Anyone else have long periods.....years......that they really don't remember?

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fairyslipper

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I have realized that up until the age of probably 13 there are no memory problems for me at all. Lots of crystal clear and fond memories.

After that there are huge chunks missing,and the memories I do have are not as happy as the younger ones. I suffered from severe anxiety from around 13 until early 20's. Insanely painful shyness.........but I did manage to function ok enough outwardly and put myself out there enough to go to college and work. Looking back this amazes me. But I had no choice.  I was  so wound up with anxiety, constantly --  and can even remember exactly how that felt if I let myself. I shook all the time. My feeling is that I was just surviving during those years.Very pre-occupied with all of my shortcomings and how so much of my life made so little sense at home...the rules, my dad's anger, my mom's and brother's behavior and the repercussions of some of that.....I feel like I was just a scared child honestly, especially emotionally, just doing my best to get through. For example I wonder how much more I could have actually learned at school if I hadn't been so afraid. My body was constantly under scrutiny and being horribly criticized at home, to the point I felt so self conscious I would slouch and then my mom would always get on me about slouching. I had beautiful long hair and she made me go and get it chopped off super short, which I hated. My own grand father would tell me I looked like a boy. I was always told how stupid I was by my brother and father especially. So I felt incredibly dumb. Our extended family reinforced all of this too.  I just wanted to disappear. I am guessing this has a lot to do with WHY I can't remember much else. The memories  seem to get clearer again once I got older and was away from home more........started forging my own relationships etc.

Can anyone else relate to this? And is there anyway to get those lost memories back? Thanks  :hug:

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Kizzie

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Hi FS - I have similar chunks that are either missing or are really foggy.  I managed to function too, but it was all about getting through the day. I never felt like all of me was present.  I think we do disappear in a sense - we go away (dissociate) and/or we keep parts separate so the pain and fear don't overwhelm us. My memories are much clearer now that I am NC/LC with my PD FOO too - really speaks to how much it takes to survive abuse.

As far as getting those memories back, is there anyone that you trust that you can talk with about those missing chunks of time?  I found doing up a chronology of sorts, where I was when and with who helped me to put things in some order and brought back memories.  And pictures might help. Do you have access to any and if so would you be able to look at them?  (I don't like looking at pictures as they trigger me still.)  And on that note, you may want to go slowly with this retrieving memories as it can be triggering.

I hope you are able to fill in the blanks for yourself  :hug:

 

I always thought I had such a good LONG TERM memory of things because I could remember being in a bedroom with an uncle of mine, scared, before I was five years old and I remember what he was talking to me about, but nothing else. And I remember random mostly negative stuff from my childhood. And my tapes in my head tell me what my mother said about me constantly.

But I'm starting EMDR and, after reading about it, I found you have to focus on a particular trauma. I can't think of any that are not fuzzy or vague. I know I was treated like garbage in my family of origin, and it persists today. I can feel the shame and fear. But I don't really remember why...what set off the incidents of rage in others and my answering back with anger. So I have a lot of holes myself. It doesn't help that I was so traumatized by my family that I tossed out my only picture book of my young years when I was in my 30's. I don't miss it and feel it would be a huge trigger, but maybe it would have filled in some memories too.

So, no, you are hardly alone. I hear it is part of CPTSD.

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fairyslipper

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BeHea1thy, thank you  :hug: That is where I have been going in thinking about it too. Our lives at the time were all about surviving. Thank you so much -- will look forward to them.  :hug:

Kizzie, YES not feeling like all of you was present.....that is a perfect description. I am sorry you had that too. It really does. Volumes!! So much energy used in just keeping our heads above water. And yet for me at least, that felt normal. I knew nothing different. Right off the bat, I can't think of anyone but plan to give that some MORE thought and see if I can come up with something. You know I really would like to look at pictures. All I have are a handful from my baby book........but I would like to see expressions, things like that.....I think some of it could be validating. Thank you, it makes sense that it could be. Reading through my baby book sure was. It was like a book about a dog learning new tricks.........fairy slipper made her bed today....fs didn't cry as much today...very strange things....nothing loving....very cold. Thank you so much  :hug:

Fredricka.....sorry you are dealing with it too. I plan on reading up on it a bit more over the weekend. I haven't tried EMDR......I would love to hear what you think about it. It would probably be a little bit of both..... :hug: Bittersweet. 

