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To want to remember my past?

(26 Posts)
InsertAwesomeNickname Fri 21-Mar-14 22:24:48

NC for this.

Recently through a conversation with my Dad I have realised that I am missing a massive amount of memory from my teenage years. I know it sounds odd but I've never realised this. I'll try and explain.

I have memories of my childhood, all good. When I hit my teenage years I went completely off the rails - it isn't a time I have ever wanted to revisit or think about if I can help it.

When speaking to my Dad recently after having a few drinks together he asked me if anything happened to trigger what happened. He said he always felt like there was something that sent me over the edge. He mentioned that it was like waking up one day to a stranger in the family. i changed literally overnight.

I tried to think back to then and have realised I don't remember. I asked him to tell me what he recalls and whilst that period of my life isn't a complete blank there are massive chunks missing. There were some fairly big things that my Dad told me about which I actually just don't remember and the more I have tried to remember the more I realise that there a large periods of those years that are completely blank to me.

I have since mentioned to both my parents about seeing somebody to try and regain some memory but they are both of the opinion that if something has happened or even just the things that went on in those years would be upsetting for me to deal with and that maybe some things are better off left in a forgotten past.

I would like to point out that I am a very happy stable person. I have done well in climbing up the work ladder, have one beautiful little girl, a very close and strong relationship with my entire family. I have been married but I am divorced and not really either looking or interest in another relationship, my marriage has left it's scars on my trust and belief in people and I also as a single parent (with my neither my daughter nor I in contact with my ex) have very little time to meet anyone let alone maintain a relationship.

Part of me agrees with my parents about leaving the past behind but the other part of me is very confused and I almost feel betrayed by myself for not being able to remember (does that even make sense?)

I'm not really even sure what I'm asking. I guess, would you feel like you had to try and find a way to remember or would you leave it be?

Sorry for it being so long.

LaurieFairyCake Fri 21-Mar-14 22:31:23

Very simply the fact you can't remember means something traumatic happened OR you suddenly suffered a period of illness - hormone imbalance, schizophrenia, psychotic break.

It would depend how high functioning you are in daily life and if you are ok with the person you are.

You sound high functioning - do you think you have a high degree of emotional problems from not trusting people ?

trappedinsuburbia Fri 21-Mar-14 22:38:19

Hmmm undecided, there are pretty major things in my past that I don't remember, like my ex telling me how I made him check on my neighbour because his door was open and he was actually dead.
I have absolutely no memory of this, although I have no doubt it happened.
Other horrible things I have no wish to revisit that seem like another life.
My life is completely different and so am I, for me I have no wish to try and recall any traumatic events that would have no positive outcome to my life now.

CinnabarRed Fri 21-Mar-14 22:39:20

I have exactly the same thing, although in my case I know why I don't have memories from the ages of 14-17.

My younger stepsisters are the same. They suffered a trauma (not the same one; their DF married my DM when we were all young adults) and are 'missing' chunks of their childhood.

I have found that I cope because I know what happened to me and why my brain has reacted in the way it has.

Enormous hugs and very best wishes to you. Congratulations for making your life the success that it is.

pixiegirlishere Fri 21-Mar-14 22:42:30

I have the same - huge gaps in memories. The thing that worries me is that they say as we age, long term memories, those of the past, become sharper. Particularly childhood memories. For people who had less happy childhoods the idea of living in the past is not an attractive one. It worries me at times.

InsertAwesomeNickname Fri 21-Mar-14 22:43:38

I am happy with the way my life is 100%. It's not that I don't trust people just that I now have issues with trust after my marriage.

My ex didn't cheat but there was an awful lot of betrayal and subsequently some abuse, however that occurred just before I left.

My Dad has mentioned he thinks it may have been triggered by a hormone imbalance. But really he is only basing this on the fact that I looked older than my age. So at 13/14 I could quite easily get into a night club.

My parents did try to keep me home but I walked out and sometimes not come back for a day or two. I never discussed where I had been or what I had been doing and although I remember going on nights out I don't actually remember disappearing for days at a time.

My parents called the police but I was never found by them and just turned up back home of my own accord. They optionally involved SS because they were so worried about me and even though I only remember attending one appointment I apparently attended several.

I'm not upset about what I have found out, just confused.

InsertAwesomeNickname Fri 21-Mar-14 22:49:20

I just feel like now I know gaps are missing I have an urge to fill them.

However stepping back and taking a look at the situation objectively I don't think I want to delve into part of my life that maybe my mind has deliberately shut out.

It's hard though, I feel like I'm fighting logic with instinct in my own mind just now and even when I think I've made my mind up I will find I change it again and again and just can't settled on a decision.

This is why I'm asking you lovely lot grin I think I need the outsiders point of view here.

