It was like a skein of yarn that didn’t have an end. The memories started coming, one after another. Many of them without clarity. They would start like one of the old Polaroids, where everything starts off fuzzy without clear borders and slowly the picture fills in and the image becomes crisp. Each memory would begin like that.
It was confusing and debilitating at times. My sleep fell apart due to flashbacks and nightmares. It would take me hours to fall asleep and I would wake up numerous times throughout the night. I couldn’t eat and started vomiting. Physically I was barely keeping it together.
Emotionally, I didn’t understand how I could have forgotten such horror. I started processing that there were numerous perpetrators in my abuse history and that due to my memory loss around my abuse and just as part of the abuse cycle I had returned back to those perpetrators to be hurt again. This a reality that I have not been able to come to terms with yet.
Mentally, I had to keep pushing through. I had kids to take care off, a job to go to and a life to pretend was put together. Pretending is a tool that I have used since I was little to keep the illusion that everything is under control. This unraveling has taken away that illusion and that sense of safety I get with that illusion.
I’ve had memories of childhood sexual abuse since it happened around 10 years old. He was a neighbor. I babysat for his children. I remembered being molested or touched inappropriately. I didn’t tell anyone at the time, I was afraid and I think ashamed. When I tried to tell my Mom at 17 years old the memory I had, she didn’t believe me.
I went on with this memory as my “childhood trauma history” until I was 38 years old. Not understanding why it was impacting me that much. There were other events or contributing factors such as having a parent that was ill and another that was depressed, had parents who got divorced, and felt unprotected. I found out later about ACE Scores and how all these things were impacting me.
Then there were a few events that lined up “perfectly” and started a snowball effect in me that has not stopped in over 2 years. First, a level three sex offender moved into our very small town less than half a mile from my sons school. Second, my special needs son was assigned a male aide in the classroom that was going to help him with self-care activities. Third, I had a patient come into see me that had a similar name as a boyfriend that was abusive.
All of a sudden, my world came crashing in and I felt unsafe all the time. I couldn’t sleep and was pacing at night for hours. I started having flashbacks of memories that didn’t make sense to me but physically felt real to me. I came to realize that neighbor didn’t molest me but had raped me. I had blocked out that memory and many others…