Childhood (non-explicit) Trauma and Forgiving Myself for a Mistake

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    Hi, I’ll try to make this as concise as possible. I am extremely depressed, suffer from ADHD, OCD, and Anxiety related issues. These are not the source of the mistake I made as a child, but they may have been exacerbated or be a cause of them and I feel they are necessary for context.






    At the age of 11 or 12 (I am a woman), I had begun to explore the internet to look at indecent videos, as a lot of kids at that age tend to do. I have a sister, about 10 years (even) younger than me, save a few days between our birthdays. After viewing an indecent video, I tried to replicate it with my sister.

    This contact was EXTREMELY surface level. There was no injury, no penetration, just a light press of our genitals together, I am not sure of the position’s name, it was an imitation of the position (think, like, make two peace signs with your fingers and slot them together, as I recall? But those were our legs). I believe the participants are supposed to grind together or something, but I had no idea what it was for and just stayed like that motionless until she complained my (at the time very sparse, I was 11 or so) hair itched her. I immediately realized something about this whole thing was off, apologized, and left. It never happened again (of any kind of contact of that nature, I knew something there was capital ‘w’ WRONG there), and I told my mom about it soon after. She apologized for not giving me the Talk sooner and said that it was my exposure to the content on the internet that is to blame, not me (I had no idea who you were supposed to do sexual acts with, but all I thought I knew is that is was apparently something you do with people you love, no matter who). In fact, she had actually forgotten about the incident until I brought it up recently, having had a crying breakdown on my bathroom floor and on the edge of doing something stupid with a can of helium and a grocery bag (y’know). My OCD brain had to stop and think when she told me if she didn’t forgive me or trust me to never do it again, she would never have let us share hotel rooms on vacations as a family and that I was overthinking an innocent mistake, so I was saved from that night.

    She also mentioned that this is more common than I originally suspected and she felt thankful I had not been exposed to something worse. My sister was so young that she cannot remember the incident, which I thank God for from the bottom of my heart.

    It pains me to even describe it; it was very basic and very light but it feels like glass is embedded in my fingers as I type this. She (my Mom) and my Dad have tried to tell me that they forgive my mistake, that they know I would never touch a child for the sake of them being a child for a sexual reason (I have no sexual inclinations of that nature (of which I am thankful to not be afflicted with) and this was the only incident) and that they say I would never have made this mistake if I had not been exposed to that indecent content.

    I, however, cannot get over it; maybe because of my mental diseases (particularly my OCD) and it has caused a VERY intrusive loop of ‘because of this mistake, your life is ruined. normal people don’t make that kind of mistake, just kill yourself and start over or whatever comes after it, pay for it in hell’. I have come very close in the past to going through with this.

    I do feel that an issue is a crippling lack of confidence in my own judgement, due to the lines of logic my mind works with (including the OCD and ADHD tendencies) in part because of this incident. I can’t decide that well, I was a little innocent kid and saw something, did something I shouldn’t have, and should thank god it didn’t escalate and that I caught myself (again, thank GOD). I have to hear it from an external viewpoint. Please, am I making a mountain out of a molehill? This guilt and trauma (which I think is fitting to only affect me, perhaps I can count this as a punishment for it and give myself some closure) has given me zero confidence in my own decisions and validity as a human being for about a decade or so (I’m 24). How can I forgive myself?

    Please be delicate, I’m already on the verge as it is. If you think I’m a disgusting human being, please be nice about it at least. I only need a nudge, as-is.

    Thank you for reading, God be with you.


    Dear E:

    “am I making a mountain out of a molehill?”- based on what you shared, my answer is: yes, you are making a huge mountain out of a very small, very tiny molehill.

    You shared that when you were 11 or 12 you watched an indecent video online and replicated an “EXTREMELY surface position” with your 10 year old sister. You told your mother soon after and such an incident did not happen again.

    You shared that you are “extremely depressed, suffer from ADHD, OCD, and Anxiety related issues”, and that recently, you “had a crying breakdown on (your) bathroom floor and on the edge of doing something stupid with a can of helium and a grocery bag”. You are currently experiencing “a VERY intrusive loop of ‘because of this mistake, your life is ruined. Normal people don’t make that kind of mistake, just kill yourself and start over or whatever comes after it, pay for it in hell’. I have come very close in the past to going through with this”.

