The Dark: Forgetting

At the beginning of healing, when things were dark, I was afraid. There was a lot to be afraid of. There were the memories that flooded in as though they were happening. There was the undertow of depression that was waiting to draw me in and take me under into darkness. And there was the forgetting.

I did not forget the trauma. That was always there. It was how to live that I was forgetting. I would walk into the kitchen and try to remember why I was there. When I remembered why I was there, it was how do I fix a bowl of cereal that I couldn’t remember. It was as though all my muscle memory had shut down. And I had to find the answers somewhere else in my brain. It was at Christmas time, and I had driven to the mall. I went into the store equipped with a list. When I finished, I came out of the mall and stood there. I could not remember where I parked my car or how to get home. It wasn’t as simple as finding the car; I needed to remember how to drive home. That was terrifying. I had no idea how to get home, and I had no way to contact home. I could not remember my phone number.

The way that I got home that night was that I forced my memory into reverse. I stood there in the cold, mentally walking backward. Through the store and then in reverse to the car. I opened my eyes and remembered where the car was only through seeing myself walk away from it. I went and got in the car and started it up. That part of my muscle memory was working, at least. I had remembered how to start the car and drive. Once I got in and started the car, the rest came back. I drove home and was never so relieved as I was at that moment when I walked through the door. That went on and off for months.

The saying that it is always darkest before the dawn is so very true in healing. There is still some bump that I would go over that would issue in a new stage of recovery. Some new thing would appear to make my life so dark and incredibly challenging. It would make my life so hard to bear sometimes. But when I had passed that moment and moved over the bump or found my way through the wall, it was a little bit less dark. A little less threatening. Until the next bump in the road or the next aspect of healing needed to be accepted.

It is not bright yet. But it is far less dark. and all of the darkness can be navigated. Over time, I have built my utility belt of tricks and tools to get through the dark. I don’t have days like that of forgetting where I am and how to get home anymore. Now it is just the usual things that I have difficulty with; finding my keys, where are my glasses, and where I hid that last piece of chocolate.

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