Traumatic Childhood Memories And Repetition Compulsion

“We’ve been looking at old pictures recently and I think _______ might have been happening to, Vid,” I told my husband. “It looks like this may be going on in the picture. I’d have never dreamed it at the time. I guess I’ll ask him.”

“You think he remembers that?”

“Vid?” I asked, considering the fact he’s a Taurus which is famous for their memory. “I don’t know. If he doesn’t, I would just as soon remind him now. Because if this was going on and he’s forgotten, it’s still in his psyche somewhere. Best to dig it up now and deal with it because I’ll tell you what happens if you don’t. You wind up, 30 years old, setting up circumstances that include elements of whatever it is you’ve repressed so that you can remember the thing and try to integrate it. This can cause all kinds of problems; it can derail you so I do think I am going to show him the pictures and ask what he remembers.”


“Yeah. May as well resolve this now while he’d got someone around who was there and can tell him the deal. I mean I can tell him what went on and why / what happened to him and who else is going to be able to untangle this? I think he’s better off to know what he’s gone through rather than have it pervert in his psyche over the next decades. You really do go out and recreate this stuff…do you know this?”

“No but I believe you, P.”

“Okay. Then I’m going to show him the pictures and ask him what he remembers because it looks like crap to me. Poor kid.”

Repetition compulsion. Familiar with it?

Vid has a Pluto Moon transit…

32 thoughts on “Traumatic Childhood Memories And Repetition Compulsion”

  1. I can see now, from a new angle, how easy it is to give a kid a puzzle they’d play hell trying to solve. It’s chilling, really. This business is chilling.

  2. Avatar
    curious wanderer

    It seems to me that we repeat whatever happens in our childhoods, for good or for ill. Awareness is key, especially for those of us that have a lot more ill to repeat than good. Elsa, you’re giving your son a great gift with the awareness. A bitter gift, but much better than the alternative.

  3. I don’t think it’s bitter. It’s just something he probably doesn’t remember and he is entitled to comprehend his own life.

    It’s like, Annalisa can tell me things I would not remember unless I was reminded. She remembers because she was older and I remember too, once she triggers the memory.

    I think you can be quite screwed without access like this, or help to gain access. This is particularly true if your experience is unusual and difficult to comprehend where the average person is concerned. What you need is FACTS, not someone trying to put a story together 20 or 30 years after the fact.

    The odds they’d get this story right are at right about zero. I can tell someone in plain language and all they do is look at me, as my husband likes to say, “like a hog looking at a wristwatch”.

    My family – say my grandfather, Henry knew a lot of interesting stuff. Had he not shared this with me (his grandchildren), then that’s that. The knowledge would die with him. This is not knowledge that I should die with as it will enrich him and probably spare him some grief in the future though it is hard to know for sure.

    The psyche is amazing and I am pretty sure, it can twist however it damned well pleases. That’s fine but when there are facts available, I do think he is entitled to have them as this is his life.

  4. Yes. I remember challenging my mother in her living room when I began to deal with traumas with no names, but many faces. She wasn’t ready for it, and never took me where you’re taking Vid.

    I’m coming through the long dark nights of the soul decades later, and am taking my son through those forbidden places because he has on his own, sought out his genealogy and come up with the names. We cried together. It’s big stuff and your instinct, awareness counts for plenty.

    I’ve got a packed 8th Pluto-Saturn-Mars with 10th House Scorp stellium squaring. Intense healing is what I signed up for, and yes the healing happens.

    1. See, I don’t think it will be that bad if it’s not buried. This is not sexual abuse…if that is what people are thinking.

  5. Avatar
    curious wanderer

    It’s a good thing you put that out there Elsa. To be perfectly honest, I believe a lot of people who have experienced that are likely to think that, and then there’s been enough media saturation with that sort of thing that it’s not hard for people without the experience to think it.

    Nevertheless, you’re providing something important. I wish more parents could step up and do this for their children. Hell, if only more people were willing to be retrospective like this, accept facts, and pass them on, or at least preserve them. What is it – those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it? (I apologize to whomever’s quote I butchered.)

  6. curious, I am sure you’re right… in hindsight. But it does not at all say that.

    My son lost his sister. I have written extensively of the horrible trauma of this (to both of us) and specifically about my son’s hardship and this is in line with this.

    This has nothing to do with sexual anything. It’s just that my son was born to trauma due my daughter being ill and it’s hard to sort this stuff… it’s an unusual situation so he does need to know what I know and what I know is still emerging because I was in the middle of the trauma too.

