I watched The Dressmaker last night. The good news: it’s free with Amazon Prime right now. The bad news: it’s full of trauma triggers. There’s rape, murder, death, bullying, domestic violence, drugs, alcoholism, dementia, mental illness, religious oppression, knives, fire and mice. It is a hard movie to watch. But I was pulled in by the relatively accurate portrayal of memory repression and recovery (despite her having an unrealistic amount of help with remembering). Without giving away too much, she came back to her hometown after experiencing intense trauma as a child at the hands of others. And the only question she wanted to answer was, “Am I cursed?” She experienced horrible abuse and her concern was if she was the problem. In the end, her mother clears that up in one short but poignant speech to the townspeople. The victim of a traumatic crime is not cursed. Those who perpetrate it, enable it or allow it are the cursed. But for those of us with repressed memories, that is not an easy message to take in.
When we grow up with childhood trauma, we don’t interpret those traumas as an adult would. We desperately try to find an explanation that meets our understanding of the world around us. We see others with normal lives. We hear that we are being punished. We learn that we are not good enough through the statements and actions of others. We are told over and over again that we are the problem. And we may begin to see ourselves as cursed. How else could these things happen? When we reach adulthood, we may be able to diffuse some of these thoughts with our logical mind, but deep down in our unconscious, these beliefs remain. They live with the memories we have repressed. They live with the emotions we have suppressed. And when it comes to trauma, we have generally done one or both of those things. The only way to truly break our patterns is to dig deep into our painful past, pull up the traumatic experiences and reinterpret them with our adult understanding of the world. Anything else is just a cover, a mask.
In my own life, I have become painfully aware of how my own belief that I am cursed has played out in my adult life. But honestly, I have only become aware of this because I have recovered the memories and brought the unconscious into the light. Seeing the way my life was ravaged by this unconscious understanding has brought its own grief of time lost along with anger at how my inner child was tricked. But the only thing I can do about it now is live the rest of my life with a new understanding while doing my best to share how it can be healed with others. Awareness is the key so here are some patterns which had infected my own life.
I refused to do anything that made me visible or successful. For someone who believes they are cursed, there is nothing more dangerous than visibility. It calls forward all the potential punishers whether they are abusers or the universe. And others always have power over those who are cursed. So visibility and success means an inevitable takedown. Trying hard to build up a particular talent, platform or business becomes absolutely futile with the cursed mentality in place.
I allowed the slightest disapproval to shut down my plans. A cursed mentality drives a very low opinion of inner wisdom. There is no faith in self because there is something inherently wrong with self. So all creations must be met with approval from the outside world. If they are not, there must be a change of plans. And this is a very frustrating rule to live by because there will always be disapproval. Sometimes the disapproval gets louder with more authenticity.
I didn’t show happiness. Cursed people aren’t allowed to be happy. Someone who feels cursed will desperately try not to show any signs of happiness to others. Even if they feel some happiness deep down, they will try to minimize it within so they are not found out. A person with a cursed mentality will see any objects of their happiness as targets for potential punishers. It is not okay to be reckless with things or people in this way.
I isolated. There are two main reasons why someone with the cursed mentality would isolate. Isolation deters those who want to take advantage of the cursed. But isolation is also a way of protecting others from the cursed. In the most painful scenarios, the cursed mentality might cause someone to drive away the people they love the most. It is a self-protective strategy but it is also a protection of loved ones. And it leads to a very lonely life.
While it is critical for us to understand the conscious beliefs and work to change them, it is almost more important to recognize that our repression may be keeping devastating beliefs out of our consciousness. Without an awareness of what is beneath the surface, we cannot shift our external world. We cannot manifest the life we want. So when you hear that memory recovery is not necessary in healing from our trauma, take the time to question that mentality. Allow yourself to consider how fear might be doing the talking. And take a step toward your memories and your truth. During March, the Survivor’s Guide for Life group will be walking through memory recovery strategies. Come join us and find your way to real freedom.