No, that’s not crazy at all….
Therapy a couple of days ago was apparently overwhelming, but I’m not sure why. I’m sitting here trying to remember exactly what we discussed. However, I’m having great difficulty in doing so. Usually, I try to write it all out as soon as I get home for this very reason; but I simply didn’t have time that day. I should have tried writing yesterday, but I had an appointment with my case manager and ended up not really in the mood to write. I procrastinated. I avoided. And today, it just doesn’t seem to be there.
I remember sitting in the lobby. I remember the lady sitting next to me who was very talkative because she and I talked until we were both called back, almost simultaneously. I remember walking down the hallway and taking my usual seat in my therapist’s office while he held the door open in the hall for the lady and the person she was seeing. When he came in his office, he asked how I was doing. I can’t remember my answer. Now… it’s like looking through a thick fog and hearing a muddled conversation from far away…. Pianos…? Nothing.
“You completely shut down. Your whole demeanor changed.” My therapist said close to the end of our session. It’s the ONLY thing I remember with clarity. What the hell were we talking about?! Why can’t I remember? What observation did he make that I completely missed? This is positively frustrating and happens often enough, not just in therapy, that it makes me feel freakin’ nuts!
Memory is such a strange thing. When I look back over my life, some parts are vividly captured while others feel foggy, more distant, or completely gone, like in the example above. I realized this was the case for me fairly early on which is one of the reasons why I began journaling with such devotion in 1995. I wanted to write down all the things I did remember from my childhood, teen years, and early adulthood (and the rest of my life), fearing that I might forget these memories as well. While that’s never been the case (I still remember most of these same memories now with as much clarity as I did in my teens), I’m still puzzled by the blank spots.
Over the years, throughout many different therapists, I heard such words as dissociation, depersonalization, and derealization. I know the topic of dissociation came up at least 5 times —
- in ’95 with my original therapist;
- in ’97 or ’98 with that therapist; and my ex-husband observed this type of behavior in me as well;
- at some point while in therapy during the period of time I was in a relationship with PI; and even PI made comments about this behavior;
- Hospitalization #8 in ’05 where I only vaguely remember discussing with my doctor in the hospital the topic of dissociation;
- and I’m pretty sure it also came up with the first therapist I had in ’07 even though I only saw her briefly.
Even KR has commented on my lack of “presence” at times. I suppose those closest to me have the best vantage point.
I struggle to accept the inner workings of my mind. Regardless of that part of me that refuses to accept, that threatens my very existence should I speak out, I feel I must in order to get back to where I felt contentment, to recover a life that has meaning.
Words escape me, as the battle for control wages on.
Clock ticking… nearby traffic… dog barking… children squealing and yelling…
As I’ve said before, when I very first began therapy back in 1994, I questioned my childhood relentlessly. Again, it wasn’t that my childhood was particularly bad. On the contrary, I have many happy memories. There’s just these persistent, damnable blank spots that I can’t recall and the same questions that still surround them that caused me to question my childhood in the first place in ’94/’95.
My son wasn’t even a year old yet, and I was struggling with being a new parent. I was feeling anger and resentment towards CF (my ex-husband) and sometimes, towards my son, resulting in occasional explosive outbursts. I felt like a horrible person (bad wife/bad mother) for this. Perhaps, I was subconsciously remembering my own mother’s treatment and the coldness of her attitude which exhibited itself in the anger that I was feeling at that time. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.
Other than remembering little to nothing prior to starting kindergarten at age 5 (more than likely the result of infantile amnesia, which is typically normal), the most significant blank spot is my fourth grade year of elementary school. It’s a perpetual void of information whereas third and fifth grades are fluent streams of memories, complete with friendships, what I learned those years, and even some emotions. Fourth grade is an anomaly, and I don’t know why. There are others (throughout my life), but none that bother me so much as fourth grade.
And I’m not really sure why it bothers me so much, then or now.
I keep telling myself it’s pointless to dwell on such things. However, my intuition tells me there’s something there that needs to be addressed, dealt with. The thing is, how do I access what seemingly is not there? Given the controversy over false memory syndrome (FMS), I’m hesitant to acknowledge this time period at all. My concerns about FMS subsequently led to my terminating therapy with that first therapist, partly because I doubted her assessment and partly because I doubted myself.
It could also be that I simply had this fantasy in my mind of what my childhood was like, a fantasy comparable to Little House on the Prairie. This therapist challenged that fantasy, and I couldn’t face it. I’ll restate here what I wrote in Part 2 of My Story:
At my worst, I felt neglected some of the time; but there was no history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse that I could recall. However, in the course of therapy, my therapist concluded that I had been sexually molested at an early age due to memory gaps, problems with dissociating, anger and shame issues, and whatever other reasons she gave at the time, even though I had/have absolutely NO memory of anything like this ever happening (I have discussed this with no one since that time, not in all of the remaining years of therapy I received). Shortly after she reached this conclusion, my therapist had me attend a women’s group for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I continued therapy and attended the group briefly, for only a few weeks, before I quit going to both altogether because I questioned the validity of her assumption.
In addition to what I stated there, I would only add that the memory gaps and other issues weren’t the sole reason for that first therapist’s conclusion. While I don’t have any memory of actual abuse, I do have memories of some of my childhood behaviors that I really can’t bring myself to discuss, behaviors that as a child I found particularly shameful. And that’s just it, this same shame that prevents me from discussing these behaviors was there long before I was ever raped in my adult years. It’s shame that steals my words.
In all of the remaining years of therapy I received, I adamantly denied any history of sexual abuse; but there was always this small part of me that wondered, “Could something have happened?” Because I have remained “stuck” for so long in my life, that question grows louder and louder; and I don’t know what to do with it. I know it’s possible to repress traumatic memories, but wouldn’t there be at least a flash of something if something had indeed happened? Should something resurface, how would I even trust that these were true memories? If I was sexually abused, wouldn’t I need to remember it in order to heal from it? If I was not, how do I stop obsessing over these questions? I have to wonder, “Do I need therapy for the original therapy?”
I’ve had probably half a dozen or more therapists since that first therapist, none of whom spent much time discussing my childhood at great lengths with me, not like that first one. It seems that over the last 19 years, therapy has changed quite a lot in that respect. Maybe, that’s just another sign of a deteriorating mental health system. Therapists no longer have the luxury of time on their side, rather they have to rely on quick-fix methods to get clients in and out of treatment.
In my case, when I can’t even remember what we’ve discussed, I can’t help but feel that I am wasting my therapist’s time.
And the arguing inside my head really needs to STOP.