Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Memory pike

I wonder whether it's possible ever to escape the flashbacks? You're there, coping with a "normal" situation when BANG.  I think there's something about the way suppressed memories lurk like bottom-dwelling predators shooting to the surface when you're unprepared, that makes them especially hard to deal with.

I spent a summer in Toronto with a boyfriend when I was 21.  It doesn't begin to compare with more recent events but it was a miserable, soul-crushing period of my life that I've tried to forget.  Even now, 22 years later there are moments when unbidden a random image from those months will flash through my mind, with its attendant unhappiness.

I have exorcised more efficiently the terrible pictures of losing Juliette but they spring me too, with the right triggers.  Like the other night.  Raphi got hold of his brother's Epipen and in the course of messing around managed to give himself a massive shot of adrenaline.  The sense of utter helplessness as I watched a frightened Raph being treated by the paramedic hurtled me right back to times with Juliette.  Steph followed the ambulance to the hospital, just as he had done the night we learned that Juliette had leukaemia.  It's not rational, I "knew" Raphi was fine, but these triggers tap into a subconscious vein of feelings I can't control and I'm terrified.

I don't know what to learn from this. Perhaps it's simply a case of accepting I will always be vulnerable, but that's hard to live with.  For someone like me that has tried in many ways to intellectualise her grief, maybe I just need to admit that there are parts that can't be.  They're too deeply embedded within the primal part of my brain, and are immune to my well-meant meddling.

4 comments:

  1. I think you're right. I think that by trying to intellectualise it all the time, that maybe you are just giving yourself a hard time.

    Perhaps your memory throws up things because it's trying to help. Imagine for example if you were stuck in a locked room, your memory might throw up the last time you were stuck somewhere because you escaped that time and it's trying to give you some clues about how to escape this time. So when you had to cope with Raph being rushed to hospital your memory threw up what happened with Juliet to remind you that you survived, that you coped in such a way. It's a very animal thing the memory behaving like this. It doesn't know that the memories will hurt you. It's only trying to help. Tell it thank you, but no thank you and try, if you can, to deal with what you've got at the present.

    Well that was a lot of amateur psychology, but it seemed to make sense as I was writing it...

    Hope you're okay now and Raphi is too,

    Pxxxx

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  2. Thank you Petra, he's fine now and I am too.

    I think the alarm bells go off because it's ended badly before. Primitive things, it would be nice to disable them so I can act and feel more rationally because I'm sure there will be a few more of these dramas before I'm done mothering.. I'll try the "not now, thanks anyway" approach next time. Appreciate your thoughts. xx

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  3. I'm glad Raphi and you are ok now!

    I got bad flashbacks afer my bf killed himself. For a long while after his death, I would get incredibly anxious around certain triggers. If I argued with somebody, it would get into my head that they might commit suicide (even though I knew rationally it was unlikely), and I would feel anxious about it. Since Catherine died, I've also been plagued with unease and had to visibly check all is ok. In the beginning, my husband couldn't bear to have me out of line of sight - and even now, if I wake up alone - I have to go check that he is ok (and if he is asleep elsehwere) that he is breathing.

    I have to say that in the 7 years since my bf's death, a lot of the triggers have faded away - and I'm hoping that the same will happen around C's death. Lately, I find I am sometimes able to just turn over and go back to asleep, assuming J is off reading or sleeping in the spare room - and other times I just have to go check.

    I think the situation you describe would trigger any bereaved parent though. Feeling frantic when a child is ill seems fairly standard.

    I suppose one of problems might be that it doesnt' happen often enough for it to become routine. With more common issues, we learn to deal with them, and experience tells us that everytime x happens, it is generally ok... so we relax.

    Nursing a child through a long illness is just a terrible thing for you to have gone through - and then she died... How bloody, bloody awful is that? No wonder you're in panic mode when another emergency arises. The important thing is, you didn't freak out - you handled it even though you were shit scared.

    To be brave, you have to be afraid - and you are a brave lady and a wonderful mother. Any mother would have been scared. We just know how badly it can turn out. I'm just sorry we all have to go through this crap.

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  4. I know, Susan, and thank you for those comments. Hope you're ok. x

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