The hallway “memory”

I’ve talked in the past about this hallway that I see my “Aunt” walking down in my “Uncle’s” house. That hallway is very important to me but I don’t think it’s figurative and neither does my therapist. I brought it up again and I showed her a printout of the collage I did showing the girl on the floor and the hallway. I told her that the collage made is very triggering for me but I don’t know why. I told her that the hallway is important but I don’t know why. I said that I didn’t think it was figurative though and she asked me to describe what I see when I see the hallway. I told her that it is narrow and dark and that rooms come off the side of it. There would be a kitchen off one side and doors leading to bedrooms and bathrooms also coming off the hallway and there would be doors for closets. She said that she has seen houses like that and she proceeded to describe some older houses with that layout. She said that the houses tend to be older which this house would have been too. Of course, I live on the other side of the country now and that house is in my hometown 2000 miles away but, somehow her telling me that my description fits older houses with one level was good. She doesn’t think it’s figurative either. The problem is, that if this hallway is real and is a memory then that means I really was at his house at some point when I was little but I don’t remember it. That is not cool. She wanted to know how I feel about the image I see. I see his wife walking down that hallway going to another room perhaps the kitchen and I feel like she’s leaving me with him and I don’t understand why she’s leaving me. I feel absolute terror. Here’s where the frustration is. I just want to know already. I want to be sure about what happened. I want to know if I can trust my own mental images or not. And I can’t be sure. I was very young when this stuff happened. My therapist said once again that it doesn’t matter. That we need to look at what it’s done to me etc. I can’t agree with that! It is important for me to know! This is important! How can it not be important to know if some man put his _____ in my mouth!!!! What if something else happened? It’s important damn it! She clarified that she doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter but that I shouldn’t focus on the “is it real” thing and instead I should focus on how I feel now. To me they’re connected. What happened then caused what’s happening now. If I don’t know what happened and it’s eating away at me then it matters, pure and simple. So the problem is what do I do when I’m at an impasse? I can’t tell if my mind is right or if my feelings are right. I can’t be 100% sure therefore I’m not allowing myself to deal with any other images or possibilities that come up. I push them aside because I can’t trust myself.

In all seriousness this is when I wish I could have a relationship with my mother. NOT because I want one but because she said he molested her too and I need information. I want to know what he did. And I can’t ask her. I wouldn’t for one second change things between her and I, but it pisses me off that I wasn’t dealing with this stuff before I booted her ass to the curb. At least then I could have asked her before things changed. Grrrr…


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, Alters, Art Therapy, bipolar disorder, Child Molestation, depersonalization, depression, derealization, DID, dissociation, dissociative identity disorder, Family Relationships, Incest, Mania, Medication, Meds, Mental Health, Multiple Personalities, neglect, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychiatric Drugs, Psychiatric medication, Psychiatry, PTSD, self-harm, Seroquel, Sexual Abuse, Social Security Disability, Therapy, Trauma and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to The hallway “memory”

  1. shame says:

    I understand the frustration of wanting to know if something really did happen. Sometimes you’ll never know. But, when you least expect it, other memories will come together and all of it will make sense. A lot of my memories used to be choppy, but over the years, the gaps filled in. Many times I’d wished they hadn’t.

    I’ve also pushed them aside. For me, then I’d get snowballed with everything I’d put on the back burner. Sometimes it’s a good thing to push them aside, so you can be in a safe place when they surface. All of it has it’s pros and cons.

    Wish I could be more help. I’m just going by my experience and every person has a different one.


  2. roseroars says:

    Understanding seems to come before realization for me. I understand that my body feels a certain way, or I react to certain things a different way, or I have images, whatever. Then I realize why, and it feels like a collective sigh of relief. Then I can try and deal with everything. I gave up absolute proof because 1) I don’t trust anyone, 2) it doesn’t matter because something happened and I can’t live like I want to or move forward, and 3) I really trust my memories because they are all I have even if they are so broken.

    I just want to be open to getting better somehow, and if I have to work through this shit, so be it. It’s too hard to just cope my way through life. That, and this therapy and my new meds are actually helping a lot. So, I’ll believe and it’s my life so I always have the option of changing my mind.

    Wow. That sounded bitchy. I’m sorry. Don’t post this if it bothers you.

  3. callmeams says:

    There is something I throw out to my husband everytime he tells me I’m overreacting. I tell him this is how I feel, this is how you made me feel. It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it just IS. And that’s what we have to deal with.

    Now I’m not saying it doesn’t matter if it really happened for not. I had a really bad therapist tell me one time that the details don’t matter. And that messed me up almost as much as the abuse. The details do matter. But, the feelings matter to. And you feel how you feel regardless of what you can remember happening.