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LyndaLinnea

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Oh I have this too! So nice to hear I am not alone :)
I do not remember most of my childhood/teenage years. Or to think of it most of my life anyways... Everything I have are snippets from here and there, but I can not even tell what year that was or how old I was. Especially time before I moved on my own at 17/18.
I don't remember most of my high school, next to nothing about my middle school and just a few snippets about anything before that.
It is quite scary, feels like I am so unaware of who I am since I no nothing about my past. I don't have a "story", a timeline, a past. I have nothing.
It feels so weird and bad when people around you are talking about their pasts and childhoods, and I just dont remember. I just dont know.  I dont  have any stories to tell.

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bee

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I too have memory gaps. Since I have recent gaps as well as old ones I can see a pattern. The more stressed/anxious I am the less I remember. I find it disturbing to not be able to remember. It sort of feels like I'm not really here, which I guess is kinda true. I make jokes about having a swiss cheese memory, to cover up that I feel broken. I have forgotten entire family vacations(even that I have been to certain places).

Years ago I tried making a timeline as Kizzie suggested. It was even harder than I thought it would be, and I didn't like seeing evidence of how much I don't remember. When I don't try to pin down memories I can pretend that I remember more than I do.

It's hard to know what is normal though. How much does someone remember who doesn't have cPTSD?


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rtfm

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LyndaLinnea, I have the same experience. I remember very little, snippets here and there, until I moved out at 16 and was away from my abusers.  I also feel left out when people are recalling childhood memories.  I have begun telling people that I was raised by wolves, the BBC, and public libraries, because it's true enough and light enough to get me out of these discussions.  I used to tell friends that my only memory of childhood was of being really confused all the time, like things were blurry and inchoate and disjointed, until I learned that really wasn't normal.

bee - I struggle with the timeline too! I realised recently that I routinely leave off a couple of places that I've lived if I'm trying to make a list, and if I do get a list I have no or almost no memories of most of the places.  I can remember an extraordinary amount about my clients and professional work I did  as long as 20 years ago - details even the clients forget - but cannot reliably remember the apartments I've lived in during the last 5 years without writing it down. There seems to be something about my autobiographical memory that's just pretty poor, like forming memories about me is really hard, even now.  I'd love to know what that's about.

My partner does not have cPTSD, and remembers a lot about her childhood. Teachers names, friends names, summer activities, vacations, interactions with parents and relatives. It feels really different to me, like I can remember some factual stuff but it's the same feeling that accompanies recalling that Monrovia is the capital of Liberia. It's not connected to me in any way, it's just a random fact that got lodged in there somehow. My partner says for her it's different, the memories are ... part of her, somehow. 

No idea if any of this is connected to cPTSD but it seems like it is, somehow, particularly the disjointedness and derealization.

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KayFly

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Hi Fairyslipper,

I cannot, honestly, remember most of my life. I like can't remember last week..

I am for the first time in my life, addressing some deep wounds with EMDR Therapy.  I recovered a memory of being sexually abused as a child at 19.  I am 26 now, and have freed myself from the perpetrators, physically, and like I said begun the process of facing the painful memories with EMDR.  I had this same fear.  Will I never remember the years forgotten?

Its normal to block things out of your head because they were painful. I blocked out my childhood, and then by the age of 12 up until a few months ago, I have been on and off drugs, so between the two, developmentally, my brain is conditioned to disassociate or block out painful things, or numb them.  I've kind of come to terms with accepting this, because my brain is trying to protect me from facing something that is too painful for me to face right at this moment.  But i totally believe you can recall things that you cannot remember.

