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Author Topic: What if you can't remember much of your childhood?  (Read 6844 times)
Anonymous
Guest
« on: April 20, 2004, 10:52:29 AM »

Hi – This is my first post. I’m thrilled to have found a group dealing with issues that are so familiar to me, but hard to discuss with anyone who hasn’t been there. The generosity, insight and humor in many of your posts are wonderful!

The discussion on the “Healing” thread among CG, Wildflower and Rosencrantz really got me thinking because I’m so interested in the whole issue of the Bad Mommy Taboo, and also the question of “forgiving” your parent(s).

I’ve just been reading “Banished Knowledge” by Alice Miller, and the following is a quote from the book:

"In the many group discussions I conducted…almost all the therapists clung to the idea that one must forgive one’s parents to get rid of one’s symptoms. While my counterarguments seemed convincing, the most they would say was that, while they would not directly demand forgiveness, they would put it to the patient that he “would feel better” if he could forgive. They failed to notice that they were thus carrying on a… manipulation… whose purpose was to serve only traditional morality but not the interest of the patient, who was once an injured child and must confront the origin of those injuries. He will not achieve consciousness of past events until he recognizes that the morality exerted by his parents was life-negating and life-destroying….

"When the capacity to feel has been achieved in therapy, the patient will become not less but more aware of events in his childhood that were never allowed to be consciously experienced. Through the increasing familiarity with his own feelings and his own history, it is possible for a new memory to emerge years later….If a person is not allowed to acknowledge the newly awakening anger—because, of course, he has already forgiven his parents during therapy—the person is in danger of transferring these feeling to others. Since, to me, therapy means a sensory, emotional, and mental discovery of the long-repressed truth, I regard the moral demand for reconciliation with parents as an inevitable blocking and paralyzing of the therapeutic process."

This speaks to so many issues I’m dealing with, because I was raised by an N mother and an emotionally damaged, passive father. I’ve known something was wrong with my family for a long time, but only discovered the concept of narcissism recently. It has been a huge revelation for me, because I’ve finally been able to make sense of what’s been going on my whole life. I’ve had to go back and rethink my mother’s version of a lot of earlier events to figure out the truth about my life.

In the course of doing that, I’ve gone to a number of therapists. Looking back on them, I can say that one caused me real damage, a couple were middling – supportive but didn’t really help me figure out the truth – and one – at last – understood what I was dealing with and supported me in cutting off contact with my mother and dealing with her reaction (I eventually started talking to her again). It’s probably not surprising that the “neutral” therapists didn’t help much, because our family looked perfect from the outside much of the time, and I had been brainwashed to think my mother was wonderful, brave and accomplished, and I was the one who was fearful, depressed and dependent. But I do feel that more than one of the therapists didn’t have a clue about the insidious, soul-destroying experience of being raised by an N, and so tried to convince me that I should “get over” the anger I was starting to feel.  

The weird thing is that in looking back at my childhood, I realize how little of it I actually remember. I have virtually no memories of my early childhood, and only vague memories of my life until I was around 11. I can remember the houses we lived in and people I knew and some incidents, but very few details of my day-to-day life. I wonder if  I have blocked out bad things, but am uncertain what to do about it. I feel that I haven’t reached the end yet in truly understanding what happened during my childhood, but at some level the prospect of learning the truth scares  me s**tless! I would be very interested to hear how well other people remember their childhoods and whether anyone has suggestions about dealing with missing memories.

Meanwhile, my mother has aged, has had a couple of small strokes, and is starting to lose her mind – her short-term memory isn’t great, and I’ve noticed that she is behaving in ways that suggest the normal controls on her social behaviour are breaking down.  I am faced with the prospect of my mother descending into senility (which could well exaggerate the worst aspects of her personality), while I’m in the process of digging up the truth about my childhood and dealing with my anger toward her. Fortunately she lives in another city, so this is not a day-to-day issue, but sometimes I can’t bear to be around her, and I hate her touching me. So at a time when her behaviour is likely to require the maximum in understanding and tolerance from me, I feel less and less that I have those feelings in me for her. This could well create conflict with the rest of my family, and I am feeling very confused about how to handle it.

Thanks for any comments.

