I wish I had one less tear for every time I heard the advice to stay more focused on the future than I do the past. Or one less ache for the unsolicited opinion that letting go is always best.
I have spent many years contemplating this.
I revert to the line in a journal that was gifted to me. It says, “Remember to get through it. Don’t stay in it.”
I’ve met many abuse survivors who have all of their memories. I have felt a mixed twinge of jealousy that they remember everything and sadness that they recall all of the hurt. Still, there are some of us survivors with time gaps.
For me, those gaps are not completely blank. They hold flash and impression memories. Flash memories are 3-10 second images which sometimes have no specific beginning, sometimes no end or sometimes both. Impression memories are feelings and thoughts for which there are no accompanying images. Both of these types of memories are cloaked with a big question mark.
There is no closure for them. To forget and let them go is as impossible as the inevitable fact that if one tries to stay awake for as long as possible, eventually, they will fall asleep. The memory will go nowhere whether we will it to or not.
Therefore, instead, to dive into the dark and dismal pits is sometimes the definitive path to wholeness. To finally reach the destination may include feeling our way through some very dark hallways and caves.
The key to this expedition is behavioral awareness. There will be tears and weariness. There will be moments of wanting to give up. There will be times anger will emerge. Being aware of whether or not this is affecting our behavior is important, as it affects those connected to us, our health and well being.
Balance is the ying to the yang. It must be set in place by way of grounding into the present. Dissociation begins with physical symptoms such as a heavy chest, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, nausea, tunnel vision and more.
To dive into the abyss requires a safety belt and a wire. It is not impossible. The more we care for and accept signals from our physical form, the more the gateways of the mind become open.
To enter the haunted house, one must remember the number one rule.
It is not real. Right now, in the present, it is not real. It is a memory. We get to control our response to it. We get to be patient as we learn how to enact that control.
And once our bodies have become accustomed to the trapeze, to know there will always be a net, we can be free to swing between the poles of our soul gaps.
And all that is darkness will be exposed by the light. As horrible as it will be, don’t turn your eyes. Let the images and accounts embed themselves so deep, that you never lose your empathy.