    Maybe your therapist is trying to tell you that you need to acknowledge the feelings because they are there and they don’t seem to be going away. And, sometimes, when you stop fighting yourself others things become more clear.

  4. castorgirl says:

    Can I ask a potentially difficult question? What is the motivation for pushing on with the need to know all the details of what happened? I ask this, because for me, when I focus on the need to know, it’s often about needing to disprove that it ever happened. It’s not about validation, it’s all about messing with my head and getting back to the intellectual sparring that I’m more familiar with.

    I hope you don’t see the question as an attack tai, it really isn’t meant to be. As I say, I struggle with this as well. I get caught up in the need to know the definitive answers to things, even though I know that the memory doesn’t work like that. It’s a great mind game that can encourage me to go around in circles for weeks on end. Meanwhile the ones holding the memories, react to the pressure being put on them through my mental gymnastics… As I say, this is just what happens for me, it might be totally different for you.

    The thing to remember, is that you are fairly early on in your healing from these issues. Your system has been holding this information for a long time, and it will take time to work through and address. Personally, I think you’ve made such huge strides in your healing over the last few months, and I hope you can see that. So please don’t be hard on yourself, think of the amazing things you’ve done too…

    Take care,

    • tai0316 says:

      Good question and in no way do I feel attacked, never worry about that CG 🙂

      For me I don’t think (think being the operative word haha) that’s it’s about disproving anything. I don’t think so. It feels more like I want to believe it. I want to believe it so I can deal with it and move on but I doubt myself. I don’t see how I could have forgotten something like that but even more than that, how do I know that I’m not piecing together things I’ve seen in the last 30 or so years of my life and makin a horrible striy out of them? It’s important to me to know whether I can trust myself or not. I do believe that two incidences happened, which is one more than I used to believe in 🙂 But this one is HUGE. It’s a big deal to know whether something this bad happened to me or not. I feel like knowing my life experience means knowing this too. If I don’t know if I can believe this one thing or not then I won’t believe anything else my mind tells me happened. I know something happened twice, I used to think it was once. So, for me that was good even though it hurt to remember. I feel like I need to know this, because knowing facts is how I process things. I look at the facts and if there’s enough facts I can accept it and proceed to work through it. My therapist is very differnet from me, she relies on feelings. For her the mere fact that I have body memories is enough to accept whatever I may say or think.

      I’ll be brutally and humiliatingly honest here, and it’s gross but it’s really the one thing that makes me doubt this one aspect. Because I’ve looked at bad things, things that show adults (never kids!) engaging in force and mouth stuff, things like what I think happened or what I feel happened to me, I’ve seen some bad stuff. How do I know that I’m not taking pieces of what I saw and making them my own? Now, let me clarify: A part of me, the part that feels body memories and sees this horrible image in my face, the part that gags and feels something in my mouth and wants to vomit? That part says that this bad thing really did happen. I acknowledge that. I acknowledge that when I asked internally for any part to come forward with information or memories, this is what came out. But I can’t be sure that the nasty things I looked at didn’t create this can I? Do I feel like they did? No, I don’t but I can’t be 100% sure. That means that unless I have more of a memory come forward, I can’t accept this bad thing and that means that I’ll never accept any other “memories” either.
      I don’t know if you can understand that last part because of how disgusting I truly am. I’m really an awful person and I’m paying for it now by not being able to trust my own mind. It’s my own fault for being dirty, and now that I think about it it feels like I deserve this. Maybe that’s what I’ll have to deal with, my own punishment, nice.

      • castorgirl says:

        tai, you are not disgusting. Not at all.

        You don’t deserve what happened to you. You don’t deserve to be coping with the aftermath of it. But, I see your awareness and acceptance of the difficult memories, and admire your courage and grace.

        The memory is complicated. It’s not linear or able to do an uninfluenced total recall… gaps are to be expected – especially when this is all so new.

        Take care,

      • tai0316 says:

        Thank you CG 🙂 *Big Hug*

  5. When I was 12, I was bitten by a dog. I’ve always remembered it. It was a traumatic experience but not one that was a secret, so I didn’t dissociate. For the next couple of years, whenever I told this story to someone, I would hold my arms wide apart as I described how big the dog was. One day, when I was a bit older, I told the story again and when I held my arms out wide I suddenly realised that I was indicating the size of a small horse. The dog was St Bernard, so it was a big dog, but it wasn’t that big!

    I’m sharing this story with you because it helped me when I was going through what you describe in this post. The fact is that no memory, traumatic or otherwise, will be 100% accurate. My memory of the size of the dog was not accurate. Perhaps I’ve remembered other details inaccurately as well. But the fact remains that I WAS bitten by a dog.

