Category Archives: Repressed Memories

My Brain Has Flown the Coup, and Then Come Back Again

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At the beginning of my last post, Ideas Flitting In and Out, I suggested some possible titles I was thinking about using for a blog post. The above was one of them. I kind of liked it so I thought I’d use it, considering I’m having trouble gathering enough thoughts to create a sentence, much less a whole blog post.

Lily, my cat, has decided that right now is the time for her to crawl into my lap and be affectionate. So that’s what she’s done, purring loudly, with her head nudging my right elbow, as I’m trying to type. Of course it’s almost impossible to concentrate, much less write down what I’m thinking about, with her doing all that, but it’s hard to turn her away because her motor and her beautiful blue eyes are so appealing.

Just thought I’d let you know what fun I’m having while I’m trying to write! Lily has always been a gift from God, and I love her dearly, but it gets interesting when she wants me to pet her right when I’m trying to write.

Back at it, Lily notwithstanding…

I’ve been feeling less depressed since that memory surfaced last Thursday while I was writing, and I’m very relieved about that. It’s extremely difficult for me to function when I get that depressed. It’s hard for me to blink and breathe when it gets that bad, so I can’t get anything done, not even reading my Bible. 

Fortunately, as I said, I am feeling a bit better, so I’m blinking and breathing easier and more often, thankfully. It’s kind of like a boil was lanced when that memory came up, to use an analogy. I do think I’ll need to explore the well from that memory with McT, because I’m not sure I’m done with it yet. Thankfully I’m supposed to have a phone appointment with him this afternoon.

So I had my appointment with McT, and it was, as always, a really good conversation. He is so easy to talk to! He just makes things easier. You know, things. Things that are hard to talk about. Things that hard to think about. Things that are hard to see, or hard to hear. I’m more and more able to trust him with the really hard stuff, the bits and pieces of my life that I’ve never been able to tell anyone.

The reason it feels like my brain has flown the coup is because, even though I’m feeling less depressed, most of the time my mind is blank, without thoughts ~ thoughtless, as it were, and I can’t figure out where they’ve all gone. I seem to be able to think enough to speak, so where are my thoughts when I want to write? It’s very frustrating and distressing.

I hate feeling like I have to wing it without knowing what’s going to come out when I say something. I have to trust myself, and that’s even harder than trusting God or McT. I have to trust that I won’t blurt out something stupid or obscene, or that I won’t say something that goes against what I believe or that dishonors God in some way.

I learned early on that I couldn’t trust my own reality, something that’s common amongst abuse survivors, because no one believed anything I told them. Plus Harry forced us to lie about what he was doing to us.

There’s a certain point at which someone who is forced to lie all the time begins to believe that the lies she’s telling are actually true. I think that happened to me, and was probably at least partly why I repressed the truth and remembered the lies. I couldn’t have survived otherwise.

But now that I’ve experienced so much healing at the Hand of God, I’m beginning to learn that I can trust myself and my reality. It’s been a hard lesson to learn, even harder than learning to trust God. I’ve always had the Bible to show me I can trust God, but I’ve never had anything on which to base any ability to trust myself, other than just… myself. Which didn’t make me feel confident at all. I mean, I wasn’t able to trust myself before, so why would I trust myself now? And no one else trusted me, so why would I trust myself?

However, as I’ve gotten stronger and more and more healed, I’ve grown more and more confident. And I’ve learned that my voice is worthy of being heard, and that I no longer have to remain silent. I can trust that what I have to say is just as meaningful and useful as anyone else’s message, because I have God on my side, and He will always come first.

It’s taken me over a week to write this post. I started on June 9th, and I’m almost ready to publish it today, nine days later. It’s evolved through a number of topics ~ as I thought it would ~ and in the process I feel like my brain has flown back into the coup.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. ~ James 1:17, KJV.

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

Trust is a big thing for me. It has to be earned, and I’ve tried hard to earn the right to trust myself. I’ve tried hard to earn the right for God to trust me, if you can do that. I hope you can, because I desire that God would trust me above all else.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6, NKJV.

