“The Refuse Pile”: False Memory Syndrome, or FMS

As I venture on this treacherous plateau I wonder: am I walking an overhang that will crumble under the weight of a hereto undiscovered reality?  Will some ‘fact’ be revealed as fiction? What is certain? Which is the nightmare or dream; what is truth, and where the lie?

“You’ll never know,” a good friend advised me.  He knows a little about me; not much, but we’ve been friends for the majority of our lives.  “And you’re just gonna have to accept that.  There’s some things about yourself you’re never gonna find out – or know.”

But you can’t help but wonder.  Those images.  They play in your head sometimes – disconnected scenes.  And wonder:  Which were dreams and which memories of something real?

These are memories I keep on the Refuse Pile.  Refuse – now there’s a word with two meanings.  One means trashThe Trash Pile.  The other is as in  ‘to deny‘, a refusal to acknowledge.  So do I refuse the refuse?  Good question there.

First: I can’t get rid of them.  They are there – down to the sensations, aromas, drone of a plane; sweat rolling down my body, tickling my skin . . . grit of sand and smell of swamp . . . like this:

The Map Room with its enclosed darkness, table and men standing around waiting for me to give them an answer. I’m being tested for how well I can read.  I can ‘see’ the topographic map in 3D, having learned to visualize things extremely good . . .

The Mountain garden which wasn’t a garden, but a pass where I’m little and wading through hip-high grass, following others, sweating,  watching black painted DC-10’s go over, wading through the grass, following the other kids,  some of them teenagers . . . and the aching ‘wanna go home’ feeling so bad . . .

The bunkers.  Several, images: but no location.  Just ‘somewhere overseas’. No accounting for them . . .

Survival class, out in the field.  Did I really eat that? Watching that lizard crawl around my leg, then snatching him up . . . strange things, lessons . . . ‘stuff’ . . .

And I wonder: are these dreams? or what?  If not ‘real’, where did they come from? Why are they there?  Did my dad hypnotize me?  I know he kept trying, though I have no memory of him succeeding.  Did ‘they’ plant a suggestion to ‘train’ through nightmarish simulations I made up in my own mind?  It seems almost every dream I ever had was about war.  War and loss, all the time . . . until I grew heartsick of it. Truly and really sometimes. (feeling sad here.)  And even then the dreams kept on . . . plaguing me.

I have nothing to support these memories.  Nothing “leading in”, nothing “leading out”.  No memory of ‘going’, no memory of getting back.  Just a fog, like something lurking in fog barely defined if at all.  These “Refuse Pile” memories have no definite beginning, end, or location.  But I’m there . . . living in them . . .

Memories are untrustworthy fiends and untrustworthy friends.  We build our lives on them, our responses are based on them. We are the sum of our experiences plus whatever wisdom or knowledge one might carve from them.  Just because you’ve lived a bit of history doesn’t mean you have to repeat it – you can go on to another lesson.

But there they are and I am here and I doubt.  I tell myself:  What’s it matter?  What IF they are real?  Does it make any difference in the here and now? None that I can see.  That’s all over.  Would it matter now? Hell no. A bunch of useless Cold War knowledge now, given modern warfare, its tactics and changes . . .

Can’t see where it makes a difference . . . so schlopp it on the refuse pile.

I do know this: it could be far worse than useless to go down those rabbit holes, pursuing them.  That can be dangerous.  Why? Because you can delude yourself into dreaming up more crap, if you take my hint, or you might. I’ve always been the ‘creative child’.  I’ve won awards since first grade.  I made my living through my creative skills.  I know ‘they’ (the professionals) have said it takes a creative child to create an alter.  Maybe so.  I don’t know. You can’t examine something like that from the inside.

So is it a possible “someone” had dreams – and their nightmares became my reality? Making me think they were real?  That could explain the lack of a ‘beginning’ and ‘end’ to each leaf on the Refuse Pile – just that ‘fog’ . . .

I don’t know.  And I gotta be fine with that.

Those are the most famous words in my life, often said.  “I don’t know” contains  power by admitting weaknesses; it is the plow, cutting evenly  through weaknesses and perceived strengths by forcing the mind to ask questions.  And while this drive can perhaps reveal memories, nightmares and abuse with the startling alacrity of truth . . . could it also be that the highly creative mind, under pressure to resolve this thing or that, creates a memory to accommodate its benefactor – that is, one part making something up for another just to get ‘someone off their back’?  Your subconscious just plain tricking you?

