He sits on the edge of our bed, “She was more beautiful than you are.” My heart sinks!

He stands above me pointing at my head as I kneel at the foot of our son, “Leave them here.” I feel fear!

He laughs with his friends until I approach, then they all fall silent, “We weren’t talking about anything.”  Their smiles and laughs mock me!

He looks me in the eye and makes a promise, “We didn’t go to strippers in Vegas.” I believe him and feel relief!

TRUTH…. LIES…..I can’t tell anymore it is all blurry.

The memories return so vividly.  I can remember what was said, I can remember his face, I can remember my pain.  The betrayal and trauma have been engraved upon my soul.  The memories don’t leave me.

Traumatic Imprints

I never understood why some of my memories of the past are so vivid while others are very faint.  Some days I will remember forever while other days disappear into oblivion.  What determines what sticks and what goes?  They key factor is how aroused we are when an event occurs.  Did you know that the adrenaline that we secrete to help us defend from threats actually helps engrave those experiences into our minds?  The more adrenaline we secrete the more accurate our memory is.  When we are confronted with horror or “inescapable shock” the trauma of the events etches itself permanently into our minds.  Trauma no matter how much we would like it to go away, no matter how much others want it to go away becomes a part of who we are.

The Memories

The memories above will forever be a part of me.

“She is more Beautiful.”

When my husband so coldly told me that the woman he slept with was more beautiful than I was, there was a threat.  The threat was to my attachment.  My heart started to beat faster, I became sick to my stomach, I fell into a pit of despair feeling like I would forever be in a visual competition with a woman who shouldn’t have ever been a part of my life.  A woman I should have never had to share something so precious with.  Intimacy became a struggle, each and every time my husband wanted sex, I felt fear that I was being compared to a woman that was 10 years younger than me without children.  Sex was no longer fun and exciting it frightened me.

“Leave them here.”

I was kneeling next to my son to put his shoes on.  My husband was more angry than I had ever seen him, he was yelling a swearing at me. I felt both fear for myself and for my little boys.  One needed to be at a class, but I was not going to leave the others with him while he was so out of control.  His 6’3″ frame walked up and he hovered over me, Apparently trying to use intimidation.  He pointed at my head and told me to leave them there.  I was afraid, I had not seen him like this and in the moment I did not know what he might be capable of.  Despite my fear I stood up, grabbed the boys and we walked out the door.  My adreneline was pumping through my veins.  My heart was racing, and tears stung behind my eyes.  I was on edge and was watching over my shoulder as I hurried to the car.

“We weren’t talking about anything.”

I could tell he was lying, why would every one become so silent when I moved closer if they weren’t talking about anything.  I know they were talking about other women, but I did not know the context.  I felt stuck, I was on a boat with him and his friends, my children were there.  There was no easy escape.  I sat down defeated and trapped.  There was no where to go and I was surrounded by men who would defend him.  I wanted to defend myself, but I was out numbered.  I sat down surrounded by my babies and tried to hold back my tears.  I was shaky and nervous and alone.

“We didn’t go to strippers in Vegas.”

The weekend had been long, he had left his charger at the house and his phone had gone dead.  I had been unable to reach him.  He promised that they had not gone to see strippers.  That they had just hung out and they had done a little gambling.  I wanted to believe him, I thought that if he had been at strippers I meant nothing to him.  That thought was too difficult to face.  Although I felt sick, my gut was on fire, and I was so anxious that my hands were shaking, I tried to calm down and trust him.

Each and every experience was filled with an adrenaline rush.  There was a threat to my attachment, our relationship, and my safety.  Sometimes I wish I could just forget.

Changing the Meaning

Unfortunately, no matter how much we wish these memories away, they will forever be a part of who we are.  They bring tears to my eyes, and the anxiety I once felt is again present.  I can not change the memory, but what I have been able to do is change the meaning.  EMDR Has been very beneficial in helping me see things differently than I once did.  It is not easy, but it has gotten better.  Instead of allowing these memories to place a label on me, I am able to see more clearly the man I was married to.  I don’t know how he could look me in the eye and tell me that a woman he had an affair with was more

Instead of allowing these memories to place a label on me, I am able to see more clearly that the man I was married to has his own demons.  That his cruel words and actions don’t say anything about me, and honestly in a strange way they don’t say much about him either.  I don’t know why he did what he did, or said the things that he said.  All I know is that he left me with a broken heart, and he left me with horrible memories that will be forever engraved upon me.  I am not, nor will I ever be his judge.

However, I am not, nor will I ever be his judge.  I probably won’t ever understand how he could hurt me so deeply. moveI mpve forward doing what I can do.  I choose to learn about my trauma.

So, I move forward doing what I can do to change those engravings into something beautiful. Those engravings have given me empathy and love that I never would have had otherwise.  So in a weird way I guess I am thankful for each one.  They are reminders.

 

 

 

A., V. D. (2015). The body keeps the score: mind, brain and body in the transformation of trauma. London: Penguin Books.
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