As planned, I spoke to Therapist today about my somewhat alarming lack of memory of my time in Cyprus, which opened out into a more general conversation about my overall lack of memory. She wasn’t overly surprised by it. I don’t know if it’s because of what I’ve got, or because of the anxiety that came about as a result of it, but it’s likely that my lack of memory directly relates to the level of stress I felt at any given point in time. Apparently the brain isn’t awesome at storing memories when it’s busy trying to survive.

Long and short of it? It’s something else that I’ll just have to accept. I’m not overly excited about that, I’m curious about just how much detail I may be missing about the first 30 or so years of my life. That’s the kicker – I don’t know what I don’t know – does that make sense? As in, no more than guided tours with UN officers or squatters in residence, until a few days ago I didn’t know that I didn’t know those things. God, this is really hard to explain!! Can you follow me at all? Is there any need for me to try and find out what I don’t know? Will it change anything?

It’s strange to look back on my life not knowing if there are really significant events I’m not aware of, conversations that ideally I would have remembered, places I’ve been, things I’ve done. I don’t really know what to do with that. We talked about it a lot this evening, but I didn’t really get anywhere with it. I think even six months ago I would have been really frustrated with past me for not being more with it, for not holding on to more detail. But now? Now I’m really starting to feel for past me. Therapist asked me to think about what it was I needed back then, particularly following my adventure in Cyprus – had I spoken to anyone about it? Had help been offered? Needless to say, I can’t remember, although I do know I never sought help in any professional capacity, it simply wasn’t on my radar. I’m not sure it was on anyone’s radar back in late 90’s Ireland. What did I need?

I needed a hug. I needed to feel safe. I needed to know that I was ok just as I was, that I wasn’t a failure, or a disappointment. And I’m not just talking about Cyprus here, although that was a big one. I never, ever felt accepted. It’s no one’s fault – I couldn’t articulate what was going on or how I was feeling, so how was anyone to know? It’s taken 2 breakdowns, almost 6 years of therapy and a good 15 years of hindsight to bring me to this point.

I’m getting the strangest sense of something coming to an end this last while. I feel different. I am different. I have confidence in myself. I’m walking with my head held high. I’m not scared any more. Therapist will be away the week after next, and had provisionally scheduled me for a different day, but if things continue to go as well as they have been, we’ll skip that week entirely. While the prospect doesn’t exactly fill me with joy, it hasn’t left me bottomed out either. I (mostly) understand that this isn’t her pushing me away, rejecting me, or abandoning me. Rather it’s an acknowledgement of the progress that I’ve made, of the stability I’ve found the last few weeks. Do I finally have the demons under control??

This article has 2 Comments

    1. Someone gave me a really good analogy for this the other day over on my page – 'With regard to your lack of memory – when we suffer extreme cold our bodies concentrate on keeping the vital organs warm. Think of those lost memories as frostbitten appendages that broke away to keep you alive' (Thanks Niamh x)
      If things were anywhere near as challenging for you as they were for me when your kids were small, then maybe thinking of it this way would help?

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