How to Know if You Are Having Repressed Memories, Part II

 REPRESSED MEMORIES ARE REAL (Photo of a t-shirt I made for the Clothesline Project, an event displaying t-shirts representing survivors and bearing witness to any and all types of domestic/sexual violence).
REPRESSED MEMORIES ARE REAL (Photo of a t-shirt I made for the Clothesline Project, an event displaying t-shirts representing survivors and bearing witness to any and all types of domestic/sexual violence).

Has life ever stopped you in your tracks?

I was driving to work one day from my office to a local courthouse to assist a client. I was driving down the same back road near my childhood neighborhood I knew very well and had driven down many times before. This drive on this day in the late spring, early summer of 2013, was initially like any other drive, until it wasn’t…….

I drove by a particular street, which was also very familiar to me. I spent many hours in that neighborhood, where my best friend lived and also, my babysitter who watched me during 4th and 5th grade, I had to be around 9/10 years old.

Now on this day, that originally started out like any other, while I was driving through a very familiar neighborhood, I was hit with memories. Memories of my babysitter’s house. These memories were not good ones, and nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to remember next. Memories of fear and a sudden wave of emotional pain stopped me in my tracks.

The girl who was finally free from her past (so she thought), was stopped in her tracks.

I pulled over and was overcome by visions of myself as a child. Scared, locked behind closed doors, and a physical pain that seared through my adult body as if something bad was happening, someone was hurting me like I had been hurt in the past, but it was happening in that moment.

The same sequence of memories kept coming into my mind, in some sort of “repeat” fashion…The memories didn’t make sense, they were fragmented memories that I didn’t even know existed until this moment, and pieces were missing, some that I would later discover.

When you have a puzzle, but you just don’t seem to have all the pieces.

For many weeks I was in a battle within myself with the same memories floating through my head over and over. As the weeks went on, I finally decided I needed help.

I went back to a member of my “DREAM TEAM”, the therapist I had been seeing on and off for 10 years. I told her briefly what had happened weeks before and she tried her best to help me process, but I was missing so much information that even I, who was living it, was struggling to process something that seemed so fragmented and distant in my mind.                 

I know now that God had his hand on me and my life through all of this.

God works in mysterious ways because at that time my therapist was in a work group with other therapists. She was introduced to a woman who was trained in EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), a specific specialized trauma treatment that has been proven to help people move past traumatic events. She suggested I give it a try with this new therapist, and because I trusted her, I said yes.

That leap of faith, that YES, forever changed my path, and I truly believe this leap of faith, into someone else’s hands, helped me get to a place of healing from the repressed memories MUCH SOONER than if I had tried to do it on my own or with just “talk therapy”.  

You Can Never Cross the Ocean, Until you Have The Courage To Lose Sight of the Shore

— Christopher Columbus

I’ll never forget walking into that new therapist’s office for the first time. November 19th, 2013. I felt so confused and defeated because here I was again, facing my past in a way I never expected. I was so afraid of the unknown. I felt the absolute agony of not having the answers about something that was so vivid to me, and I was stumped as to how I would even be able to talk about it. I wanted to find out the details of what happened to me in that room at that house, but at the same time I was terrified about what I would actually find out, and how that would affect how far I had already come on my healing journey.

I had already put my dreams on hold many times through the years in regards to becoming an advocate for survivors, but this time was different. I was determined to use this to fuel my passion, not to let it pull me back and hold me down with fear. Although many days it felt like I would sink from this, I now know God was working within me to sustain me and bring me out on top. I was constantly saying to myself, in various forms…

I can and I will rise.

Read Part III, Saturday, March 26

Mel is employed as a Family Advocate working with child victims and their families. She joined this particular movement through an organization called Written on Your Heart (founded by a friend in Texas in 2012) and recently brought to her home state of New Hampshire in 2014.

“As a woman with strong faith, a passionate voice and an open heart, It’s an honor to share my journey will all of you.”