    My input: although I think that you are making a huge mountain out of a very small, tiny molehill,  I think that your mental health requires more professional attention because although the act itself you described, in the context that it happened was a tiny molehill, your reaction to it has been a huge mountain.

    Contemplating suicide is a very serious thing and it therefore requires that you see a medical doctor/ therapist as soon as possible. I  hope your mother can arrange for this kind of help for you. Can she?




    Hello anita, thank you for replying.

    I do believe there was a slight misunderstanding, as she is ten years younger than me, not 10 years old at the time. Does that change anything? I know she could talk clearly, but aside from that I can’t recall.

    Yes, I do believe my afflictions make me more prone to over-reacting. It was the biggest mistake of my life and my conditions have latched onto that viciously. I have been arranging visits with my therapist, and have scheduled psychiatric help for this Friday. My urges to carry out taking my own life may have a source of their own, but they latch onto my biggest regret; i.e, that incident and fixate on it as a reason to provide me with motive.

    Most of the time, I am apathetic, living a life I do not feel I deserve as I ruined my own life by making that mistake and as such lost most if not all enjoyment from it. I don’t look both ways when I cross the street, I should say. If I smoked, which I do not, I would smoke without regard for my health as dying would be a blessing to me and it wouldn’t hurt my family as much as suicide. As long as it’s unintentional, they won’t blame themselves, you know?

    Well, I’m sort of just meandering and hoping something wipes me out, but not necessarily looking for death most of the time. It’s only during my fits that I start to freak out.


    Dear E:

    I see my mistake. I want to re-read your posts tomorrow morning, when I hope to be refreshed and focused, and reply to you further then, in about 14 hours from now. For now, I am glad that you arranged for a meeting with a psychiatrist this Friday and that you are seeing a therapist, or arranged to see a therapist, if I understand correctly (?)

    Can you share with me, before I return- if you feel comfortable sharing (it is okay if you don’t), more about your childhood experience during the first decade of your life (ages 0-10): how was your life then? And your teenage years to current (ages 13-24)???

    One more thing: from all that you shared, really- you deserve a good life and I hope you experience it sooner than later.



    Dear E:

    You shared that at 24, you “suffer from ADHD, OCD, and Anxiety related issues”- you did not share if you were diagnosed with these disorders (and when?)  and if you ever received treatment for these disorders (what were the treatments and are you currently receiving treatment?).

    You focused on one momentary event that happened when you were 11 or 12, but you shared nothing about your life otherwise: nothing about your life before you were 11 or your life after being 12. Nor did you share about your life now: do you live with your parents, are you a student, do you work, etc.

    Regarding the incident: you were 11 or 12, and your sister was 1 or 2. You were a preteen and she was either a baby/ infant (ages 0-1), or a toddler (ages 1-3).

    With this much body size difference, I don’t understand how it was possible for you to cross legs with her, if I understand correctly, I cannot picture a baby or a young toddler and a preteen making “two peace signs with your (legs) and slot them together”, being the legs are of such massive difference in size.

    You also wrote that she complained to you, using enough words to make a coherent sentence, and you wrote: “She could talk clearly”. I am not aware of the possibility of a one year old baby talking clearly and forming a sentence.

    You wrote: “I have been arranging visits with my therapist, and have scheduled psychiatric help for this Friday”- Friday is two more days from now. If you need help earlier, please contact emergency help sooner.

    I hope you heal from all that is troubling you and I wish you well !



    Yes, that part of this also confuses me. I do know she was a very intelligent child, but my mother insists that I was no older than 12. I honestly cannot recall too much detail about the incident other than what I have listed. It also confuses me, because I clearly recall that she voiced a complaint, that she wanted to do something else and I had itched her with the light contact. Was she big for her age? She has no recollection of the incident. That does to me also seem something a young child should be unable to do. If anything helps, I am a very petite woman and was an even more petite child. If she was big for her age and I was small for my age, I guess it may have partially worked…but I know that I was trying to imitate that specific position, even if nothing sexual happened.

