5 things to do when you don’t have the full story of your past

5thingspast

There are holes in my story.

And the investigative reporter in me desperately wants to know the truth.

I’ve asked all the possible people, plied for information, but I still have some pretty major questions about what happened back then.

Because I have a strong memory, I remember everything from about four years old on. I even have some very early memories around two years old. But there is a gap in my memory from 2-4. You could argue most people don’t have memories at those ages, so why am I thinking there’s more to my story? Because in asking for details, I’ve uncovered some pretty glaring inconsistencies (hence, the investigative reporter in me).

Often times, children who experience trauma will lose the memory. And that empty period of time is not always recovered. Perhaps that’s what happened to me. Or maybe there’s nothing to uncover, and the questions will have to remain unanswered.

So what do you do when you cannot uncover an important part of your story? How do you go on? Here are five ways I’ve learned in coping with it.

One. Keep investigating.

If something niggles you and it doesn’t seem quite right, keep at it. Ask more and more people connected to you. But be forewarned. Most people don’t want to talk about the past. Once when one relative was just about to tell me something, the person backpedaled quickly, started crying, and said, “Why do you need to know this? Can’t you let the past be the past?” It frustrated me.

I’m the kind of person who needs to know all the things. Not because I’m a snoop, but because in order to heal, I feel like I need the full picture to fully heal. In short, I need to know what I’m grieving.

That’s why I’m still trying to figure out who those brothers were who molested me. It’s part of the healing process for me. (Aside: this is not how everyone is wired, I know. Some people don’t do well with knowing everything, and they’re better off letting go and not doing further investigation).

Two. Take a Break.

If we obsessively push to know what happened back then, we’ll go a bit crazy. Sometimes it’s best to take a break. I’ve done this for long stretches of time, years sometimes, and then I can come back to the research with fresh eyes.

Three. Tell a new friend the entire story.

Those who are close to you have most likely heard about your grappling with an unknown past or a break in your memory. But a fresh set of ears may be what you need. With cautious wisdom, ask a new friend if they’d be willing to hear your story. Share it with all the gaps and questions. Let them know what you’ve uncovered. You may find they’ll have an entirely new way of looking at your past. And their fresh perspective may help you uncover something new.

Four. Ultimately, trust God with your story.

He may have very important reasons for keeping you away from the trauma of the past. You may not be able to handle the truth, or the trauma may be too severe to unearth on earth. Best to trust God to bring healing on the other side when your heart is whole. God is a gentleman healer, and He will uncover layers of healing in due time. Not in a rush, but slowly in ways you can handle the unfolding.

I didn’t know a lot of specific details about some of my past story for several years. I’m grateful I didn’t find it all out all at once. It would have buried me, particularly when I was in a delicate emotional state.

Five. Let go when it’s interfering with your joy.

For the sake of my mental health, I’ve had to let go of knowing certain parts of my story. The questions kept circling back on themselves, and the whys would haunt me. In short, when I was in that grief cycle for too long, my joy disappeared. So I’m learning (which is hard for the investigative reporter in me) to let go of parts of my story that are too tender to touch right now. In that, I pray that God would uncover things in His perfect timing, and if He chooses to keep me in the dark about things, that my heart would find contentment in not knowing all the answers.

Maybe I’m the only one out there with this struggle. I’m writing this post to clarify my head. But if it helps just one other person realize he’s normal for wanting to know the past, then I’ll be grateful.

What about you? Do you have gaps in your story? Are there mysteries you cannot uncover? What have you done to deal with those?