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#359848 - 04/16/11 05:49 AM memory and reliability (might be triggering)
well-intended Offline


Registered: 04/15/11
Posts: 124
Loc: Belgium
At least, I find these issues triggering. The thought that my memory might not be reliable is a huge paranoia feeder, much more than recalling the abuse itself. It fills me with a feeling of powerlessness, not about the past but about the present. That's really awful, and I have verged into insanity more than once as a result.

But good intentions imply I should care about the truth, and should therefore consider the possibility my memory isn't what it feels it is, until proven otherwise. The scientific studies I encountered during my education certainly suggests memory isn't that reliable. And the wikipedia article on False Memory Syndrome seems to have decent face validity. I can't see anything wrong with it at first glance.

Can I ask you male survivors: how do know for sure your memory tells the truth?


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#359862 - 04/16/11 11:45 AM Re: memory and reliability (might be triggering) [Re: well-intended]
risingagain Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/09/10
Posts: 588
Loc: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Hi there,

I have struggled with this a lot. I had no memory of the sexual abuse until it gradually began to emerge, in short vignettes, as if through a fog. (very similar to the movie, The Butterfly Effect)

First, PTSD and traumatic dissociation/amnesia are well documented and there are many examples. This phenomenon appears to be accepted in clinical circles, and was understood in the context of war veterans who experienced later flashbacks and memory recovery of traumatic events they experienced as a soldier.

So if you've forgotten to survive and then you remember, it's OK, forgive yourself. The body has a process of bringing things up when we are ready.

My memories appeared first as nightmares and the clear sense that I was sexually abused but without any indication of how or by whom. I woke up in the middle of a scream one night and found myself yelling in bed.

Later, I experienced waking flashbacks where I would have a brief image, such as the image of a man naked in the shower smiling at me. At first, I did not know who the man was. He seemed to be like a clown. He reminded me of the clown in the movie IT. Smiling and sinister.

I did not recognize the man at first but I recognized the place. It was the downstairs bathroom where I grew up. That was my first clue as to where it happened and who did it. I then had more sense memories, such as the feeling of the cold basement floor as I was lying on it tied up. It was blue. I had flashes where my legs would involuntarily thrash / kick response and the feeling was of trying to run. My body felt restrained and tied up.

I had a striking visual flash one day of blood running down my leg, accompanied by a sick searing pain in my ass. I could feel it as if I was actually reliving it.

I heard, as if in the distance, the screams and cries of my little boy as he was betrayed.

Later I saw the face in flashbacks. It was if that part had been completely blocked and now it was more available. It was my dad. This was confirmed by the place memories (where it happened). The whole time I thought I was going crazy, as my emotions fought desperately to keep it locked up tight, to deny. I asked my psychologist about the possibility I was paranoid or schizophrenic. She saw no evidence of that, instead affirming that what I was experiencing was classic PTSD / trauma recovery.

I have always had a fantasy about being tied up and raped. I have partially enacted that fantasy with other men. I choose guys who will use and abandon me. That is my 'wiring'.

There is much more I could say..

But the succinct answer to your question is, you know because you

1) trust yourself
2) are ready and WANT to remember and face WHATEVER it may be... are willing to accept that it may or may not be abuse. recognize your denial.
3) when you flashback, your body responds - all senses are involved - touch taste hearing sight and smell - memories where you reexperience all of these
4) your memories will probably be fragmented, that's OK
5) your memories will start to connect with people, places and events in your life
6) your behaviors will match with that of a trauma survivor - for example, abandonment issues, strange fantasies and fetishes, isolation, difficulty trusting, little things that set you off (being touched, for example).

With all of these facets, it would be difficult to fabricate (even if I wanted to, and why would I want to do that?) I might be able to have a 'false memory', but when the body is talking, when everything in life lines up to give me the answer, I had to gradually accept it.

I could have denied it. I think at first it's good to consider other possible explanations. I did that and gradually it settled for me what happened.