Guest
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sjkravill
Jr. Member
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Posts: 67


« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2004, 01:52:09 PM »

Welcome Guest!
Thank you for your insightful post.  I am sorry I don't have any wisdom for you.  I wish you the best in finding something helpful in dealing with your mother.  It sounds like a difficult situation.

Your post brings up so many interesting issues for me.

First, I am just wondering if forgetting childhood memories is another "voiceless" issues.  I am too young to have forgotten my childhood.  But I can't remember much before the third grade.  Bits and pieces, but not much...  I remember more after that, but still not what I think I should be able to remember.  I keep wondering if I have blocked the bad things too. As I have been contemplating it over the last few days I am slowly remembering more from later childhood and adolescence. I am getting the general idea of what it was like.

When my therapist asked me if I felt loved as I child my automatic response was "yes, of course I felt loved."  I guess I said it without really thinking about it. Actually, I felt invisable.  I do walk around with this notion that my parents are saints. My therapist has said she thinks they have N tendancies.  Strange how we can get things intellectually, but can't control denile, or whatever.  The other day I was reading about symptoms of emotional abuse.  I thought. "I see myself in all of those... that's odd!  I thought my childhood was pretty great!... Well there was that time when... but that was just... etc."  

My husband is emotionally abusive in some subtle, and insidious ways.  I have read that the only reason one would continue to make excuses for him is because one leaned to accept this kind of behavior in childhood.  
Actually, my parents are better now than they were in my childhood (maybe it helps to live a 17 hr. drive from them).  I don't know if I have ever allowed myself to feel anger toward them for participating in my voicelessness.  I just automatically forgive them, I suppose because it's the "right" thing to do.  
It is certainly the case with my husband, that I cannot really forgive him until I have felt angry at him and have validated my anger.  I did not start really feeling and validating my anger toward him unil about a year and a half after his unacceptable behavior started and I realized my asking him nicely was not going to stop it.   When I was not allowing myself to feel  or validate my anger with him, I would be angry at a man I worked with who reminded me of of my husband.  Talk about displacement! ... I digress!  

Currently, I am not sure how I feel about my husband and the issue of forgiveness.  I so appreciated that thread on forgiveness and how it is different from reconciliation.  I will look for it, because it might add to this discussion.  

Welcome again guest! Thanks for the thought provoking post!
Peace! sjkravill
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Anonymous
Guest
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2004, 03:13:55 PM »

I hardly remember my childhood. And I don't care to. It was emotional abuse, not physical. What triggers my memories is seeing how my parents now treat their grandchildren. That's how they treated me.

As for forgiving them, I accept that they are limited people with big emotional problems. I don't think they intended to do any harm, but they did harm anyway. I forgive them in that I concede their limitations. But I don't really love them, and that's the price they're paying.

bunny
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Tokyojim
Jr. Member
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Posts: 69


« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2004, 05:01:11 PM »

Guest,
Your post is very thought-provoking.

First, in remembering one's childhood, we have to go back to a cliche - It depends on the person.  For some people, it may be a nonproductive and useless exercise, and for others it may be very important and seem necessary.

In remembering, one thing can cause resistance sometimes: Wanting or wishing things to be different.  There could be a conscious or unconscious mechanism that wants to "fix" a dysfunctional family or parent.  This could stand in the way.  Rather than forgiveness, I would think a degree of resignation is in order.  That is simply because, no matter how much we "understand" the dysfunction of the other, we will bang our head into walls if we try to fix or change it.  This may not apply to you at all.

Another way of trying to understand how the family functioned, and thus lead to memories, is to look at siblings.  We learn how to react to others in our families, and especially when we choose a mate.  My brother, for example, is unnecessarily terrified of his wife, and I overreact with a feeling of being controlled and become stubborn when a lady in my life makes reasonable demands.  It therefore seems pretty obvious that each of us created a different response to an overcontrolling mother.  In other words, by looking at the result (i.e., the present behaviors), we can infer the past.  This can lead to memories.  It lead to some for me.  

I hope that this can be of some help.

I guess a final question to consider is why you seem to feel so strongly about remembering.  Do you feel that this will help heal you?  Will it make you feel more "normal?"  Do you feel different because of this inability to remember?
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Feline...
Guest
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2004, 08:26:33 PM »

I don't ever  exuse or forget deliberate intentonal abuses.I don't care who it is.

