Recently someone asked me: how did you unblock your memories? I would like to do that. I think I am ready.
This is a great question!
It was totally through the grace of God. Every year of my son’s life, brought back everything that happened to me at the same age. I don’t recommend it as an approach, since I had to live through it twice, at the expense of his childhood!
At the time, I had a very gifted therapist, who explained that memories come back 4 ways. It’s called the BASK model. It looks something like this:
Behaviour: Sometimes you react to things in a way which is out of proportion to the situation – the classic one is a Vietnam vet diving for cover when a car backfires. Tonight, for me, I reacted in a way that was over the top when I saw a child at the dinner table point a smoking pistol on his Blackberry towards his Dad. It looked all the world like a real gun shooting his Dad. It sent me into a full blown panic attack. If I didn’t know about my own childhood gun trauma, I wouldn’t understand why I react a certain way when I’m triggered. Another example is that I wouldn’t wear a white wedding dress, because I had been defiled by the sexual abuse. I didn’t understand it at the time, but once I got the memories back, it all made sense.
Affect: Is when you feel feelings and you have no idea why. For example, you might be filled with sadness or rage for no apparent reason. You might cry easily, again for no apparent reason. As a result of what happened to me tonight, I am feeling tremendous sadness and powerlessness; and rage at the father whose response was “boys will be boys”. I’m feeling the feelings associated with my own childhood gun trauma; not the feelings of what happened tonight. If I didn’t know what happened to me, I wouldn’t have a framework for dealing with the emotions.
Senses: You might be triggered by something you see, hear, taste, touch or smell. For example, my family used Ivory bar soap when I was growing up, so I associate the smell with them. I can’t have it in my house, or use it if I’m at someone else’s house (well I can now, I just choose not to!). For example, there’s been a lot of it at the food bank lately and I get it for my son, but I don’t use any of it. Other people have told me they can’t eat anything white and creamy (rice pudding, tapioca pudding, ice cream . . . ) because of its obvious associations with semen. For a long time I couldn’t give or receive a hug from a man or a woman because I believed “if you touch me, I have to have sex with you.” I always avoided situations where people were hugging (and even now, when I have a context to put it in, I’m still often uncomfortable being touched).
Knowledge: is the conscious knowledge of the memories. For me, this was the last thing to come back and when it did, it explained so much, because I’d already had the experience with behaviour, affect and senses. It helped me believe my story.
So if you’re experiencing behaviour, affect or sensory triggers, you’re already well on your way to recovering your memories!
Finally, even though I had all of that, I still had trouble believing what I know to be true. I kept coming back to “maybe it didn’t happen”, because denial was a much easier place to be! I found this quote from the Bahá’í Writings really helpful in keeping me grounded in my truth:
Consequently, it has become evident that the four criteria standards of judgment by which the human mind reaches its conclusions (senses, intellect, traditional or scriptural and inspiration) are faulty and inaccurate. All of them are liable to mistake and error in conclusions. But a statement presented to the mind, accompanied by proofs which the senses can perceive to be correct, which the faculty of reason can accept, which is in accord with traditional authority and sanctioned by the promptings of the heart, can be adjudged and relied upon as perfectly correct, for it has been proved and tested by all the standards of judgment and found to be complete. When we apply but one test, there are possibilities of mistake. This is self-evident and manifest. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 255)
For me this is similar to the BASK model – it just goes a little further.
How have you unblocked your memories? Post your comments here: