I was reading Lloydy's story in the Survivor Stories forum, and this paragraph really caught my eye:
"There was no route to regaining power over them by trying to alter the actuality of what happened. What had happened was, and is still, cast in stone. There is no time machine to take me back and make it right or alter the past. Itís history; itís there for good.
The only thing that I can alter is how I use my history, picking bits off it to help my recovery, using the positive bits of my past to start the rebuild of my self- esteem and hopefully reclaim sole power over my thoughts and actions."
It's very interesting to think about time and its relation to our pain. These words echo a lot of what I think is at the heart of our problem with recovery. How do we make the past and the present meet? More and more I think the idea of history as cast in stone creates a real problem for us. It makes the abuse become like a gigantic monument that will never fade away. I have felt that way about it many times. But I don't really think it's true. I think the past is gone. It doesn't have shape or form on the earth anymore. It's invisible, just like the future. You can try to look into it, but you only ever get bits and pieces. And then you study it and the details shift and move in strange ways. The past is just collective memory. The broad outlines are true but intangible. THe details all gone, like shadow selves.
It is as intangible as the future in many ways. I think about how little of my past I really remember and then it seems that the future is only slightly more unreal. I can project into it courses of action and realize them, so I can see into it and picture what will happen for at least a month or so.
I also know that my past has been filtered and rearranged in certain ways that make it equally unreal and untrue. My memories are mostly darkness. I've forgotten the wonderful things that also existed. When I look for happy times there aren't so many, and that isn't because they didn't exist, but because they have been lost in the warping caused by the abuse. The story of my life as created by the abuse. All the weight on the abuse is another lie.
You might say that the memories are symptoms of the PTSD. The selection, the tone and the detail is shaped by what the frightened mind recalled and held on to. But I wasn't always afraid. So the memories are choices made by pain. And they're shifty, not solid.
It is important to me to remember that the past isn't stone but very selective revisionist history. The mind even makes things up. I thought for sure I had somehow set fire to the livingroom curtains when I was very young. I asked my mom about it, and she just laughed. It had never happened.
Realizing this helps me to reject the memory choices of the abused child in me. He can't help but hold on to them. I, on the otherhand, don't want them any more. Smoothing them away is part of the healing. When memory swells like that, driving healthier memory away, it is like a bump on the body after a fall. The swollen memory needs to recede just us the bump or the scab fades away in healing. Eventually it should fade away altogether or to the point of a barely remembered thing. Its fading leaves room for other thoughts to emerge.