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Unread 05-06-2010, 01:37 PM   #1
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Default Doubting My Memories

I've figured out part of the reason why i'm stuck at trauma processing. There's a part of me that doubts my memories/experiences from the past. Most of the time, i feel sure that what i remember happened. But when nobody in my life admits/validates/verifies anything that happened to me, i begin to doubt myself. It's like if nobody else is willing to say "Hey, you're right, those bad things did happen, and you have a good reason for your pain/grief/nightmares/therapy. . .then i don't feel like i can totally believe it myself. And if i can't totally believe it myself, then i start thinking well, i must be wrong about it all or crazy.

I feel really, really, really stuck! If I'm making this all up and can't prove anything, then how can i go into therapy week after week and talk about or cry about things that happened? I also don't want to point the finger at people and say they did things that maybe they didn't do. I hate that i can't trust my own memories!

I have such little confidence. Growing up, i was always told as a child that my feelings and perceptions were wrong. . .and now when it really counts, i can't trust them either. I don't know how to move forward. I feel like i don't have the "right" to feel bad about anything that happened or even to be in therapy.

I talked to my t about it yesterday on my session. I told her how frustrated i am with not being able to find any proof/validation for anything that happened to me, whether it's bad experiences i had at home with my parents or the SA with my neighbor. I'm the kind of person that has to figure things out and can't stand to have only part of the story. I need to "be sure" about things. And i'm so afraid i will never be able to "be sure" about my memories because nobody is going to verify them for me.

My h thinks i need to force myself to just "move on" and not try to figure out or talk about my SA anymore because I'm spinning my wheels and it gets me upset. My t says it's true that it stresses me out, but she also knows that my inability to believe in my own memories is keeping me from validating my own experiences and my own pain. So she is in favor of me continuing to try to find some outside source of proof as long as there are avenues to pursue.

I've emailed two old childhood friends this past week, who i haven't seen or talked to in years. I started out saying, "Hey, I found you on Facebook. . ." I mentioned some of the fun times we had kids. Then, i mentioned a mutual neighbor from our childhood days, who was responsible for my SA, and asked them if they ever remember him (or recall hearing about him) acting inappropriately with the neighborhood kids. I told them i had some bad memories about things that happened with him, that i have felt distressed over the years about it. i said i was having trouble finding closure about what happened because he's dead and i can't confront him today -- and because there is nobody in my life who can say "Yes, i remember that happened. You are not crazy." One of my old friends has already called me to say that she remembers being at his home, but does not remember any SA.

My t and i also talked about a couple of other "leads" i could pursue to try to find answers. One of them is my 4th grade schoolteacher, who i was really close to back then. She used to hug me and call me her "little girl." She even wrote "My little girl" on the top of my report card. She is 86 now, and most likely won't remember me, but my t said there is a chance she will -- that older people tend to remember the old days rather than the present. I was thinking i could send her a picture of myself from that time period to help jog her memory of who i am.

I haven't really decided how i want to word the letter. I know that i want to thank her for taking a special interest in me when i was young, at a time in my life that was difficult for me. I want her to know that i still remember her fondly. I really would like to ask her if she would be willing to send me a picture. But i also want to ask her, if she does still remember me, does she recall that i was troubled, or did i ever indicate to her that i was being abused? Or had she ever heard from anyone else that Mr. H. was molesting kids?

I know i could be just setting myself up for more disappointment. . .if she doesn't even remember me. But i can't seem to "let it go."

I also thought about calling the police department from my old town and asking if they have any records from the 1970s that would show if he had ever been arrested for inappropriate behavior with kids.

Lastly. . .and i don't think i would do this. . .my t told me i could contact my deceased abuser's son. I remember him having a son, and i even met him when i lived there. i remember he had a red car. I could easily find out his name. My t said that i could call him and just ask him if he knew -- or had ever heard -- that his dad was hurting little girls? I think i'm too scared to call!!! I can't imagine that he would tell me the truth, even if he knew. Do you?? Also, if he doesn't know his dad was a ped*phile, i'd hate to tell him because it would probably only make him feel bad and what could he do about it?

If i do all of this, and still come up empty, then i will out of leads. Then i don't know what i will do. How can i trust my own memories as real???

My t says that once i exhaust all my leads, if i still have no validation, we will go from there and try to work with what we have.

What does everyone here at PC think of this? I know i am probably taking things too far, but i honestly don't know if i can accept or process my memories without some proof that they are true and that i'm not just crazy or making things up!!!
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Unread 05-06-2010, 02:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: Doubting My Memories

I can relate to what you are saying, because my whole family has this thing with denial and remembering things wrong. My mom is an alchoholic and has a horrible memory. When I was a child, we lived with a man who abused three girls in the home. Even after my mom found out, she made us hang out with him to keep him company because he was old and blind and she acted as if he had no one and we needed to be there for him. I remember having to help him do crossword puzzles and listen to him playing the guitar after he touched me inappropriately.

I confronted her once and she completely denied it. She gets so upset when I've tried over the years to work through so many issues of the past that I can't talk to her about any of them. She denies it all and rants about what a great parent she was. A lot of that has been verified by my siblings as figment of her imagination so I need to just trust my own memory.

So if I were in your shoes, I would ask myself this: am I often accused of not relating things that happened the way they happened? I'm not talking about remembering things word for word, or who started what fight or those things when people are emotionally charged and don't remember little details. Are there other details from your past you can verify match your memory? If the answer is yes, I'd say trust your memories and try to work past them from there.

Good luck and I wish you the best, from another who is full of self-doubt.
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Unread 05-06-2010, 03:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: Doubting My Memories

It sounds to me like you have a lot of self-doubt, peaches, which is different from whether or not one's memories are true.