    I honestly am unsure if us both being younger or older makes anything worse or better…I know I would have seen an issue with attempting to replicate that video with a baby, as my young mind knew these were things two people do with each other if anything. My thought is that I saw myself as an adult (like a lot of kids do), and so if you were a ‘person’ that made you eligible for these odd activities. Yes, she was definitely not a baby, I do believe I had enough cognitive ability to have noticed she was not a candidate as someone I could feasibly try this out with if she was a baby.

    So I had to have seen her as a person, my sister, first and foremost. I could have been 13, and her 3 or 4?  Does that make things worse?

    My childhood was very uneventful from what I understand; if I was traumatized before this incident I cannot recall, but I am doubtful of it. My afflictions began to cause problems around 1st grade I am told, but my parents thought I would grow out of it.

    I was diagnosed only recently- my parents were suspicious of mental health professionals and I only managed to get treated once I moved out. I think they were more of the ‘natural healing’ type and their horizons have since broadened.

    I am living alone, by choice, and am currently single. I am a university student, and this is the only event of its kind in my life. I am currently only receiving therapy and not medication.

    I really appreciate the analytical approach, it does a lot for confronting my OCD brain with facts that can’t be disputed easily. What-if’s only seem to make things worse for me.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by E.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by E.

    Dear E:

    I just spent some time reading about the nature of Memory, particularly adults remembering their childhood. This post is long, so please take your time with it.

    I will paraphrase and quote from National Geographic, Brain Science: Early Childhood Testimony Unreliable: memories “become distorted over time”. In other words, event A happens- it is not stored neatly and solidly as event A. Over time the memory of event A changes. Future events and input (such as what you watch on TV, hear in the news, etc. over the  years) integrate into the memory of event A, and so, event A changes, and you end up adding to the event, and taking out of the event, and therefore, the memory becomes distorted and unreliable.

    “Stress and emotion affects remembering”, meaning, stress and emotions that you feel over time  after event A change what you remember of event A. The more time between event A and telling the memories of the event- the more distortion.

    “Until the age of eight or nine, most people don’t have a sense of memory that is developed enough to reliably recall  more than the bare outline of events, particularly stressful ones… Memory develops slowly through infancy, behavioral research shows, with most memories before 18 months completely lost to people later in life, a phenomenon known as ‘infantile amnesia.’ Memories remain sparse and lacking in detail until age eight”.

    The article is about sexual memories of childhood as used in a court of law, it continues: “That means that honest courtroom testimony by adults about early childhood events would contain few details. A richly detailed recounting of events is more likely have been embroidered or created by the witness, perhaps unconsciously.. Witness testimony that include specifics- the color of someone’s clothes or the weather on a particular day- is probably suspect. Even true memories become distorted over time’-

    – memories become distorted over time, including memories of stressful events: “The belief that memories of stressful events are retained more vividly than others also goes against what psychologists have found.. ‘Overall, the fact that an event was stressful or traumatic is not a good predictor of a child’s subsequent memory for that event.’

    “our everyday picture of memories as fixed and stable is wrong. Such beliefs about memory is fundamental, however, to the whole idea of eyewitness testimony in courtrooms. Partly for that reason, psychologists and neuroscientists have become increasingly critical of eyewitness testimony in the last decade”.

    “decades-old memories encoded when we were children are often fragmented and decontextualized“-

    Fragmented means that pieces have been broken off from the whole. Example: in a child’s true life she was hit one summer day by a parent using a belt, and years later, she was given a particular Christmas gift by that parent on Christmas Day. Decades later, the adult remembers being hit with the belt on Christmas Eve and being given a gift the day aftger).an adult remembers having been hit with a belt by a parent, but does not remember what happened before or after.

    Decontextualized means to consider something without the context in which it happened, example: an adult remembers being a child and walking to school one day in winter, cold, without a coat because his mother wanted to punish him. The truth was that on that day he really did walk to school cold, but the context was different: his mother was busy, told him: “take your coat”, but he forgot to take the coat with him.

    “There is considerable evidence showing that memory does not always serve us well if what we are trying to do is recapture an accurate or verbatim glimpse of the past. Indeed, we can often misremember even the core of events that have happened to us”.

