I had a discussion with a family member recently that exposed an ability that I thought I had lost. They reminded me of a discussion where I had said something I had no memory of saying. I actually had no memory of the conversation at all. This person is, by far, the most detailed individual I know. If they said I said it, I likely said it.
This disturbed me greatly. I was unable to recall any part of that conversation. How is it possible that I had a conversation that I had no memory of, a serious conversation with an important person. I needed to work this out. For two days I concentrated, focused and meditated digging into my memories over the last six months.
Side note, I had an auditory eidetic memory before my accident. It is the hearing version of a photographic memory. Being able to recall everything you hear is both a blessing and a curse. I didn’t have to take notes in class. I can recall great conversations and important details that I heard decades ago. It was a real superpower growing up.
There is always a price to be paid for such abilities. I can also recall every negative thing ever said to me until a few years after my accident in 2000. Constantly hearing bad news regarding my health was depressing. Replaying “It’s time to realize this is permanent, adjust your life accordingly…” gets old after awhile. Being able to replay every piece of bad news I heard made my depression worse. I was thankful for losing this ability.
I thought living with extreme pain and relying on powerful prescription drugs for 18 years would cure me of this ability / affliction. I was wrong. All those memories are still there. I found what I was looking for while exploring my memories and replayed the entire conversation. My family member’s memory was accurate. How could I have possibly forgotten this conversation? It did not make sense to me until I started thinking about my journey.
My odyssey of pain lasted almost 20 years. Suffer long enough, you will learn survival tactics and develop survival skills without even realizing it. The brain is forced to develop coping mechanisms. I had learned to compartmentalize and file away negative and stressful events during my 6,821 days of personal hell.
Be careful when you go looking for specific memories in your mental attic. You may find memories you placed up there because you didn’t know how to process them at the time. I found more than I was looking for today. I did not comprehend the scale of the stressful events we survived until all of those memories I had unconsciously hidden started playing at once. It was overwhelming! It is still overwhelming.
The shear volume of the memories and the emotions they stirred crashed into me like a tsunami of grief and gratitude. Grief for what I experienced, what we lost. Overwhelming gratitude for surviving the impossible and for my family to be intact.
I was not supposed to recover from the injuries I sustained from my car accident on September 22, 2000. I can hear the bad news all over again. I recovered anyway! I got my life back on Monday May 27, 2019. It was Memorial Day.
I’ve been working on unpacking my story recently. That section of my life was walled off until today. The floodgates have opened and I remember everything. My survival is nothing short of a miracle. Let the writing begin.
Original 2/6/2021, V8 6/2/21