During EMDR Therapy recently, I was working on one bad memory of being sexually abused, recalling it, but while I was working on it, another memory came up, validating the first one (The validation was more important to me at the time)..But yes...I think there are ways to remember...

Also, just being on this website, and hearing other peoples experiences and feelings, sometimes triggers a feeling or time, and I can remember a certain period I just had not thought about...Journaling helps me when I remember new things...

My therapist had explained this to me before I started the EMDR, when I was fearful I would never remember my life.  She said, that once people start facing certain trauma's, usually your brain opens up to new memories.  And she was right.  It does work that way.

I wish you lots of healing, and ease. 
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 08:13:36 PM by KayFly »

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basically0kkim

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I not only have missing chunks but the memories I do have are not connected in a linear way. I have thought of writing a book but I cannot seem to place things chronologically. I remember the color of the other car in an accident from age three and the next memory is being physically ill for a long time at age 5. Its likely a good thing that some of my memories are slow in coming or missing since I hear that true denial is the body's mechanism to protect the mind from things it cannot process yet. In my experience, time takes time. Good luck and good vibes to you all.

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Kizzie

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Bee writes:

I have forgotten entire family vacations(even that I have been to certain places).

Years ago I tried making a timeline as Kizzie suggested. It was even harder than I thought it would be, and I didn't like seeing evidence of how much I don't remember. When I don't try to pin down memories I can pretend that I remember more than I do.

It's hard to know what is normal though. How much does someone remember who doesn't have cPTSD?


I too am embarrassed when I forget big things like entire vacations until I am reminded and bit by bit I can reconstruct the memory. It's hazy though, like I was living in a fog and I guess I was.  Part of me at least was submerged, cocooned and I hate the thought that I have missed so much. My H on the other hand can remember the smallest details even what he was wearing on a certain day when he was a kid, all the details from any event, any year.  It's like I can't even remember decades clearly so we (those of us with CPTSD) are quite adept at dissociating I would say. 

Lately I've been remembering more I think because I have more access to more parts of me that I kept separate before, like I am beginning to integrate as I recover.  I am also dreaming quite a bit about people from my past, people I haven't thought of in a long time.  It doesn't seem as emotional as it would have before. In the past a memory of anything from the past, even something non consequential would cause this big amalgam of fear and shame and I would suppress it. I guess I'm able to look more realistically now, whereas for a long time I was still seeing things through my IC's eyes I suspect, that's what it feels like anyway.


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Cuthberta

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Yes. I have a very good memory in general; I can tell people what they said in conversations a year or two ago, often word for word. But there are several foggy years; when I look back there is a general awareness that it was not good, but the memories are very foggy indeed.

When I talk with friends about those years the memories can return, if I am reminded of an event, but they do not come by themselves.

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IFeelSoAlone

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My abuse occurred from the time I was about 6 months old until I was about 14 1/2.  I honestly do not remember much about those years. The only things that I really remember are just things here and there.  However, I have been getting extreme flashbacks over the last few years and they have gotten worse and more often.  Having OSDD (other specified dissociative disorder) I loose chunks of time even to this day.  It is as if I just leave my head and my body still semi functions but I remember nothing.  When the abuse was happening I learned to just leave my head in the middle of an offense so that I didnt have to feel all the way what was happening to me.  Now, when I get overwhelmed with flashback or emotions it happens again, I guess as a coping mechanism.  I get so embarrassed when it happens and I feel like I should have control over it, but I dont.  I have been there and I sympathize with you.  Hugs :hug:

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Kizzie

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I have been finding the days a bit long and I just realized it's because I can't float away into my cocoon as much as I used to (which tells me how often I was gone throughout most of my life - yikes).  It's like I don't quite know what to do yet with longer periods of being present - takes some getting used to I guess.  :blink: