For First Time Visitors
If you are a first time visitor to this blog, I invite you to start from the beginning, especially if you are unfamiliar with the potential emotional impact of long-term child abuse.
Trigger caution to unhealed survivors!
Trigger caution to unhealed survivors!
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.