I  can feel  the pain inflicted long ago and I can put blame on the perpretrator  who harmed me instead of hurting myself with shame today, I never deserved simply because I was victimized in the past. Our culture loathes  facing suffering ,weakness,fallibility and vunerability. That does not mean I need to play that same game about my own  vunerabilities.I put the burden of blame where it belongs, right  on the people who CHOSE to hurt me. Abusive people are just as responsible for thier own choices as I am. It took years to even aknowlege compassion  to myself when whom I needed to forgive wasent the perpetrators ,it was myself..Having detached understanding and even empathy for some asshole who suffers like you do, who hurt you in the past  is not any'moral highground' it does not even have to occur to heal. Having understanding of the bigger picture does not require  you to go excusing and denying an abusive act was done to you as if that erases what happened.
Perpretrators of abuse would rather you do the standard simplistic  forget and forgive routine because it gives them  permission and ecuses  by omission of your condemnation.They don't deserve forgiveness or excuses.If you feel guilty for what you did not choose you carry on thier hateful work by hating yourself and consuming yourself with fear anger sadness and shame that is not your own.Because while you blame yourself for an abuser's choice to abuse,you never point the finger at the source.And this is one reason abusers get away with abuse sometimes.

My father was an asshole. My mom was a bitch. I was a vunerable kid in a bad situation.
But I don't have to let that fact eat me up with anxiety,make me feel ashamed,and occupy my mind /heart when I live my life right now.This is not denial, it's  deliberately taking control over  ones own power to feel as one chooses at the moment. I have put boundaries around these memories.I can wait until I am in therapy or in a safe place.Boundaries  are not walls that shut out the truth,they are limits on the power and hold the past has on me today ,Boundaries arethere  so that these thoughts will not dominate my emotions  like the perpretrators intended to do long ago.

Sometimes I think our  entire society is in so much denial  like has Stockholm syndrome.
But just because the whole world plays games and runs away,does not mean I have to nor does it mean thier running away has anything to do with healing or me..I get "new" memories sometimes  and it's scary,it's looks like a monster until I see it fully.  I have found with every abreaction I go through  I become more aware of things my own mind(s),and I get stronger and more self-empowered and able to help others..I become more free to lbe present .In a weird way I look forward to this abreaction process because everytimeI remember and connect with my emotions about it  I find I have healed  something.

Take care Ok.
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Anonymous
Guest
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2004, 08:40:08 PM »

Hi Guest and a very warm welcome.

Quote
Hi – This is my first post. I’m thrilled to have found a group dealing with issues that are so familiar to me, but hard to discuss with anyone who hasn’t been there.
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.  Very Happy

Quote
I’ve just been reading “Banished Knowledge” by Alice Miller, and the following is a quote from the book:

"In the many group discussions I conducted…almost all the therapists clung to the idea that one must forgive one’s parents to get rid of one’s symptoms. While my counterarguments seemed convincing, the most they would say was that, while they would not directly demand forgiveness, they would put it to the patient that he “would feel better” if he could forgive. They failed to notice that they were thus carrying on a… manipulation… whose purpose was to serve only traditional morality but not the interest of the patient, who was once an injured child and must confront the origin of those injuries. He will not achieve consciousness of past events until he recognizes that the morality exerted by his parents was life-negating and life-destroying….

"When the capacity to feel has been achieved in therapy, the patient will become not less but more aware of events in his childhood that were never allowed to be consciously experienced. Through the increasing familiarity with his own feelings and his own history, it is possible for a new memory to emerge years later….If a person is not allowed to acknowledge the newly awakening anger—because, of course, he has already forgiven his parents during therapy—the person is in danger of transferring these feeling to others. Since, to me, therapy means a sensory, emotional, and mental discovery of the long-repressed truth, I regard the moral demand for reconciliation with parents as an inevitable blocking and paralyzing of the therapeutic process."


Oh yeah, I gotta say, I reckon her angle on so much stuff is soooooo spot-on.

