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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.

Nov 24, 2008

Remember to forget

Survivors with DID have a tough time remembering...current life. Dissociated life can't be known until a memory surfaces. I don't have a scientific explanation. I do have a personal explanation. As memory surfaces and breaks through a wall of amnesia, chunks of amnesia are released into the brain. Those chunks sort of float around gobbling up current memory or erasing what you just had on your mind.

In addition to the amnesia phenomenon of DID, since early childhood, we have been literally brainwashed with messages about not telling; about forgetting what we saw or heard; and not remembering people's names or faces. I am certain the name and facial recognition is probably obliterated in a more focused manner, and I don't think I want to know how that was done. I hope I never have to be an eye witness.

I used to have what one would call photographic memory for my conscious life. That completely dissolved since memories began. I can barely hold a thought until I write it down on a note. As mentioned in yesterday's post and confirmed by a comment, those who grew up with DID tend to not see their environment. We can write notes to ourselves and even have a special place to put notes, but it doesn't take long before what is there becomes "invisible". Each survivor needs to develop their own system of remembering important dates, times, appointments. Even with an elaborate system, it is still possible to completely forget an important appointment. It is stunning to realize we have forgotten those times when we made an extra effort to remember.

How was this used growing up? Any sibling's absence was not known by the other siblings or the mother. "Remember to forget your sister." "This never happened." "You were just dreaming." "You're lying." "You must have seen that on a movie." Of course the perps didn't want to be remembered. I have zero facial recognition and vague name recognition. Even with close friends and new family, there is a slow brain process of connecting the person to the name. For annual events, I still need to be prompted about names of people even though I might remember the face since it has been several years.

I use the term "dropping off the radar" when I forget about people close to me. When my best friend, who lives in another state, goes on vacation or away for a few days, I must keep one of her emails in my inbox to remind me she exists. With all of my friends, after a few days of no contact, I forget. Eventually I remember, especially if they write to check on me. They know this happens. It's very frustrating.

In a separate life trauma, I have had anesthesia nine times since May 2007. Since my memory seems to have gotten even worse for short term thoughts ("I need to go do 'x'"), I tend to think that much anesthesia in my head might be wreaking some havoc. Although I also know some survivors with the same problem. An example I often experience in the kitchen: "I need to get a new bottle of vitamins from the pantry." I'll turn around and the next thing I know I'm staring into the refrigerator wondering what I'm looking for. Or the object will be in another room and I'll get to the room but stand in the center clueless without a trail back in my mind to the purpose. Usually I'll remember if I go back to my original spot and realize what it is I needed. It's not always handy to jot down a note to carry to the next room.

Someone needs to invent a wristband "Post-It" note dispenser and a way to always have a pen on hand. I try to keep pens near everywhere I tend to linger, however they often get lost or my note pad has run out. Obviously this is not the greatest challenge those with DID face, but it does impact much of our lives. In my role as psychotherapist, I was in a space with my client where I had very focused attention for the client. Memory seems to work differently with that intensity of focus. I did need to take notes or write notes immediately afterwards for record keeping.

I am hopeful that my brain may, some day, have enough new connections to operate like a defragmented brain. Would be nice to run "defrag", huh? Part of this forgetfulness is still viewed as a protective device. It was protective in childhood. It's rather disruptive as adults with life responsibilities. I wish I could say, "This too shall pass."


Lana said...

Count me amongst those with name/face/memory problems. I also had pretty much photographic memory until I started coming apart at the seams last spring. Now, twice within a week, I can lose track between setting 99 seconds on the microwave to heat my tea water... and hitting START!! How embarrassing. Anyway, one thing that often works for me is to use a pocket recorder. I just speak "notes" into it if it's something important. And I record important phone calls too. (It's legal in my state. Anyone wanting to do this should check first. I can provide a link for a place to check if it's wanted.) I can walk around with headphones attached to the pocket recorder and playback whatever I need (shopping list, driving directions, appointment times, etc) and anyone who sees me just thinks I'm listening to music ;-)

Secret Shadows said...

"those who grew up with DID tend to not see their environment."

True. I tend to lock through people. Sometimes I see things as a blur, or as it would appear were I spinning. I may just see a blotch of color. I may see nothing. I may see black or I may see white light. Sometimes it's as if I see the back of my head. Lots of times I'm in my own world. I am on autopilot. I see nothing, I hear not much, I feel nothing.

Sometimes I feel like I may even understand what it's like for someone with autism. I think there are some similarities there. I have a lot of experience working with autistic children, and sometimes I just wonder...I wonder if that's how it is for them, too.

Anonymous said...

How was this used growing up? Any sibling's absence was not known by the other siblings or the mother. "Remember to forget your sister." "This never happened." "You were just dreaming." "You're lying." "You must have seen that on a movie."

Grace, i so deeply appreciate your writings & videos....Many, many things in our own abuse have been explained. When i saw the title of this entry, i could hardly believe it!

The primary abuser, satanic high priest, used these exact commands (usually just one or two at a time) on me and others after abusive incidents...."Remember to forget..Don't forget to forget..Remember this never happened..Don't forget this never happened..Remember not to remember..." etc.

Once he flew me (and others?) somewhere at night in a private plane and told me that it was all a "dream" like Dorothy had. He said that she had never left Kansas, and neither had i. Due to these comments and others he made as we returned, i KNEW without any doubt upon remembering that we HAD been taken to another state, and that the flight wasn't a deception. (If we HAD stayed in Kansas, i would have been told that we flew to another state.)

I have memories of my husband seeing/knowing of the molestation of our children and other horrors sometimes. As his heart was broken, he was told by high priest that he could see the whole thing as a "nightmare", and wouldn't that be more bearable?? Of course, husband was willing to submit to this hypnotic suggestion, because he couldn't bear the truth. Next, he was told that the "nightmare" was going to go away, and he wouldn't even remember that he "had the dream". Talk about cunning...

According to what my children have told me, and of what i have vague memories of also, there were times that "group members" and primary abuser were in our house walking around, and i couldn't "see" them. It was as though they were invisible, but there was a sick, inner fear-knowledge that they were there. But you couldn't see them. Once, while using the bathroom, i kept looking and looking near the bathroom door, and i could just see a faint scary/terrifying look there (eyes), but no one when i really looked. I'd look and look back again. Now i know/remember that i was hypnotized not to see high priest, but he wanted to know if his powerful look in the eyes was stronger, or his hypnosis, so it was a test on me. Shudder....

Time was taken from us (now being returned with memories)....I was told to "watch the clock face", "watch the hands go round and round", "time flies". (actual face, actual hands, clock with wings- different meanings sometimes) This had to do with hypnosis. There was also "spring forward", "fall back", "time travel". And an hourglass was also used. This was brought to mind due to the topic and the photo of the clocks in this entry.

Much, much, more on this topic.
With much love & appreciation,

Grace said...

Yes, these "messages" went with hypnotic suggestions. I think it was initially, but after awhile, we just responded as if we were always hypnotized. Actually we are. Being able to see our inner world ("to go inside") is referred to as engaging in self-hypnosis. But what we *see* is real to our minds and helps us heal.

Much of what was told to us was riddles and mixed up metaphors and metaphors mixed with reality (hands and faces of clocks; hands and faces of people). I know of numerous survivors traveling with a perp or perps in airplanes.

If you've ever watched the tv show The Mentalist, it reminds me of what I think perps were like. But that show uses that power to help others. Isn't it amazing that we can figure out all their tricks regardless of how confusing it was made for us to remember?