Healing Repressed Memories

repressedWhat is a repressed memory?

When a stressful situation is prolonged or intense, a chemical is released in the mind, which causes recording of conscious memory to turn off, and information is stored unconsciously, creating a form of amnesia about the event. If the event is very difficult and painful, it can also cause emotional memories not to be recorded. A memory is stored unconsciously about the happening but no emotions are recorded with it. Because no feelings are associated with the recorded happening, it never gets triggered when we encounter similar energy patterns in our daily life, thus it doesn’t get retrieved and brought back into our conscious awareness. The lack of stored emotions is what makes it a repressed memory, or amnesia which is a total forgetting about the happening. If you have had an experience like this, you will not know about it as it is fully hidden.

Why are repressed memories created?

When something very traumatic happens to a person that is emotionally intense or causes great bodily injury, consciousness withdraws from the body as a way to protect you from experiencing that scenario. When consciousness is withdrawn, it is like going out of your body where you don’t directly experience the happening nor feel pain while it happens. But the event is happening and memories are being recorded. In a sense, what this does is create a bubble of protection around that experience, so it becomes a repressed memory. Common situations that cause repressed memories are sexual abuse, war, physical violence, domestic abuse and grave injuries to the body such as occur in bad car accidents.

Soldiers in war often get Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), which is form of amnesia that happens due to the horror of killing they participate in and see. At the time they are being a soldier they can’t let their emotions come into play or they could not do their job. Part of a soldiers training is learning how to do this. When the war is over it is common they don’t want to remember what happened knowing it will trigger that pain. Little children that are sexually abused can’t understand what is happening and why someone hurts them so bad. When things happen to little children without developed cognitive abilities, then the block is more in the body than in the mind. No matter the happening, this suppression is vital at the time, because it allows the individual to continue to live somewhat normally and continue to grow and learn.

How to know if you may have a repressed memory?

Repressed memories even though we don’t remember them, still in fact affect us. It is like they eat at us from inside, staying in the background and prevent us from living life fully, having joy and reaching our full potential. Because it has not been integrated, it creates a block of energy flowing through those parts of body or mind that were most affected, not allowing self-expression fully in those areas. Basically, we lose a chunk of ourselves, a part of ourselves is walled off – which is the repressed memory, it is a bubble of protection. You might also have a history of unusual recurring dreams or nightmares that have been persistent over the years, which can be a clue to a repressed memory. Be careful with this assumption! It would be good to look up the common dreams based on fear that many people have, which have little to do with repressed memories, so you don’t come to an erroneous conclusion.

A repressed memory was recorded to protect us from harm at the time the event occurred. But because we have that memory with no associated emotions, it is an incomplete memory and thus can’t be integrated into our collective life experience and cannot be healed or released. An essential part of healing and increasing awareness is to release memories or patterns of behavior that affect us in life but no longer serve us. With a repressed memory, it affects our patterned reactions to life events in how we respond, but it happens on the unconscious level making it invisible to us. It makes us avoid situations and people that are related to the happening, which cuts us off from doing everything we would like to do. It is like they blindly control us and limit our full enjoyment of life. The reality of a traumatic happening is it had a large energetic impact and affects our life whether we remember it or not.

With any happening not every feeling and memory is erased, so you should have some memory just prior to or following a traumatic experience, which will give you clues about where to look or what timeframe needs to be opened. If you have some memory of a traumatic experience, then it would be good to investigate it further. Another hint is if you feel there are some things you really want to have in your life or want to accomplish, but for some reason you just can’t get yourself to accomplish your dream or vision. Something unknown is blocking you…

How can a repressed memory be healed?

The first step is to recognize you have a problem to get the things you really love or want in life. It feels like you are blocked from being able to express your full potential. After you have accepted there is some imbalance that you want to heal, the next is to look deeper into any traumatic experiences you had and start asking questions about it. When I did this step a long time ago, I came across a book and in it they talked about repressed memories. After I read about repressed memories, a few nights later a vivid dream came to me. At the time I was also working with a therapist where my focus was on healing my anxiety and I told her about the dream. That was the beginning of uncovering my repressed memory. I was surprised I had this memory, that is how hidden they are.

Trust you can find the answers you need from books, friends, family, therapy, insight or support groups. You can also talk with the people involved in the happening and get their perspective about the happening, to help you remember it. Once you start looking into it, if it is relevant for you the information you need will land in your lap as well anything else you need to heal this will come to you. The Universe gives you exactly what you need to help with your intention, the intention being to heal the repressed memory and realize your full potential and be joyful.

