Are memories true?

How do you know if your history is true?

Elizabeth Loftus says that there are studies that prove that between 30-90% of people can be hypnotised, primed, or coaxed into creating a false memory. She says that it’s possible to create false trauma memories, too. She says that those memories have the same emotional impact as real memories, only they never happened.

So, if 30-90% of people can create false memories, how can I know what’s real and what’s not? How can I know if the history I’m basing my life and my personality on actually occurred? What about things I’ve forgotten about for years and years that suddenly pop into my consciousness? What if there’s no corroborating evidence? What if no one else remembers what I do?

How do we interrogate or investigate our own minds, when our minds are naturally unreliable and mercurial?

My sister wet the bed until she was 10. Nobody else in my family remembers this except me. But I’m certain it happened. Every night at around the same time, she would wake up vomiting and peeing. Dad would come in, clean her up, take her to the toilet and put her back to bed. Quite often she would wake me up, too.

We had pink bunk beds and a bedroom that was absolutely full of crap (toys, books, paper-mess, junk we found on the side of the road, clothes, you name it). I slept on the top bunk, and when I learned to successfully climb up and down the ladder the family shared a Vienetto (Australian icecream shaped like a log) as a reward.

Dad built the bunk beds out of solid pine (from a kit). He installed a bed-side lamp for each of us so that we could read in bed. Mine was yellow, and my sister’s was red. We listened to classical music or audio-books or story tapes every night, and Mum would usually read to us before bed. They loved us so much. They took such good care of us.

My sister had a plastic sheet under her fitted sheet, and a green basin next to her bed. So all Dad had to do was change the fitted sheet and empty the basin, and she’d sleep the rest of the night. I heard Dad comforting her, telling her ‘It’s all right, It’s all right, there there, there there, you’ll be OK” etc. He called her a slut. There was also a rhythmic, wet sound. Slap, slap, slap. Skin on skin. And my sister whimpering ‘No’.

I’ve been firmly told this is imaginary. That it’s impossible for it to be true. There’s no corroborating evidence. But I remember it.

What freedoms would you be prepared to give up, to end that? Would you be prepared to let someone see out of your eyes? Would you be prepared to let someone track you wherever you went? What if they mis-used the information? John Dal-berg Acton said “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

What corruption am I prepared to put up with, to ensure that never happens to anyone else? Because if there were a third party record, it would make a difference to my family. A big difference.

Image of leaf in park in Autumn

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

My husband and I are visiting relatives.

When we arrive it seems to be the same as always.

They’re friendly.

I’m friendly.

We’re chatting and having a good time.

I’ve been having a hard time. I’ve been suicidal. I’m barely working.

Joab, my nephew speaks to his mother and sisters at the opposite end of the table to me.

It’s a long table, and I can’t hear them properly.

He starts talking about how I’m only being nice to them so I can take their money.

It hurts.

When I spend money on them, it makes a big impact on my finances.

It’s another betrayal trauma. I care about what they think of me. I want them to like me. I treat them with the courtesy that is due to them as human beings, and I wasn’t expecting them to attack like that this night.

Those accusations hurt.

I put my head down and say nothing. Inside I start to sing a counting song I learned as a child.

They start talking about how I want to eat my husband. What our sex life is like.

It’s humiliating to have a 19-year-old talk about it at the dinner table.

I involve myself in the conversation at my end of the table. They’re talking about trains.

My 24-year-old niece puts a plate of chocolate on the table and 19-year-old Joab says

‘She’s eating a chocolate nut. Cos you’re a nut that’s been covered in crap. She’s eating you’.

I’m angry this time. I put my head down and grit my teeth. Counting song’s still playing in my head.

They’re talking about trauma and self-harm, and being able to discuss problems. I don’t know if they’re gas-lighting me, but they say they’re trying to help. They do put a strong smell of Eucalyptus in the room which makes me feel better. At my end of the table, we’ve moved on to talking about TV.

They start talking about how their voices have told them I’ve got Dissociative Identity Disorder and I’ve got a sadistic-paedophile inside. They talk about how that’s not true too.

I don’t know how to handle the cruelty of that accusation. I behave in socially acceptable ways. I work on improving myself. I am kind to animals and children and everyone I can be kind to. That’s what it is to be human.

They start talking about how they’re ready for bed. It’s nearly 8.30pm– polite time to leave.

I ask my husband if we can go, and he says yes.

He’s delayed in the corridor and I burst out the door as tears start to fall.

I cut myself that night. It’s a deep one, and when my husband sees, his feelings are hurt.

That’s what it’s like living with voices.

Mine, our relatives, and my husband’s voices interacted in awful ways that night. There’s good things and bad things about hearing voices.

However luckily we live in Australia, and when our interactions create situations like that, we can go to the hospital and they’ll stitch our self-harm wounds up for free.

Practise yourself in little things…

In the beginning, I couldn’t run 20 meters.

Oh Lord.

My gorgeous fat ass wibbled and wobbled.

My knees protested.

My body creaked and groaned.

But I did it.

I did it.

20m.

Then (crazy old me) went back and did it again next week.

Only this time I did two lots of 20 meters.

They say men are attracted to jiggly bits. It’s true. And when I run, I jiggle enough for every woman in Australia.

A couple of weeks later, the Adonis I train with suggested we try running 10m and walking 10m.

We tried it.

We kept on trying it.

This week I ran approximately 200m.

That’s improvement x10.

Next week, we start trying to run around our oval 1.5 times.

One day, I’m going to be able to sprint 100m.

One day, I’m going to be able to jog 1km.

Who knows, in 10 years time, when my joints have strengthened and my tendons and ligaments have lengthened and my muscles are strong and feisty, I might get to 10km.

How’s that for the 190kg?

I love my body. I love the things it can do for me. I love the way it feels when I run. I love my fat. I love my muscle. I love my lungs. It’s awesome!

And I thought, wouldn’t it be great if I could run 10km with a happy body?

Goals start with 20m. Goals start at the beginning. If I had sat around thinking ‘woe is me, I can’t run’ would I have run that first 20m? If I had sat around hating my body and hating my fat, would I have run that first 20m?

One of the tricks in life is to set audacious goals and work slowly towards them. Step by step. Bit by bit. Just a tiny bit. Just a fraction.

But keep moving forward. And love your fricken awesome self for being where you are and working on yourself (just a teeny tiny bit).

Tell me about something you’ve done a tiny bit of in the comments, that you’re working towards doing more of.