I’ve been contemplating why it is so hard for me to deal with repressed memories of abuse. I know that part of this is because it just is hard to deal with these for everyone. However, I noticed for me that it is quite a bit harder than for others.
I chalk this up to a couple of things. First is that I have Sensory Over Responsivity, which is a sensory processing disorder. Part of having this is that I am more sensitive to sensory information than others. And when you think about what it’s like to have traumatic memories, it’s easy to see that these can overwhelm the senses of someone with a sensory processing disorder quite easily. For me this has resulted in a lot of sensory meltdowns along with the usual symptoms and feelings that a person has while having repressed memories or flashbacks. This is especially true because along with the memories come body memories where it physically feels like a trauma is happening all over again.
My sensory issues also make it harder for me to deal with intense emotions. I think that a lot of the reason why I dissociated so severely for so long was to cope with these emotions in the midst of having a sensory processing disorder. Also, I can see why things like AA, which encourage a dampening or stuffing of emotions, was appealing to me, as are things like overworking.
So of course, this makes coping with repressed memories even harder. I have had to learn to cope with my sometimes intense emotions, though, as a result of having the memories, so I do feel like I’ve gained skills from having them that I didn’t have before. I’ve also learned to sit with my emotions and let them pass without freaking out about them. This, though, is a work in progress.
Another kicker for me when it comes to the re-experiencing of traumatic memories is that I actually have a photographic memory, although this changed when I got older. This has served me pretty well throughout my life, especially in school. But, due to dissociation and trauma, eventually most of my memories became memories where I was looking down on myself and the situation, thus losing my natural ability to have photographic memories. Even so, the memories were very much in detail and visually based as well as accurate in picture even though they were dissociated.
For me, then, having repressed memories of trauma is a very visual experience where it looks like I am looking at a television screen through my third eye while experiencing the emotions and body memories that go along with whatever memory or group of memories that I’m seeing. The memories at first were more dissociated (third party view) and eventually became a first party view and more associated. Even the dissociated memories that had a third party view were extremely vivid and photographic, and this grew more true as I began to associate into the memories as a first person. However, the memories were still somewhat distorted even though they were vivid and realistic at the same time. It was all very confusing and made it difficult for me to accept the memories and the trauma.
Now that I’ve been having these memories for almost four years it is a lot easier for me to cope with them. I wonder how long they will last, or if they will always be there. The truth is that I just don’t know. Some trauma survivors have repressed memories for a period of time, while others seem to have them over their lifetime after the trauma has ended. So I need to be open to and understand that both of these scenarios are possible for me.
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