Forgiveness Road has been such a tricky one for me. I was a great forgiver. OUCH. I remember I was, and boy was that the most abused time of my life. OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH!!

Now I know my words can be challenged, changed and played with. Some people may say, "What you are really mean is" or, "What you are really trying to say is"

No, I'm talking about how my own personal forgiveness I've offered to others has opened me up for even greater abuse in the future.

I've had some fairly lengthy involvments in my life with religion, churches, swingin' from the chandeliers hallelujah fanatics, and also a lot to do with practical, good, level-headed decent christians. I've read the bible from cover to cover more than quite a few times, and in many different versions, even the Amplified. Oh My Gosh. And I have no regrets about that. I learned a lot of things doing it. I'll leave my other dabblings in eastern philosophies and religions out of it and stick with my own personal understanding of the christian model of forgiveness.

And I'll say, my personal belief is that the 'forgiveness' teaching, which forms the backbone of our western christian based culture, really can f**k us up. I personally don't buy it any more, and I'd like to share with you, Guest, why I came to this conclusion. I hope I'm not too longwinded, I'll try to keep it short.

One thing, amongst a whole lot of others I was taught about forgiveness, was that we must forgive if we want to be forgiven. And that forgiveness is a God-like quality, which makes us a channel for God's love to humanity. Another thing is that forgiveness helps us heal, and reduces bitterness and sickness in us. And reduces revengeful and wrong and evil-thinking in us also. Forgiveness makes the world a better place for everybody to live in.

And I do, absolutely accept all of this, only in certain very large contexts. But absolutely not as carte-blanche!! Not anymore.

After all, if that were true, and in any and all cases we must exercise forgiveness, then the Gd or God of the Christian bible is a cheat, trickster liar and  hyprocrite, and expecting us to do what he won't!!!

My poor simple answer is, I don't believe He does expect this of us.

I don't think he's telling me to forgive everyone who hurts me, steals from me, offends me, starves me, beats me, kills my precious pet. Or to forgive these people who don't care about me, and haven't ever bothered to make reparation or even said a sincere "I'm so sorry and I want to make it up to you." or "I'm so sorry for the way that I have treated you, and I know that I can't make it up to you, but you have my oath that I will never hurt you agian. And If I do 100 times, please, I implore you tell me 100 times, and I'll try to fix it and say sorry 100 times."

No, this God, according to the Christian Bible that I am using as my reference, has made an absolutely horrific place of eternal damnation, called Hell for those who don't go to Him and repent and say sorry.  

But,  Idea and this is the biggee for me, according to the Bible, if we offend anyone and don't make repair, we aren't forgiven! Exclamation  Not even by GOD. So how can God expect me to do something that he doesn't even do.

What He does say, though, is that I must forgive when someone genuinely, and I repeat, genuinely asks me to. I'm fine with that. I haven't had any problems yet, at all.

I'm not gonna get into the whole sacrificial lamb thing. I don't even like goin' into all this religious stuff here, it makes me really super uncomfortable. But I know, for me, it's the reason why I kept forgiving over and over and over. Please!!! I was just talking about G,d the bible, and religion because I'm 'contexting' the why's of my own forgiveness issues and  beliefs that have stuffed me around and up for so long.

But I've just got to say that, forgiving people who don't care, who don't want it, who never admitted anything, who'll do the same thing again tomorrow just doesn't work for me anymore. It doesn't make any sense to me.

Like when my child was bullied. I never talked about forgiveness with my child. Like hell!! Evil or Very Mad  I talked about  developing my child's life-protection skills, and the security issues, and safety and disance and systems in place for my child's peace of mind. If my mother wrote to me and said sorry, and made some admissions in writing!!! Took back all the discrediting she'd one, made serious admissions about her cruel behaviour, I maybe would talk to her. But I'm not going to flag that to her and it ain't gonna happen anyway.

I have an image of my forgiveness. I can see how it is such precious aspect of the human condition. It is so beautiful and healing, like a precious magic glowing jewel-like healing gift I have to share. I could almost add, "Are you worthy of it???" but it that would need to much explaining because initially it sounds so conceited.

The analogies immediately flow,  like with Jesus saying, "Don't cast your pearl before swine!"
I say, " I most certainly won't, not anymore, don't you worry about that."

