I have a lot of memories of abuse. A lot. However, I know that there are more in there that are still causing me problems. How can I go about getting to these memories so I can confront them and rid myself of their negative effects? I want to deal with them right now. I've been patient far too long with this entire ordeal, waiting for "safety" so the memories can surface on their own. That's not working.
I will try anything that may work...
Watch out! Memories can be dynamite! Make sure you have a support system in place before you dig them out. My memories that came up and that I report in pufferfish story part 5 were quite devastating!
Given that, then I have found a bunch of techniques of opening memories. Pick and choose!
1) The technique I used when I first began recovery was to take an emotion, or something that triggers, and then when you are alone and in the quiet conditions, focus on that trigger or emotion and ask yourself, what in my childhood produced that emotion or that trigger. I still consider this a primary technique.
2) Movies. I remembered having been abused by my grandfather when I was 4, but I couldn't remember much in the way of details. Then I stumbled across the movie: The Education of Little Tree
. It's a good movie and I recommend it. But the situation and the grandfather in the movie just brought out so much in my own memory that it filled in the blanks for me. So much in the movie seemed like it was made just for me because of the familiar details.
3) Deep Relaxation. I had some counseling by a T who specialized in DID therapy. He taught me how to do "deep relaxation". It is a type of light hypnosis. It was very harmless and I quickly learned how to do it. It's power is that we have trouble reaching into our early memories. With this technique I was able to recall the events. My first memory up under his care was other abuse when I was almost 4. The first part of the memory was quite pleasant: We had gotten a new puppy for Christmas. I was rolling on the floor playing with the puppy. Then I remembered the circumstances of the first abusive event.
4) Toys. I recently attended a train show for toy trains. This was a serious event however, where they were seriously buying and selling trains. I saw the train sets that I had as a boy. It brought back a lot of memories. Most of the memories were good. Try going to a toy store and just browse around and look at all the toys. Keep a mental or written note of any that start to bring back memories.
5) Reading and other information sources. It was about 10 years after my first memories came up and I hadn't been able to remember the name of my abuser when I was 12. The newspaper came and plastered in the headlines was the last name of my abuser. It was as though the name was highlighted. I remembered that was the name of the abuser. Then I found some books about the same guy.
6) Gentle probing by a therapist. A good therapist can help you probe your memory.
7) I was one of those guys who could not remember most of my childhood. I could only remember just a handful of events. But after I started memory work, it became plain that the few events I did remember were significant leads into important or abusive events. So... the technique is to take a memory from your childhood and then start examining it in your mind and see if it leads to an abusive event.
8) I was driving in the West. Something about the sunlight or the scenery that I still don't understand started to bring out a memory. Later when I was in the motel, I started tracing that initial recollection backwards.
This relates to the experience of West in the previous post.
While driving back from Sequoia 2010 across the wide open Nevada spaces I had a spontaneous memory recall (my combat veteran buddies call it a day-time intrusion) of an instance with my abuser/father that surprised me. I had no previous memory of this particular style of abuse. It was part visual & part visceral.
9) Search any old photo albums from your family or friends or relatives. If you find any pictures that bring out some strong emotions, you might suspect that meditating on that picture might bring out a memory. Or look at old journals or old letters, etc.
10) Visit the houses or places you lived in. Maybe they will let you see inside the house. Or if you can't get there, then use GoogleMap to go to the address of your house and see the outside of it and the houses across the street, etc.
11) People you see or meet. I saw a boy swimming in a pool who seemed to remind me of something significant. Later I followed the memory in my mind to its roots in an abusive event. The way you do that is you get in a quiet place and then you hold up the memory of the person in your mind. You have to be relaxed and quiet. Then after a few minutes you may start to have a memory of the original event come up.