I had dinner last night with a friend that has known me for forty years. She entered my life as my high school Spanish teacher and has stayed here as one of the strongest positive female role models I have ever had the honor to know. She has seen me through my angsty teenage years, knew of my troubled family life, was aware of my pregnancy and maternity home confinement, witnessed me starting and stopping and starting college, met my first husband, been to parties at my home, and much much more. Through it all she has been supportive, and positive and encouraging. We all need friends and mentors like that.
Dinner conversation covered everything from my family, to old friends, to her grandchildren, autism, school curriculum’s, learning styles and wrapped up with references to my maternity home experience.
I gasped at one point when she told me she still had my letters. “Letters?” I responded. She informed me that during my confinement I wrote to her.
I have no memory of this. None. Not even a slight inkling.
She said she recently came across them (26 year old letters) and started to re-read them. She said she had to stop and put them back as “they were too sad”.
My heart raced. Being faced with my past, with parts of me that other people know, and have, that I have no memory of always makes me feel uneasy.
Oh, hello Trauma. You again. Lacking memory does not equate to lacking experience. What is learned in trauma is never forgotten. A simple trigger, a reference to letters written long ago, can bring it all flying back.
Slightly tentative I asked her if she would consider copying them for me and sending me them. I told her I have no memory of that, of many things that happened back then and I have been trying to fill in the holes in my memory. She appeared a bit surprised that I did not remember but then shook her head in strong agreement when I talked of trauma and a brains need to protect itself.
I feel anxious today thinking about those letters. What did they say? What was I writing to her about? How much positive adoption koolaid was woven through the threads of those written words? Do I really want to read them? (Yes). Will I feel like I did when I found this Christmas greeting online?
I am glad that part of the conversation happened as we were winding down our evening as it took me to a bad place, an environment I don’t like to visit, at least not too often. And yet, even as I work hard to avoid that place, I realize it is with me, all the time. There is no avoiding.
Now, today, the effects of that reminder and the attempts to squash it, push it back to the dark place from whence it came, bubble to the surface. I slept late this a.m. and mused over things. When I finally got the strength to get out of bed, I wander the house feeling a bit lost and confused. As I write this post, I cry.
I cry with mixed emotions. Love and kindness towards my dear friend who has seen me through so much growth, deep sadness for the girl who wrote her those letters, and compassion for the person I am today, a mother without child, trying to make sense of things that will likely never make sense