Not knowing, I take no path: I stand before the Pile.  To what end would the truth serve?  Would it give me anything I don’t have now?  Perhaps I should take learning to leave some things on the Refuse piles as a lesson . . .

Who knows.  I don’t.  But I know what I desire.  Happiness, of course, but something else . . . something that gnaws like a little gnawing rat on my glow of cheesy happiness . . . wondering, perhaps to discover who I am, or was perhaps?  Trying to place where ‘this memory’ or that one came from – and why?  Looking at those leaves – memories I cannot leave for I can’t “unremember” –  and yet I refuse to acknowledge.  For it IS like watching leaves in the wind, presenting one side, then the other that reads:  Truth or Fiction. 

You decide.


About jeffssong

JW is an adult childhood abuse survivor with DID*. He grew up in a violent family devoid of love and affection. He is a military brat and veteran. He no longer struggles with that past. In 1976 JW began writing "The Boy". It took 34 years to complete. It is currently on Kindle (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T3IVKK ), or if you prefer hard copy, on Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/Boy-J-W/dp/1461022681). JW resides somewhere in the deep South. He is disabled and living with family. Note: Please feel free to take what you need; all is free to all. With that in mind, keep it that way to others. Thank you. We have 3 Blogs - One for our younger days, 0-10 (The Little Shop of Horrors); one for our Teen Alter and his 'friends' (also alters) with a lot of poetry; and finally "my" own, the Song of Life (current events and things)
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3 Responses to “The Refuse Pile”: False Memory Syndrome, or FMS

  1. Bourbon says:

    Absolutely. My quest for “truth” in therapy has been severely halted. I have accepted that I will never know “the truth”. The things I, or other parts of me, are experiencing/have experienced are real TO THEM in some manner… whether that be real life experiences, story-book experiences, nightmares…. doesn’t really matter… they’ve still just got to be processed and relocated to present day 🙂


  2. there is no such thing as fake or false flashbacks… flashbacks are unprocessed trauma memories – no matter how much you might wish them to be false

    “screen memories” are perhaps the closest thing to what you mean – like using staged settings, drugs or projectors/films to create the false impression as a part of the trauma… like being attacked by a supernatural creature or alien – people who have fully worked through their memories talk about finding out from other alters that the trauma itself was real but parts were staged or tricks so it seemed less believable if the child told (or more traumatizing)

    It is very important to work out the memories yourself – only the different parts of you hold the memory of the past. It must be hard not knowing.


    • jeffssong says:

      I think a blend of approaches may be a wise approach – after all, things rarely do well with one solution, one ‘magic-does-all’ kind of bullet. Multilayer approaches might work best.
      One: As Bourbon so eloquently stated, it doesn’t *matter* if they were ‘real’ or not. They were/are real to that alter/part. So I should try to identify negative effects & negate those rather than pursuing the rabbit (memory) down the hole (Alice In Wonderland). I still feel the abuse’s effect on the survivor is more important than the incident(s) which caused it. Helping people cope with the ‘now’.
      Two: Acceptance. “I don’t know.” are great words. It’s took me a long time to learn them. But *accepting* I can’t know (though I may find hints if I go pursuing) goes a ways towards not letting those “wascally wabbits” bother me. I’m kind of a stickler for some evidence – physical or verbal confirmation. And I’m not going to get them. I might if I go pursuing the rabbit down the hole with my dad, but (frown). Maybe I should do like a fella named Marty says: see them, let them go, don’t bother dwelling on it . . . observe the effect instead, and learn to handle that.
      Three: I did a bit of digging before some years ago; got my hand burnt. Badly. LO (ouch & wincing) L’s. You can’t undo something you learn. So I learned not to dig under rocks anymore. Leave them alone. The effects of knowing are worse than the not knowing. :/
      But I also acknowledge sometimes you need to know the origin of an effect in order to counter-act it – or at least explain it away. Tough stuff right there. On one side I have a few parts who want to buy into the memory(s). On the other hand I’ve got my adult, and more logical selves who know how futile such a chase might be. (shrug).
      A blend of approaches can’t hurt. But I am leery of digging again, LOL!


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