*The following text is a post on my experience of remembering trauma and I share something that feels very sensitive. The path for me to actually press the publish button, has felt long and painful. The more I felt the push to publish, the more fears came up, the fear is still here, right now, as I write, and I am still going to press the publish button.
The push eventually subsided and now I have a sense that these words need to be said so that I can carry on exploring my authentic self in all it’s colours, variations and emotions. It feels like I can no longer write about anything without sharing this first.
This post may be the first of a few that will talk about trauma, I intend to share my experience and my understanding of how it has felt for me to remember and the many things I have been able to uncover about myself since.
Above all, I want to share authentically about whatever I have an interest in.
This post feels like I am coming clean to you and to me, as well as giving a sort of context to how I come to be where I am today.*
Back in 2015, I was asking myself what I was passionate about as I was already feeling quite stuck in the job I had been doing for 5 years. After some searching within, I decided I would train to be a Psychosexual Counsellor. My first step was to enrol in a Foundation Certificate in Counselling and Psychotherapy. For me to be able to continue onto the next part of the course, I had to do 50 hours of Counselling for myself.
I set myself the task to find someone I could do this with and even though I was convinced there was not much that needed to be explored in therapy for me at that point in my life, I went along thinking that if I had nothing to speak about myself, I could always talk about big subjects like life and death.
Early on in the sessions, I noticed a reluctance and discomfort in talking about the past. At that time I had been practising sensing into my body and I could feel it tense and I also felt resentful at having to talk about the past. There was anger.
I decided to mention this to my therapist Andrea and we explored this unease. I believe it was the end of January 2016 and one day, sitting on the sofa, facing Andrea, I do not recall what we were talking about, just that all of a sudden, this huge wave of emotion and sensation in my body emerged like a volcano erupting without warning. My body remembered something, I started crying so badly I could hardly speak. Three words came into my mind, one of them was ‘abuse’ and I ‘knew’ it was sexual abuse as a child. I had no idea where this had come from. I had no memory in my mind, but what I felt was visceral and in my body. I found it very hard to stop crying. I asked a friend to come and spend the night with me because I just did not feel safe. I had no idea why I was feeling this sense of not feeling safe, but I felt I needed someone I could trust to just be next to me and to anchor me into the present moment. I now know that what I experienced was my first flashback.
I don’t properly remember the days after. I probably went to work the next day and just tried to keep my shit together emotionally. The same happened throughout the week. When the time came for the following week’s therapy session, I sat in the room, I tried to speak about what I had remembered but it felt like my brain was taken by a strong fog. I could not remember words or even speak coherent sentences. Me, being me, I knew I had to face what had happened but my body had it’s own intelligence and its decision was that I needed more time to process the information I had accessed and it would not allow me to go there. The moment I was asked about something completely unrelated, about work, for example, I was able to speak normally and express myself clearly. The sessions went on like this for a couple of weeks until I was finally able to start exploring the subject more directly little by little.
In the meantime, I had started this big debate in my head. How can I believe this information, if I do not have any visual memory of it? Could I be making this up? Why would I be making this up? Do I need attention? How could something like this happen and I have no memory of it? It can’t be true! It is a horrible thing! Why should I believe myself? Why should I believe myself? Why ?
In the weeks and months following, I had to make a decision. It felt like one of the most important decisions in my life. I had to choose between doubting myself or believing myself. I believed enough, because how could I ignore such a visceral sensation in my body, such a deep knowing?
It has taken me several years to this moment of fully believing (and even then I have moments of doubt), but this meant I have been doubting and second guessing myself for a few years.
When I started looking for information online about adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I started understanding that a lot of people do not remember. I also started finally understanding how I felt the way I felt as a teenager and young adult. How I had been depressed for the majority of my life, the reason why I had so much sadness within me and had so many suicidal thoughts, why I have always had this deep feeling of not being good, of actually being evil. The repercussions of this hidden trauma are many.
It also felt like I had been living a lie. I had convinced myself that I had a normal childhood and that I was a normal teenager and that I was a normal young adult. It turns out that it was not normal on many levels, being myself felt like not myself any more.
Since I have found out about this abuse, I have been peeling away the layers, and understanding more and more of how it has shaped me. This awareness gives me the opportunity to heal as well as the opportunity to make different choices in my life.
As I mentioned before, this uncovering happened in the beginning of 2016. At that point, I wanted to heal my trauma without remembering it. I knew it was there, but I did not want to have any more memories of it. At the same time, I could finally see the threads of so many things that connected from that moment in my childhood and how the thread made so much sense on so many levels to so many things in my present life. It appeared that this information was as much as I could handle at that time.
2016 was a massive year of change, and I cannot ignore that this uncovering had a role and a big impact on what the rest of the year would bring: several trainings in Reiki, NIA Technique and Psychotherapy; quitting my job of 6 years and a 14 year career in event organisation in Universities.
At the time, I did not actually see how all of these things were linked. I trained in things that I could use to healing myself; I had discovered something that made me change the way I saw myself so dramatically that all of a sudden, who I was no longer fitted the job and life I was leading. I had to change and I needed to find the time to figure out who this new person was, this new me.