Trauma Joined Me at Dinner

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

10 Thoughts.

  1. Wow, Suz. In a way, I wish I had letters written during my pregnancy, to know for sure where my head was. Then again, I would be afraid to read them, knowing the trauma they would cause me to relive. Stay strong, my friend.

  2. I wish I had been more careful to keep the letters we sent each other. I remember talking on the phone, too. I know you talked to my mom or she wrote to you. It’s been such a long time. I don’t remember either. I’m sure you’ll take those letters, piece together some things, and be a million times stronger for it. HUGS!

  3. Ah yes, trauma.

    I also think you are brave to ask for those letters. I’m sure it won’t be easy..but I bet It’ll be worth it. Hugs to you

  4. Another powerful post Suz. I felt the fear and tears well up in me as I read it. I, too, find you very brave to request those letters. As scary as it is…I think we all have that drive to uncover that young girl…to reflect on her growth. I kept journals…I had a footlocker literally stuffed full of them, including one specifically kept for my daughter. Back in 2008 I felt so bogged down in their deep sorrow, confusion and rage that I destroyed them one by one. I read through them here and there as I put pages through the shredder (killed two shredders during this little project) and I’m glad I did. I’m glad I read them and glad I destroyed them. I think you will understand what I’m saying. Big hugs and lots of strength to you!

  5. Stef :

    I think we all have that drive to uncover that young girl!

    I tend to think we all have the desire for someone, anyone to care about that young girl. I find the more I care about her, honor her, accept her, the better off we both are.

  6. I don’t think it’s at all surprising that you don’t remember those letters, given the magnitude of the pain of that time. Brave woman, you, for asking for them.

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