Monday, November 2, 2015

Unbreaking the Broken

I remember being young. (No snickering, please.) Not seven or eight, but from there all the way into my twenties. That is young in my mind now. I remember how everything affected me so intensely. In some ways I'm fairly surprised that I managed to even survive those years. I was always being pulled around left and right by everything and everyone. There were so many firsts during that time. It would be impossible for me to even begin to list them off. 

Despite the seemingly endless number of them, it is truly quite the opposite. We each have a very finite number of memories kept within our complex data storage device known as our brain. True, it would be near impossible to count, but since our years on this planet are truly numbered so are the memories we carry with us.

Over the years I have discovered that my number has actually dwindled far more than is expected from someone my age. Dementia? Not yet. I may be crazy, but I think I can fight that off for a while longer. By best guess I am actually partly to blame for these gaps, subconsciously at least. We have this amazing data processor shoved up in our craniums and apparently it sometimes acts upon its own to do what it thinks is necessary.  Most of the time this is a fabulous thing. (Hooray for the autonomic nervous system and all that sciency stuff.) Other times (sticking with the terrible computer analogy) it simply seems to delete certain things. And when it does, it doesn’t remember to do the weekly defrag. Nope. Just leaves it all a bit jumbled up afterwards. Anyway, as best as I can tell that is what my brain has done to me over the years.

I realized there were missing pieces, or gaps if you will, back in college. I was in Eastvold Auditorium hanging out in the south staircase with my girlfriend. Prior to that moment I had no idea there had ever been an impairment to my world. And then mid-conversation one of those jumbled up spots reorganized itself. And I remembered something I hadn’t realized I had forgotten:

I was seven or eight living in Forest Grove. There had been this older boy who lived down the block. He had a tree house in an old apple tree in the alley. And in the tree house he molested me for a period of months.

That was the first gap I discovered. Kind of a major one. (Thanks go to my counselor for the next few years of dealing with that.)

But this isn’t about that situation.  It’s about the fact that my mind apparently decided that particular set of memories were ones that I could not deal with until a later date. The funny thing to me was that it didn’t come back in the hazy dream-like daze that we are so used to seeing on television or in movies. Rather, it was a click. Things simply snapped into place. It was almost audible. One moment I was in a normal conversation with my girlfriend and then I just stopped and everything was back in its original space.

Fast forward a period of years and I discovered numerous other gaps. Or at least I assume I discovered them. It’s difficult to assess if you are missing something if you are unaware you are missing something. As communication on the internet developed, so did my contact with people from my life that had moved on. Eventually with the development of social networking I made contact with people from even farther back in my life. That is when the gaps truly became apparent.

With our seemingly innate desire to reminisce and talk about things from years past I found myself occasionally out of sorts. These people with whom at one point in time I had so much in common with would talk about things that we did together or about people we knew for years. Most of the time I would do the appropriate giggle, snort, groan, cry, chuckle…. whatever was appropriate for the memory discussed. But other times I would find myself at a loss.

I’m sorry, we did what? Who? Nope never heard of them. She and I were together? Right, she’d never give me the time of day.

I apparently have massive blocks of time that simply don’t exist. Major events that apparently I took part of… no clue. A few relationships that I was in have seemingly been wiped clean.  These gaps somehow permeated my first two decades of my life. Thankfully, with more contact from people formerly in my life I have remembered some things. Not all of it pretty, but when they come back it is a piece of who I am settling back into place. I am a little more complete.

The thing that gets me is I understand the blocking of major events. Trauma isn’t a nice thing to think about, let alone constantly remember. I comprehend the temporary and perhaps permanent deletions there. But it’s the other holes that make no sense to me. Why can I not remember the “relationship” portion of a friendship I had? Why do I not remember doing that show?

In all, what I have found is that there is a constant “state of being” associated with this phenomena. Broken. Not a bad broken, just… a sense of being incomplete. As each new/old memory is returned to me it is lessened, but it is my presumption that it is something I will simply live with the rest of my life. If for some reason my brain decided that certain things had to go, I am guessing there must be some good reason for it. And if that is the case, do I really want to go seeking it out?

So, that all being said, if you have known me from years before and we have a conversation which leaves me looking at you as if you have just told me that you are an alien come to take over the world, please give me a moment. Most likely I’ve encountered my newest mental pothole. I’ll catch up to you eventually. Just be patient with me. And if you really are that alien bent on world domination, please do me the favor of erasing that little bit from my memory as well.

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