Hope this helps,
Jan


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#359867 - 04/16/11 01:00 PM Re: memory and reliability (might be triggering) [Re: risingagain]
petercorbett Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/27/08
Posts: 2430
Loc: TEXAS
Hi, my brothers.

It is said in the book Victims No Longer, by Mike Lew, that those memories will come to the surface when our mind thinks that we are ready to handle them.

For some of us, it comes out all at once, and others in bits & pieces.

If your memory thinks that there was sexual abuse, then you should consider it true. No matter if the details are incomplete or not.

I had quite a few flashbacks, dreams, etc. I was treated for deep psychological depression, as I was ready to end all the pain & confusion. I was standing at the gate of hell, ready, willing & able to cross over that line. However my inner child intervened into my mind to get help. I did & was locked up under a suicide watch for a weekend.

I already has numerous therapy sessions. I had one weekend of recovery emotionally exhausting retreats behind me & another I was leaving for a week after I was released from the mental facility.

At each of those therapy sessions, i learned something more about myself. In fact I have learned more about myself in these last 2 1/2 years than I ever knew about myself in my previous 69 years.

I have been in a 12 week PTSD group therapy group. There you are challenged on your memory & beliefs about different stages of your abuse.

As you progress through your recovery therapy those vague memories will become more clear to you. And you will learn how to deal with them.

It isn't going to be easy. It isn't going to be painless. It will be both emotionally & physically exhausting. It will consume a lot of your time & energy.

But, in the end you will become one with that little boy, a little boy who was just looking for someone to love & care for him. But found it being given to him in a terrible way in the name of love & caring.

You. will finally find you. Who you are. What you are.

You will be amazed at his courage & survival skills, as he is you.
I hope that this might be of some help to you, or even if it makes any sense to you.
Heal well, my brother, well_intended, heal well, you are on your way.

"I will take that lost boys hand, and I will lead him from the depths of darkness, into the sunshine, forever into eternity." As he is me.

Pete..Irishmoose.

_________________________
Working Boys' Home 10-14 yrs old, grades 5-8. 1949-1953
____________________________________________________________
A very humble alumni of the WOR Dahlonega, GA.
May 15-17 2009, Alta, Sep. 2009. Sequoia, 2010.
Hope Springs, 2010.


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#359887 - 04/16/11 04:22 PM Re: memory and reliability (might be triggering) [Re: petercorbett]
learning2remember Offline
Member

Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 224
Loc: Europe
As my name indicates, the question of memory has been huge for me. As I have struggled for years wondering about the reliability of my memory, there is really a lot I would have to say, and I will try to get it down. It is not as simple a subject as I used to think.

What I would say, though, is trust your memory. As you do that, memories may seem to change, but don't let that alarm you and don't think it discredits your story. Trust yourself, believe yourself.

There is one thing regarding my memories that I wish I had not done:

There is a black out in one of my memories. I remembered fairly clearly up to a point, and then nothing. Of course, (I say "of course" now), what happened next--the blacked out bit--was what I was most eager to know. (Specifically, I wanted to know if his penis entered my mouth, but the memory stopped just as he was approaching me.)

I decided to imagine a number of scenarios of what happened next, figuring that when I hit the right image it would "click."

In hindsight, I think this was a distraction from dealing with the more important issues of how it all effects me today. Also, I wanted so badly to know what happened that I wanted something to click, and then I few days later I would think maybe that wasn't it after all. The whole trial ended up confusing me.

I now believe that it is enough just to trust whatever memories we have, without worrying about the parts we don't remember, and without worrying about credibility if the memories seem to change.

_________________________
"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy

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#359902 - 04/16/11 06:04 PM Re: memory and reliability (might be triggering) [Re: risingagain]
well-intended Offline


Registered: 04/15/11
Posts: 124
Loc: Belgium
Hi risingagain,

Those are terrible flashbacks. I've gone through emotional hell as well, recalling the emotional impact of certain events, but geez, seeing Pennywise? Damn..