    It’s just I have a hope of parsing this. He was THREE!

  7. With me, it wasn’t exactly buried, but something inside me was. I think because I didn’t deal with certain situations directly – didn’t get to be assertive and stand up for myself, even though I knew certain things consciously, subconsciously they’d taken hold. In more than one scenario, I’ve run smack-dab into something I was trying to avoid – knowing what I wanted and deserved, but maybe on some level, not fully feeling that I deserved it (like “I can’t wear that, I’m not delicate/pretty enough” or the belief that I, personally, wouldn’t really be loved and supported, valued, in the way that other women might – that’s two things). I’ve been okay in some ways, and just not okay in others.

    I could go on and on, but I don’t want to – and I mean more than I’ve already plastered all over the place (so unlike me, usually). I’m still having trouble coming to terms with where I’ve ended up (so far).

  8. This is like the fact my son was in a fight for his life starting at about 2 weeks old.

    He also had ear infections they could not cure… in spite of giving him intravenous antibiotics, trying everything. In fact, I am sure he would have died had they not put tubes in @ 5 months old and he was sick his whole life at that point.

    He also had this bizarre blood event where he blood when he was 10-14 days old where basically his blood bled through his veins. I had no idea what the hell was going on – he was covered in red dots and I thought they were freckles because his father is a redhead! Jeez Louise did the doctor freak when I brought him in and not for that but for a routine check!

    Anyway, he is entitled to know this stuff and the fact is, Vid did not have an idyllic childhood by any stretch and I don’t to lead him to believe he did, just because he can’t remember!

  9. From where I’m sitting, your instinct on this is right on, Elsa.
    Who doesn’t have a funny/poignient childhood memory of “filling in the blanks” of some incident or landscape based on missing or misinterpreted information?
    I like your reasoning, too. Hope that it all works out well.

    1. My idea is if he knows he coped with this and this and this and this when he was 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 – and he DID cope, then when someone hits him with something @ 17 or 27 or 37, he’ll have no doubt around his ability to field it.

  10. I was thinking today about the damage that the act of ‘burying’ does- we sanitize, disneyfy and prettify the dark elements of being a human kid, presumably to save them from something…. but that denial means you have to deal with the dark elements of being a human kid AND the sense of unreality because no-one wants to talk about it.
    Hansel and Gretel are wandering in the forest because their parents abandoned them. Evil stepmothers sweet talk dads who don’t step up for their offspring. Kids and grandmas get attacked and eaten.
    At one time, those stories were warnings and, I think, important acknowledgement that scary sh*t is out there.
    My grandma told me (when I was about 17 or so) how she and her sister escaped a rapist uncle. How she was sent to work at about 13 or so to another farm and the husband was coming on to her, so she slept with a knife under her pillow, and when the wife discovered the letter my grandma had written to ask for help leaving (saving to get a stamp) she was berated by the wife, if not beaten for such false accusations…
    She had more pleasant stories too- but the tough and scary ones helped me understand how she was tough. She didn’t try to cover it up.
    On the flip side, I spent years trying to figure out ‘what was wrong with me’ only to be enlightened at 23 that my parents were pretty serious alcoholics.
    Unpleasant stuff is part of being human. Covering it up allows it to fester.
    My opinion and experience, of course. You all may have different ones, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Yeah, Jilly, you’d know. You’ve were forged into iron as a babe. Being coddled comes with a price and it follows that enduring hardship offers a pay off.

  12. I spent years in therapy because there were things my mother didn’t tell me. I kept hoping they would come to light through therapy…they didn’t. I finally gave up trying to sort it out and filed it under the great unknowable. My mother is dead now so I won’t ever truly know what happened.

    I agree with what you’re doing – it’s better to shed light on it now for Vid and not have him wondering wtf happened.

  13. Well this is a new perspective for me… as of right now, or yesterday rather. At the moment I have a better understanding of how a small bit ignored now could cause… all kinds of dis-ease. In fact, this gives me an idea.

  14. #15 agree – I told my sister that a few weeks ago, pretty much. (I’d be screwed right now if I’d been pampered/coddled as a kid.)

  15. Just to go back to the age thing. My parents split up in a rather fantastic fashion when I was 3. I was largely pre-verbal, in a stage where I couldn’t articulate how I felt or to describe what I saw. I don’t remember this stuff, just a huge chunk of emotional trauma. I tried to talk to my mother about this and she dismissed it as unimportant to discuss. She never understood that from my perspective there were all of these gaping holes in what happened. She left my dad, yes but I don’t think she ever told me or if she did I didn’t know what that meant.

