This week I spent a lot of time researching memory and how our brain processes traumatic memories. Here are a few personal take-aways.
For so long, I couldn’t explain nor could I understand why I couldn’t remember. How does one forget something so devastating, so earth shattering? Its hard to fathom, isn’t it? grappling with this works two-fold for abuse victims. Not only does it make them doubt their own sanity and make them angry with themselves; but it also makes them seem unreliable and even worse, unbelievable. Even more unbelievable is the fact that many people still do not know or understand how the brain processes traumatic memories, this includes many abuse victims and people working within the court systems.
so while society and court systems are asking victims of abuse to remember and recall every small detail of the ordeals they survived, our brains interfere. For so long, this caused a lot of frustration within me, but in hindsight I am realizing that my body was my only sanctuary. My mind was protecting me and giving me time to process, time not afforded to me by the outside world. so while, intrusive memories and flashbacks are difficult to cope with I understand now my brain was functioning out of mercy. Isn’t a wonderous thing to realize our bodies are hardwired with the empathy we need in that moment?
Sometimes the lived experience can not be retold with a beginning, middle and end, sometimes in needs to be remembered through glimpses because the horrors are too overwhelming. Perhaps the most desperate moments we live through need to be remembered and retold through droplets over time. Perhaps the problem with recalling and remembering is not remembering at all, but a society that does not place empathy and care at the forefront in regards to traumatic experiences.
For so long, I didn’t realize my brain wasn’t working against me; rather it was intervening on my behalf and saying: “you need a moment”.