Do you know what people don’t talk about enough when it comes to trauma? The loss of memory victims experience. I have my issues with repressed memory and when I realized I had this problem, I believed it to be a blessing.
Who would want to remember every single detail of their extremely traumatic childhood and life in domestic abuse?
The problem is that repressed memories are not erased memories and they tend to creep up sometimes or manipulate my actions and mental health without me being aware of it.
This whole week I have been extremely anxious for no reason. I haven’t been able to get enough sleep, I was a bit lost in space and clumsy to the point where I actually fell and hurt my knee, I would be triggered by any minor noise when I was going to bed, I started to triple-check if I locked the doors before going to bed, I have been having nightmares and would start to shake out of the blue, I would have issues with feeling extremely hot to feeling extremely cold in a matter of minutes etc…
It’s my father’s birthday today. Consciously I did not think about it this whole week, I didn’t even remember but my mind knew it was the end of May. This memory, this knowledge I unconsciously had has been messing with me this whole week. I woke up today and my mom was coming to visit. I told her which tram to catch and then she called me to tell me the tram was not coming and that not only is it Sunday but it’s also Croatia Statehood Day, the 30th of May so probably some trams were not driving today. When she said the date my mind was like “ohhhhhh…..”
I am aware that a lot of our actions are influenced by our subconscious, but when your subconscious is the home to 14 years of abuse you have a reason to be scared of yourself and for yourself.
This is not the first time it has happened. I remember going home once from work and I was sitting in the tram and two older, completely drunk guys came in. They weren’t like “Friday Night” drunk. They were visibly alcoholics and they had that smell of stale alcohol and cigarettes. In that second when that awful smell hit me, I replayed every single scene in my head of my father drunk as hell stumbling around the house, almost falling on me, cursing us out…. It was like somebody put me in front of a screen and replayed it all perfectly for me from my own perspective. My hands were shaking, it took me a while to collect myself and when I had the strength to get up I got out on the next stop and waited for a new tram just to get the fuck out of that one and run away from that smell.
The last few years I have been in an on-again off-again 20something crisis, I have been struggling with myself and my career and choices. I have been re-examining everything about my life and why I started studying languages when it obviously was not the career I wanted and then my brain decided to play me a clip of mini-me, sitting on the front porch, on the floor while my mom and dad where in the chairs drinking coffee. It was one of those days and weeks my father was sober and kind of normal. We were talking about my education and what I should do. My father tried to say something, my mom interrupted him and then he harshly said “Can you let me finish?”. Then he told me that a man is as rich as how many languages he knows. And that memory now lives rent-free in my head to remind me that I made myself to believe that I am only good at studying languages and that I should do that because subconsciously I wanted to make my father love me and be proud of me.
Welcome to toxic father-daughter relationships 101 – I was trying to make proud a man who abused me and does not even know that I ended up studying languages and has no idea what I do today. He probably wouldn’t recognize me if he saw me.
I lost three years of my life studying for a career I never actually wanted because I have untreated trauma. As I am writing all of this, I am realizing how insane it all is and I am getting more and more scared of the memories my brain decided to repress and protect me from. There are pictures in my head of some things that happened but it’s all so fragmented that I cannot make sense of it and those memories hit me at the worst possible time. I don’t want to have anxiety attacks in trams because somebody smells like alcohol, I don’t want my childhood trauma to dictate my life and make me more miserable and scared but I also don’t know do I want to expose myself to therapy and the risk of remembering everything.
It’s a blessing and a curse.
But how many more actions in my life have been the direct result of those long 14 years, without me realizing it? Did I decide to study 350km from home just to run away as far as possible to a place where I knew he couldn’t find me in case he escapes from the institution he is in? Has my violent need to be independent and alone been rooted in fear that people will abuse me and hurt me? If the men that was supposed to protect me, try to kill me why should I believe others will be here for me and not against me?
When violence and chaos is all you know, how do you adapt to happiness without treating it as a foreign body?
How do you help yourself if the first step in the process of healing is opening the Pandora’s box that is your memory?
#savingme is the community where abuse victims can publish their experiences just to let go and find comfort and support. Maybe it doesn’t feel like much but just publishing your story for others to read makes you strong. You can send your story about the abuse you went through to email@example.com and you can choose if you want it to be anonymous or not.