DoJo Fri 21-Mar-14 22:54:30

Is there anything you can think of that you would be better off knowing? I'm no expert, but it seems unlikely that your brain is protecting you from something brilliant or life-affirming, and it's more likely that you will remember something upsetting.

However, I can completely understand the temptation to delve into your past - memories are such a personal and important thing, and I can imagine how you might feel a bit robbed not remembering such formative years.

Unfortunately, the only things I can imagine you might not remember for psychological reasons are the sort which might throw up questions of legal sanctions, so you have to consider whether you would want to remember something upsetting if you thought that you might be able to do something about it as an adult.

What a truly difficult situation - either option is pretty loaded. Could you go and see your GP about it, or maybe ask a friend that you had back then to see if they might hold any clues - those are the only form 'compromise' I can think of which lies in between not opening a can of worms and always wondering.

rabbitlady Fri 21-Mar-14 23:01:26

ask your brain to send you a memory. give it a couple of weeks and the archivist will find it and send it forward. done this loads. for example, recently asked dad about before he built the house where he lives now (ie pre 1959) and questioned myself about not remembering ... then later saw the action replay of dad driving me and mum up a hill, finding it scary, mum saying 'this is where we're going to live!' and me thinking 'you must be joking. its a field. i don't like it'. we moved into the house when i was two years one month old, so i'd have been 18-22 months when that event took place.
give your brain a prompt and wait...

InsertAwesomeNickname Fri 21-Mar-14 23:09:59

DoJo I have remained friends with some of the people from that period of my life and have spoken to one of them who tells me I disappeared on them too and didn't really talk about what was going on away from them.

It's like a had some kind of secret life hidden away somewhere and only I knew. The problem being even I don't know now.

The conversation I had with my Dad was probably just short of 4 months ago now and I have racked my brains with zero turn up.

It's a very bizarre realisation to have. I'm 25 so it isn't like that time was a million years ago. I feel my memories return to normal around the age of 17.5. I have spoken to my male best friend who I met around that time to see if I told him anything about the years previous but he says that I didn't and although he knew I'd gone off the rails and my relationship at that point with my parents was strained and I was trying to rebuild it that I didn't divulge an awful lot about things I'd done previous.

DoJo Fri 21-Mar-14 23:19:53

Sorry - cross posted. Having read your latest update, could it possibly just be a difference in remembering between you and your parents? E.g. you remember staying at a friends house for a night and your parents remember you 'disappearing' because you weren't clear where you'd be?

DoJo Fri 21-Mar-14 23:23:52

Sorry - badly worded as I'm not saying that all of it might be that, but do you think that perhaps your parents perception of it is a little clouded by the fact that they were worried about you? So the truth might be somewhere in the middle of your lack of memories and their concerns about you being missing.

InsertAwesomeNickname Fri 21-Mar-14 23:28:06

I don't think so. There are fairly significant things that I have no memory of either.

I think what bothers me most is the long period of time of missing memories. And also that I don't know when I forgot. Was it a relatively immediate thing or was it last year or the yea before? Was it gradual or was it in bulk?

I have no memory of it that much is clear to me but obviously I knew at some point so when did that disappear? I don't ever remember thinking it (for example) is Sunday but last thing remember is Fri or anything like that. It just seems to have vanished.

InsertAwesomeNickname Fri 21-Mar-14 23:30:23

Sorry that's a bit jumbled. My thoughts regarding this are all a bit messy and writing it down in a way that makes sense to others is difficult.

DoJo Fri 21-Mar-14 23:36:19

I think that's only to be expected, and you need to sort out your thoughts, so if using this as a sounding board helps then that can only be a good thing. I think this is probably something you will have to give a lot of thought to - there is no simple answer and although you might vacillate between the options, hopefully you will reach a resolution that you are happy with. It is worth considering that you will not be able to 'un-know' anything if you do find stuff out, so make sure that you have plenty of support and people around you whatever you decide.

CailinDana Sat 22-Mar-14 00:19:33

IMO when this sort of thing starts happening it means you feel safe and strong enough to start remembering. That's what happened with me. I didn't get clear memories back just a knowledge of things that happened. It was worth going through but very hard.

CinnabarRed Sat 22-Mar-14 01:47:05

IMO when this sort of thing starts happening it means you feel safe and strong enough to start remembering. That's what happened with me. I didn't get clear memories back just a knowledge of things that happened. It was worth going through but very hard.


I still have no recollection whatsoever of my father's funeral, for example, which I really regret, but at least I know it happened.

InsertAwesomeNickname Sat 22-Mar-14 09:09:01

The thing is nothing really happened apart from a realisation that my memories differ from others but I only realised that because I was asked about specific things. Part of me wonders if it's possible to become so good at not thinking about something that you make yourself forget?

