I’ve been re-reading a fantasy series that I really enjoyed when I came across a passage that triggered me rather badly. The heroine of the series had been sexually assaulted (the series handles it in a unique way that made it readable for me). There comes a point when the anti-hero/kind of good guy is trying to get her to come back to herself as her memories of her entire life have been lost. He says ‘I’m here. It’s safe to remember….’ I read that sentence the first time I read these books and felt…something. This time it hit me harder. I felt tears coming so I went to my bathroom (again) and sat in the dark (again) and cried (again).
The pain seemed to come from the words: I’m here, it’s safe to remember. That hurt, a lot. I didn’t understand why it hurt though.
I was on my hands and knees in the dark crying, trying to figure it out and I saw my grandmother in my mind. At first I thought that my mind was going to bring up her death and that’s why I was crying but I don’t think that’s what it was.
I was looking at her from a shorter perspective. I could see her in her kitchen and it was a mixture of some very recent dreams I’ve had, and actual fact. She was in the kitchen a lot, making all kinds of things.
But when I saw her, it was like I was seeing her in the distant past when I was a child, not as I was when she died. The perspective stayed put and I stayed seeing her in the kitchen. The word safe was tied directly to her and it was NOT SAFE. But it’s like the thought was also from the past. And I just kept crying and crying but all I saw was her. All I could think of was that it wasn’t safe. I thought: she wasn’t there to protect us. And that hurt too. It really hurt. Those thoughts revolved in my head until I stopped crying. I don’t think it occurred to me until now that I could have been holding a secret that I didn’t feel like I could tell my grandmother. That threw my world off kilter because my grandmother was my everything and very definition of safety. But maybe she wasn’t…not in this case and that would have been absolutely terrible for a kid.
I’m sure that my therapist would call this a feeling memory. Previously I’ve kind of ignored these “memories” (in quotes to distinguish them from visual memory). I have a thing with feelings. I don’t like showing them and I mentally ridicule others who show what I consider weakness (not here, this is a different situation than real life).
I would demean myself for showing such a weakness as crying and the idea of feeling memories made me roll my eyes. I thought it was hippy-loving, zen crap and it didn’t fit with my regimen of strict logic and visual facts.
I don’t feel that way anymore. Tonight I felt something that was real and it came from somewhere real, even if I don’t understand all of it yet. I think that it was telling me how I felt back then. I need to acknowledge it. And let me tell you something: feelings are scary. I think that’s why those who have been abused tend to repress them.
Think about it. Feelings define whatever we are going through. It tells us if something is a happy occasion or a sad one. If you take an event that would normally be traumatic but you take all the emotion out of it, it’s just people doing things. But if you add in severe fright, overwhelming helplessness and deep, soul-rending sadness…well now you’ve got something traumatic.
I think that remembering the feelings may actually be the hardest part and the feelings the most difficult to bring up.