You'll Never Know the Truth: Childhood Abuse

On my way home from school, I was perilously close to tears the whole way. At some point, that thing I never ever talk about out loud popped into my mind. I tried talking about it out loud once. The conversations didn’t end well. My therapist at the time wanted me to talk about it and she’d encouraged me for months to open the topic. Once we did…Let’s just say I almost didn’t go away for college. My therapist told me I should work on the issue, but if I worked on it, I’d need to be inpatient because I was clearly a danger to myself.

It sounds so immaterial. On its own, I guess it is immaterial. That is reason #1 why this topic makes me hate myself. The memory itself is inconsequential. I have no right to be bothered by it, at least not compared to other people who experienced real trauma. Therefore, I am weak and pathetic for getting so emotional over nothing.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had one or two odd childhood memories floating in my head. In the first memory *hands pause above keyboard* …I still can’t even fucking type it! I’m continuing this post from yesterday and after a few hours I was okay again last night, but trying to explain this is putting me on the verge of tears. I have this maelstrom inside me tied to 2 short, old memories. The gist is potentially sexually abusive actions occurred, but the memories aren’t necessarily abusive. The first one involved foreign object insertion. The second involved touching. However, both have potentially benign explanation. For example, intramuscular injections of medication in the ventrogluteal and dorsogluteal muscles. As for the second memory, well…little kids have to learn about genital hygiene at some point.

Possibility 1: The memories have benign explanations.

For instance, the ones I proffered above. (Assuming this is the truth) Reason #2 to hate myself is that I’m a sick, twisted, weird, evil, dirty, bad freak for ever considering the idea that someone who cares about me would do that! Reason #3 is that I’ve dealt with all this fear and guilt for years over nothing. In fact, even now, I think part of my trouble relating to people romantically stems from this…nothing.

Possibility 2: These events never occurred in any form. At some point, I made them up.

On one hand, I have no doubt false memories are implantable through suggestion. Numerous psychological studies show it. On the other hand, these memories bothered me before age 12 (when I started therapy). So, no accidental therapeutic suggestion could cause them.

However, even without suggestion, false memories occur because our brains are just not perfect. When we remember an event, we change it. When we think about a memory, it isn’t as though we replay a video tape and when we’re done remembering we put the same video tape away. That is not how memory works. retrieving a memory can alter it and when we “save” the memory for later we save our most recent memory of the memory. So, the next time we retrieve that  memory, we are not watching an unadulterated movie of the event, our memory consists of what we recalled the last time we remembered the event.

It is kind of similar to these 2 examples: You are certain when you were 6 you had a black border collie named Keko. You ask your mom about the dog and she tells you there was a dog, but it was named Miko and it was a multicolored (including black) Lhasa Apso. Or you remember visiting a friend’s house when you were 4 (let’s say you know you were 4 because you moved neighborhood right before you’re 5th birthday and the friend didn’t move into your old neighborhood until after your 3rd birthday) and you remember the gigantic, scary, steep hill in her backyard. Then you watch old home movies and the camera shows her backyard in its entirety. You see the “big” hill, but as an adult you realize it was tiny. We see things through lenses clouded by our personal perception of the world (be that age, height, life experiences, anger, fear, etc)

Therefore, I can never know what is real and what is false without outside evidence because I cannot trust the reliability of my recollection of the events. I’ve had at least 18 years to “remember”, but with each thought, I could be altering the “memory”. At the same time, certain important events remain as clear as the day they happened in our mind. Also, evidence shows even pre-verbal children remember things and I was older than that.

(Assuming this possibility is true) Reasons #2 and #3 apply here, except it would be even worse! If this possibility is true, I made it all up! Everything! There wasn’t even a benign memory to misinterpret! What kind of freak am I?!?

Possibility 3: These events occurred and have sinister origins

There are unquestionable things (Here, meaning things that occurred in the recent past, as in I have no reason to question my recall) that support and oppose this possibility.