    Healthline, on False Memories (quotes only): “Most false memories aren’t malicious or even intentionally hurtful. They’re shifts or reconstructions of memory that don’t align with the true events. However, some false memories can have significant consequences, including in court or legal settings where false memories may convict someone wrongfully.

    “Memories are complex. While you might imagine a memory as a black or white element, the truth is memories are subject to change, malleable, and often unreliable… In your memory, you may combine elements of different events into a singular one… emotions may have a significant impact on who and what’s stored as a memory… negative emotions lead to more false memories than positive or neutral emotions…

    “people who have a history of trauma, depression, or stress may be more likely to produce false memories.. Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may have a memory deficit or poor memory confidence… They may be more likely to create false memories because they don’t have confidence in their own memories…

    “False memories may seem quite real and even highly emotional. Your confidence in them makes them feel more tangible, but it doesn’t guarantee authenticity. Likewise, the presence of false memories doesn’t mean your memory is bad or that you’re developing a type of memory disorder, like dementia or Alzheimer disease. False memories, for better or worse, are an element of being human and not having an impermeable brain”.

    Back to you, E: you wrote about your memory: “that part of this also confuses me.. I clearly recall that she voiced a complaint”- she may have voiced a complaint not at 1 or 2, but at 5, in another context, another event.

    “She has no recollection of the incident”- that can be explained by “infantile amnesia” (above), or by imperfection of memory otherwise. For example, if we don’t pay attention to what is happening, if we are absent minded- we don’t store what happened in our memories for any period of time.

    “If I was traumatized before this incident I cannot recall, but I am doubtful of it”- can you give me a couple of examples of what you consider to be traumatizing childhoods?

    “My afflictions began to cause me problems around 1st grade I am told”– as adults we take what our parents tell us about our childhood as truth.. but it may not be true.

    “my parents thought I would grow out of it.. my parents were suspicious of mental health professionals and I only managed to get treated once I moved out.. they were more of the ‘natural healing’ type”-

    – while you were suffering in 1st grade and on, how did your parents try to help you, what natural healing did they practice with you.. and why were they so suspicious of mental health professionals, do you know?



    As to her mentioning it itching, it made perfect sense to me as it was the factor that made me realize something was wrong about it and convinced me to stop trying to recreate what I was trying to. Even I, as guilty as I am having attempted anything at all with her, can confidently say that really, it stopped far before anything sexual even occurred. This is backed up by myself and my mother almost identically as I told her what happened soon after, and I confirmed with her after I told her my recollection, and she agreed that it matched what I told her then. I don’t remember all details, only that:

    1. the attempt stopped before anything sexual happened (I mean we had been naked around each other before then and after that time for any number of reasons, we’re siblings), so all that occurred, I am very certain, is that I pressed our genitals together lightly in the aforementioned position, then left once she complained of it itching her as she had yet to grow hair.

    2. the reason I realized it was wrong was when it did not elicit the response my child self expected; I.e she told me my hair was itchy and it became clear to me that what I was doing may be wrong. I think that some part of me knew it might be wrong beforehand but realized that I was way over my head in knowing how serious of a mistake I was making, of which again I am very thankful for.

    I guess the thing that I’m upset about and need to come to terms with is that it was a misguided decision made by a child that was innocent enough to not lead anywhere traumatizing for either of us. Is this a correct conclusion?

    Yes, I agree. I called it a ‘new game’ I had found, as that was harmless enough and I knew that I was only curious to try out the position, not the act. That is very important to me; it was the position I was most interested in, not the act itself.

    I can’t say for sure how pure my intentions were, but if I had known something would cause her harm I would never have done it, that I do know. What I tried to recreate was so basic and borderline non-sexual that it wouldn’t have registered for her at all.

    On another note, my parents are Scientologists, so they have a phobia of mental health professionals. They’re good people, but got caught up in the fear-mongering. I remember being very very VERY fussy about everything and having a high standard for procedure and process from a young age. My food had to be on separate plates, I only wore certain types of clothing. Nothing too bad. When I asked, they told me they assumed I was a weird kid like all kids were in the 90’s, but not weird enough to take me to a doctor about my behaviour.

