a few posts ago of the key components of that memory. The big yuck came up at the therapist's office. My mind always continues to process for at least several days after such an internal event. I went back to my collages to see if I saw anything new in meaning and I did. Even now, I still gasp when I see validation of what came up mentally. The answer was always there but I was not allowed to know it until now. Additionally, the memory began to help me make sense of part of my internal dynamic.

I have witnessed for myself and others that, once a memory comes up, there will be a kind of internal validation that what came up was true. Even if we don't understand all the details, the major objective of what the perps did comes through. Now that I'm into "advanced memory processing", I can step back and know that whatever I saw could have been real, a staged "trick", or both. At the time a "death" happened, it was internalized as real by the littles. And that's the emotion that needs to heal. That awful terror.

I had a memory earlier in my work about witnessing some trauma with my little sister shortly after her birth. I do have some conscious memory of my mother being pregnant with her. My mother used to tell me I would constantly speak of my unborn sister as "my baby". The Halloween memory was similar in content with my little sister being only 11 months old. (Hmmm...notice how 11 has come up twice now?) In the memory that continued in therapy, after I believed my sister had just been killed, my adult female alter whom I dearly loved during her time out with me, was made to do something awful to what we believed was my sister's little body. The trauma of doing that is what caused my adult alter to shatter.

The adult alter had a name that logically appeared to be connected to my sister. I had often wondered, if that were the case, why was my baby sister internalized as an adult protector? She was also the only protector alter who was extremely wounded. The first little I came to know after amnesia leaked through was Chloe. Chloe was very attached to Leelee. Chloe was the first little to integrate. When she did, Leelee became unconsolable because she no longer had Chloe to care for. She asked if she could go inside to be with her. Leelee moved inside and I watched through images over the next year how Leelee healed to be a beautiful woman.

Leelee's images before her healing showed her as bald and naked. Always suffering. The messages I recently received were that Leelee WAS my baby sister (no hair, a baby, and traumatized). How did she become my "adult" protector? The answer I now understand is she protected me from death on the day she "died" instead of me. I had wanted consciously to hold and protect my little sister at age 3. This memory is from age 4. Organized pedophilia rules don't allow conscious bonding. They want their victims isolated even within family. Subconsciously we were pitted against each other explaining my terror for her and her aggressiveness in real life to both my older sister and me. But inside, we loved each other dearly and that continues.

I don't know if it was intentional that Leelee became an internal wounded protector. I'll never know those kinds of things. But Leelee's shattering was the base for a main split in my system.

Being able to put all that together is somehow comforting now. It is this deep understanding of something inside following a memory that becomes validation of your truth. Leelee had such a tortured voice and spoke with the alphabet. "A" is for ____, "B" is for ____. Usually the words in the blanks were those she heard from the abusers. She went with pictures of alphabets and blocks with letters on them. The image with this post is dedicated to Leelee.

You will find your own validation. It is not necessary to find outside validation. If that happens, great. Just know that your healing from a memory of horror is the proof. Remembering your own horror can resolve PTSD issues that arose with that event in your life. Most people hearing or viewing what we routinely see as memories would be traumatized by such images. It is counterintuitive that survivors would heal from remembering the horror. The rest of the world would likely be upset to see what we see as a memory in a horror movie. Because "no one would EVER do that to a child". Right? Yeah, right.

2 comments:

Linda said...

Hi--
Thank you for answering my question about "littles" the other day.

I copied a snippet from a site the same day that I posted (the 28th, I think). Not sure if it was your site--can you tell me PLEASE if you have seen this and where I can view it (URL)?? The snippet is as follows:

Falling Awake

Ever wonder what it is like to have trauma memories locked in amnesia leak through to consciousness? It usually happens at night for at least several years. Early healers of DID are worn down, fighting for their lives, and often suffer from major depression before being diagnosed as DID. And then comes years of fitful sleep to add to that burden. This video is a peek into the mind of someone who has memories creeping into conscious awareness. Am hoping some gain an understanding of the sleepless, difficult nights that must be endured, and how memories weave themselves in and out of dreams.

Another question, if I may...
A number of years ago, when I was still in therapy, I had a dream about living in a vacant house. The plumbing worked, but that's about all. I was standing between the kitchen and the living room and I was overwhelmed because there were 100 puppies all jumping on me-- wanting attention or SOMETHING--all at the same time! The weird thing was, they were all different sizes and ages but they were all from the same litter...if you can conceive of such a thing!!! I kept trying to get help because I couldn't manage them all by myself when ALL of them wanted SOMETHING from me all at the SAME TIME!!! I couldn't even GIVE them away!! Several people said they would take a pup, but none delivered on their promise. Then I heard crying--DISTRESSFUL sounds-- coming from a back bedroom. When I went to investigate, the sounds stopped. Although I could not see them, I "perceived" in my dream that there was a little girl and a somewhat younger little boy hiding beneath the covers. I spoke to them, trying to assess the problem and reassure them, but they were both SO TERRIFIED that they would not come out. I finally left the room, figuring they'd come out of hiding when they felt safe.