Pay attention to your dreams

It is very likely that if you have a repressed memory and are reading this article, that it will serve to trigger this memory just like it did when I read the book I mentioned. If so, that memory will open and you may get memories or hints about it in the coming days. Pay especially close attention to any dreams you have. Write down your dreams in morning before you do anything else. Repressed memories are very likely to surface in dreams, because dreams often contain triggered unconscious memories as the brain works on healing memories and patterned paths while we sleep. You want to write your dream down immediately before doing anything, because as soon as you think about the day’s activities, the entire memory of the dream can be lost. For this reason keep a pad of paper with pen by your bed so you can write it down immediately when you awake.

You may receive a vivid dream like watching a movie, with intricate details and characters about the happening. If your trauma occurred while very young, it can seem like a fairy tale full of wild imaginations, but also having a dark element. It is the viewpoint of you at the age it happened, which is usually not too advanced cognitively. A vivid dream is like your higher-self giving a message to your lower-self, it is making something you need to know visible to you, to bring it into your conscious memory. A vivid dream has a story to tell and it is real in that sense. Another common feature of vivid dreams is you will wake up immediately after it to full awareness, this really means it’s important! Write it down! Once the memories surface then you will know the nature of what has been hidden for so long, and then answers will start to come and you will know how to process it.

Experiencing the Traumatic Event

You have come this far and you can trust you are strong enough now to unravel this mystery and process it. You are willing to do it, because you understand this has been affecting your life for a long time and limits what you truly want to do in your heart, and it is time to let it go. It causes you more pain now to avoid it versus diving into it, processing it and letting go of the protection you no longer need.

When the memory fully arises, you will then experience it with the missing emotional components. It will be like you are reliving it, and that is true. What you are doing is EXPERIENCING it, which is what didn’t happen in the past. To have an experience you must see it and feel it. By reliving that memory, you are attaching the feelings and emotions to the memory making it a complete memory. This integrates the memories into yourself, which is that which allows you to heal it. Once you integrate it then you can recognize when similar events you encounter trigger this part of your experience, bringing it into your awareness. Once you can see the pattern, then you can heal it. You have to be able to see what is wrong in order to fix what is broken.

Yes, it will cause emotional and mental pain while processing it, and likely there will be much crying. But that by itself is understanding it and letting out the repressed memories and emotions. It opens the block. Once it is fully processed and let out, then it no longer affects and limits your life and growth. You actually remember it still, of course, because now it is in conscious memory, but it doesn’t bother you because you understand it and know why it happened and can go beyond it.

June 18, 2014

Additional Resources:

The following book has excellent information about healing our patterns and memories with many examples and practical advise. It is written in simple plain language and is easy to understand. There is a section in the book on how to use a Diary for journaling and recording our dreams in a very creative way, that teaches us how to uncover what is hidden inside us and limits us from living a joyful life to our highest potential.
Life Is Binary: The Choice to Live Love or Limitation by Vivbala

This book gives excellent information how to work with triggered emotions and learning how to stay with them and follow that feeling to the end. Practicing this often can be very helpful to learn how to feel inner body and emotions more fully and as you work through them, they tend to go to deeper repressed traumas all by itself. As you become familiar with the technique and as you start to transmute this held energy, then the deeper stuff automatically comes to the surface in it’s own time to be processed.

The Way Back Home – Clearing the Energy of Our Emotional Wounding by Bonnie Serratore


Posted in Healing, Healing of Emotions Tagged with: , , , , ,
6 comments on “Healing Repressed Memories
  1. Karen T. says:

    The only people who believe my repressed memories are domestic violence advocates and my counselor.

    My daughter doesn’t and my husband, the abuser, says I am in denial or unreality or have revisionist history.

