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As bizarre and as unbelievable as it sounds, the first memory I have is right after I was born. It was either the day of my birth, or the day after. (I think it was the day after, but I could be wrong, of course.)
As a baby, my thoughts weren’t expressible in a logical pattern that could be easily described with spoken words; but as a baby, feeling was thinking, and my thoughts then, that as an adult I can now describe with words, were what I call “feeling-thoughts.”
I remember being jostled awake and carried into a different room that was darker than the room I had come from. I was placed upon a soft blanket on a hard surface, and then I looked up and saw a large circle with a smaller circle within it, and an even smaller circle within that. I didn’t know the names for the shapes, I just remember what it looked like, and feeling
that the shapes were interesting and peculiar and curious about the verbal expression there was to describe them.
Then there was a bright flash of light from the innermost circle that startled me and upset me.
I began to cry.
One of the lady nurses picked me up and comforted me. I could feel the kindness radiating from her.
Then my mother picked me up.
There was no kindness there, and I remember feeling
(feeling was thinking)
how sad I was because my mother didn’t love me.
Those were my first feeling-thoughts that I remember as my first baby picture was taken.
I don’t suppose that this remembering matters much at all in the grand scheme of my life, but in a way that is hard to adequately articulate, it matters very much to me. I was innocent at that time, and my feeling-thoughts were very clear. I recognized the warm cuddle that denoted love, I recognized the cold emptiness that denoted the lack of love. I had a curious mind that wanted to know and understand the world around me. And I had my first experience of sudden fear — that unexpected and surprising shock that grips the heart — and of the deep, empty hole that is sadness and loneliness.
That was before I learned to second-guess my feeling-thoughts. That was before I was forced, out of necessity of survival, to tell myself that my feeling-thoughts were a lie. Before I was forced to shove my memories — shove vital parts of me — into the dark recesses of my mind and pretend that the only memories of my life I had were those memories I was told I was allowed to have.
That was a time of innocence, and as short-lived as that innocence was, remembering a time when I wasn’t soiled and stained and dirty and made ugly at the hands of other people for the sake of their evil, selfish agendas, is very important to me.
Science tells us that babies don’t have the necessary brain function to form proper memories. And I’m sure on a certain biological level, that is true. I’m not one to argue with science.
But I still remember.
Memories are more than a series of events that can be categorized and catalogued, put inside brain-files when they aren’t needed, and pulled out when they are. Memories are more than recollections about past events that can be expressed through the written or spoken word.
Sometimes memories are touch. Or smell. Or emotion.
I call my first memories “feeling-thoughts,” but maybe “intuition” is a better word to describe this brain process. But no matter what word best describes this process of remembering, whenever I look at my first baby picture, strong emotions begin welling up. Somewhere deep on the inside of me, the baby that I used to be still lives on, stuck in a perpetual infant state. And I’ve tried telling her:
it wasn’t your fault
don’t let other people cause you to question what you know is the truth
don’t accept the lies
don’t give up
and, perhaps most importantly
you are loved, God has a plan for your life, and you are worth it
But how can words — these verbal expression we, over time, learn to use — cut through the thick emotions
of a brand new child who, stuck inside the body of an adult, realizes that life has been so much more difficult than she had bargained for and that she can never regain her innocence? How can verbal expressions calm the feeling-thoughts of “I don’t want to be here I don’t want to do this it’s too hard I just wanna go home”?
Maybe time will help — lots of time — and care.
And so recently, I did the one thing that I have learned to do that actually helps over time: give that part of myself over to my Heavenly Father, and ask Him to accomplish His will in regards to that part of me.
This is something that I do over and over again for every single part of me, because healing from dissociation and the related traumas is a process that takes a lot of time.
But that’s okay. My Heavenly Father has all the time to heal me.
One: yes, I have a dissociative disorder. You can read about what this is here. My dissociation is not usually exhibited in a very radical way, but because of severe trauma growing up, I developed a dissociative disorder, as it was the only coping mechanism I had available to me at that time.
No, I’m not dissociative in a way that Hollywood has typically dramatized. In fact, the typical Hollywood way (or the Netflix, or the Hulu, or the “fill-in-the-blank-entertainment-version” way) of dramatizing a dissociative disorder is exasperating at best, and sometimes even makes me angry. And it only makes it more difficult to explain to people what I deal with on an everyday basis.
My life is just really not that exciting, so I usually don’t explain anything at all. It would just bring up too many ridiculous questions from people who have been brainwashed by Hollywood-versions of who they think I am.
But yes, I have a dissociative disorder that each part of me is learning, day-by-day, to work with, and to hopefully, at some point, overcome the “disorder” part of dissociation.
Two: it’s not unusual in my family to have memories of being very young (not conscious thought-memories, but those “feeling-thoughts” that I wrote about).
For instance, my mother has told me that she remembers being in the womb, and if I correctly remember what she said, of being a very young baby. As with much of what my mother has told me, whether this is the truth or a lie, I don’t know. But this is what she has told me.
One of my great-aunts (now passed) also remembered being born and had memories of being very young.
My oldest son, too, remembers being born, and started telling me about it when he was about 2 or 3 years old. He even remembers what the doctor looked like, down to the fact that the doctor wore glasses and a surgical mask when helping with the birth, but took them off while posing for a picture with my newly born son.
So maybe it’s an unusual phenomenon for an infant to have conscious memories that they carry with them throughout their life. But for my family, apparently, it’s not so unusual.
Lately I’ve been wondering if this ability to have such vivid recollections of those first “feeling-thoughts” as an infant has something to do with the ability to dissociate. (Dissociative disorders are not genetic, but the ability to dissociate can be passed down from generation to generation.)
But I’m not sure.
It’s just some thoughts I’ve been thinking.
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