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. 


2 thoughts on “Memory

  1. I have the same thing. I condition myself to reply. Then I regret my answers. They always sound like, “I just asked because I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing.” But really why I asked was not for a simple answer, I wanted to understand why something was being done the way it was. I wanted a conversation. Then I have moments where I am not mild at all, I am angry and I know I have a right to be angry, but not a right to be abusive. I just don’t get it. I call it verbal vomit. I was emotionally, physically and psychologically abused. All of them hurt and leave scars and are equally abusive. Do not torture yourself because you think you were abused less, you weren’t. You were just abused differently. Pain hurts the same.

    • I understand that. I am always suspicious of motives, now. Simple questions are loaded for me in a way they were not before.
      The propanolol helps me to keep my anger angry, and not more than that. Before I began taking it, I did not manage quite so well.
      I think I have a guilt over the other victims I met. Every woman I met in the DV shelter went back to their abuser. I did not.

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