Like anyone, I have unwanted intrusive memories. It’s not something I have ever had a casual conversation about with anyone, so I am unsure how common it is. I am sure it is supposed to be more of an issue with those of us who have PTSD symptoms. I do not know the difference between flashback and what I call intrusive memory. Perhaps they are the same. I see flashbacks as being as how they are portrayed in the movies, as a sort of film playing in front of your eyes, obscuring and playing over reality.
My unpleasant memories do not do that. They play in the background, like when you have a busy household and the TV is on. It is there, I can’t help but see it once in a while, but mostly I am doing something else. Some of the memories will manifest as just brief pictures of benign stretches of sidewalk, staircases, or trees in the neighborhood where I used to live. Knowing where they are makes them less benign, of course, but the images themselves are not negatively associated with an event. More with a place and a span of years.
Sometimes, the memories affect my reactions to people. If a man is questioning me, I am treading water. Trying to stay in place, not give too much information, so as not to get a negative reaction to my answers. I won’t actively remember or see the incidents that have conditioned this response in me, but I will remember the feeling I had during them. I don’t know how I appear to others during these times. I instinctively try to look occupied, pleasant, apathetic, all at once. It unsettles me for a while. I always regret how I react, later. I want my reactions to be genuine. Not conditioned responses from abuse. These men are not going to hurt me. Somehow I don’t really believe that.
Desensitization is supposed to change things like this in me. I cannot imagine. I wish for the magic of EMDR, I wish for time to fade it away, I wish for anything but what I am supposed to do. I don’t want to remember. And the part about that, that part that bothers me most of all, is that the abuse I suffered was not horrific at all. I know so many women with stories so much worse than mine. Women with fractures and scars, chronic conditions from awful injuries. I was very lucky. Why do I have to be affected enough, still, that I require any treatment at all? Why am I not strong enough to be well, now that I am away? Why not my son, too? Why must he have PTSD? We are safe, why is that not enough?
It is very obvious how reluctant I am, to have to actively remember.