    They did send me to Auditing, which is basically Scientologist’s version of therapy. (not due to this incident, they had been having me attend it before that and after, and I never told my auditors about the incident, except one of them in very basic terms- and they have a confidentiality policy. whether they upheld it, I have no idea)

    An example of a traumatic childhood? Like, someone who was groomed, or witnessed violence a lot in the home, or is beaten?


    Dear E:

    “it was a misguided decision made by a child that was innocent enough to lead anywhere traumatizing for either of us. Is this a correct conclusion?”- I think so.

    “That is very important to me: it was the position I was most interested in, not the act itself… What I tried to recreate was so basic and borderline non-sexual”- I understand.

    You mentioned that your parents are scientologists. It explains their suspicion or phobia regarding mental health professionals: Scientology is vehemently opposed to psychiatry and psychology.

    I asked you for a couple of examples of what you meant by traumatic childhood, and you gave me the examples (1) being groomed, you meant in the context of sexual abuse, and (2) witnessing or experiencing physical violence.

    My input: verbal abuse is also traumatic. There are other forms of abuse that are less direct: for example, a parent telling their child that the world is very dangerous, that at any time  someone might break into the home and kill everyone- that’s enough to overwhelm a child with anxiety, more anxiety than a child can handle without developing such things as insomnia and panic attacks.

    Wikipedia reads: “Scientology asserts some people are truly malevolent, and Hubbard (the founder of the Church of Scientology) taught 20 percent of the population were suppressive persons which includes some hopelessly antisocial personalities who are truly dangerous individuals… A scientologist who communicates with a suppressive person risks being declared a Potential Trouble Source.. and the Church of Scientology has a reputation for moving aggressively against such detractors”-

    – did you experience any of this, as a child, being taught that there are so many evil people around?



    I don’t think so…usually when someone did something bad they were sent to the Ethics Department. My mom gave me books called The Ethics Book, the Manners Book and the Drugs Book which were thick picture books about psychology being evil, how to behave, etc. There are, I will admit, nuggets of good advice about basic reasoning for kids to know like don’t eat rotten food or don’t take words at face value, but they were obviously meant to condition kids reading it.

    Yes, my parents are all about morality, not so much nowadays. I think the pandemic really helped with disconnecting them. I used to read books from the lobby while waiting for my mom at her volunteer position at the Org (church) that talked about how the confidentiality of psychology meant there were huge proportions of patients that were raped in treatment.

    I didn’t know what rape was, but it sounded violent. The book went on to say how the doctor prescribed medication to shut her up. A few other stories like that. I went on the Freewinds and the kids club was basically a work camp slash mental torture ring. I refused to go after a few days of it. You know that torture method where they ask you repetitive questions for hours to wear you down? That was an actual activity that we did. For like two hours or more a day. Pick up the bottle, what color is it, what temperature, what is it made of, okay, put it down, walk to this other table, pick up the bottle, etc, etc. 

    My old Auditor said a few years ago they developed a New Tech that could let you read the auras of things you touched and even for me as a kid growing up with that stuff I was like….no, that’s baloney.

    But yes, I’m very scared of everybody I meet. I used to wonder if me as a child making that mistake meant I was truly evil from birth. But once I moved away from home, I realized what a bunch of loonbills they are, and my OCD brain, ever helpful with facts and statistics, helped me decide that I couldn’t define myself by their standards. So I feel that it hasn’t affected me to the point of non-recovery.


    Dear E:

    I read and appreciate your reply in the other thread.

    I hope that it is okay with you that I need certain clarifications if I am to understand you better. If you choose to answer my questions, please take your time because I will not be able to read and reply for a few hours:

    1. “my parents are all about mortality, not so much nowadays. I think the pandemic really helped with disconnecting them”- I don’t understand how the pandemic helped disconnect your parents from morality??

    2. “I’m very scared of everybody I meet”- can you elaborate on this sentence?

    3. “I used to wonder if me as a child making that mistake meant I was truly evil from birth”- what particular mistake are you referring to, and will you tell me more about the thought of being “truly evil from birth”- when did it first occur to you, etc.?

    “my OCD brain, ever helpful with facts and statistics, helped me decide that I couldn’t define myself by (Scientology) standards. So I feel that it hasn’t affected me to the point of non-recovery”-

    – I am glad to read this, and I too rely on facts and statistics (and on science, not on scientology).


    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by anita.

