I had a very good week, as far as my therapist was concerned. In hindsight, I would have to agree. Even the “triggered” incident was handled in a different way, one that I learned in therapy. Also, my wife is going to have surgery next week to fix an issue that has given her chronic pain and limited her physical activities for the last 2.5 years. This is good news! All in all, I had a good week.
In a previous session, I came in with a laundry list of topics I wanted to work on over the next months. Overall, I am at a relatively stable emotional state, and have been for a while. One of the effects of long-term emotional and/or physical torture (abuse) can be selective amnesia. I have huge chunks of missing memory from my childhood. I woke up out of a haze in 8th grade. I can remember the moment. It is such a crystal clear memory for me. The rest of my childhood has more memory loss than actual memory.
After the initial part of the session where we recapped the past week or two, she dove right in. She started by asking me why I want to uncover these lost memories. I told her it is because I feel there are ugly things down there that are, unbeknownst to me, affecting my world today. She gave me a word of caution. She said that most of the time uncovering those missing pieces adds to the suffering of the person uncovering them. She said she understood that I might need to uncover my complete story. She said it was up to me. And I want to go for it.
The first foray into my past was to relate to her what I do remember. I started talking. In what seemed like a few minutes, she said, “as we end our session, lets begin breathing to bring you back to the present.” I was astonished. I had lost 30 minutes. I had left the room. I was in the past. I have only a vague recollection of what I said: mom blacking out during beatings, going to church cut and bruised from the morning beating only to (be threatened to) show the “perfect family” face I had learned, and my first solid memory—being afraid mom was going to hurt me. It was emotional seppuku.
Regina, my therapist (not her real name), asked me to begin breathing, and to focus on something in the room. I tilted my head back and looked at the ceiling. She asked if I could feel the chair beneath me. I felt the burning where the belt buckle tore my skin 30 years ago. Eventually, I came back to the present. As I left, the only thought was, “If this is what I CAN remember…I wonder what my brain is hiding.” We shall see.