Support

  1. Some family members are odd about physical affection.
  2. Once I complained about the oddness using the word “touchy” and no other descriptors and my mom flipped out! Her demeanor immediately changed; she was horrified and scared. When I complained about the oddness I was not covertly referencing sexual abuse. Furthermore, she should have easily known what I meant. I brought it up at the time because she had recently complained about it!! Despite her own complaints, her immediate conclusion when I asked why someone was “touchy” was sexual abuse from a loving family member! I’m pretty sure that is an abnormal reaction. Most people deny a family member could possibly do that to a child. So, why the assumption on her part? My only answer is she heard, saw, or knew something.
  3. As a teenager or pre-teen I realized the possible implications of these memories. Since I have a lengthy complicated medical history, I asked my mom if I ever had intramuscular injections of medication in the ventrogluteal and dorsogluteal muscles. She said, No.
  4. Numerous therapists/doctors told me I “act like someone who was sexually abused” as a child and they won’t even believe me when I insist I was not abused!
  5. I brought up the false memory possibility that one time I tried to process all of this and my therapist did not agree that was likely because if it was fake, why did my mind keep returning to that point in time? She has a point. However, not the one she meant to make. I think it is possible it is a fake memory, but I’ve carried it around all these years almost as if it was a memory of abuse because I’ve gone over these arguments in my head a million times and I’m damned no matter what the truth is.
  6. Multiple times my mom has asked what bad thing happened to me as a child without me saying anything to instigate that conversation.

Opposition

  1. No one in my family is capable of incest.
  2. If something occurred, why only when I was 4 -6 years old? That doesn’t make sense!
  3. If my mom freaked out when I asked about “touchiness” because she knew something I do not know, then how could she leave me alone with any family member she could not prove was innocent?!?!?!?! She would not do that.
  4. I have no clear memories of abuse, no actual sex. Potential sex acts, but not sex.

And so (again, assuming the current possibility is true) Reason #4 to hate myself is I considered the fact that my mom knew something and did nothing or Reason #4a My mom knew and did nothing, so…what? I must be garbage. Reason #5 On the continuum of childhood sexual abuse, this is a .00000000001, if 10 was the worst nonfatal sexual abuse you can imagine and 0 is no abuse. People who endured much more are relatively well adjusted. Me? FUBAR.

Also, like WTF?! NO MATTER what the truth is…even if it is the worst possibility (3), the memories in my head don’t have to be bad. I am afraid it is…In a way, I made it bad. Like even if abuse occurred, the memory did not have to be interpreted that way. I could have forgotten or passed it off as nothing. BUT NO!!!! I had to think about it.

Lastly, thinking about all this right now and last night makes me want to flay myself because I feel like a bad, sick person regardless of the truth.

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “You'll Never Know the Truth: Childhood Abuse

  1. I identify with this completely. I have this one particular memory that I cannot shake off, and I don’t know if it’s real or made up. 😐 And it’s on similar grounds, AND similar age. But not a family member, just someone we used to know.

    Like

    • I’m really, really sorry you know what it is like. 😦 That same therapist said in some ways it would be harder to never know the truth one way or the other. She never got to explain why it would be harder because I freaked out.

      Do you think it has to do with what we are? Sometimes…I think it does and that scares me. I know not everyone into BDSM was abused, but it is a stereotype. On the other hand, even if all this comes from a dark place, perhaps I am what I am and I should stop fighting the masochism and submission.

      How do you deal with it?

      Also, I thought of you last night! I was going to try to figure out if private messages are possible on wordpress because I’m reading this book series, which I think you might enjoy and find helpful. It basically makes submission and/or masochism into a positive thing. It isn’t just kinky sex though, there is a plot and even though it is in the fantasy genre, I find myself identifying with the protagonist (the sub). She echoes some of the same discomfort with submission and/or masochism. So, sometimes, hearing her internal dialogue about reaching a logical reason why it is okay is helpful. The first one is called Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey.

      Like

      • I will definitely look up the book.

        As you will figure if you read my blog, I’ve stopped resisting submission and masochism. My realisation about my masochism was gradual. I found out that I was an emotional masochist (if there is something like that) a long time ago, when I realised that sometimes I /wanted/ to be sad and hurting. The physical manifestation is recent but I don’t fight it.

        The submission part of it is conflicting with how I’ve grown up, but I don’t deny it any more. I understand that I want the man to lead (in this scenario, my Master) and that I will serve Him with all my heart.