 

Ideas Flitting In and Out

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I’ve tried to think of a good title for this post, and I finally came up with the above offering. I thought of My Brain Has Flown the Coup or possibly, I Have No Idea. Or Is It Ideas? Or maybe, Depression Is a Mack Truck and I’ve Been Mowed Down.

That last should tell you something about my state of mind, and it’s also the main reason why I haven’t posted in almost a month (my last published post was on May 14th ~ Of Life and Death, and Life Again). The main reason I’m so depressed seems to be because of the death of Ravi Zacharias, but I don’t really understand why that would be so. I know where he is, and I know that I will get to meet him in person one day, as well as, and even more importantly and marvelously, the fact that I’ll be able to meet Jesus and greet Him face to face ~ always my fondest and deepest desire.

But for some reason I just can’t seem to shake this deep funk of a depression that I’ve fallen into, and it started when I heard the news that Ravi Zacharias was dying, and then that he had died.

It feels like I’ve fallen ~ or been pushed or thrown ~ to the bottom of a deep, deep, waterless well, from which there is no exit. And if I cry out for help the only answer I get is the echoes of my own shrieks and cries. The darkness is so thick that I can’t see my hand in front of my face, but if I feel for the walls, my fingers touch slimy stones up as high as I can reach. I feel like I’m about four years old, and I’m terrified. Someone has thrown me down here somehow, and abandoned me here, and I don’t know why.

What did I do wrong?? 

What did I do wrong??

What I’ve just described has all the earmarks of a memory, and I wish, oh how I WISH, I didn’t have to be alone while it’s coming up!! I know God is with me. He’s always with me, but it would be so much easier if there were a physical, trustworthy person here. I haven’t seen McT in person ~ in his office ~ since the quarantine began in March. I’ve had phone appointments with him, and I’ve so appreciated his willingness to do that, but there are times when you just need a physical presence. He does read these blog posts, however, so I know he’ll find out what’s going on soon enough.

In light of what just surfaced, and from what I’ve come to understand about Ravi’s position in my life, if I can word it that way, vis à vis him being one of only two or three positive male role models that I’ve ever had in my life, maybe this depression has been about feeling abandoned when he died. While I know that Ravi didn’t abandon me, I think his death triggered this memory, and the abandonment contained therein.

I don’t understand how people can be so cruel! What could a four year old child possibly have done that would have warranted being treated like that?!?!

I forgive them. I forgive them. I forgive them. I forgive them! I FORGIVE THEM!!!

I forgive them, and I ask God to forgive them. I pray that God forgives them.

Now I just feel inexpressibly sad. Sad for the little girl that was me, who had to live through such hell. I used to hate her, but now I love her soooSOOO MUCH!! She was so incredibly brave and courageous! I’m crying now at how valiant and lionhearted she was throughout the years of her existence. If it hadn’t been for her the rest of us would never have made it. That was Catherine Belinda for you! I celebrate you, Catherine Belinda, and I thank God that He created you!! I thank God that He created you first!!

God is good. God is good ALL the time, and I love Him so!!

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT.

The Continuing Saga of the Monster’s Death

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It’s been five or six days since Harry’s death, and I’ve had some time to cogitate on what that means for me. You wouldn’t think there’d be any meaning at all when someone dies who had pretty much no relationship with me, but he had a hugely destructive influence on my childhood, so regardless of whether there was any current relationship, it’s going to mean something to me when he dies. The problem is to figure out what that is.

The first conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m taking too much responsibility on myself for whether Harry accepted the gift of God’s grace. While Jesus commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature, ultimately the responsibility for making the seeds of the Gospel bear fruit is God’s problem,

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. ~ Mark 16:14-15, NKJV.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV.

I love this passage from Isaiah. It says so many things to me. It tells me that God’s Word is alive, and that God will always make His Word bear fruit. It also says that God always keeps His promises ~ that He can always be depended upon to do what He says He’ll do, and He’ll always be faithful to keep His Word. In addition it says that God loves His Word ~ at least it says that to me. He loves it enough, and cares about it enough, that He will work to protect it and make sure it comes to fruition anytime it’s spoken.

