One of the things I realised when I truly began my healing journey was just how many memories I’ve lost or blocked. It saddened me when I realised that the traumas I experienced at a crucial point in my life, namely from the age of 10 to my mid-teens, and my desire to blank them out also resulted in blanking out what were, in all probability, good memories.
Out of a flawed sense of loyalty to my mother, a desire to parent my parent (which children of alcoholics often experience) rather than reveal to people how bad things were at home, I chose to accept behaviour which was damaging to me and my mental health. At the time I felt I was stronger emotionally than her, and that by simply letting it happen and not reporting it to anyone, I was protecting her. Only once did I even hint at what was happening, to a deputy head at my school, but I later told her things weren’t really that bad, and she let it go at that. And so it continued.
I believed that if I could rationalise what was happening to me, I would be able to survive anything and go forward healthily and happily. I searched the library to find psychology books, read about the factors involved that could have triggered the behaviour, and so I thought I understood it. But I was wrong; understanding does not equal healing. Enduring what I did during those years had a deep and lasting impact on my mental health and rather than try and deal with that I shut away the memories of it and ran ‘fast-forward’ into what I felt was a normal adult life.
This shutting down, or moth-balling of my memory bank inadvertently meant that I also lost the recall of at least 75% of my childhood sadly including nearly every memory of my late father. I didn’t even really recognise this loss of memory until my own children were growing up and I was trying to create some happy memories with them – when I went vainly in search of memories of my own all I found was a tangled mess of abuse, neglect and trauma.
Slowly though, I have begun to unravel some of threads that were tangled into knots, allowing me glimpses of these memories, insights into my story, and the more I explore, the more I see.
I am achieving this through both spiritual and practical methods; I meditate – I journal; I get upset – I journal; I recall some small snippet – I journal; I journal – I write poetry; I get stuck – I undertake a spiritual journey (meditatively) – I journal…….and so it goes on, each word written, either on its own or in conjunction with many, uncovers another piece of my mystery.