        As for whether it’s because of how we are, yes, perhaps. I have another friend who understands me clearly when I say that I cannot be happy all the time. I understand pain and the sense of loss better. I am messed up in the head (and I say it without feeling ashamed).

        The deal is that no matter what, my past or my general thought process or how I’ve grown up, this is who I am. I cannot change it, because this is fundamental, not ornamental. That’s how I reconcile with it. I have no wish to be “normal”, whatever that is.

        You can always find my email address on the mail notifications of these comments and send me an email whenever you want to.

        Like

        • Wow, how smart on my part! 😉 For some reason the email idea never occurred to me even though I know it shows when we approve comments!

          I’m happy for you! I haven’t read in a while; I didn’t realize you reached that level of acceptance. That is amazing! My hope is to feel the same way someday. Sometimes I can rationalize my way to momentary acceptance, which is better than nothing, but I still don’t feel it is okay to be what I am. Exploring my thought processes with super long entries like this has helped make what progress I’ve made in the past few months.

          Like

          • I am not saying that I am always accepting and comfortable with it. But I stopped fighting my own need for Dominance last year. Around May-June last year, I’d run away from Master (not literally). But I went back, because I needed that control.

            Sometimes I think that it is that control that keeps me sane and functioning, you know? That I am not strong enough for myself. I can do whatever is required of me for others, but when it comes to myself, I am either not strong enough or I don’t bother enough. So, when I have a strong, caring hand directing me, I feel centred and sane. I don’t know how it is for you.

            Keep writing, that always helps. I started becoming more accepting towards myself after I began blogging about submission. Before that, it was just in my head. I didn’t know one way from another. I didn’t know if there were other people like me. I wondered if my giving up my “power” to someone else was right (if you think of how we’re taught to be independent women). But I am beginning to see the distinction now that I read and write about it.

            Like

            • “Sometimes I think that it is that control that keeps me sane and functioning, you know? That I am not strong enough for myself. I can do whatever is required of me for others, but when it comes to myself, I am either not strong enough or I don’t bother enough. So, when I have a strong, caring hand directing me, I feel centred and sane. I don’t know how it is for you.”

              YES!!!!!! This is the crux of so many problems in my life. Wow, you might be inside my mind! I see it as a personal character flaw. You do not? (NOT saying you are flawed! It is how I view the trait in myself)

              Also, YES, the independent woman thing causes so much cognitive dissonance for me! What distinction do you see? I sometimes grasp a tiny portion of the difference, but again, something keeps me from full acceptance.

              Like

              • It is a character flaw if you call it that. But, it’s not like there isn’t a solution to it. There are two ways one can go about it. The first being accepting that we need a Dominant and doing as they tell us – for me, personally, this feels more natural, it’s instinctive, it fits. The second is fighting it and taking charge. I do this sometimes, like for work and things like that (where my Master doesn’t wish to exert His control), but for emotional reasons, this doesn’t fit me well. It’s like a mask I wear, but it wears off. Maybe I am strong and well for two months, but then I have a major slump.

                The distinction I see that I am still my own person, and I am independent in certain respects. I willingly give my independence away to another, something that makes both of us happy and content. It’s not for everybody, but it is for me. I choose happiness and sanity over all else – so I’ve disregarded many a society set rules and norms in order to do what I really want and have what I need. I have never fit with the society’s mould of the ‘ideal woman’ – I am not submissive to everybody, I have opinions, but I like to be controlled in my personal life. I try not to over-complicate it after this. One of my major problems is over-thinking everything, and I’ve been trying to avoid doing that and live in the moment. After all, we’re in our twenties only once.

                Like

              • I will try and thanks for the offer! I rarely check the email attached to this blog, but if you want to reach me, comment on any post asking me to check it and I will. 🙂

                Like

    • Also, I’ve never met or heard of anyone else with this issue. I hear plenty about abuse, false memories, and repressed memories, but nothing similar to my experience. It is a bit surreal, even if it has nothing to do with submission. Plus, it is a sucky club to be in, but thank you so much for responding honestly! Just knowing I’m not the only person lifted some of the burden.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Clearly, it isn’t Monday | Masochist Musing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s