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Old memories getting new meanings...


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I've been working over the last couple of weeks with one of my tutors, who is a qualified doc with a special interest in psych, talking about all the stuff in my childhood that my weird tdoc doesn't want me to talk about (he's not interested in anything that happened prior to August.) He's helping me to draw connections between stuff, from when I was really little, and until a couple of weeks ago I really didn't think that there was anything sinister going on until much later in my life.

I was abused when I was 13-14, by a friend of my parents. After a couple of times, I disclosed, but they didn't do anything to help me - I still had to see the guy. I'd always assumed that that was just because my mum's a fruitloop (her pdoc told my dad that he thought she had bipolar, which figures, now that I'm diagnosed with it too - she's been floridly psychotic on and off for as long as I can remember) and that that meant she couldn't deal with stuff.

Because my tutor also knows my entire medical history (he's been my main advocate getting me through fitness to practice) he started asking me things about the infections I had when I was little - I had a lot of urine infections, far more than you'd expect for a 6-year-old - quite a lot of the infections went to my kidneys, so I had all sorts of scans and tests with dye and things to see if there was a problem. They found that the infections had damaged one of my kidneys, but never found a cause for all the infections.

Anyway, my tutor was talking to me about how my parents acted about all these infections. I remember that both my parents used to "examine" me before they'd make an appointment for me to see the doctor, and sometimes I'd have to wait a few days while they examined me every day, and they'd only let me go and see the doctor once they decided it was OK. I never understood why they did that, but until I talked it over with my tutor, I assumed that that was normal. When I was little, if I had a chest infection Mum would listen to my chest before she made me an appointment, so I figured it was normal for parents to look at their children "down there" before they made an appointment about a UTI. Anyway, apparently this isn't normal behaviour - which makes sense, I'd be a bit wigged out if one my patients' parents was doing that!

I remember having a lot of bad dreams at the time, about my parents hurting me. They seemed very real, but Mum always told me that they were just bad dreams, and that to dream such horrible things about my parents, especially about my Dad, meant that I was a bad child. Right now, I'm totally freaking out about it, because what if they weren't just dreams? That'd explain why I had so many infections, and it'd explain why I sometimes had to wait for my "examination" to be OK before I could have an appointment - if they were waiting for something to heal, maybe?

Or maybe they were just dreams, the infections were just infections, and I'm casting aspersions on my parents - because that really would make me a bad child. I don't know. I've always felt a little bit uncomfortable with my Dad, and really rather uncomfortable with my Mum, but maybe that's just because my family are generally a bit weird? I've never been keen on the walking around naked, going to nudist beaches, not locking the bathroom door thing, and I think that might be what's making me think badly of my parents, when maybe it's all innocent and they're just different from me?

Argh. Right now, I'm freaking the hell out, and the bottle of vodka in the kitchen is sounding more and more like a good idea. I know it's not the answer.

;)

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I've changed surgeries since I was a kid, so I don't know whether my current doctor has a full copy of all my childhood stuff or just a summary. I'll ask next time I go to see him - theoretically I can get a copy of anything that's been written about me, under the Data Protection Act, but I don't know how many hoops I'll have to jump through to get it.

Had a glass of wine, then poured the rest of the bottle away. Not great, I shouldn't have had anything, but better than getting drunk. I don't feel like I'm in control right now ;)

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Congrats on dumping the booze.

If there was anything conclusive in your medical records, some sort of action would have had to be taken. They still might be worth obtaining, but definitive answers probably aren't there.

It's human nature to fill in the blanks. We do this with sight. We do this with sound. You are doing it now. The only thing is, you are doing it from a particular mind set. The actual answers may well be quite different. I would not go down this path. It will bring a lot of heartache with no real information. If you let the whole thing go, and something actually did happen, at some point you probably will remember, or at least remember enough to know. If nothing happened, then you aren't apt to remember much. Not remembering of course is not an answer, but shy of something that lets you know it's the case, you are just guessing and the guesses may be wrong. Idk, this seems like something to give some real thought. And Bez, I'm not saying what you're doing is wrong. It is natural. I would question, too. I'm just saying that it can make you nuts without giving a real answer.

ETA:

I forgot to say that your parents behavior was not at all okay or normal. It alone could cause you issues. I am saying be careful about filling in the blanks.

I also want to say that your tutor is not a qualified pdoc or tdoc. Despite his medical degree, his input is worth that of a friend, not a professional. He is leading you down a very dark path. He should not be the one leading. That is a flag. He's not apt to have the right tools if you fall apart, either. As your tutor, is he supposed to get involved in your life like this? I'm guessing that violates a couple boundaries. Be careful.

Have you had any luck on getting a new tdoc?

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Your parents behavior sounds very sketchy. I have not seen the genitals of either of my children since they were out of diapers. I know I'm very paranoid about even a hint at impropriety and having a Dad who basically said, fuck all the boundaries Im going to do what I want, never helped that. But, like Stacia said, there is plenty of heartache in getting definitive answers. For a lot of us though that is the only thing that brings peace.

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I agree with not going crazy into your past. It can make you worse unless you have appropriate supervision. My case manager told my therapist to focus on skills to cope instead of focusing on the past and memories since I dissociate so much. If you don't remember that you were abused, my advice is to not try and find out. Take it from me, someone with ptsd, where my symptoms are exacerbated when put under the environment of talking about the past...memory flooding.

