I met him on a comment thread, just the other day, when my friend Boz Tchividjian posted an interview on his blog. In it I share a bit about our home and upbringing, and answer a few questions about the book I released earlier in March.
His name is Tom. I’ve not met Tom in real life, as far as I know–at least he has not identified himself–but he began a line of questioning on just how I came about remembering my childhood, after years of pushing down those harsh realities. He was gentle and polite, so I engaged. (I found him quite delightful, actually. So this blog isn’t really about him… but he’s the one who took me down that road) At length, he identified his concerns regarding Memory Recall Therapy, and found it hard to believe I didn’t use these methods to try to recall things in my past.
I’ve heard that hypnosis is one method used, but I’m not curious enough to bother myself about learning just what that entails or what the other methods are, as I have long made it clear that I do not support trying to remember things. I am very supportive of confronting abusers (or alleged abusers, as the case may be) when memories return on their own, but to force them, I am not in favour of, nor have I ever engaged in such activity. And the reason I don’t want to understand it, is because it is useless information at this time.
I’ve read up on Rapid Eye Movement Therapy, because I’ve had clients going through this either overlapping with my coaching sessions, or before them. When it impacts a client, I am interested, or if it is information that is useful to me in what I do. (For this reason I have done a fair bit of reading PTSD, Bipolar, and various other disorders, as well as self-harm, sexual sadism, violent sexual self-harm etc, masturbation, addictions and the psychology behind them–because these are things I’ve worked with, in clients.) But to study other ‘strange’ or questionable treatments and therapies, when I have no intention of using them, is as helpful as studying accounting and business to learn how to play a violin. Poor time and resource investment.
This stranger, Tom, did leave me with one article to read, in his final comments, and the article frustrated the life out of me. It brought to memory another article I read a year or so ago, regarding the use of hypnosis for the purpose of remembering past events, but I cannot find that article, or recall it. What I recall is that I skimmed it, and agreed with the author (some PHD, and in the Britain Journal of Medicine, if I recall accurately) that it was hokus pokus, though I’d go further and say it is spiritually dangerous. Not being able to locate that article is only a small part of my frustration.
In the article from Tom, found here, these questionable recall methods are tackled and ‘debunked’. On this, I agree with the article, 100%. (When I’ve been asked if it’s a good idea, my answer is a resounding ‘NO!’ I feel strongly about it!)
In this same article the term “The body remembers even if the mind cannot” is also addressed, referring to ‘body memories’. I know little about this, but use a similar statement in my book, when referring to my damaged right wrist that required therapy in my twenties, a wrist that was wounded when my father struck me, as a young toddler. It is a story mom and siblings recounted to me, of my wrist hanging limply after being struck violently. Beyond that, ‘body memories’ are not something I am very familiar with.
What frustrates me most in this article is that all ‘returned memories’ seem to be called ‘recovered’, and the baby seems to have got dumped with the bath water. That this topic is studied ‘at a distance’ and disqualified as illegitimate, when the hands on reality proves otherwise–when done *apart* from memory recall therapy–seems careless. And I would take on any psychologist, psychiatrist or other ‘ist’ in this area–no matter how ‘educated’–and let them ‘experience’ the truth with me. (Yes, that’s an invitation! It isn’t arrogant; it’s confidence in what I see, over and over again.) Work alongside of me for a while, make it a study, and I promise it will be proven that people block memories, and those memories are easily validated, usually by the pepetrator. And there will be no memory recall therapy used.
Several years ago I had a client (who gave me permission to share parts of her story) with recurring nightmares, always of a real time, real place with real people, involving trauma. Having heard the nightmare a few times I asked if they had ever talked to the ‘real live’ people in that nightmare and asked if they know of anything that happened in that particular room. (I discouraged telling what was in the nightmare, to avoid creating the ‘memory’ for the other person.) Having contacted one, my client contacted me, shocked; the individual confirmed the event. Ironically, when it came out there were other victims. (Surprise, surprise.) And, coincidentally, having dealt with it, my client suddenly started to heal, and did a radical U-turn.
More recently, I worked with a client who (first of all, also gave me permission to write) and ‘recalled’ memories, on her own, out of the blue, that she had blocked for years. False memories? Think again! We met with the man who molested her, and took not one, not two, not three but four witnesses to confront him. (One was a couple from his church, one was the husband of the victim, the other was my husband.)
I started the meeting with, “Do you know why we’re here?”
He said he knew, but immediately added, “but it wasn’t sexual.”
“Uh.. yes it was,” I said. He argued again. A few ’rounds’ of this and I knew we were headed no where fast. And then it occurred to me…
“In that case,” I said, looking around the room at the three gentlemen present, ” you wouldn’t object to each of these men doing to your wife, right now, what you did to that girl?” His wife sat beside him, vulnerable.
“Okay.. it was sexual. It was sexual,” he said, and broke down weeping.
That established, we moved forward with his apology, and him addressing the victim’s husband, asking him to apologize to her, on his behalf. While there is much more to write about that story, it isn’t relevant to today’s blog, so I will leave it.
According to that article, my client’s memories would be casually tossed aside as being ‘not valid’ because she had blocked them for many years. And yet, the confrontation confirmed them. My frustration, then, is that the ‘professionals’ who do this–and many don’t–are potentially contributing to the mental deterioration of these clients that could otherwise heal.
To have my own memories challenged is one thing. There’s sixteen siblings in my family, and we all have similar hellish memories, so no one needs to convince me, or them. We know the truth and stand by it, every one of us–though obviously our experiences vary. As does my mother. And, heck, even my dad owned up to his wickedness, so not a lot of affirmation needed, on my part. But to carelessly disregard an individual’s memories, in every case, is tragic and ends with the victim being violated all over again. Not only are we saying the abuse is irrelevant, now we’re saying they’re crazy on top of what they already suffered. (And I say ‘carelessly’ because there are ‘false memories’ that have also been proven, and people with mental illness live, at times, in some alternate reality that they have created. I have known such people, and it isn’t fun to watch, but to use a blanket statement to negate all memories that come back over time, is foolishness.)
Even in my book, where I mention the older teens who use a group of my siblings, the scene has been corroborated. One of the teens–I discovered a few weeks ago–apologized to one of the victims. And yet that memory didn’t resurface, more than the time or two I mention in my book, until my thirties, then disappeared again until January 2012, when I finally had to deal with the reality of it.
This article, for that reason, has little credibility based on my experience, regardless the letters behind the name, because I have too much proof that it is not accurate. I will stand by the truth that I know, and continue to help victims of abuse heal, mediate with confrontation, and offer life and hope in the process.
And my encouragement to you is, if you know your memories are real, don’t let anyone push you back into the darkness. Forgive the abuser, but don’t be afraid to establish healthy boundaries. Invite Jesus into the pain, to heal your broken heart and spirit. And, having done so, move on to embrace a life of purpose.
~ T ~
© Trudy Metzger
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