Traumatic memories are different from “bad memories.” Traumatic memories are those memories which the brain recognized as intolerable and inescapable. When we cannot live with a memory most of us are capable of dissociating. That is, the terrible event is not something we remember. This is a survival mechanism. Our brains don’t store what is too terrible to remember.
Soldiers experience this when they have witnessed what’s too horrible to endure. Survivors of torture and imprisonment in repressive regimes describe “forgetting” the terror they experienced until later. Children who are being abused by the adults who should be protecting them have to dissociate the memories in order to survive the betrayal.
Not everyone is capable of dissociating. My hunch is that children who are not able to dissociate and who live with unbearable suffering are those children who suicide or die in “accidents.”
The point is that the brain doesn’t store traumatic memory the way it stores other memories. It takes a little effort to learn about how the brain deals with events that are too awful to store and which we cannot escape.
You can go online to learn about traumatic memories if you don’t have that knowledge now. If you choose not to learn, then please do not say, “But how can you forget something so awful? I remember everything….” That’s really hurtful and insensitive to those of us who have lived with dissociation. If you don’t make the effort to understand, please don’t pretend you have a valid opinion.