Am I Repressing Memories? Was I Abused?
At many stages in the recovery process for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse there is great doubt. This is perhaps particularly hieghtened for those who are not certain of the memories or have no certain memories at all. It is useful to recognise that perfectly normal and healthy repsonses to trauma are at work.
The human animal holds memories at bay from the conscious mind when the original events could not be processed and made sense of. In cases of extreme trauma such as sexual abuse memories and whole periods of time can be lost from conscious access as a protection mechanism.
When you start to approach a point of development where you can deal with this stuff it often comes back. For some people this is in big chunks and for others it is speck by speck. Often before memories start resurfacing to allow the trauma to be processed there is a period where the survivor starts asking “was I abused?” or “am I repressing memories”?” or somesuch. The chances are, if you are asking yourself these or similar questions, that the answer is yes.
The mechanisms of protection which have held painful truths at bay are starting to let them through. You will experience great doubt about many things at this stage including your own sanity. It is important to remember that forgetting and remembering are sane mechanisms at work. You won’t remember what you can not deal with.
At first don’t believe everything that comes into your mind. There is no need to solidify and fix things. Let the memories come in their own time as they will do so when you can cope with them. If you try to rush or force things this often backfires. You can end up having partial or false recollection which lets you know something happened but shields you from the full truth. Relax and let time be your friend and ally on this: as you grow stronger and more able to deal with your truth, you will remember it.