    If I didn’t know people with similar stories, and heard my own, I might think otherwise, but the truth is my husband bribed the JP on our wedding day to make me think I would be arrested if I didn’t go through with the marriage. Wouldn’t let me go home to make a call, threatened to throw out my purse and bags if I didn’t get in the car with him to go on our honeymoon, all with intense yelling. It no longer affects me, but it kept me in a bad marriage for 15 years, along with court harassment by my ex and my daughter finally becoming abusive after seeing my husband had no respect for me. My mind is a mess as is my relationship with my daughter. I have gone from shelter to shelter with my mind messed up and unable to heal. I am currently home which is driving me nuts again. I hope my neurons will have a chance to heal, but now I see as long as I talk to my husband or daughter, they cannot. She is now in an abusive relationship. I hate that my life has to be one of poverty, trying to find my way alone because of all that has been done. Fear has been my companion. My husband also made me stay in the hospital against my wishes, my lip was cut and sewn up while put under against my wishes and my lip and face are now deformed. I don’t even know how I am going to survive anymore. I have exhausted the shelters and my friend thinks I can do this on my own without their help. I do not. I was in fairly good health. Now I am exhausted again, all because I got caught up in my daughter’s crisis. I see it was now a ploy to get me to come home, but I kissed off my chances of a new life and now what will I tell someone that I have 5 months behind me with nothing to show but a string of unsuccessful attempts. It is why I gave up and came home only to see I am going nuts again and that I never really got rid of my husband’s voice in my head. The best advice I can give is if you leave an abuser, don’t talk to him ever again. My daughter was still living with him, even though technically an adult, and this guilt of what she had been through, kept me back. Don’t look back. Only deal with the reality of today and do what you can with it. It was good advice given me, but as these repressed memories finally came to the surface, I was so focused on them, and then my daughter, I didn’t do it.

    • betsy rabyor says:

      Hi Karen, thanks for openly sharing your story and challenges. Sounds like you still have resentment about people in your past and feel like how your life is now, it is the cause of other people. As far as reality of today, I do agree one should be dealing with that first and foremost. Which includes relating to one’s thoughts and feelings and working to not cling to and believe that our mind-chatter story we tell ourselves is ‘truth’. That story is just our limited interpretation which is biased and subjective — we like to believed what we tell ourselves is truth, to give ourselves self-validation and confirm our self-image. We tend to see what we want to see, like what gives us validation and don’t like what doesn’t. All this is the game of the personality, that which keeps us from awakening and stuck in the illusion with all it’s drama and suffering. It really helps to deal with ‘reality of today’ if one is doing meditation and self-inquiry each day and takes full responsibility for one’s life and all that happens, not blaming other people and feeling like life is happening to you, but rather that you are creating your own reality. Love & Blessings, Betsy

      I would like to know what are you currently doing as ‘daily practice’ to get better? You doing meditation, self-inquiry, reading any good books? How are you now?

  2. Hollie says:

    I had recurring dreams about my childhood home. Night after night. Nightmares. I was stuck inside and running around, or just walking around the house looking and had such a sad feeling. Finally one night I dreamt of the kitchen and living room, and I forgot what it looked like till that dream. In the other dreams I had not been to that part of the house. When I woke up I was alone, and sat thinking about our old house. Then I remembered this door that lead to the living room, one that could close. I couldn’t believe I forgot the door was there. And then it hit me. The memories. It shot me straight of to sitting in the bed, all I could do was say no,omg,no..I remembered the abuse. Then I never dreamt of the house again. I do have mental illnesses, social anxiety, depression, and sometimes feel not myself. I think I am finally healing now after dealing with the truth, and so many things I can explain now to myself. Why I am who I am,forgive myself for my self destructive lifestyle and everything. One night the dream there was a lady who gave me a gift…I know the gift meant my answers and the secrets. Healing. Or at least the attempt before there was no more chances for me.

    • betsy rabyor says:

      Dear Hollie, Thank you for sharing your experience with recurring dreams and finding out how it was related to repressed trauma. Wonderful to hear after that was revealed that healing is underway. I have another article on this blog that is related to your healing process at the moment and may be helpful for you: http://phoenixtools.org/heal-defense-system-personality/ Love & Blessings, Betsy

  3. Kathy says:

    I suffered a very traumatic experience when I was 8 years old my father was killed at home in a very messy accident.
    I can’t remember anything from my life before the accident or the accident itself or the aftermath but I know I was there.
    I don’t remember any experiences with my father. Which I believe I should.

    • betsy rabyor says:

      Sorry you had this traumatic experience Kathy and no doubt your limbic system was turned off during this traumatic event to protect yourself. It doesn’t surprise me there is no memory of this accident and before and after it, which is because the memory is like hidden or repressed due to the suppressed emotion. But it would be there for sure. When you are strong enough and ready to integrate this experience and heal the memory it will start coming into conscious memory. And maybe it is doing that now, because you are bringing it up and interested in it. Similar happened to me when I started investigating about the possibility of having repressed memories which I didn’t know if I had any. Then dreams starting coming, like little pieces of it and then later the entire scene played back spontaneously and it was like living through it and having the spontaneous or appropriate emotion for that experience and I could easily see the entire happening and know what all the basic parts of it were. Then I knew after that, that the awareness is always on and recording life experiences. After the replay I felt much better, like a hidden part of myself that caused me to react in odd ways to life happenings was no longer happening or ‘in play’. Wishing you the best with healing and recovery of these memories.

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