Before I begin, let me say:
1) No, this is not a joke
2) No, despite my wishes to the contrary, I'm not stoned out of my mind.
Basically, I have a number of memories from my childhood that are completely surreal and more or less physically impossible -- which would rationally suggest that I'm remembering dreams -- yet these "memories" are just as real and perfectly vivid as any other memory of my childhood. I'm disturbed by the implications of this.
Example 1: I have a vivid, utterly real "memory", from when I was 6 or 7 I guess, of my dad and I standing together, naked, in a toilet bowl. We weren't shrunk or anything, just sort of standing there, full sized. I know, it's classic Freudian dream material. Yet, it's just as "real" to me as one of my birthday parties from those years.
Example 2: I remember, very distinctly and strongly, of visiting my grandmother's house for a family reunion when I was about 9 or 10. Part of the "ritual" of the family reunion involved everyone (except myself, because I chickened out) walking over a bed of hot, smoldering coals.
Yes, I know it's all completely insane. I asked my grandma about it last year and she agreed that it's insane as well, yet I remember it as well as I remember Christmas from around that time. Perfect clarity.
Example 3: Some kids have "imaginary friends". I had an "imaginary enemy". It was the telephone pole
who lived out back. The nodes on top were his eyes, the "V" shape crossbars was his perpetually grinning mouth. The strange part is that I remember him speaking. Like, really
remember him speaking. He spoke a terrible monster-language (sounded like "Gonk-gonk-gonk") but I could understand what he was saying. He always wanted to eat me and my family. I remember him threatening my family, as much as I remember my dad talking to me as a child. Its that
real to me.
The rational part of my mind (which I like to think is very strong) realizes that these and other "memories" are obviously products of my own mind -- yet I'm unable to distinguish them in any way from "reality", except, perhaps, by their seemingly ludicrous nature.
So, some questions:
Is this normal? Does anyone else have these experiences? Or am I completely insane?
Is there any truth to the idea of "false memories" that could have been implanted by someone else? Or even by myself, unknowingly?
And finally, (on a more philosophical note) If I can't reliably tell the difference between dreams and reality from such a young age, how can I be sure that anything from back then is real? Obviously I can ask others who were supposedly there (like grandma) but if they don't remember, what does it say about my personal integrity that many of my earliest, most formative memories could be fake? Or even mostly fake? Obviously I've given some extreme and very surreal examples, but what can I trust if I can't trust my own memory?