Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
I don’t recognise myself in my memories of abuse.(35 Posts)
Has anyone else ever felt like this?
I’m out of an abusive marriage of 15 years 6 months ago. I don’t recognise the person in my memories, it’s very unsettling. I have done the online freedom programme and done a lot of research into abuse. I understand a lot of the explanations. My memories feel very disconnected. I know they were me but they feel very distant. The decisions I made and the person I was is not the person I am. I hope that makes any kind of sense. I feel like a have the memories of someone else, someone living in a trance someone doing stupid things.
This is really normal - I think it’s a type of dissociation.
Yes very normal. Years later I also occasionally remember some instance of abuse Id completely forgotten about! Always shakes me up, how could I forget something like that? But there were some many I suppose my brain can't remember them all without something triggering the surfacing of those memories.
It’s freaking me out feeling like I have someone’s else’s memories but at the same time knowing they are mine. It’s hard to understand why I stayed and lived like that, in my memories I must have been mad. I lived in direct contrast to my beliefs.
OP first of well done for getting out and doing what you can to care for yourself.
You have to remember that what you were doing, the decisions you were making were in the context of an abusive situation. Abusive people are crazy making and you can't act normally around them.
It's like saying, I was a hostage for five years, captured by terrorists and I am so different to that person now I'm free. Abusers hold you hostage and use terror tactics, you're surviving day to day, navigating the relationship. You are going to be different when you're out of it.
As someone else said above, abuse does make you dissociate because it can be too difficult to cope with. You are probably suffering from trauma and perhaps C-PTSD which is common in long term abuse. Look it up and see if anything clicks for you.
It’s hard to understand why I stayed and lived like that, in my memories I must have been mad
I feel like this somtimes. I understand how it happened but I get frustrated that I "let" it happen.
I am horrified by some of the things that happened to me in the past. I can't quite believe they did happen, somtimes it feels like it was just one big nightmare, that it wasnt actually real. But it was
If it’s distressing you to the extent that your life is becoming dominated by these thoughts there are ways to work through it. Obviously it’s likely that counselling would help you, but perhaps something like EMDR or Tapping might work for you?
Does the abuse make you dissociate at the time or am I doing it now?
It distresses me in the fact I just can’t get a clear picture of what happened. My husband is carrying on like normal and I’m unsure as to whether I was abused or I am mad!
I think you’d need a longer face-to-face conversation with someone who understands trauma. It may be that it’s coming to the fore for you now because you’re not in a state of high alert, so your mind is working through things that you’ve stored away.
Your abusive ex behaving ‘as normal’ means very little though, please don’t use him as your reference point.
I just don’t understand our relationship at all. I’m constantly confused.com
It's normal to not feel the effects of the abuse until the relationship has finished. You are surviving during the relationship so can't fall apart. Your mind protects you by erasing your memory and dissociating from what happened. Once the relationship is over, it's common to fall apart. You may experience panic, flashbacks, anxiety, insomnia, irritation, anger, depression and a whole host of physical symptoms as well.
It would help to discuss this with a professional. Perhaps validate the abuse with a domestic abuse professional and find a therapist to discuss it with. It may also help to see your GP as well.
Mind has lots of info on depersonalisation, trauma, post traumatic stress and dissociation.
My memories don’t seem that bad individually but I guess they accumulate.
Have the memories been changed permanently will I ever really feel and know what happened?
It really does make sense. It's disassociation. It led to my DSis and me repressing our memories of the childhood SA we suffered at the hands of my F. The memories only came back years after his death, when we had young DC, and I literally saw myself as a little girl in my flashbacks. (I'd had disturbing images for years, which I hadn't understood, which I now know was a symptom of PTSD.) My DB, who is very badly damaged, has said he doesn't remember anything about our childhoods.
I believe that it's a way of protecting ourselves from traumatic memories. My DSis and I had extensive therapy, along with EMDR, and it's helped us to process our memories and find a way of coping at them.
You've done so well to get away from your abusive relationship. The disassociation was a way of protecting yourself, but you really will benefit from therapy. It won't be a quick fix but you will get through this.
I meant 'It's helped us to process our memories and find a way of coping with them.'
OP everyone is different. I know someone who experienced severe and ongoing childhood abuse and is in her 40s and has barely any memory of her childhood.
My advice to you is to discuss this with a mental health professional in a safe and validating environment. Get in contact with your local domestic abuse organisation and ask them about counselling and therapy and speak to them about the abuse. It's very healing when someone simply listens and understands. You can also try BACP for a therapist.
I have no memories under the age of 11 or so... None. I thought I had a couple but I realised they were me making up memories from stories I heard from family. I just imagined it so many times it became a memory. It's disconcerting , I'm never going to know what I was like as a child. I have one picture of me when I was three that I got when my gran died. The memory is a very confusing thing and does what it can to protect you. I have been to counselling and understand my mind is trying to protect me. But I wasn't getting abused every minute of every day... I think it's something to do with how memories are stored long term as well. If you don't give your body and mind the correct conditions to do this, then it fails. I'm going to look that up again actually.
So are you saying the memories have been stored incorrectly forever? It’s making it very difficult for me to truly believe what I went through. I’m struggling with understanding if I was abused intentionally or if I just was the wrong person for my husband but I tried to be the right person for whatever reason....oh I don’t know.
I go on about it endlessly but Then Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van den Kolk is a brilliant book for explaining what might be happening for you.
Are you away from him now, is he in your life? Regular exercise and getting in a routine can be really helpful, it will help your wellbeing if you can find regulation in your day to day living.
I've been told that you can only relocate memories that were correctly stored in the first place. I'm going to buy that book just now "the body keeps the score".
I honestly think sometimes you can just look at how you were at that time, and if you were struggling so much then you were in an environment that was very, very bad for you. Good relationships don't lead to you wondering what the hell happened. They don't leave you feeling confused.
I've been in a toxic relationship and the problem is you change to fit the environment , so you start wondering how much was you and how much was them... In every single other relationship or friendship I have ever had I haven't felt like I did in that relationship. If this is something that you only felt in this relationship, then there is a very good chance it was him causing it.
I’m away from him but have children so I do try and have a routine for all our sake. I think I started that book a while back but found it difficult.
I can get no answers from my memories at all and when I think about it I feel so disconnected that this feeling freaks me out more then the memories. I’m guessing I must have been very scared of him to have changed my identity so much. He never physically hurt me though, a shove a long time ago. His arguments with me were very verbally intense and always right in my face. I was to blame for everything I remember I really struggled to carry the blame for absolutely everything. I met him in the UK but he is not from here and his family live abroad. He constantly blamed me for taking him away from them, even though I met him here. In arguments he would say he left all his family for me, did everything for me and I don’t care, which I did. I did everything for him.
I don’t know what he wanted from me apart from my constant adoration. The only problem was I was intimately terrified of him and I don’t really understand why. I really must have been scared of him.
WhoamI83 you sound very frightened still. You’ve done an incredible thing by the sound of it to get yourself out of that situation. That must have taken a great deal of strength. You need to recover, it will take time. If you were with him for 15 years that’s a long time pretending to be fine for him and taking all the emotional weight. You won’t just bounce back, you need rest and recovery.
Please login first.