I'm 45 years old, I was abused sexually from at least the age of 3, until I was 12, by a number of perps, male & female. Then there was the other physical, verbal & emotional abuse.
I did not start to really remember the most or the worst of it until about a year ago and since. This has to a large degree consisted of vivid flashbacks with processing & piecing together in between.
I did a time line in a small group at a recent conference and that really helped. As have retreats, reading, what little live support I could get, and particularly online support like here with you fine men.
It began late last year following a session with my T, about my newly acknowledged sexual addiction. Since then therapy, and a good pdoc, have been invaluable, hard as they were to find.
Before last year, what I did have were lots of scattered & isolated memories. Some were flashbacks, but very vague, brief & elusive pictures. Some were just word thots that came to me as I tried to put things together. Most were more like emotional memories, feelings of pain & abuse I couldn't sort out. And the many body memories (I have FM/chronic pain, most of my life)tho I didn't know that's what they were.
Usually, especially the worse these various memories were, it was as tho they had happened, but to somebody else; yet I could see me there. I guess that's part of what dissociation is, and man did I dissociate!
Not that dissocation is all bad. At the time it was probably necessary to my emotional & spiritual if not physical survival.
The problem is I dissociated & so deeply suppressed everything it had to leak & sometimes burst out in some very unhealthy ways. Acting out sexually, overeating, temper tantrums, drugs, overeacting, etc.
I hated myself, had trouble in relationships of any kind, could hardly functiion at work, and I picked up bad habits of body, emotion & mind I'm still struggling with, if not as much.
I've had times my mind just blanked out for awhile, times I seemed to leave my body, times I felt like two (or more) different people--lots of those.
But being a survivor, I kept seeking help, support and healthy relationships. The more I found them and availed myself of them the better I became.
Not that it was easy. This last year of flashbacks & owning my memories, my truth, and of putting things together has been a chunk of burning hell on earth in many ways. But it has also been a great time of support, healing & growing in many ways.
I know there is still so much to learn & do & be. I know there are still bad habits and many hazards along the way. But I finally believe I'm on the way, to health & wholeness. (If you want more about why, you could read about my "Major Breathrough).
I still think a certain amount of dissociation is healthy, in the sense of not relating things to & taking things upon myself more than I need to. As my T said Monday (my breakthrough), it's time to leave behind the past you've dug up, acknowledged and dealt with; its time to move on and live and be in the present.
But for whatever reasons it has taken me a long time to even be ready to take this path & come to this point. And man have I got a long way to go! I've got a little Wuame in me that needs to be the child he never could be before he can grow up too much! So much to learn, do & be!
Still kinda scary, and I know dealing with hurts, healing & growing can be very painful as much as it can help--like surgery. But I'm learning to look forward & not back so much.
There are probably things I still don't remember, and probably don't need to. Right now I still have trouble with remembering things from day to day, and concentrating on them.
This is a symptom of my fibromyalgia, but its also an effect of the abuse & dissociation (as is the FM in general). When the mind dissociates strongly enuf and/or from enuf things, it has increasing difficulty discriminating as far as what to dissociate & what to associate.
I have plenty of times I get up to get something walk into the next room to get it and forget what I went in there for. I have to write down everything, then remember where I put what I wrote down! But I'm working on it. :rolleyes:
It might not hurt to have a good rheumatologist or pain specialist check you for fibromyalgia tender points, or get checked for other possible physical causes of memory problems. My being diagnosed for & starting to treat my FM about 3 years ago was a big step toward the further steps I've taken in "diagnosing" & treating my abuse.
Doing a timeline & keeping notes is good, Gary. I'm working on journaling, sporadically, myself.
Well, I hope this article I've written offers some help or hope, Gary. Take good care of you.