Because I am "me" and know who I am, I don't doubt my own feelings, senses, experiences, memories. That's not to say that the memories or experiences or even senses, have to be correct (I say senses too because we've all see optical illusions or good magic where what we see or hear isn't what's true). But, certain things "happened" to me as I remember and, since it's me and my world and no one else's, I'm the only person who is going to experience them that way but, because it is me and my world, that's all that matters.

You remember abuse/something that threw you off kilter when you were a child. That is true for you! Yes, it would be nice if someone else remembered it, would be a bit more comforting perhaps, but it would not change the situation. You would not be right or wrong for your memories or feelings; those things have no right or wrong, they're only individual responses to our own individual experiences.

What I would think, to help me if I were in your situation, is I would remember that a child does not have the advanced sort of knowledge of abuse to be able to imagine what you remember! You literally cannot have made it up as it has been with you since you were a child/would have made it up and that experience is not a child's normal experience. That's as real a confirmation, to me, as I could want that my memory holds truth.

I remember 30-40 years ago when I'd have sex dreams and wake up just at the crucial moment, very frustrating :-) It took me a long time to realize, I woke up then because I had not yet actually had a complete sexual experience, had only read about it! Yes I'd orgasmed before, but not during sex with another. I could not dream about what I had not personally experienced, I could only get as "far" in the dream as I had literally gotten.

How do you imagine you will feel if you get confirmation? How will it change the situation? You? Have you thought about the opposites? If you don't get confirmation and decide you were making things up, will that be a relief that such an experience "obviously" didn't happen? Could you be "protesting too much" and unconsciously hoping for such a result?

In either event you have to choose to be true to yourself or not. If you do not accept yourself, your memories (which are yours and part of that self!) as they are, as you are now, how/when will you? Someone else validating your memories is not the same as you validating them and yourself. Where will you draw the line? I'm sure you have a lot of memories; if you decide this one is "wrong" what happens to the others? If you decide this one is "right" but only because you have "proof" what happens to the others?
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Unread 05-06-2010, 05:31 PM   #4
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Default Re: Doubting My Memories

((( Peaches ))) I understand exactly what you are descibing.
My T said that the truth is in the body. Would you be hurting this much if your mind was making it up? My situation is different because my father served jail time as a pedophile. So even though the memories of what he did to me was deeply hidden inside my alters, the validation has to come from my own heart. I know what is truth from what is fiction.

I hope you can find ways to validate your experience. My heart goes out to you.
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Unread 05-06-2010, 08:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: Doubting My Memories

You are definitely not alone. I would like to add to the other comments. I have sources that have told me I am correct (as the person who harmed me harmed others)....but sadly this really didn't seem to stop the doubts. I am having to learn how to trust myself...and that is hard. (((((Peaches))))) Don't give up! Something my T asks me is, "What would you say if one of your friends doubted herself and/or her memories, but was emotionally having a difficulty dealing with it?" Of course I would believe her. I would recognize that she wouldn't be able to fake the pain or the processing...and most of all the agony of it all. Like WePow said. Trust the body
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Unread 05-10-2010, 10:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: Doubting My Memories


I can understand exactly what you're feeling. I really struggle with questioning myself. I'm a little bit on the extreme side of the spectrum, with BPD. My early memory of incest with my older brother (me giving him a bj at age 5) has been in and out of my memory for almost 35 years now. My T pointed out my tendency to question everything due to my parents being so ambiguous. With my sister, they came down hard as nails on her fighting back. With my brother, they coated over his hostility and sexual urges. With me, they took everyone else's words as fact.

The result is me never really building a sense of self. Not knowing who I am, what I like/dislike, things I have or haven't been through. I question it all ~ and I always have! It's beyond frustrating for me. I take my frustrations out upon myself, with deeply held self-hate and self-blame for everything.

Sorry if I'm all over the place here. I'm trying to say that even though my memories are true, I still question myself. I cannot seem to satisfy something that burns inside of me. An anxiety....and some unidentifiable intense emotion, brought up by bits of memories here & there.

You're in my thoughts.....

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Unread 05-11-2010, 07:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: Doubting My Memories

Thank you so much, everybody. It helps to know that others can relate. I've used this past week to contact a few people from my childhood. Old friend #1 says she remembers going to Mr. H's house but nothing inappropriate happening. Old friend #2 has, so far, not responded at all to my email message to her. It has been 5 days now. I also wrote to my old teacher and expect her to get my letter today or tomorrow. I know i am going to desperate measures, contacting an 87-year-old teacher i haven't seen for 40 years. She's not going to remember me, i just know it, even though she cared for me back then and called me her little girl. Even if she doesn't remember me, i told her i would like to know if she recalls ever hearing from any of her students that Mr. H was doing inappropriate things.

I don't know why i'm doing this. I know most of my memories are true!! There's just this one thing i'm hoping is not true. Still, what could these other people tell me, other than the fact that Mr. H was a pedophile? I don't recall anybody else being with me at the times he did things to me. So there literally is no one who could validate what happened to me.

If i think about it, i really have more than enough proof that he was a child molester and abused me. The only iffy thing is that i don't have complete memories for some of what happened, so it's the specifics of what happened that i am not fully sure of. And nobody can validate that for me.

I see my t tomorrow. We'll see what she says about this.

Thanks again, everyone!
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Unread 05-11-2010, 08:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: Doubting My Memories

(((((Peaches100)))))--Keep us posted? Validation is a very hard thing to do, given the horrors that we wish had not happened. It is far easier to think that I am off; that I did not go through these things, that "I made it all up" in my mind than it is to believe that it all really occurred.

I fought this problem for years--doubting myself---telling myself that these things could not be true---I still have problems with it. theo

Last edited by Anonymous32463; 05-11-2010 at 09:17 AM.
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