Not bad for someone who doesn't like talkin' religion here, Huh Wink !! Embarassed  Embarassed

CG
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lynn
Jr. Member
**
Posts: 58


« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2004, 11:16:33 PM »

Hi Guest, Welcome to the board.  I can relate to your questions and thought process.  

Quote
When my therapist asked me if I felt loved as I child my automatic response was "yes, of course I felt loved." I guess I said it without really thinking about it. Actually, I felt invisable. I do walk around with this notion that my parents are saints.


If one were to ask me if my parents loved me, I would respond with an automatic yes.  I also think back to my parents as good parents.  Yet, I have very few memories of my childhood.  I think of my past almost as photos in an album.  It's as if the memory comes from seeing a picture, not from actually experiencing the event.  I remember nothing until age 11 or 12.  My real memories don't start until much later, perhaps my late teens or early twenties.  I know for certain that I have real memories from the time my first child was born when I was 25.  

I don't believe that something horrible happenend in my childhood.  My parents were quite average and normal compared to what many of you have been through.  They believed in me and loved me.  You'd probably describe it as a repressed household.  Not much emotion.  Very even keeled.  Very careful.  My parents don't love each other.  Yet they have remained married. As an adult, I have a developed a reasonalby good relationship with my mother.  But feel almost nothing for my father. When I left home to go to college, I realized that my emotional range was very limited.  I could feel "okay" but I couldn't feel joy or passion or sadness or grief.  One of my primary goals at that time in my life was to push out the edges of my life.  To feel more.  Perhaps that is why I married an N.  Much more drama...  An interesting note, however, is that after college, I was so ready to GET AWAY from my family.  I move out of state and had little communication for a decade.

Quote
My husband is emotionally abusive in some subtle, and insidious ways. I have read that the only reason one would continue to make excuses for him is because one leaned to accept this kind of behavior in childhood.


Same here too.  My recently-separated-H is emotionally abusive in subtle and insidious ways.  Very destructive.  Sadly, after all of these years of being married to an N, I still have trouble with my emotional-bandwidth.  It is difficult for me to feel (or at least to acknowledge that I feel) many emotions.  (I wonder sometimes if this is a genetic part of my personality or a learned behavior)

In conclusion, and trying to get back to your question... I had a fairly normal childhood, I married an N out of college and stayed married for 23 years.  I have few memories of my childhood until late teens or early twenties.

Livin' in the present,
lynn
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Anonymous
Guest
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2004, 01:19:58 PM »

Thank you for all your supportive and helpful responses.  You’ve really got me thinking, so here goes:

Sjkravill, I think you’re right that forgetting one’s childhood memories is part of being voiceless.  Your childhood is part of who you are – in a way, if you can’t remember it, you’ve lost part of yourself – and what is more voiceless than not being able to express who you are? I know what you mean about thinking your parents are saints (although in my case it was my mother that I thought was perfect – I adopted a lot of her negative feelings about my father). I have had to consciously put together specific memories and look at them objectively to challenge my assumptions about my mother.    

One example – I was reading some of the posts on the thread “Energy Vampires and confidence zappers” and one of Rosencrantz’s comments caught my attention:
   
Quote
Most of the stuff my mother did to ‘give me confidence’ was confidence-shattering. I have this huge ‘confidence’ that masks sheer terror and total humiliation – cos that’s what she demanded of me, putting me into situations that were far beyond my ability to handle.

   
This really connected with me. My mother’s line has always been: “I overprotected you when you were growing up because I had a hard life and I didn’t want you to have such a tough time.” And of course, we always did have things like food and clean clothes and shoes, and good schools. But then I think about just a few of the things she did when I was young:

She put me into a private kindergarten at age 4 so she could talk the local grade school into accepting me in first grade at age 5. Then she had me skip a grade so I went into sixth grade at age 9 and started college at age 16. I ended up feeling immature and out of step with my classmates throughout my years in school and beyond. I’m convinced that her true reason for doing this was to get me into school and out of her hair ASAP (plus she could brag to everyone how smart her kid was).

