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.
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 television...in 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."