I have a little thought these days. There are bigger and more important and more troubling thoughts in my head that get prioritized. But I wanted to spend a little bit of time on this one.
As the parts emerge, what they bring with them is only partly the story. It is mainly the emotional impact of that story, its realness and its solidity. What they bring with them is the sense that it is my story, it is my history, it is valid and it is important and it has brought me to where I am now.
Everyone else gets a history and a past and a childhood. They have forces that shaped them that they can talk about, they can make jokes about, they can wax nostalgic about.
Without all of my traumatic memories, I have nothing. I have a life lived in a state of semi-deadness as I tried to get through things. I have nothing that tells me how I became the person I am now or how I got here. I have a whole childhood I remember that has no real significance, because all I have is trying to keep shit together and get through the day. There are no truly important relationships and no real joy.
The hard part for me is perhaps that everything that is significant is attached to intense kinds of pain. I can’t just surgically remove it. I have good memories so close to horrific memories I can’t remember the good stuff without also remembering the bad stuff. If I can’t deal with the bad stuff, there is no good stuff either. And inside the bad stuff is often nestled good stuff.
So there is a relief for me in being able to deal with some of the bad stuff, because then I get a childhood. I get a past and a history and an identity, and it is not all bad. It is hard to get this across, but as things surface, horrifying things, there is an increasingly a sense that I am having my right to be a person restored to me.
Other people’s histories are not, perhaps as dreadful or as shocking as someone with a history of childhood trauma. They are dialed down a few hundred notches in intensity, but there are still the highs and the lows, there is still the knowledge I do this because so-and-so used to do it. There is still a sense of continuity between birth and the present.
I never had that. I had a great, tangled mystery of a self. I had a sense, not of continuity, but of total disjunction, as if I had been plopped onto the earth quite recently. It’s nice to think you can “let go” of trauma, but I’ve started realizing letting go leaves me as someone who is not even quite a person, with no solid identity, who has no past, and came from nowhere.
It leaves me with nothing at all.
When I remember, I can be a person again. I can be someone who came from somewhere, who lived through horrible things and wonderful things—just as everyone else did—and I can be uniquely myselt. Just like everyone else.