When I was 10 or 11 I was horse crazy. She refused to pay for me to ride (“too dangerous”), but I really wanted to and I earned the money helping a neighbour with her baby, so she grudgingly found this rather ratty, rundown place for me to ride. She didn’t want to drive me, so she put me on a bus that was supposed to go by the place, but didn’t bother telling the bus driver where to let me off, and I was too scared to ask. I just sat there on the bus and ended up alone in another city two hours away.    

I was tall for my age and she was always looking for ways to save money, so she started giving me her old clothes to wear. The fall that I was 13, she dressed me in a tight, knit suit of hers and put me on an overnight train to boarding school. Of course I looked much older than my age dressed like that, so I spent the evening fending off the attentions of a drunken older man and ended up hiding in my berth crying. Apparently it never occurred to her to ask the conductor to keep an eye on me.    
   
Around the time she separated from my father, she consulted a psychiatrist – she admitted to me that she wanted to be told it was okay to leave her marriage. She told us the psychiatrist was wonderful, and when she divorced my father, she encouraged us children to go to see him to make sure we were okay. I decided to go, since I was feeling very depressed at the time (I was 18).  When I look back on it now, I’m certain that he was a N himself. (Maybe that’s why they got along so well!)  In the course of my “therapy” he told me that if he wanted to, he could sleep with me. (BTW he looked like a toad and was about 40 years older than me.) I had enough of a sense of self to know that I would never let him touch me, although I didn’t have enough “voice” to confront him about it. Later I learned that he had had sex with many of his female patients. They eventually got together and reported him, and he lost his licence to practice medicine. This is the therapist my mother thought was “wonderful”!

When I look at these events, it’s obvious that my mother not only didn’t “protect” me, she ignored my needs and/or put me in harm’s way – as Rosencrantz said, “putting me into situations that were far beyond my ability to handle.” So her version of things was exactly the opposite of reality! Yet for years I carried around this idea that she was “overprotective.” Is it any wonder I ended up so f**ked up?!!

I understand so well the problem you describe of feeling anger. In my family it was unacceptable to express anger overtly, and so I never learned how to do it. Even today it’s hard for me to express anger – although I’m working on it! One of the reasons I have this desire to remember my childhood is that I can’t remember how this happened. How did my parents teach me not to express anger? What did they do?

I’m glad that you have been able to feel and validate your anger toward your emotionally abusive husband. It’s very interesting that it took you a year and a half to do this – that kind of delayed reaction is very familiar to me – it takes me time just to figure out what I’m actually feeling.  

I also have to find the thread you mention on the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation – a crucial distinction and one that I need to think about more.

I’m going on way too long here, and haven’t responded to the rest of the posts, so I’ll stop and come back later.

Thank you to all of you.

Guest
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Anonymous
Guest
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2004, 02:14:28 PM »

Me again – I don’t know how the number eight in the post above turned into an emoticon – it should say that I was eighteen when I went to the therapist.

I wanted to respond to the rest of the posts.

Bunny, I can see that watching your parents with their grandchildren would help get you in touch with the way you were treated as a child. I don’t have children, so feel that I have to make those connections through my own memories.  

Re forgiving your parents – I am starting to wonder if it’s not a case of either totally forgiving or totally not forgiving, but rather that there are many gradations of feeling when you’re talking about parents who were abusive in some form. Simply saying, “I don’t think they intended to do any harm,” is a big accomplishment in itself because you’ve been able to step away from them and see them more objectively. Love is a whole other ball of wax.


Tokyojim – You’re quite right about wanting to “fix” a dysfunctional family or parent. I know I hoped for a long time I could do that. After many tries, I finally realized that nothing I said was going to get through to my mother. For one thing, she can never, ever, ever, admit that she is wrong. Even now, if I confront her about her behaviour, she may “apologize,” but within a few minutes she will have come up with a justification, so every “apology” becomes: “I’m sorry (but I was right).”

Knowing that she is deteriorating mentally has really brought home to me that she will never change. If anything, she is going to get worse from here on in. There’s another thread about N people dying where I may try to address this.