I hope you can work with your therapist, and not your tutor, to talk about your worries while not trying to figure out what happened.

Good luck. You don't want to make your ptsd worse because it did for me.

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you've gotten helpful responses from people with much more wisdom than I....

although not a specialist and just my personal reaction, the actions that you do describe and do remember sound inappropriate to me. those boundary violations/extra examinations/etc are things that can cause harm--and that could trigger the current stuff and questions. it may be the it, if that makes sense. that's not to say that there isn't other stuff "out there" in the realm of possibilities. but i wanted to validate, to the degree that it's helpful, that what you do remember can be painful and hard. i sympathize with much of it (perhaps why I'm writing).

that said, I also second the recommendation that "trying to find out" is frequently troublesome. not because it isn't important....believe me, I know how important it can be and feel....but there isn't always a way of getting an "answer." I have huge gaps in memory that I wished I could understand. But I've come to work on paying attention to and respecting my feelings.

In the long run, for me at least, I would like to know "what happened," to the degree that anything beyond what I remember happened. But what gets me through now is just focusing on where I'm safe, where I'm functional, where I'm myself...and how I handle things when I'm not [e.g., coming up w/ a plan to handle home visits].

one final thought...I've personally had a hard time going down the "they're good people and I'm just a bad child" track. There are some truly atrocious parents. But most I'd assume and hope don't fall into that category. Regardless, though, that does not take away your experience. even if their actions may be seen by some as "normal" (whatever that means), that doesn't mean that it felt normal or comfortable to you. and that's okay. you have permission to feel your own feelings and to have your own reactions to their behaviors. their story of what happened doesn't have to match your feeling or story of what happened.

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I also remembered something else I was taught early on. That one need not 1) have specific memories, and 2) forgive the perps to heal. I was abused over a period of years. I don't remember each incident. In fact, I only have a few *real* memories. I liked what Mika said about having the appropriate support when you are mining these fields. I was a new mother when my shit first went supernova. I could NOT function as a Mom and a victim. I had an imaginary cupboard that I would visualize packing up my incest/sex abuse issues and put them on the shelf. I would consciously take them out again during the 50 minutes with tdoc. I could never, ever have done the healing work without very knowledgeable professionals.

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I also remembered something else I was taught early on. That one need not 1) have specific memories, and 2) forgive the perps to heal. I was abused over a period of years. I don't remember each incident. In fact, I only have a few *real* memories. I liked what Mika said about having the appropriate support when you are mining these fields. I was a new mother when my shit first went supernova. I could NOT function as a Mom and a victim. I had an imaginary cupboard that I would visualize packing up my incest/sex abuse issues and put them on the shelf. I would consciously take them out again during the 50 minutes with tdoc. I could never, ever have done the healing work without very knowledgeable professionals.

very well put. small, tiny digestible chunks with very well-trained people. in small doses.

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Thanks guys.

None of these memories are new - I'm not recovering anything. It's almost like my brain is drawing a dot-to-dot, trying to take lots of isolated memories that have always been there, and see if they join up to make a picture that makes sense - but I guess even doing that is running the risk of exaggerating stuff in my head. I don't really want to be doing this, even - I'm really trying to think about other stuff, but my mind keeps coming back to the stuff that scares me.

Feeling a bit more level this morning, just trying to distract myself and think about other stuff. I think what scared me last night was how much I felt like a frightened little girl again. Frightened angry 13-year-old I'm used to, frightened little girl not so much. I'm giving myself a duvet day, though, because my timetable today basically involves watching young people die, and getting grilled on stuff I haven't looked at in about three years. Probably a better use of my time to stay in bed and read the stuff I would have been quizzed on!

And you're right, my tutor probably isn't the best person to be doing this with - he has a tendency to open a lot of emotional boxes, then at the end of the session just change the subject and start quizzing me on something academic, so I have to try to get everything back in its box while fielding silly questions. But until I get a different tdoc I don't have anyone else to talk to - I wish I could talk to my friends about this, but they all think my mum's great, and they're sick of me being crazy.

Meh.

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I'm really trying to think about other stuff, but my mind keeps coming back to the stuff that scares me.
One of the maddening symptoms for me was reliving and obsessing about what happened. Some say our psyche protects us from harm in these types of situation. I pretty much buy into that. It's hard for me to explain, but I knew I had to plumb the depth of this wounding. Of course my tdoc at the time was very informed about PTSD (that was before they even named PTSD,) and my journey was kind of a partnership between she and I. She taught me about flashbacks, about flooding and all of my *triggers*.

I felt like a frightened little girl again. Frightened angry 13-year-old I'm used to, frightened little girl not so much.
I think this is classic. I used to get enraged by the "inner child". Again, that was back in the day when they were just really beginning to understand childhood trauma. It was way before the whole false memory scandals started showing up. I grew more comfortable for that little girl. I "got it" that I was not able to protect her then, but I could NOW.

It takes awhile to understand all of this. And it's definitely not something you want to eat, breathe and sleep, but sometimes there is really no control of it. I can say it never was SO bad that I completely lost myself.

I wish I could talk to my friends about this, but they all think my mum's great, and they're sick of me being crazy.

I found that my friends couldn't really hang when the shit was hitting the fan. I think it's too intense. There is such raw pain and people don't know how to deal with it. That's my take on it anyway.

It's hard. And I realize that's an understatement.

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