Nobody ever forgets what happened to them as every traumatic event is stored and remembered by the body and subconscious mind — especially in the case of preverbal wounds. We remember everything, but for now, for some of us, those memories are blocked from our conscious mind until we can get all parts of self on board with the healing journey.
One of the major healing forces to recovering from childhood trauma is in simply remembering what happened to us. Not through guessing, not through intellectualizing, not through logic, not through whitewashing, but really remembering. Then we accept that it DID happen without trying to pretty it up. Most of us have repressed memories. We might be so afraid of what is below the surface that we may not be willing to admit to ourselves that something may have happened to us that we have had to block as children in order to survive. We are so sure that certain traumatic events did not happen to us. This makes recovery almost impossible. YOU might be ready to heal, but another aspect of you might not be.
Could we be suffering as much as we are because a part of us chooses to deny the truth? If our memories are repressed, it means there is a part of us that might not be able to handle the truth. That cannot co-exist with healing. While we can get some of our work done and make positive changes in our lives, we cannot find completion and the type of life-changing healing we need so long as we are unable to face our truth.
So why might we (on another level) be choosing to continue to sit on the most important family secrets? The reason we might be in conflict with ourselves where one part wants to heal and another part is too afraid of the truth is because we might not have adequate support. Those I have noticed to be in denial and stuck the most are often those people I see with a weak support system. The process of healing cannot be done unless you feel validated, UNDERSTOOD (!) safe and lovingly supported. Once you find solid stable genuine support, your memories, emotions and real self will feel safe enough to come forward to then be cathartically felt with the body and released. (This is a process that happens in stages over years — not all at once!) An enlightened witness (as Alice Miller would call it), is your ticket to recovering not only your memories, but YOURSELF.
“The number one killer in the world today is not cancer or heart disease, it is repression.”
~Dr. Arthur Janov
Facing the truth of what has happened to us might be one of the secret keys to liberation. When my body and mind started recovering memories back in 2014, that is when everything started to make sense. That is when dots were getting connected. The light-bulb that went on in my head was like a start-bulb. I was then able to start to process what happened to me on deeper levels.
If our memories are repressed, those are the ones that control our lives the most. Some of us know unexpressed emotions control our decisions, our beliefs, our self-defeating patterns, our relationships and our addictions. Repressed memories control us the most and drive us from the shadows keeping us even more unaware of how our life is ruled by our past.
11) Consequences of denial: Dr. Richard Berendzen, the former president of American University, had always known that his mother had sexually abused him as a child. He thought he had “handled” it. But in his fifties, not knowing why he was compelled to do it, he began making obscene phone calls to women he knew were mothers. Dr. Berendzen had always overworked, but when his obsession hit him, he began working 120 hours a week .
Denial of the emotional pain of sexual abuse results in many other kinds of life-defeating behaviors. For example, many sexually abused children grow up to be as sexually obsessed as their abusers . Some become prostitutes or in other ways are easily sexually exploited. A minority become abusers themselves. Because their self-esteem is so damaged, many adults who were sexually abused in childhood cannot properly assert themselves and use their talents. In order to run from the intense hidden pain that lurks just below the surface, a great number of sexual abuse victims become alcoholics, drug addicts or workaholics. The pain is so unbearable for many that they kill themselves. Some suffer from dangerous bouts of rage, some from chronic depression. Although a few have successful careers, they remain numb and emotionally dead in large areas of their lives.
The agony of recovery: For those who face the pain of their childhood sexual abuse, recovery often means years of working through intense fear, grief and anger as they uncover their memories and relive what happened to them. The process is so difficult that some can barely function for a long time. One of the worst pains suffered by survivors who remember their abuse is exclusion by their family, who deny the truth of their memories.”
~John Backus, Sc.D., and Barbara Una Stannard, Ph.D.