    The years in therapy were about me trying to untangle what happened, why I felt such rage at my mother, why I have certain emotional reactions to things, etc etc. Like I said, bits of it are filed under “the great unknowable”. I think if my mother had the ability to explain things to me or to have helped me understand what was going on, I think it would’ve helped me alot.

  16. Well I showed him the pictures and he had an alternative explanation for them. That was fine… it still gave us a chance to talk about how things were back then and what it might mean.

    I guess I’d say that I want him to grow up, processing as he goes. This is new to me, fresh, so I’ve not thought it through completely but I told him he was 4 at this time and this was happening…

    “I don’t know how you see that at this age, when you look back at it but I want you know about it because you’ll probably be thinking about this stuff when you’re older and draw different conclusions or come to a better understanding…”

    You have to take into consideration this is an 8th house Sun Saturn kid, with Saturn and Pluto (and Uranus) on his angles. He’s growing up, psychologically. He’s learning and man oh man, is he ever.

  17. Avatar
    curious wanderer

    I’ve been thinking more about this, and I want to thank you, Elsa, for posting this. I may have to do this kind of thing for my sister, as I am older enough than her to do so, and I know for a fact there is no one else alive or willing to do it.

    You’ve given me a lot to think about, and I’m always grateful for that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. @curious wanderer… I’m 3 years older than my sister & I can tell you for a fact, talking about this stuff? You’ll be STUNNED at the way she has perceived things & events you were both at together. It’s amazing & you’re right, as is Elsa, it’s a BIG help & often a relief to someone , to hear what was really going on… or at least, another perspective =)

  19. @ #14 Elsa that’s excellent. I spent a couple years in therapy when I was in my 30’s figuring some o that type of stuff out ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. both my parents were the evasive types who swept everything under the rug. and believe me, there was a LOT of sh*t to sweep under the rug. kids are smart. i grew up thinking the sky is falling. i grew up thinking the littlest thing would break me. saturn in the 12th – instead of ‘whatever doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger,’ it’s ‘whatever doesn’t kill me NOW will eventually kill me later.’

    elsa, this is a tremendous lesson and you’ve put it very eloquently. it crystallizes the corner i want to turn as a parent to my son. it applies to me as a parent but it also applies to me as the child i used to be. thank you.

  21. I can’t remember the 2nd grade, at all. but I remember first just fine. when I went up against the school to get my son out of a situation with an abusive teacher, my mother made some interesting remarks that lead me to believe that my second grade teacher (a woman) was an issue. she won’t tell me what happened.

    when my grandmother was near dying 7 year ago and rather out of it she spilled that she and my granddad had taken me for a year when I was 1 to 2. never had a clue about that. better late than never, for real. explains a lot.

  22. I find it interesting that my mother sought help for my sister (sister didn’t open up at all, but got help for herself later on- just a bit), but everyone thought I was handling things just fine – until I crumbled. I had perfect transits for getting sorted out, but I didn’t – I let fear win.

    I don’t remember much about living with my grandmother, I only know that my normally peaceful piscean aunt once told her that she didn’t ever want to hear her saying something to me again- I can’t remember what it was, and I came out of there stuttering. Other things happened during that period of time – violence from someone, the sociopath came next. bullying at school cemented it.

  23. Actually, I find it more depressing than interesting, but that’s more around my own ability to sort myself out.

  24. once when I was 21 and my cousin was helping me after my surgery he was telling me a story…and I suddenly realized what I had seen in the barn as I was playing with my dollhouse. Like a light went on. I was simply too young at the time to comprehend.

    After I talked to another cousin (actually, his sister) at a wedding another ancient and forgotten memory came surfacing and I realized why we always kept the dog sleeping with us.

  25. It’s a very kind thing to do, I think Elsa, to be there to help someone deal with something traumatic that might not be visible on the surface.

    I have a very good memory, especially for traumatic events and can remember them, quite unfortunately sometimes, too vividly. But fortunately, the details of those memories sometimes start to make sense years later when some friend or family member contributes something. Helps me understand and get closer to closure.
    At least Forgive. Though I can never seem to forget.
    It is quite exhausting when a stray event suddenly brings it up.

    I have learnt to feel thankful that at least I can understand what the cause is and work to make myself better.
    It is really sad to see people struggling with things so deep and only visible in such twisted forms.

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