So if I’m worried that I should be doing more to make sure that Harry makes it into Heaven, I’m worrying way too much. If nothing else, the decision was made the moment he died. Once he’s gone, there’s nothing more any human being can do to influence Harry’s decision, or God’s judgment about Harry’s destination. Plus a friend reminded me a couple of days ago that when someone ends up in Hell, they’re there because that’s where they want to be.

I guess I have a hard time believing anyone would actually want to be in Hell, because I know a little of what Hell is like, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even my worst enemy.

All that aside, I’m feeling bereft. I never had what most people would call a father. Certainly Harry wasn’t a father to me, and I never felt loved by my stepdad either. He tried, but I think maybe the damage done by the time he came around was so extensive that he couldn’t get beyond it to relate to me as he would to any “normal” person.

So, as I said, I feel bereft, regardless of the fact that Harry wasn’t in my life, and hadn’t been since he left when he and my mother got divorced when I was ten. It’s strange, because he was never a father to me, yet now that he’s gone, I miss him like he was, though what I’m missing may be the hope that he would become a father to me.

I’ve been hunting for a surrogate father my whole life, and everytime I thought I’d found one, something would happen and he’d go away. I finally gave up looking. I can sort of see why it’s not good to trust in an earthly substitute, but sometimes you need a pair of physical ears to talk to, and a pair of physical arms to give you a hug, and sometimes you need them to be male ears and arms ~ and I could never find that, not anywhere. It turned out to be impossible.

As I was talking with McT about this today, he got me thinking about the few times I saw Harry after the divorce. I can probably count them on one hand. There were two before my stepdad adopted my sister and me so we’d have his last name. Then there was a gap of twenty years or more, until I was about thirty-three. I hadn’t had any memories yet, and my Aunt Priscilla, Harry’s sister, suggested I visit him in West Virginia where he lived with his second wife. I hadn’t seen him in at least twenty years, and the first thing he did after I got there was take me out and buy me five pairs of underwear.

At the time I wasn’t sure how I felt about that gift, but it didn’t feel as truly weird, perverted, and inappropriate as it has since come to feel. When I told McT about it today, immediately his face got all scrunched up, and he said that it was a really inappropriate gift for a father to give his daughter.

I stayed with Harry and Elizabeth for a week, and all I remember about that time, aside from the underwear gift, was that Harry and Elizabeth argued a lot, and it was all about me. All these years I thought it was because she was jealous of me, but as McT and I were talking about it today, it came to me that they were arguing because she was telling him that his underwear gift was bizarre and wrong, and he was arguing back because he couldn’t understand what she was saying. To him, giving your daughter underwear was a perfectly natural thing to do.

EEeeewwwww!!!!

I know someone whose father gave her a red bra for her sixteenth birthday, which I always thought was really wrong. It’s strange how I couldn’t see that Harry’s gift of underwear to me was just as strange until I saw McT’s reaction. I guess I was too close to it to be able to see how weird it was, but now I get it really well!

Like I said above, EEeeeeewwwwww!!! Now it gives me the creeps! Back then it made me feel a little strange, but I had no idea why, because I’d had no memory of being abused by anyone, much less by Harry. In fact, I had no memory at all of the first ten years of my life. Those years were a huge blank for me. Since then God has been filling in the void with substance, though sometimes I’ve found myself wishing those years had stayed empty, because not knowing at times feels better than knowing.

And interestingly, it was after I got home from that visit that I had my first abuse memories, and they were perfectly awful ~ and I was in a therapy appointment with McT when they came out.

The only other meeting with Harry that I remember was a short one. I don’t remember when it happened, except that it was about thirty years ago ~ in the nineties, I think. The only thing I remember about it was that it ended in a fist-bump. Fist-bumps have only been popular in the last two or three years, and when he gave me one thirty years ago, I perceived it as him rejecting me and pushing me away. It felt incredibly off-putting. Now, I think, it’s supposed to be sign that someone is cool. Maybe that’s how he meant it, I don’t know, but that’s not how I took it. So maybe I misread his signal to me in that instance. Maybe I need to ask for his forgiveness.

So now I’m left with what to do with all I’ve discovered, and the first thing I know I must do is forgive. Always forgive. Forgiving has become foundational to who I am, and it’s not hard to forgive Harry, or anyone else who’s hurt me. The only one I have a problem forgiving is myself, though that’s getting easier as well, thank God.