ANYWAY, shortly after that dream, I went through a HARROWING time--it's so hard to explain and I'm still not sure what happened, but I could barely function. I was having flashbacks--almost constantly--and it felt like I was in two places at once. Talk about crazy-making!!! It felt as though I was re-experiencing things from my past, but there was just a tiny bit of awareness that I was 2,000 miles away from where it FELT like I was. Several people told me that I "spoke" or "behaved" like a 4-yr old or a 12-yr old, etc. Life became unmanageable. There would be this AWFUL smell that I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. I'd get in the shower and scrub my skin until it was almost raw, but I could still smell it!!

The colors black and red and white, or just black and red together, would trigger me into such a state of panic and TERROR that I'd do ANYTHING to get away from it!!! I thought I had FINALLY gotten over whatever THAT was about until a couple of days ago when someone left a box of clothes on my doorstep and my hand brushed against one of the pieces that was black and red.

I am TRYING not to ramble on and on (my sincere apologies for taking so much of your time), but it feels like I need to give you a little background to frame my question.

Apparently, I used to dissociate A LOT as a child--never realizing that I was still doing that as an adult. I've been working on NOT splitting off (dissociating) for quite a few years now and thought I had it conquered once and for all--until recently.

Presently I am under a great deal of stress--my house may go into foreclosure (or the steps toward it) tomorrow. Self-care has been lacking due to the current demands for my time, money, energy, etc., etc., etc. At times I feel like I'm going to die! (Am NOT trying to sound melodramatic here.)

So, my question(s):

(1) Can major stresses--all cropping up simultaneously--cause a person to dissociate even if you thought you were healed of that??

(2) And here's the really scary one--Oh, God, HELP!!!

No, I'll re-phrase...
PTSD was FINALLY diagnosed after all those "pieces" of me kept popping out all over the place (so, I guess something "good" came out of that HORRENDOUS experience); and, my therapist said I was NOT crazy. She said I was NORMAL for what I've lived through (so much for being "different"??). She said that my personality(?) or something got fragmented as a result of all the abuse, but "I" was intact because all of the "pieces" were me. Therefore, I had to deal with the PTSD flashbacks, but I do not have "multiple personalities" because it's all just me. (I still don't quite understand it all.)

The thing is, for about the last six months or so the other part of the afore-mentioned dream keeps popping into my mind, unbidden--(I mean, I'm not obsessing about it). It's just that those two children that were hiding seem "closer" or something...more "real" somehow. I don't know how to explain it, I'm sorry.

Anyway, that's why I have this scary feeling that I may have "others" inside.

Your post today, regarding genders, caused me to think about it. I mean, if it was just a little girl hiding--or two little girls--I'd chalk it up to maybe being two more "pieces" of dissociated trauma that I don't consciously remember. But, I'm confused because of the little boy--and how both of them are feeling ... "closer" and "more real"--I don't exactly know what I mean by that, I just don't know any other way to say it.

Example: That smell. I've been asked what it smells like and the ONLY words I could find for the LONGEST time was, "it smells like DEATH"!! Now, to be honest, I don't think I know what death smells like, but, once again, I was NOT trying to be melodramatic about it!! (It took quite a long time and A LOT of hard work, but I did finally figure out that the smell was a combination of four different things all mixed together...but we won't go there.)

Anyway, I'd appreciate anything you could offer to clear up some of this confusion...words of advice, personal experience on how you discovered you had "others" inside, direction on specific posts that might answer some of these questions...??

Thank you. REALLY!!

And I'm sorry I took so much of your time.

PS: I'm really embarrassed about all this stuff, so I wouldn't mind having a private email answer...unless, if you thought there was enough here, or in your response, to benefit some other tortured souls, then please go ahead and make this public because I wouldn't wish what I've been going through on ANYONE, and if it could help, then it's worth it.
Thank you. And, GOD BLESS YOU!!!

Anonymous

Grace said...

Hi Linda,
I'm sorry, but I couldn't link to you without publishing the post. I think many will relate. The quote you have is my video Falling Awake. It appears on several of my blogs and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/grace2244).

People with DID typically have others inside of varying ages and genders. I don't know if it is "normal" for organized pedophiles to cause the psyche to be damaged by causing a child to believe they are really the opposite sex.

Dissociation can be at a level less than DID. PTSD is below DID on the spectrum of dissociation, although not all in the profession agree on a spectrum theory.

I would refer you to the book "Stranger in the Mirror" which includes a series of self tests for each area of dissociation. It will tell you if you score at a level sufficiently high to see a therapist.

Regardless, because of what you describe, I would suggest you seek a therapist who is familiar with treating at least PTSD to work through your current thoughts and fears.