Coffee is therapy. Read along as I relate and offer affirmation to the struggles of living with Complex PTSD over my morning coffee.
Every four months in therapy I take the PCL (PTSD checklist) questionnaire with my therapist. It asks me a series of questions surrounding my symptoms to rate my progress. The test equals a total of 85 points. The higher my score, the more PTSD is hindering my life.
On that list, I am asked each time about my memories of my abuse and childhood and despite all of the work I do, this question never minimizes my score because my memories are gone. There are huge black holes in my mind, barely an essence of the youth I know I lived, but giving me nothing to grasp.
Recently on my Survivors Speak Live show, Sara and I talked at length about the lack of continuity we survivors feel in our lives due to gaps in our memories. I shared that I feel like I have lived three separate lives: my childhood of abuse, my decades of dissociation, and now this life I am living as I heal.
We shared together the frustration of losing touch with memories from as little as 10 years ago, memories with our spouses and children, because our minds have been conditioned by survival to dissociate and fuzz things over, good or bad. We mourned the losses together as we spoke because …
Memory loss of childhood due to extreme abuse and trauma carries with it an immense level of grief knowing that the protective blanket we used to protect ourselves from all the bad, also covered up good memories. Memories I wish I could remember and hold on to as testament that there was actually good in my life when I was little.
This is why we survivors of childhood abuse so often tell people we do not remember life before trauma. We don’t. We have no point of reference for normal or healthy and so – as we heal, we begin a journey of complete self-discovery from the ground up.
For those grieving years of lost memory and longing for pieces of the good you know was there as a child, I walk alongside you in this grief and frustration. You are not alone.