While others my age were training their brains to pass a test, score a goal, or learn a foreign language, I practiced forgetting, willing my mind to zoom in on one event (my father) and zoom out on another (my brother). There was no clear focus; multiple transposed images soaked in a solution too corrosive for my brain to process.
I trained myself to forget. But nightmares would awaken me with their shrewd yet senseless messages; the nightmares lingered long into the days. The images did not fade; they developed into flashbacks. What were they telling me? The nightmare-images-flashbacks cycle was more than I could handle, and I attempted suicide at age 25.
At age 43, the memories suddenly re-surfaced with a photographic clarity that could no longer be denied or dismissed. It was time to tell my self what my brother had done to me thirty years prior. It was time to release my memories from the prison of forced amnesia and feel the freedom of truth, that leads to peace of mind.
Memories are not chronological, linear, or mathematical. They advance, retreat, and erase themselves according to the quantity/quality of the information the individual can manage at the time.
Anna Freud wrote: “Human beings are acquainted with only a fragment of their own inner life, and know nothing about a great many feelings and thoughts which go on within them, that is to say, all these things happen unconsciously without their awareness…. The importance of any event is by no means a guarantee of its permanence in our memory; indeed, on the contrary, it is just the most significant impressions that regularly escape recollection.” Anna Freud, Psychoanalysis for Teachers and Parents: Introductory Lectures (New York: Norton, 1935), pp. 65-66