Siblings!  No question here that sibling behaviour gives me big clues about our family.  I’m fairly sure that my mother projected a lot of her negative feelings and fears onto me, and a lot of her positive feelings and need to be perfect onto my sister.  To me, my sister, was always small, pretty, beautifully dressed, and seemed to be accomplished in many different areas, while I felt big, unattractive, badly dressed, and rather boring. Then when my sister was in her late teens she slashed her wrists (I remember so clearly the horror of walking into the hospital and seeing my beautiful sister drugged up, with vacant eyes and bandages on both wrists….it makes me cry just to think about it!) She ended up in a mental hospital for a couple of years. After she got out she made a point of staying very, very separate from the rest of the family. As a result, although we are close in many ways, we have never talked much about the past, and she has expressed what I interprete as impatience with the time it is taking me to resolve my feelings about my mother. Hmmm…an interesting thought – is that why I’m thinking about forgiveness – i.e., my sister did it so I should too?? I’ll have to think more about this.

Why do I want to remember? Because I feel as though I’m missing 10 years of my life. I think I constructed a “false self” to satisfy my mother, so in some ways I don’t feel as though I actually lived my early life – it’s as though someone else lived it. I saw the past for so long through my mother’s distorting lens, and I want to see it clearly for myself.  I don’t feel “different” because I can’t remember, but I do feel remembering will help heal me.


Feline, I’m sorry you suffered so much, and I really understand what you’re saying about having to forgive yourself first, and that abusers want you to forgive them but that doesn’t mean you should. The fact that you say that remembering “new” memories makes you more self-aware and stronger and helps you heal really gives me hope.



CG, I have to say I LOVE your posts – you can be so funny and right on the mark, I just lol!   Laughing

Seriously, I can see how a deep involvement with religion could saddle you with a whole other layer of issues about forgiveness, and I agree with your take on the Bible. I guess I feel fortunate that I didn’t have a very religious upbringing.  That may be one reason why I’m actually not a very forgiving person – I don’t think we ever talked about the concept in our house. Or maybe the problem was that forgiveness involves believing that someone has done you harm. I remember one time I clearly registered the fact that my mother had treated me unfairly. It took me quite a while to screw up my courage and actually tell her this, and I was hoping, hoping, hoping that she would understand and accept what I was telling her. I would have been thrilled to forgive her if only she would acknowledge what I was feeling. So what was her response?  “I don’t remember that!” said in an angry voice!!! And that was it. No attempt to deal with my feelings in any way whatsoever – just straight denial that it ever happened.  So how could I forgive something that, according to her, never happened?  It’s like casting your pearls before swine and the swine crushing  them into the mud.

I do love your image of the beauty and healing qualities of forgiveness.


Lynn, it interests me very much that you have so few memories of your childhood and also have trouble feeling many emotions. Could there be a connection? Does not being able to feel make events harder to remember? Are the things you remember things that evoked strong emotions in you?  

I would also say my family was repressed, but I did feel that there was all this scary stuff like anger bubbling under the surface. And the things I do remember tend to be connected with strong emotions like fear and anger.

Thanks again to you all. I have a lot to think about.

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sjkravill
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2004, 02:44:38 PM »

This thread just keeps deepening in interest for me.  I can only be brief because I am in the middle of a term paper (due tomorrow!)  But I am in need of a short diversion, and I have been pondering this topic.

Why remember your childhood?  
I think it is a question of identity and voice for me. Right now I have these voiceless symptoms, and this dysfunctional relationship with my husband. I think if I could tie my feelings to memories, they would be easier to validate.  "Yes, I am angry, and rightfully so..." and then I could move on to do the work of somehow resolving those feelings.  
I think, perhaps if I had the memories of the experiences that made me voiceless, I could face people in my life currently and say ("these people/this situation are not those mean third-graders, or that teacher, or that parent,  who frightened me. I am not that child anymore.  I don't have to be afraid this time, even if they are mean...."   Or, if I remember when this significant person said my voice was rediculous. Well, they are not God... That was about THEM, and not about my voice.... I have something worth saying!)
 If I understand how my family of origin worked, maybe I can recognize patterns in my marriage, remember that I am not the helpless child I once was, and maybe I can do something different than the scared little girl keeps doing or thinking....
Just some thoughts, I am no expert, and only a short way down this path!


