I want to know what my favorite colors were when I was a little girl, what toys I played with the most. I want to know whether teenaged me was awkward or self-assured. I want to know how old I was when I left home, left town, came back, left again. I want to put together the missing pieces of where my life took me while I was gone.
I want to know where I come from. I want to remember.
I’ve tried to make myself remember. If I think very hard and focus all of my energy on trying to remember a certain occasion, experience, age… well, I still can’t. It’s like those memories have been erased completely, there is no getting them back. It’s an empty feeling, the vague sense that there was nearly nothing before Now.
To be fair, there are some things I can bring to mind. There are some small highlights that my memory skims the surface of. For example, I remember a surprise 16th birthday party, but I don’t remember who was there or what actually happened. I remember participating in theater throughout high school, but I don’t remember all the players or the beauty of friendships formed and conversations had. My memory is like a skeleton without organs or flesh. There is no life to my life.
I can remember, however, almost every moment of abuse.
I’ve wondered lots of different things when contemplating this memory lacking – which is just as prone to affecting new memories as old, though not with the same vengeance. I’ve wondered if my brain, in looking to protect me from memories of abuse, somehow short-circuited and got things backwards. I’ve questioned whether I might have more personalities than I know of, if these fades in and out can be explained by another personality taking over a situation. Can a decade of drinking and pot smoking, really erase an entire mind? Did I have memories before I had addiction? Is there anyway to stop it? Anyway to fix it?
Last week I wrote a blog post about my teenaged suicide attempt. There were many holes left in the telling of that story, huge pieces I couldn’t remember surrounding the few moments that I could. I mentioned a family friend coming with the gift of a “fluffy white, stuffed something-or-other”. After reading the post, that friend sent me a message on Facebook. “I think it was a baby seal,” she said.
I read her message and remembered! Yes, it was a baby seal! And with that missing piece, others returned. I suddenly had a picture of
me, in my hospital room, holding that very soft, stuffed baby seal.
I could see the hospital room. I remembered that I collected baby harp seals for awhile. Memories!
It’s just a couple of new things, a memory here and over there, but they are precious to me. A piece of me, returned. Treasures.
It occurred to me the other morning, laying in bed a few extra luxurious moments and contemplating book ideas, that there might be a way to reclaim the life that I have lost. While it may not be me, someone remembers, someone knows what I was doing, where I was going. There are people who can help me to remember who I was.
An idea for the recovery of my life is born. I will interview the people who were there. I will ask for the memories my family and friends have of me, both the good and the bad, and I will remember my life through them. With any luck there will be many more instances like that with the stuffed seal, my own memories will return to me. Whether they do or not, however, I will at least know the where and why and with whom.
I will write it all down. I will tell my story in a book, as remembered through my eyes and through the many sets of eyes that have journeyed along with me for a season or for a lifetime. And I will not forget anymore.
- Suicide (redeemedsocialite.com)