Memories are our friends or foes. They’re our friends when we can remember the smell of a freshly bathed baby asleep on our shoulder. They’re our foe when trauma is so vivid it feels as if we’re still in the midst of the battle, or assault from someone who shouldn’t be hurting us.
Fear sets in when these memories cause feelings we’re uncomfortable with, and we often fear those feelings. We don’t like to be uncomfortable, and we’d rather not remember things that make us feel that way. What can we do?
We can learn to work through those feelings, and learn we’ll be ok. The memories cannot hurt us. Yes, they can make us feel uncomfortable, but we will not be hurt in the same way. We need to work through uncomfortable feelings, positive or negative. It is very possible to learn feelings can help us as well as hurt us.
If we recall being burned by fire, we are reminded of the event as painful, panic, and fearful. If we recall play, celebration, joy, and happiness, we come to learn we deserve those feelings, and work to enjoy them as often as possible. We can work our way towards putting memories in their proper places, between trauma and happiness. Eventually, we gain control over where our mind goes.
I remember very specifically when my son Frankie drowned. It was in 1978, when I was 26, pregnant with Becky, and taking Nick to the bathroom. My worst fear came true, my son drowned and would have died, but for the two people who knew CPR were at their going away party with us. One week later, no one would have known how to save his life.
My whole life, I was fearful of water, fearful of drowning. I remember the feeling, the fear, and the shaking I’d go through when I’d smell wet sand, wet clothes, suntan lotion, anything you’d experience at the lake. It took years for me to stop shaking, sobbing, and not hover over my five year old. There was no help back then for PTSD. They didn’t even acknowledge it’s existence. And no, I was told, “just don’t think of it,” by my doctor. I’m so glad things have changed drastically.
Know of someone who needs to talk with someone about trauma? There is help. Tonight, I took my last Peer Support class. Tomorrow is graduation. The time has gone quickly, we’ll meet one last time, and become ready to listen where needed. It’s a good feeling, and I expect it will be rewarding to listen and offer ideas when needed. Mostly, it will be supporting the efforts of people, to live their lives. And that’s always a good thing.
Thank you for reading, we’ll visit again tomorrow.