This has been a really long post, I know, but this is a difficult topic, so I hope everyone will read the whole thing all the way through. Mostly, I want to give glory to God for helping me to think everything through with the proper insight, and for helping me to see Harry through the eyes of Jesus ~ as God sees him.

I know Jesus loves Harry as much as He loves me, or anyone else, so I have no right to hold unforgiveness or hatred against him, so I choose to bless him, and I wish peace and healing towards him.

I hope and pray he accepted God’s gift of salvation before he died! Glory to God for the cross!!

Easier Said Than Done

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There have been a few times in my life where I was desperate for guidance from God, and when I asked for it, He gave me the answer right then. Let me explain.

The first ten years of my life are virtually blank. I remember essentially nothing from those years, and not much more from the years following. As a consequence I spent a lot of time trying to understand what had happened to me during those blank years, and I also had many well-meaning Christians telling me that I shouldn’t be doing that, that I should just put the past behind me,

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. ~ Isaiah 43:18, NIV.

But I also had a lot of therapists telling me that those empty years weren’t empty at all, but rather were years I had repressed because the events that had occurred during that time were so traumatic that I couldn’t handle the emotional and/or physical impact of what had happened. And how many of you know that putting the past behind you is a whole lot easier said than done?

So who do I believe ~ all those well-meaning Christians, or the therapists who supposedly understand how memory works?

Something that happened back in the mid-1990’s, in the midst of being bombarded by input from both sides, helped me decide to follow God rather than either side, although ideas from the therapists ended up being closer to what God showed me.

What happened was this: I was receiving soaking prayer from a married couple on periodic Sunday afternoons, but everyone who knew I was doing this told me I shouldn’t be doing it because I should be putting the past behind me, as the above-quoted verse says.

Because I’d been hearing this so frequently from everyone around me for such a long time, I finally cried out to God on my way home from that afternoon’s prayer session, and asked Him if I was following the right course. Should I be trying to find out what had happened to me? I only wanted to follow what He wanted me to do!

As I was praying and asking my questions of God, this thought came into my mind: The most tightly-held-onto past is the past that’s been repressed.

I knew that had to be from God because there was no way I could have thought it up myself. And what I took from that incredibly logical thought was that in order for me to let go of my past and put it behind me, I had to remember it and accept that it was a part of who I am. Only then would I be able move past it and let it go.

The reason I say I had to not only remember, but also accept what I was remembering, is that the things I was remembering were so awful that I was having a hard time accepting that the people I was supposed to be able to trust were the same people who had betrayed that trust in such horrific ways. I had to accept that these terrible, evil things were a part of my story, and that the people I had depended on for my most basic needs had abused the trust I had placed in them. It was a hard pill to swallow, and it took me a long time to do it, at least partly because it also meant forgiving those who had hurt me.

I believe every person who has been the victim of child abuse and/or childhood sexual abuse must go through this process if they’ve repressed the memories of the abuse. No one wants to believe that the people they must depend on for their most basic needs would betray the trust that’s been placed in them in such appalling and egregious ways, but unfortunately it does happen. And when it does, the destruction to the life of the victim is far-reaching.

It’s been my personal experience that the only thing that can bring real and long-lasting healing is inviting God into the situation. Therapy can only take you so far on its own before it loses its ability to effect change unless God’s presence is sought in the healing process. Obviously that is my opinion, and opinions are not facts, but it’s an opinion based on hard personal experience.

Even if you never forgot or repressed the memories of the abuse you were subjected to, you still must go through this process, because, as I did, you will probably feel a need to deny that those who were supposed to love and care for you did the exact opposite, and abused you. You will probably also feel the need to blame yourself, as I did. Well, let me tell you, categorically, it was not your fault. It was not my fault either. It took me a very long time to be able to believe that, but now I really do know beyond a shadow of a doubt. It was not my fault. It was entirely my father’s fault. It was also my mother’s fault because she didn’t protect me from my father. But above all else, it was not my fault.

It was not my fault, and it was not your fault either. Know that of a surety.