Whenever we block memories and events from our childhood, we tend to assume the block will remain. The thing about the brain is that it can do some weird shit. One day you will remember nothing about a year or two in your life, and the next – sadness, anxiety and open the door to invite all of the other traumatic events that you have had.
Triggers can be terrifying. For me, there is a wash of emotion that I may or may not be able to pinpoint why or how it showed up. An interesting thing started happening when I went through an EMDR session, where I focused on a positive memory. I picked one event that I wanted to see more clearly. I tried to understand the details, and my hope was like my other experiences with EMDR. After the session, I was able to understand better how trauma shaped my life.
With the most recent session, memories of happy times came flooding in. It was as if the pages of a picture book where being flipped before my eyes. Just snippets of time would pass through with speed that didn’t give me a moment to pause and try to work through the memory. Months later, I am still working on it.
For so long, I’ve spent so much energy avoiding all memories at all costs. My coping mechanisms include but not limited to – counting to 4 repeatedly to drown out the noise in my brain. When a negative memory or thought comes into my head to stop the loop, I’ve always taken a short but quick breath. I am not sure I ever decided it was something to do. It just came as a light gasp to trigger my brain to pause.
I have noticed that over that recently, I have not been bothered as much by the memories. I am learning to let them wash over me and then go back out like the tide. It has been eye-opening how many positive memories I had pushed away in hopes of keeping the negative at bay. I am trying to see both the positive and negative memories and events as flipping through a photo album. Acknowledging that they happened and then letting them go because they are memories and not actual events that I can escape or change the outcome.
It has been a struggle these last few years, where I have been working on my self and my mental health. I have finally realized that a backward step isn’t the end of the journey. I am thinking of it as a brief hold, and it gives me a chase to work through more traumatic events and to let them go. I’ve also learned to accept that these events have helped to shape me for better or for worse, and there is no way of deleting or avoiding them.
They are a part of, and I have begun to accept that. I am learning that I am not a single event in my life. I am who I am because of it all, the good, the not so good, and the truly horrific. But, I am still here, and that is what matters most.