The importance of validation


I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of validation. I read several blogs about DID regularly and I’ve seen the effect having a validation of a memory can have on a person. Recently, someone commenting on a blog suggested using Google Earth to find places a person remembers that are connected with their abuse, instead of actually visiting those places in person as that can re-traumatize. I had never thought about looking for the places that I lived in the past, but certain memories are strongly associated with certain places. I had to wonder if after all these years, my memories were correct. Not about the abuse but about the places we lived, and the specific places we lived that have strong associations to the abuse and neglect. I’ve always seen some of these places in my memory and to me they looked very clear but there was always a question in my mind of how someone who was my age back then could remember things so clearly. If you think about it, for most people, memories of their childhood at certain ages are not always clear and they certainly don’t remember everything that happened. Certain memories might be strong like birthdays or holidays or something. Remembering favorite relatives or not so favorite relatives. Remembering gifts received that were special. Perhaps remembering vacations taken. But, remembering things like a house you lived in briefly or an apartment you were at for a little while when you were very young, it didn’t seem likely to me, so I kind of questioned what I remembered. But only kind of. My memories of certain times and places are very strong and I’ve always believed in what I remember. So, getting back to Google Earth. I was intrigued by that suggestion and I decided to try to find some of the elementary schools I went to in a certain city. I knew what they were because, besides memories I have class pictures with the school names on them. We moved a lot even within that one city so I went to a different elementary school every year. I started typing in names and I found the schools. I couldn’t believe they were still around with the same names. The problem was finding a specific place we lived in. I could see it clearly in my head, the outside, the rooms inside, the porch and the backyard, but I had no address. All I knew was that I strongly remembered that we lived next to a bar that was on the corner. That bar was one reason I questioned my memory because I thought that it was strange that my single mother and I would live next to a bar. I happened to be looking in a box I keep some papers in, and I found a letter I had sent to my grandmother when she was alive. The envelope had an address on it. I typed in the address and Google Earth found it immediately. I zoomed in to the street view and BAM! There was the house and it looked EXACTLY as I remembered it, even after 25 years, and it had been a rental when we lived there so you would think someone would have changed it in the meantime but they hadn’t. I had this instant euphoria because my memory was right! Like a mental high-five. I looked at the picture for a while just taking it in and then after a while it was like the picture started getting darker…wow I’m having a hard time all of a sudden…Ok, anyway a name occurred to me while I was looking at the house. It was The Dark Place because I was in the dark (literally) a lot of the time I was there. My memory shows me that most of the time I slept in a small bed against the wall of the kitchen. I know for a fact that I was left in that house a lot alone as a child. I remember that my grandmother called the house once at night and I answered the phone. She asked me where my mother was and I told her I didn’t know. She asked me if I was alright because she thought I sounded funny. I remember she actually thought I sounded drugged but I think I just sounded sleepy. Anyway I know that my grandmother called back another time and had a “conversation” with my mother about her leaving me at home at night while she went out. The letter that had the address on it also affected me because for all intents and purposes my grandmother was my real mother. I literally lived for the summers that I was sent to stay with her. And if I was lucky my mother had my grandmother raise me here and there. It was the only time I got away from my mother and I knew that I was safe for a while until she came to get me and took me away. For those who read this blog, this is the grandmother whose body I found one morning when she died at 66 years old and I had moved out of my parent’s house. It was just the two of together then. In the letter I found, I was gently chiding my grandmother for sending me a gift. I was very young, my spelling is funny to look at because I’ve always loved writing and I was trying to use big words and I sound very mature in my opinion. I had to laugh. My grandmother was very poor and she took a lot of medicine so in the letter I told her not to spend money on me. I told her that her bills and groceries came first and then me. I had to laugh again because I still put myself in there. I ended the letter telling her that I couldn’t wait to see her that summer. Again that time of being away from my mother. That moment quickly passed and I saw that in the envelope there was a picture of my grandmother and me at a park. And then it was like the letter took on a different meaning because I knew what had been happening to me at home at that time. And I knew that grandmother had been worried about me and she would have taken me if she could have. I also remembered how much I worried about her while I was growing up because I knew she was poor. The times that I lived with her I remember getting in line for government cheese and powdered milk. I remember being at the grocery store and seeing her have to put some things back because she didn’t have enough food stamps. She never told me any of this. She wouldn’t have because I was a child but I still saw it. Seeing that letter, finding the house, The Dark Place, remembering what happened and what I felt was awful. It shook me badly and I had to stop looking at the house. I had this almost desperate feeling though to find the other places we lived at in that city and to look at every school. I tried for a while until I was just too tired. I found every school but I couldn’t figure out where the other houses were, especially one. I know the street but not the number. I feel a need to validate every memory, now that I’ve seen how right I was and how correct my memory actually has been. I’ve got therapy today so that out to be very interesting right? I’ve been having trouble seeing what happened to me as being all that bad. I’ve talked to others about comparing my experiences of physical abuse to what has happened to others and my conclusion that my reasons for having DID aren’t as “good” as other peoples. I was told by a friend that I shouldn’t compare (you know who you are) 🙂 Then I started thinking of something my therapist said some time ago when we first started dealing with the DID. She told me to think about a child I know who is the same age that I was back then. She told me to think about that child being in the same situation I was in, and she asked me how that child would feel etc. At the time that she said that, I told her that the kids I knew who were that age, were spoiled little brats who whine about everything and always get what they want, so I figured they wouldn’t have handled it well because they were big babies. But, I tried to look at it that way yesterday and I’m hoping that maybe it will give me a different perspective?

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About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in abuse, bipolar disorder, depersonalization, depression, derealization, DID, dissociation, dissociative fugue, dissociative identity disorder, Family Relationships, headaches, Medication, Meds, Mental Health, Multiple Personalities, neglect, Psychiatric Drugs, Psychiatric medication, Psychiatry, PTSD, self-harm, Social Security Disability, Therapy, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The importance of validation

  1. castorgirl says:

    As a quick comment… I was once told to think of an incident that happened to me, then think of that same thing happening to a child the same age that you know… If you saw it happen, would you intervene? Would you report it? Would you do something?

    It’s often easier to see the actions as abusive and devastating if you imagine them happening to someone else. You wouldn’t stand by and let a neighbours child be left unattended, especially if they lived next to a pub. So, why was it not abusive if it happened to you? You are important, and you do matter.

    I’m glad you could validate your memories and not get sucked into a flashback, or the darkness. But, please go gently…

    Take care,
    CG

    • CimmerianInk says:

      Thank you CG 🙂
      I’m going to have to go beyond the neglect part to the hitting and screaming and cussing and threatening part. I’m not looking forward to trying to imagine that happening to another child.

      • castorgirl says:

        If it’s too much to imagine it happening to another child, please don’t. But associated with that, you need to realise that if it’s too much just imagining happening to another child, then it was devastating. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for you to use dissociation as a coping mechanism.

        It’s all about reality testing… If it feels to much to imagining happen to someone else, then the reality is that is was overwhelming to happen to anyone. That’s the reality. That can be really difficult to realise, so please go gently and safely. Before you do any action or thought, test it out internally by asking…

        Take care,
        CG

  2. roseroars says:

    I agree with CG. Tread softly and compassionately. Give yourself breaks and let it sink in.

    Will you be bringing this up in therapy, or did you do that today?

    Lisa

  3. Pingback: Suboxone Talk Zone: A Suboxone Blog

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