What to know about what you don’t know you know. #1: Intuition is very efficient—if you don't overthink it.
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I think that the fact that I've kept a diary since age 10 (not daily, but I write about things that interest me or bother/upset me several times a year) is a literal gold mine of self-validation regarding my childhood memories.
And, I actually have memory fragments that I wrote about *as a child, of my even earlier years*. From the locations of these memory fragments, I'm guessing that the earliest ones are from around my third year. Truly. Some of the fragments are just ordinary things, like watching a plastic wading pool being filled with water from a hose, or looking down from a window and seeing people at a funny angle (my parents moved from a second-story apartment to a one-story house when I was 3) and some of the memory fragments are terrifying and upsetting.
It also helped me tremendously when my younger Sister and I began to really get to know each other as adults. As older teens we had taken different career- and life-trajectories, and lost touch for about 15 years, then got back together.
Sister and I were able to corroborate each other's childhood memories of chronic yet unpredictable, severe verbal/emotional abuse and physical abuse by our mentally-ill mother (she had borderline pd.) Sister had developed blocks of amnesia to cope, but the memories she did retain of abuse incidents would make your skin crawl. I stopped feeling my feelings, to cope; my memories are pretty intact, but I just kind of stopped feeling very much.
We endured the same kind of abuse from the same person, but we dealt with it in different ways. I'm rather avoidant pd with some PTSD symptoms, Sister is kind of ocpd but social and able to maintain friendships.
But I do think it would be so great: invaluable, really, to study children of all ages (of onset) who are having psychological problems well into their adulthood. Super-long-term studies of 25 or 30 years. I wish someone would fund that program. And as part of the study, I would suggest that the older children be encouraged to keep a diary.
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