What are Repressed Memories?
When we are very young children an event such as sexual abuse can be so traumatic to us that we will bury all memory of the abuse ever happening.
It never stays buried though. These memories will lay dormant until a time that our brains feel we are in a place where we are able to deal with them.
These repressed memories will come back to us in bodily sensations, emotional flashbacks, and nightmares.
A person can be going about their life in their 40’s thinking they had a normal loving family, when suddenly they realize this is not the truth.
The nature of repressed memories will make you doubt yourself at first.
You will fight these memories coming to the surface. After all, who wants to believe their normal loving family was anything but when they were young and developing.
You can fight these memories, but you can’t deny the reality. You will feel it to the very core of your being that these memories are true.
A part of you will know beyond a shred of doubt that the memories are true.
That same part of you will realize that this is the key to all of your life’s problems.
According to Renee Fredrickson’s book, Repressed Memories, repressed memories allow us the freedom to focus our conscious energy on the present. She also explains that there are two types of information that the memory will repress. These are traumatic and trivial events.
What is Trauma?
According to Renee Fredrickson,
“Trauma is any shock, wound, or bodily injury that may be either remembered or repressed, depending on your needs, your age, and the nature of the trauma.”
You may be able to remember some of your traumatic childhood memories. I remember the time my sister closest in age, the family scapegoat, deliberately jumped on the end of a plank I was walking on, knowing I would end up in the ocean when she did it, and I almost drowned. I remember the whole thing quite vividly, right down to the sound the water made when my dad plunged his hand in and grabbed my hair to pull me back out.
Other traumatic memories are so frightening or beyond our comprehension at the time they happened that our conscious mind buries the memory deep in our unconscious.
From my research I have found that if you have repressed memories of childhood trauma, they are without a doubt about some form of abuse that was inflicted upon you by another human being. That is actually what abuse is, trauma inflicted upon a person by another person.
Taking this a step further, if you have repressed memories they are more likely to be about sexual abuse rather than physical or emotional abuse.
Let that sink in.
Because of the nature of sexual abuse, it is especially susceptible to memory repression. This is especially true if the abuse occurred when we are “too young to remember” and too young to comprehend what was happening to us.
Renee Fredrickson says,
“Sexual abuse is so bizarre and horrible that the frightened child feels compelled to bury the event deep inside his or her mind.”
Sexual abuse makes a child feel so much shame. The secrecy that surrounds it only adds to the overwhelming shame that is felt.
I have also spoken about a partial memory I have concerning my mother in this youtube video. In this memory she is standing over me. I am on the bed in the small upstairs bedroom. I am not seeing this memory from where I am on the bed. I am seeing this memory from behind my mother, floating up by the ceiling so that what she is doing to me is just out of my view. I actually cannot see myself to get a good enough look to even see how old I am.
A part of me believes she was not only physically assaulting me, but that she was sexually assaulting me, and this is why I have buried it. I am able to recall other memories of physical abuse by my narcissistic mother, and quite frankly it was right out there in the open and done in front of each other, so it wasn’t a big secret that she hit us and physically assaulted us. We were trained to look the other way and to forgive and forget, no matter what. The family came first.
It is not surprising that narcissistic mother denies everything now, even yelling at us. I couldn’t fucking believe it when she tried that one on me! She can deny until the cows come home. She can’t deny what I remember, or what I have yet to remember. Her denial only tells me one thing. It tells me that she is afraid of what I will remember, which is why she is denying all forms of abuse now.
If you are experiencing partial or repressed memories, I recommend finding a good trauma therapist, because if a buried memory is coming back, there is a good bet that it is of a traumatic event that happened to you when you were a child and too young to comprehend at the time.
May you find comfort in the knowledge that you are in a good place to deal with these memories, otherwise they wouldn’t be coming forth.