    1. Oh, I meant that since the pandemic started, they have had less connection to the Scientologist groups. It is like an Echo Chamber, and since being exposed to less of it they have become much more mellow.

    2. I feel as if everybody I meet knows about all the bad things I have done and hate me automatically. It is a paranoia that I have.

    3. By my mistake, I meant the mistake I made this thread to discuss, and while it has made me feel better to read other people who have made similar mistakes posts and know I am not alone, I know this is not an immediate fix. I still need to bring this up with my psychiatrist, when we meet on Friday.


    Dear E:

    It’s a good thing they are less connected to the Scientologist groups.

    You mentioned Scientology as an Echo Chamber. Literally an Echo Chamber is an acoustic echo chamber where sounds reverberate in a hollow enclosure. Figuratively, it is a situation in which beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a closed system and insulated from rebuttal, a situation that increases social and political polarization and extremism.

    It leads me to think that your paranoia regarding everyone you meet (“I feel as if everybody I meet knows about all the bad things I have done and hate me automatically. a paranoia that I have”) is about the concept of badness having been magnified and polarized within the Echo Chamber of Scientology, in which you grew up, an Echo Chamber that is now within your brain, magnifying and polarizing mistakes you made.

    In Scientology, as in Conspiracy Theories, so prevalent these days, there are alleged to be lots and lots of extremely bad people everywhere, conspiring to destroy massively. In reality, such sinister people are few and far in between, and most people are not bad, or far from being that bad.

    If you see a therapist, I hope he/ she will be familiar with Scientology as it is very relevant to how terribly bad you perceive that mistake to be- a mistake that has been magnified and polarized within the Echo Chamber of your brain.



    Hello E,

    Don’t know if you’ll see this, but there was something that I was curious about; what makes you feel ashamed of yourself?

    Your written post of your actions as a child who was curious about sexual acts paints a painful picture of this big sin that you’ve supposedly committed. But you were never taught what ‘sex’ was and it seems you were a part of a social circle that shames women for being sexual beings, even when it’s a perfectly natural disposition. And you don’t feel inclined towards pedophilia so that’s not much of a concern.

    But what is concerning is how much guilt you have about yourself. Certainly, the actions you did on your sister was not consensual, but it’s not surprising. Children are constantly exposed to ‘sex’ in different form by way of marketing so you being curious as to why grown adults do weird things to each other is natural. Children imitate the actions of adults to understand how the world operates and your parents are not the only adults you would be exposed to. But for your brain to latched on this mistake you made as a child whose brain has not fully developed speak of an underlying issue. And one of the issues seems to relate on how you feel guilty about your existence.

    You persecute your actions as the sin of all sins and so feel that you deserve to be punished for it. You can also wonder at the what ifs; what if your mother had taught you what sex was? What if you were taught to ask for consent before touching someone else private part? What if you didn’t watch that video? What if you weren’t curious how it felt to do the act? But that doesn’t address the question of why you can’t move forward from understanding the mistake for what it was.

    Yet why are you using this mistake to persecute yourself as a bad person? You keep ruminating over the details and seesawing back and forth of “I was a child and made a mistake to I am a horrible person who did this terrible thing”. But shame is a learnt habit that comes from reinforcement from your environment. Whether its your peers to your teachers to your parents to what you see on social media, if there is constant denial or shame or disregard for your emotions and thoughts, then you are learning that your existence take second place to other people. But that’s only one way of developing shame.

    Then there’s the matter of you disassociating from your emotions. You feel apathic to life which then lead to the question of the level of which you are disassociating from your emotions? If you feel nothing for yourself or your life, then of course it is no better than breathing, but not alive. Emotions color your thoughts and your perspective on life, but when you don’t allow yourself your emotions, then life is no better than a black and white film. So when did feeling felt so heavy for you? Or is it embarrassing to feel emotions? Or are you ashamed of your emotions and thoughts?

    These are some things to think about. Though I would like to read your thoughts on them, reflecting on them will take time and age. Different experiences will give you different perspective on certain events of your life. What you think of your life now might change within a few years, but that is if you’re willing to change how you are seeing the world through your thoughts. With any luck, you’ll be able to see something differently than you can see now.

    Good luck.

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