Need Help Dealing with Dissociation

I'm among the "lucky" ones who dissociated during my assaults (at age 8), and apparently buried it so deep that I was able to forget it for decades (memory-wise anyway; I still experienced body sensations I didn't recognize, and had hella major issues surrounding masculinity in general, and my sexuality in particular).

As a consequence, most of my childhood memories are fragmented, and there are gaps everywhere.

That is, until I began experiencing flashbacks over the last year.

Therapy has helped me immensely; but like draining any infection, it can sometimes be painful. It was after my last session that I had one of the most intense, horrific flashbacks of being molested - it hit me like a jolt of electricity, almost overwhelming mentally and physically.

It also did something different than the other flashbacks: I'm not CURRENTLY experiencing dissociation around the present (that's unusual for me because lately the dissociation had been a constant presence), but it has made it incredibly difficult for me to connect emotionally with the boy I was.

Whenever I think back to myself as a child, it's normally at a distance, almost like a third-party. I remember the thoughts and feelings I had, but it's almost as though I'm remembering the story of a character I read about, or a TV show I watched long ago.

If I dig deep enough, I can sometimes remember being that boy I was. Unfortunately, that's only included memories of the molestation itself.

For those of you who have gone through this: how do you "merge" your current self with the boy you were?
What you do is have patience because your body is wise beyond your understanding. I've been doing this work for 35 years and each round of therapy, and I'm on my third, has taken me more deeply into the trauma of the past. I am coming to appreciate the wisdom of my body which has slowly given me access to what is most painful. The trauma had a profound effect on you with fragmented memories and troubles both with your sexuality and masculinity. That is what happens and its a big deal, so big that you dissociated from it all, as I did. I did six years of therapy LOOKING for sexual abuse because my relationship and sexual history was so confusing and shame filled, but I didn't find anything that made sense of me. It was four years later that I encountered the first clear indication of what happened between the ages of three to seven. And now, 24 years later I'm able to go back to the first two years of life where the pain began.

So please be gentle with yourself and take exquisite care of yourself. You may not ever be able to remember everything from your childhood simply because when traumatized, that portion of the brain that creates meaning needed to tell a story is off line. You might find some benefit in reading Bessel van der Kolk's classic, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Boy in the Healing of Trauma. That book brought everything I've experienced into focus. I'm glad you found Male Survivor. This is precisely the kind of work we're all doing here... claiming our aliveness. You're not alone with any of this.
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