Random Innocuous Memories
It’s been 16 months since my CPTSD diagnosis and one year since I started somatic experiencing. It’s been a wild ride. As I shake the trauma out of my body with a combination of meditation, journaling, and bodywork, memories return that take me off guard—not the scary ones. I expect traumatic events to reappear in more detail, and they do, but it’s the bland everyday memories that weird me out. Suddenly I’m seeing random moments in vivid detail. Watching Mork & Mindy in the early ‘80s with my little brother—the walls were bright orange, there was an orange bean bag chair by the stereo where we played 8-track tapes and vinyl records. I can smell the incense my stepdad burned. I feel the terrycloth jumpsuit I was wearing. It was yellow with blue trim.
Then it jumps further back. Somewhere in the ‘70s, sitting on the ugly brown shag carpet in my grandparents’ living room, watching Doctor Who and Star Trek. The smell of cigarette smoke and the scotch my granddad loved. Our beagle puppy sits beside me. My uncle’s joking around with someone on the phone—the kind stuck to the wall with a long cord—anything you had to be said in front of everyone, so we all spoke in code when getting into mischief.
Then they disappear.
It’s unsettling sometimes when the memories are conjured up like this, even when they’re pleasant. I worry about all the years lost to dissociation and anxiety, all the wasted time spent worrying about whatever drama I was wrapped up in. This diagnosis didn’t exist back then. I tried to “learn to live with it,” as so many people told me.
2023 is the 50th anniversary of the chaos that eventually led to my CPTSD diagnosis. I love somatic therapy, but I’m often surprised at how little, innocuous memories or sensations can throw me off my game. Anyone else out there who’s felt this?