I am fully aware that many parts of my life are unknown to me. This is an odd feeling to say the least. Knowing what happened in my other memories, I am sure my brain has done me a great favor in keeping some things hidden.
How do I know I have gaps? Well some are obvious, they are so strange. I can’t picture my mom’s apartment where I lived for 2 years, from ages 16-17. I can picture the parking lot outside, I recall walking from the apartment to the pizza place where I worked, I recall the courtyard outside, I know the building had a front and back door, but it completely blanks out when I try to think of the inside of that apartment. Where did I sleep? No idea. I lived there with mom, my brother and his girlfriend. At one point my brother with schizophrenia moved in with his girlfriend too. In a 2 bedroom apartment. Where did we all sleep? I have no idea. Couch, floor, sleeping bags…I just don’t know. Hubby says he often came over while we were dating and cooked for us, watched tv with me there on the couch. Can’t recall any of that. Complete blackout for the inside of that apartment.
Other gaps I find out from looking at photos of myself. I see me at some place I have no memory of going to. Some look like vacations. I guess I blocked out entire week long trips from the looks of the photos.
Some gaps are from family gatherings, people reminiscing and I can’t recall the event they all swear I was there too.
Some gaps are for hours. Some are for locations. Some span entire weeks, possibly months.
So what happened? Did a terrible trauma happen during each of those memory gaps? Not necessarily. Unlike PTSD of a single traumatic event, complex PTSD can include going in and out of a disociative state, blocking encoding of memories, multiple triggers of fight or flight over the years, inbalances in the nervous system and stress chemicals….so many factors can lead up to memories not being stored correctly. They may or may not be repressed, they may not have been stored at all.
So other than the very odd feeling that your brain is keeping secrets from you, that you may have a twin or live in an alternate reality. Usually you see an old photo, get the memory jog and think “oh wow! I remember that! I have not thought of that in years!” Not “Hmm, I don’t remember going to Washington D.C in Middle School…Who else is there..How strange..I thought I went for the first time with Hubby in college…But that’s my perm so it must have been 6th grade, it looks like spring, tulips are blooming, maybe spring break?…I have no idea”
I have so many photos like that where I start playing detective, looking for clues, hoping the right clue will jog my memory, wake it up, have it all make sense. Then I would usually start asking people. But even sadder, is I belonged to AF. My mom and brothers had no idea where he took me, even before the divorce he took me on trips alone, not the whole family. Because that isn’t weird or a red flag or anything. I recall some of the trips, and apparently some I don’t. Who knows why. I don’t like it, but I have made some sort of peace that this is the state of my brain, just another bit of brokenness I must deal with.
I have many theme songs but this one makes me smile, helps me deal with this. Do you suffer from long term memory loss? I don’t remember. (you may need to look away during some of the strobe lights, I did) And as a side note, Chumbawamba was a funny favorite of mine in college, danced to it in the clubs, still makes me happy to hear it even though those days and friends are long gone.