Repressed memory is a pretty common term. Most people are familiar with it, and many have probably explored their own minds in a search for what has been forgotten. When I was writing my memoir, A Girl Named Truth, I spent a lot of time retrieving memories, from myself and others, and often found myself frustrated with what could not be remembered. I was obsessed with the missing gaps, not only because I wanted to fill them in with the lost scenes, I also learned a lot about what I, and others, had chosen to forget.
For example, I have no memories of going to the bathroom at night in the outhouse my family had for many years. Not one. Yet I must have. Instead, I remember the bathroom that came before the outhouse, a hole in the ground, as well as my fear of falling inside of it.
I remember being irrationally afraid of the dark and a reoccurring nightmare I had as a young child. In the nightmare, I am riding in an old brown Ford truck. My father is driving and my sister and I are crouched on the floor in terror. We are in the middle of a forest of pine trees, and swinging from their branches is a monster the size of a great ape. I always woke at the same moment, with a scream trapped in my throat, right before the monster reached the door to take me and my sister.
I don’t remember ever living with my father as a family of four. I don’t even remember visiting him before we left Oregon when I was nearly five-years-old, but when I was two-years-old, he had a fight with my mother and that became my first stored memory.
This memory is so vivid, I can tell you where I was sitting and who as on the couch beside me. I can describe for you the picture above my head. Yet, I cannot tell you what it was like to live with my father, even for half a day. And, I have a theory as to why.
In this first stored memory, I made the conscious choice, even at the young age of two-years-old, to give my father the role of villain in my story of life. My mother, in turn, I chose to love with a fierce loyalty above anyone else.
Shortly after my first memory was stored inside my mind and body, my mother ran away with me and my sister and went into hiding with the Hare Krishnas for a period of several months. Here is what I chose to remember from this long journey. The roll of green grass into blue pools of water, as well as scattered images of beautiful gods. Most of this time period has been recovered through other people’s narratives, which can be read in my memoir.
This past summer, I did some work of a regressionist/psychic friend of mine, and together we recovered some of the memories I had chosen to forget. The story, The Moon Child came out of this remembering, but there is a more traumatic narrative I have decided not to share. What is important to the larger narrative of my life, though, is what I chose to remember as a child, what what I chose to forget, and why. If I had decided to remember those long months in hiding, and the trauma I had endured, I would have had, I now realize, nothing to hold onto. My very foundation would have crumbled beneath me. So I made a choice for survival, as many do when they are faced with trauma, whether it be emotional, physical or both. I chose what I needed to remember and what I needed to forget.
What we choose to forget, though, lingers as truth in the recess of your body. It causes unexplainable ailments and diseases/dis-eases, until we are ready to remember. Then, if we truly want to heal and feel a greater sense of wholeness, we must ask not only what have I chosen to forget, but why have I chose to remember everything else? When we do this, our story becomes more complete. We learn why and how we have shaped our individuals lives. We may even discover that what once defined us, has changed dramatically.
Alethea is a writer and owner of Inner Truth Healing. Her memoir, A Girl Named Truth, is now available at Amazon and Amazon.co.uk. To learn more about Alethea, please visit her website, aletheakehas.com
4 thoughts on “What we choose to remember”
Hi Alethea. I loved this post. So much truth. As a fellow memoir writer I can agree with the concept that what we choose to remember takes us through., and the parts we don’t want to remember, certainly do fester within, sometimes buried so deep we almost forget . . . but we don’t. I too can remember back to 2 years old. Perhaps that’s why we write memoirs. 🙂
Yes, the words inside the memories seem to need a voice, don’t they? I’m glad you can relate. 🙂
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I sure can. Now following your blog. 🙂
Thank you 🙂
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