I guess my concern is that if I actively try and seek out these memories that I might open a floodgate that I'll regret and wish I'd kept closed.

The sensible part of me thinks that if I'm meant to remember and/or can cope with remember they will come back in their own time. And then the other part of me wants to pick away at this. I don't know if I'll ever accept fully not knowing.

How did other peoples memories come back to them? Was it just a random event or did you actually speak to someone and actively try to recover them?

LosingItSlowly Sat 22-Mar-14 09:37:31

Just based on my own experiences, I would say don't chase missing memories.

I also realised around my mid-20s that huge chunks of my teenager/childhood were completely blank. In fact, there are remarkably few actual memories left at all.

It has been slowly trickling back over the years (like suddenly remembering a dream you had last night), and they are all memories that given the choice, I would forget again.

Its as though my brain releases a little bit at a time, lets me process it properly, and then releases a little bit more. Its painful, but it feels like healing. I can't imagine how devastating it would be to force yourself to realise too much too soon, if your brain is indeed protecting you.

Sleepyfergus Sat 22-Mar-14 09:47:28

Ian in no way qualified to advise and there are others in here who seem to have been through similar who can offer better advice.

I wonder if it might be better to focus on the now and perhaps put your energy into ensuring your dd has memories to take forward with her. Actively make a memory book or box?

Hope that doesn't sound cliched or belittling.

notthegirlnextdoor Sat 22-Mar-14 09:48:59

Hi OP.

I have a chunk of 2 years missing. I had a psychotic / bi polar meltdown between 18-20.

There are a lot of photos on nights out etc. I remember none of them and they truly terrify me, the vacant expression, the dead eyes. My Dad said that yes the photos are bad but it was a million times worse in person and to see his daughters body but not see his daughter there mentally was the worst experience of his life.

I had little to no help and was living alone for the majority of it. I'm now 27 and I do have the odd flashback where something, a smell, a song, a place will trigger a memory that was long buried.

I figure the brain forgets these things to protect itself. If I try and think about that time it's as if I am looking through a bathroom window (the patterned glass ones) and its also dark and raining. On occasion things do get through the veil (as I've come to call it.)

I'm not sure if any of this will help, but I just want you to know you are not alone.

InsertAwesomeNickname Sat 22-Mar-14 10:31:49

Yeah the responses have helped. I think it has confirmed what the sensible part of me was thinking and that if I'm ever ready to remember or need to that my body will allow it.

I'm struggling to make my peace with this but I'm going to try as a few posts have hit home that forcing the memories probably isn't in anyone's best interests.

Sleepyfergus tbh the time I'm missing is one where I seem to have hidden my life away from friends and family it's not my childhood. However I actually do have a memory box for DD there are things relating to her Dad in there along with other bits a pieces like first drawing, hand a feet prints, hospital outfit etc etc. Thanks for the suggestion, I wish I had something like that from my childhood.

girlwhowearsglasses Sat 22-Mar-14 11:46:44

OP you would be entitled to view your files with Social Services I think? You can certainly see your medical records, and data protection act means you are entitled to see things about yourself - if you really want to find out more it might be worth asking to see your own files - with SS, medical, and depending on that with police?

I don't know much about it, but it might be worth knowing and dealing with as potentially could affect your life in the future. I can imagine lots of scenarios where you might unintentionally lie in this situation - from getting life insurance to getting a job, to medical emergencies where you might not know something about yourself that then becomes relevant (you sound perfectly normal and sane to me, but even if you maybe got involved in drugs or were cautioned for something it would be good to actually know IYKWIM..

Thetallesttower Sat 22-Mar-14 11:57:04

To put a slightly different perspective on it, I have some memories buried from trauma, but also lots of missing memories of much more benign and quite happy times or at least not traumatic ones. I don't remember attending my grandma's wedding or funeral, yet I was between 15-18 around that time, I only know from photos I was there. Same with a lot of uni.

I tend to have general memories around a time, so I could remember where I was living, and the friends around at that time, but specific events and instances often not at all. This has puzzled friends who are sure I must be able to remember what to them are quite significant events.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that having missing memories can indicate trauma/buried memories but it can also indicate that you just haven't looked back at that time for a long time/rehearsed them. I find it hard to remember lots of events- I'm not sure this is that unusual.

I hope you find the answers you are looking for, and if stuff is buried, that it does come up for you in a way you can deal with it.

DrewsWife Sat 22-Mar-14 11:57:07

I have a very fractured memory due to sexual and violent abuse. My memory has always had gaps and it was explained that it's the brains way of protecting me.

I'm not saying you were. But the brain is an amazing safety net.

I had wonderful counselling.

Maybe there was a death in friends or family? A major stress?

Maybe you have to let it go x

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