To answer your question about why one would fabricate these memories: it's a guilt discharge. The blame for weaknesses or desires to perpetrate, that might have been previously directed towards the self, gets redirected towards an external source. Scapegoating. Just like PTSD, it's a very real and documented phenomenon.

You might have noticed by now, I don't really trust myself anymore.

However, I agree with your conclusion. I think it's about gradual settlement. Slowly letting scenario's sink in, and checking whether all the different parts of your life still make sense. (I've once come to a point I started looking for hidden camera's in my room, trying to uncover some Truman Show shenanigans. The scenario I was contemplating clearly didn't fit within reality. smile )

Thanks.


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#359904 - 04/16/11 06:15 PM Re: memory and reliability (might be triggering) [Re: petercorbett]
well-intended Offline


Registered: 04/15/11
Posts: 124
Loc: Belgium
Oh yes, connecting with the little boy inside. I like it when that happens. Though I have often trouble finding him.

And indeed, recovering is costly. Nowadays people tend to see me as a lazy person. I on the other hand feel like I'm full-time employed. Every additional task, every bit of "real work" feels like doing overtime. So few people understand..

Thanks for sharing a part of your story, Pete.


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#359905 - 04/16/11 06:30 PM Re: memory and reliability (might be triggering) [Re: well-intended]
risingagain Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/09/10
Posts: 588
Loc: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Hey well-intended,

Originally Posted By: well-intended
Hi risingagain,

To answer your question about why one would fabricate these memories: it's a guilt discharge. The blame for weaknesses or desires to perpetrate, that might have been previously directed towards the self, gets redirected towards an external source. Scapegoating. Just like PTSD, it's a very real and documented phenomenon.



The desire to perpetrate doesn't come from nowhere. Perpetration is a way of taking out pain, shame, and loss. It is an improper expression of suffering. The fact that you own your perpetrator says a lot about your integrity. But don't forget that you learned this from somewhere.

The way you say it sounds a lot like self blame. You can blame yourself, but do you really think you were born a perpetrator? Look inside yourself closely and you will see.

Blessings.


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#359906 - 04/16/11 06:32 PM Re: memory and reliability (might be triggering) [Re: risingagain]
risingagain Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/09/10
Posts: 588
Loc: Vancouver, BC, Canada
PS I also didn't trust myself. My family system has been teaching me to doubt my truth, my sanity, and my reality for a long time.

That also didn't come from nowhere.

Basically my investigation lead me to a choice:

1) I am a crazy monster who has nothing better to do than to blame his family

2) I am a wounded man who suffered abuse and has done many things to survive

My soul knows the truth.

I will not be swindled again.

Reading your messages it is tempting to doubt. You remind me of me.


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#359908 - 04/16/11 06:34 PM Re: memory and reliability (might be triggering) [Re: risingagain]
risingagain Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/09/10
Posts: 588
Loc: Vancouver, BC, Canada
PS Pennywise lives in me too.

I keep him in front of me.


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#359910 - 04/16/11 06:37 PM Re: memory and reliability (might be triggering) [Re: learning2remember]
well-intended Offline


Registered: 04/15/11
Posts: 124
Loc: Belgium
Hi learning2remember,

The problem is that if I had decided to trust my memory in another phase of my life, I would have ended up becoming a perpetrator. My mind presented me the illusion that sex with children could be an OK thing. Intellectual doubt has saved me from committing atrocities, good intentions alone were not enough. I'm sorry, but I can't trust something that has been misleading to me to such extent. I'm determined to keep leaps of faith to an absolute minimum. I'm even trying to become susceptible to religion without relying on faith. Go figure! smile

I agree that forcing memory is a bad idea, only leading to confusion. I've got one memory with a sudden, perhaps suspicious end as well. It's so easy to get lost in the labyrinth of possibilities the conscious mind can dream up. So, at least for the time being, I have to live with the "cliffhanger", annoying as it is.

Thanks for your input.


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