    Tai, you were terribly hurt. You know that. Perhaps your uncle put his ____ in your mouth, perhaps he did not. You might remember more details which clarify things and you might not. I know it’s extremely frustrating … massively frustrating!!! But you KNOW that he hurt you. You know you were terrified. Trust that part.

    I read on someone’s blog once (can’t remember which) that they consider all parts of memory to be memory. You know, there’s the sight, sounds and smell, the knowledge, the body sensations and the emotions – she just said to herself “I’m having an emotion, that’s a memory”. I liked that idea. It gave me a way to come out of thinking that I can’t remember anything. So now, when my therapist asks “what happened after that?” and I don’t know, but I *feel* terrified, I can acknowledge that I remember I was terrified.

    I know this is so hard for you right now. And it IS a big deal, I mean, what you are talking about is horrible, horrible stuff. I do hope that you get your answers, as hard as it is to have more memories. If you don’t, please don’t give up because of it.

    Take care,

    • tai0316 says:

      Dawn, your dog story makes a lot a sense. Things always look different to us when we’re adults than they do when we’re kids in ways like that. Romms look smaller or bigger, people look taller or shorter etc. so, good point.
      You know what’s interesting? I found as I read your comment and I got to the part about knowing that I was “terribly hurt”, I went back to my old stance from months ago when I didn’t remember anything other than the one time: it wasn’t that bad. Because, for me, in my mind, if this other thing did not happen, then I was not “terribly hurt”, I was fondled, that’s it. Intersting isn’t it? I’m right back where I was. I can accept that he did some other stuff, but if this one thing didn’t happen then…what am I complaining about? Boohoo he touched me so what? Was it wrong? Yep but so what? That’s the kicker you see. If nothing else happened, then the stuff I do remember becomes nothing no matter what anyone says. Yes, being molested is awful but he could have done worse, and if I don’t remember anything worse, if this other thing never happened then it wasn’t worse. Huh. Now I have no idea what to do because it’s like my entire world just shifted. It’s not anything you said, it’s that I just realized my own thoughts on the matter.

  6. It’s so understandable you want to know. But the nature of memory is that it’s most likely you never will know in the way you want. So, it’s futile. Sometimes if you focus on “what it’s done to me” (which is an easier problem) then that other question will become more clear. But it’s about working at it backwards that’s the key.

    • tai0316 says:

      Hi Paul 🙂
      I understand what you’re saying, it’s just very difficult to not have facts to back up things. How do you deal with never knowing everything you want to know? Or everything you think you want to know. I do understand the backwards thing though. With the second incidence that I remembered, it only came after I stopped trying so hard to remember and worked on how it’s affecting my life now. It’s just that I’ve taken several steps backwards it seems. I was working on the “How is it affecting me now” but now I’ve slid backwards and I’m back to “I don’t know if this is true”.

      • You should know, Tai, that this is a very common experience for trauma survivors. So you are not alone and your experience is validated. Over the years I have struggled with this to various degrees. Acceptance is hard. And this means accepting that most of what you deal with is straight forward.

        I know I’ve given you this link before, at least I think I have. Which means you’ve asked this question before here or something similar. It’s not easy. You have to trust what you know, and allow the process to move forward (even if it feels like it’s moving backwards).

        So, this is about DID specifically, but it’s equally valid in your situation where you are asking about validity of specific memories.

        It is counter-intuitive to many, but if you stay in the present and focus on those issues, the past will catch up and find a way to “integrate” (not the best word choice probably). This is the area where trauma healing has made its most significant gains. Twenty years ago, the groupthink was that you would just purge all your trauma. Now, it’s understood that doing that can be harmful.

      • tai0316 says:

        I remember that entry about DID Paul 🙂
        I guess I’m really going in circles if I’m repeating myself. I’ll read it again though. If I could get out of my own head so-to-speak, that would be nice. I’m not an emotional person, that was beat out of me, but I do respect facts and without facts it’s very difficult. Maybe it’s the nature of the beast to go around in circles like this…

  7. I meant to say is NOT straight forward.

  8. Getting out of my head is something I learned that I had to do. Not all the time. But sometimes (or maybe often). Not sure. We really can confuse ourselves if we try to think our way through some things. Healing is not quite like solving a puzzle. There has to be room for “process” and “uncertainty”. I know for someone who deals with facts, this may be a hard pill to swallow. But you will probably find that it’s the only way. The problem if you validate memories that you are not sure on and move them into the facts column, you could do more harm than good. This is why I mentioned how trauma therapy has shifted. It’s not that difficult to create a compelling narrative around a fragment of memory and then incorporate that into your whole person narrative. That’s why this has to be approached delicately. You can simply force things that cannot be forced and think you have facts that aren’t actually facts at all.

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