When I get this turned in (tomorrow) I will look for that post on forgiveness and bring it to the top.
More later, to be certain! Peace! sjkravill
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Anonymous
Guest
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2004, 05:48:21 PM »

Sjkravill – Good luck with your term paper! Hope you’re not up too late tonight.

I gather from your posts that you are in your early 20s. I’m older, but I remember my early 20s; I was still idolizing my mother, but at the same time I was unhappy and in therapy. I spent a lot of time talking with my therapist about why I was unhappy. I don’t ever remember her suggesting that my mother had N tendencies, nor do I remember having any doubts about my parents’ love for me, so if you’re thinking along these lines, it sounds like you’re way ahead of where I was at that age in terms of getting at the truth.  

What eventually started me on the path to understanding myself was my parents’ behavior in the present (when I was an adult) – things like their invasion of my boundaries. That got me onto the concept of narcissism, and that started me looking back and reassessing my childhood – which is when I realized how little of it I remembered. If your parents have N tendencies, are there ways they behave now that trigger feelings of voicelessness in you? If you can identify those behaviors and understand what’s going on, perhaps it will give you some clues as to what might have happened in your childhood, and help you validate your feelings and then deal with them.

I hope you can work through this at an earlier age than I did, because unless you can nail down what’s really going on, you can spend years struggling with these issues. How much better to spend those years living a full life with a full voice!

Best wishes,

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Wildflower
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Posts: 292


« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2004, 12:39:31 AM »

Hi everyone,

This is a great thread!  I feel like I need to spend more time reading all the posts here, but I just wanted to throw this out there - because I'm not 100% sure what to do with it.

I was telling my therapist that I was upset that I had lost so many of my memories about things I cared about because it made me feel how much I'd lost myself.  My therapist said I'd never lost them, I just needed validation.  I've been pondering this for a couple of days, and I think what she was saying was that when our feelings are validated we are better able to remember things - kind of an inertia thing.  I dunno, though.  Since this was a thread about recovering memories, I thought maybe someone else could use this - or even make sense of it (I intend to follow up with my therapist the next time I see her, though).

Wildflower
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If you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million ways to be, you know that there are
-- Cat Stevens, from the movie Harold and Maude
Portia
Guest
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2004, 07:50:58 AM »

Wildflower, you've got my curiosity going with:
Quote
I had lost so many of my memories about things I cared about


I don't understand. You mean, you used to remember and now you don't? Or - your memory has changed because of new knowledge? Or - you want to remember things you have been told about?

I want to remember lots but don't know how to get to the memories. I can't get the filing cabinet inside my head open - it's stuck! Or maybe it's empty? I don't know! Anyone out there want a willing subject for hypnotism? (Any experiences, anyone?) P
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sjkravill
Jr. Member
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Posts: 67


« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2004, 10:29:48 AM »

Just a quick note.
I am enjoying everyone's wisdom on this thread.
Thanks for the encouragement, Guest!  I am in my early 20's...  I sure hope I can resolve some of this stuff and start living a full life.
I did finish my term paper. No sooner than I turned it in and my computer died.  So, I don't have as much access for a while!  Probably better for me to focus on finals anyway!
Peace! sjkravill
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seeker
Guest
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2004, 11:38:07 AM »

Hello Guest and everyone

Welcome to the board, new guest.  Boy, your post touched on a lot of similar issues I am facing.  Especially this part:

Quote
I’ve noticed that she is behaving in ways that suggest the normal controls on her social behaviour are breaking down. I am faced with the prospect of my mother descending into senility (which could well exaggerate the worst aspects of her personality), while I’m in the process of digging up the truth about my childhood and dealing with my anger toward her. ...So at a time when her behaviour is likely to require the maximum in understanding and tolerance from me, I feel less and less that I have those feelings in me for her. This could well create conflict with the rest of my family, and I am feeling very confused about how to handle it.


I am wrestling with exactly the same thing.  And like a few of the other posters here, there was little regard for my interests and I suffered a major lack of protection in the outside world (was dressed like a dork, ridiculed by my brother, and otherwise ignored.)  As for childhood memories, I remember some, but it was basically pretty monotonous because we never did "family" things, and friendships weren't exactly encouraged.  

So if anyone has advice on how to attend to eldercare while working through the unfinished business, I would love to hear it!  S.
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