Trauma and Memory Recall

Memory is a strange thing for the traumatized mind. Some memories are nothing more than apparitions of smell, emotion, and touch; try as I might to put flesh on these ghosts, they remain as formless as mist rising in the morning. Other memories are clear on the big picture yet lack details. I remember his size, the tenor of his voice, the time of year; but his face is an empty and blurred image, as if I can only recall the outline of what happened and who he was. And still others, more strangely, are incredibly vivid and detailed. I can recall the color of my shirt and the exact size of his member on me. I remember the lunch I ate, and the cigarettes I smoked. I remember his face; he isn’t a blurry image I struggle to recall. I can still see the lines on his forehead and the way his lips drew together in rage against me.

Sometimes I have to close my eyes and think “ok…I was very cold and wearing a jacket so it must have been Fall or Winter….yes, it was because the soup kitchen gave us Christmas dinner…” and that is how I put some things together. It is like tracing lines, connecting dots, until I can place a certain event in the timeline of my life. “Was I 18 or 20 when this happened? Well… didn’t meet my husband yet so I wasn’t 20…” and on it goes.

Why are some memories so detailed, and others so far away? They were all traumatic. I was high during some, and sober during others; but it makes no difference in my ability to remember. Why, oh mind, do you insist that I remember the drug dealing pimp from Harlem who raped me but will not reveal the face of a similar man from East Orange? Why, oh mind, do you allow me excruciating memory of shame and secrecy during childhood but will not permit me his name? What is this game of ours we are playing?

There has got to be some reason, no? I just cannot figure it out. This memory puzzle, this strange collection of blurry and clear snapshots in time.

That man from Harlem, I don’t want to remember him. I want to forget. Yet, my mind insists on not forgetting him. But then, I wonder why on earth I am trying to coax details from the misty memories of my mind. Surely they must be worse? But are they? I don’t know.

I am my own puzzle, and my brain has stored the pieces in various places in different ways.

I suppose the most important thing is to resolve the feelings. That is what I focus on now.

If I cannot recall what I want to at will, then I will focus on healing the wounds they left behind. I will work with what I have available to me, and trust in my mind’s way of storing these events long left behind.

As long as one day, I am whole again. Free again. Me again.

The Wide Open Heart of a Mother

I think it may be the prenatal hormones that are kicking in. I am getting close to my due date (about 6-8 weeks away) and the baby is moving a lot, our connection has grown a lot already as I prepare myself physically and mentally for his arrival. It could be that, I don’t know. All I know is that I have found myself really contemplating and feeling the vastness of my love for my children.

My oldest is 5 and she will start kindergarten homeschooling within weeks. I am in awe of this little thinking person she has become. I miss her babyhood, yet I adore the child she is and look forward to the years ahead that we have of learning together. She is strongly empathetic and caring, her spirit is one that naturally wants to help others. My hips have been in so much pain lately from SPD (a condition of loose ligaments during pregnancy), and she has taken to rubbing my hips gently to sooth it. I never showed her how to do that, nor did I ask her to do it. She just knew. She just sensed what I needed and desired to help ease my pain. She is also strong, which is good because she is so sensitive. She hurts easily; but I see inside of her the strength of my mother and my grandmother and great-grandmother. Women whose blood runs in her veins; women who are and were strong. She is beautiful in so many ways, my little girl. My mother heart feels physically full to think of her.

And then there is my second, 3.5 year old Liora. She is fiery. She is powerful, all sinewy strength and muscle. She takes a lot of time, attention, and sometimes leaves me questioning my ability as a mother. Yet, she is tiny physically (all that solid muscle in a short petite frame). She is in some ways even softer and more easily damaged than her big sister is. She needs my love in a way that is fierce and terrifying for her. She will rage and tantrum if she is scared of losing it. Recently, she hurt her sister (again) and I was upset. She was all fury; fists, teeth, knees and jabs. But then, she broke down. She wept, and looked up at me with those amazing brown eyes filed with tears and said “mommy, you don’t love me anymore?” My heart broke. Shattered. I pulled her into me and assured with a thousand words and kisses that my love was still there, and would always be there. I spent time this week just holding her. She requires physical touch, and verbal affirmation. She will be a force to be reckoned with in this world, my little Li. A wonderful, loving, fiery force.

My current “baby”, my third daughter Zipporah. She is 2 years old and ready to do everything her big sisters do. They are her world, especially Liora. I labored for a day with Z, and fought hard for her after she was born and the hospital tried to keep her from me. She came home with me with a head full of dark hair and the fullest cheeks. I was a confident mother with her. I knew that I was her mother, and therefore all she needed as a babe. I nursed her, slept with her, and carried her everywhere. Yet, she was always my most independent baby. She rarely ever cried. She enjoyed the chaos around her formed by her big sisters, and as soon as possible she joined in. We called her “free-range baby” because she would just crawl around, then toddle around after her sisters. Momma is still important, but if big sisters are there than she feels safe and ready for adventure. When she says to me “mom mom” my heart is a puddle and she gets whatever she wants. She has an incredible vocabulary for a 2 year old, and she is still my easy going one although the toddler in her does protest when she wants. She adores babies. All babies. Any baby. Just give her a baby and she is in love. Also, food. She loves to eat. She is tall (unlike Liora), and sturdy. Her face reveals her family from Colombia, a beautiful mixture of daddy and me. I am relishing this stage of her life. I love the 2 year old age, despite the tantrums, because of the wonder they have and how every single thing she does is just cute.

And now, my baby boy. My first and only unborn son. I have yet to hold him in my arms but I have carried him and nurtured him for the last several months. Our bodies are connected, almost one. He moves inside of me, and I have learned when he is active and when he sleeps. He reacts to what I eat, and how I am feeling. He is my “healing baby”. He came to us at the close of a horrible, horrible year. He gave me hope. He gave me a reason to change (more of a reason) from the path I was going down. I cannot wait to see what his birth teaches me, and to hold him in my arms and at my breast.

Yes, my mother heart is full. It is full, yet it expands with every child. My mothers heart is wide and open.