Ever since I was around the age of 7, I always had this weird dream-like memory that would pop up every now and then. I didn't give it much thought until I was about 18 and it started popping up a LOT. I just brushed it off for a while, not even knowing what it was. One day when it popped up, it suddenly became obvious what was happening. It was my aunt's husband, on top of me and moaning, and me slipping in and out of consciousness (to this day, this is all I remember of whatever significant event took place). I immediately freaked out and started telling myself it must've been a dream, until it got so overwhelming that I had to tell my mom and aunt. By that time, they had been divorced for many years and he was off living with his mistress far away. My mom threw me into trauma therapy the next day, and the therapist was like "that is definitely a suppressed memory" and 18 year old me not being able to handle it said "cool! I feel fine now." Therapist was like ".... are you sure" and of course I was like "ya! :)" because my brain just wasn't ready to process, so I was basically dissociating from my own head at that point.
3 years go by, I'm a junior in college. I start dating a guy (lets call him P). P is amazing and I am starting to develop real feelings for him, but I'm noticing that my body is suddenly rejecting that. It starts off with not being able to perform sexually, and eventually gets to the point where I can barely be touched without panicking. I tell P what's going on and that I don't know why its happening, but that he can leave and I would understand (because in what world do you tell a guy you can't be touched and he wants to stay, especially after only a couple of months?). But the first words that come out of his mouth are "what can I do to help you feel safe? I can wait as long as you need." I could write a novel on P and his infinite grace but I'll stop there for now.
I start going to therapy for my intimacy issues and she asks abut my past. I mention the "memory" of my uncle and she's like "hmm what?" and I say "don't worry I'm over it! already dealt with!" and of course she's like "uuuh ok sure." A couple months go by and P asks me about what happened because I didn't really explain it well, and by the time I finished telling him I went into a panic attack. That's when I realized I hadn't processed it at all. I go back to therapy and got diagnosed with PTSD. We start digging and I suddenly start remembering my grooming process and uncomfortable things he did, such as forcing me onto his lap to drive his car when I was 8, despite my crying and pleading him not to, and him telling my mom that we would have sex talks when I was 6. How he prided himself on being my father figure. How he hid his narcissism by acting like a child, the "accidentally on purpose" exposures, and so many other things. I was diving into the hardest journey of my life.
It took me probably 6 months to even accept that anything happened to me. I'm about 1.5 years into my PTSD journey now and I STILL find myself doubting it sometimes, but I know in my heart AND in my body that something happened. I am extremely lucky to have a family that believes me fully, and a partner who is patient enough to stick by me the whole way. I am going to apply to be on the podcast because I know that repressed memories are super common with these types of situations, and I want to let people know that its ok to not remember. It doesn't make your pain any lesser, or the healing any easier. It honestly is quite scary. Right now, I finally got past the processing that SOMETHING happened, and now I'm onto freaking out about WHAT could have happened. Was I molested? Could I even have been raped? Part of me never wants to remember.
Another unique experience about my healing journey is that my nervous system, even when I am able to completely relax, still reacts to my trauma. Sex is extremely painful because my body reacts to it as a threat. I am going to pelvic floor physical therapy to help this, and it's working, but it's a slow process. Also very expensive, especially on top of therapy. But it's worth it.
I have made more progress than I ever thought I would. I can enjoy intimacy with my partner on good days, I can talk about my trauma without having a panic attack, and I can even joke around about it (probably a lil too much, I use humor to cope lmao). There are days, even weeks at a time where things are completely normal, which is absolutely insane considering how bad things were for a long time. I hope that someone, even one person, will come across my story and find something that helps them realize that they're not alone, or that they can heal too. My goal by the time I am 40 is to be a trauma therapist so I can keep helping others realize they are not alone, because finding a community in this experience has done more for me than anything.
If you made it this far, you're pretty neat! Feel free to follow me on instagram @ hannahspag , and feel free to reach out with any questions. Thank you for your bravery in joining this community, you are stronger than you think!