Healing Memories

Sorry I’m late, I was busy being a miserable human.

I thought this would be the weekend it slipped. The habit I’ve slowly developed of blogging once a week. (Even though I’m just publishing this, I worked on it starting yesterday, so that counts.) Though it hasn’t been easy, I’ve managed to sneak something out every week. But this week was different. I believe something set off a trigger Tuesday evening, but it slowly grew into a nightmare. Literally.

The Book

It started with a book. A simple, highly acclaimed book. A book meant to bring hope and inspire joy. But for me, this book had an association, and the dear, sweet friend who put it in my hands had no idea of the war this started up inside of me.

As I received this simple book, I was filled with suspicion and skepticism. A horrible combination when it comes to loved ones. But I worked up a smile and fished for information, disguised in a joking manner. “Interesting. What brought you across this book?” “It’s a book about friendship,” my friend shared. But why. “Are you trying to imply something? Haha.” Lame. “No!” she laughed. “I just thought it was really sweet.” Sure.

I didn’t trust her. I didn’t trust anybody. I was in a bad place.

I read through the book rather quickly with an I-don’t-need-this mindset. What is this? Does she think I’m a bad friend? Is she trying to say that I’m in the wrong? Is she trying to defend someone else against me? Doesn’t she see that I’m hurting too? No one ever sees me. No one ever has. I can’t trust anyone. I feel all alone against the world. I hate this. I hate feeling orphaned. I hate feeling like there’s no one ever here for ME. I closed the book and put it aside. I was in tears. What was that anyway? It didn’t even make any sense.

Pain had started fortifying the wall that would eventually crumble. I kicked into overtime as I went on the defensive, feeling the need to protect myself from everyone. The protective wall was rising. Solid brick by brick. Higher and higher.

The Dream

Friday Night I went to bed, exhausted from the school week and grateful to get a break from my vigilant lice prevention regimen for a few days. But shortly before I awoke on Saturday, I found myself in a very strange and all too realistic dream. In the dream, I was with friends and I felt the same hesitancy with them. The feeling that they were against me (I was an outsider) and thought I was in the wrong. Book-giver-friend turned to me, in genuine love and sincerity, and said, “It’s because of your attitude.” I took that to mean what I took that to mean and in the dream I accepted full responsibility for something I couldn’t control. In the dream, I understood that I was in the wrong and was responsible for bad things.

That’s when I woke up. Angry. Deeply unsettled at the wrongness of this dream and mindset. When I awoke, I immediately knew that this was not right. I journaled what I could remember and even recognized briefly that it reminded of a person and situation in my past, but I rushed over that in anger and continued down my cynical and distrusting spiral.

I do believe that dreams, at the very least, help us understand our thoughts and desires. I take them seriously and I believe all the details have meaning, so I write down everything I remember about them, which usually helps clarify or reveal things.

But not this time.

The Day

“There was so much gaslighting and betrayal. So much betrayal. By yet another parental figure. It told me that my thoughts and feelings were wrong and that I couldn’t trust myself. How dare I have problems or hurt. How dare I voice any pain or needs or desires. How selfish of me to have them! Yeah, it’s safer to be alone. Makes more sense that way. Orphaned. Alone. So very alone. And scared. And tired. So very tired of the weight. The burden?”

This is from my journal as I tried to process the dream and the memory it brought back. The feeling it brought back. I was feeling all the feels of that scared little teenager over 15 years ago. I was that scared little teenager. I was not in a good place.

And this was all before 7 AM on Saturday morning.

I went on to spend the rest of my day miserable and triggered by anything that spoke. And I cried a lot. I hated the pit I was in, but I didn’t know how to get out. Nothing felt real. Nothing felt reasonable. And everything felt dim. I felt like I was living in a dark shadow… and it showed. I was around people who asked if I was ok and I was at a loss for words. I managed to get out “Uhh…”, a shoulder shrug, and maybe a shake of the head. I wasn’t trying to get people to notice, and I was accutely aware of that, but I was also desperate for genuine connection… I just couldn’t.

The Connection

Thank God for caring and inquisitive friends. Two very kind people reached out later that day to check in on me, one of them being my sweet book-giver-friend. After sharing care and concern, she asked if I knew what triggered all of this. (Sidenote: If you find a friend who knows to ask about your triggers, THEY ARE KEEPERS.) My answer was an honest no. I journaled out a few ideas, but none felt true of what I was experiencing.

Until later that evening… I had just gotten home from a school carnival, I was eating dinner and… OH MY GOD, the DREAM!!!

It was like, I was suddenly freed from the heaviness and confusion because it made sense. I’m sure you’re reading and assuming I could see that the crappy day was incited by the dream the whole time. It was literally so obvious. But the truth is, I was so cloudy and murky mentally that I never connected my funk of a mood to the dream. Which is crazy, because, as I told my friend, I overanalyze almost everything.

But when you’re down you’re down.

The Healing

I think the dream is very telling and helps me see a bit better how many, if not most times when I’m skeptical about people and friends now, it’s because of long-ago wounds that scarred me. I brace against things now because of harms like this one many years ago.

I began processing alllllllllll of this with my friend through text because I can write things much more sensibly than I can vocalize them. God bless her. God bless this woman. She held steady as I dumped-and I mean DUMPED-all of my very honest thoughts, worries, and feelings. I finished. I waited. I took a deep breath. “Thanks for listening… if you’re not over me by the end of this,” I texted. As soon as the responses started rolling in, I was met by the most sincere reassurance and was immediately calmed by her solid posture towards me, unshaken by my crashing waves.

Clarity. Truth. I was heard. I was understood. And I was loved… All things opposite of the memory.

I felt lighter. I felt free. I felt content and happy. I felt cared for.

And ultimately I felt a little more whole than I have been in a while. Working through this process with a different outcome changes my brain a bit and makes the old memory not cut as deep.

Maybe, just maybe, that wound had to be reopened to be properly healed.

Maybe God’s love is good enough-sweet enough-to give me what I need rather than what I want.

Maybe healing is possible. I believe it’s coming.

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