What Does It Feel Like To Get A Memory Back?

It begins as a heavy, provoking, pressure in my body. A compression that does not always land in a particular sector (e.g. chest, stomach, throat) but consistently exhibits a type of stimulating energy that draws my attention inward. The memory itself never becomes fully manifest until later, and honestly, it is rarely ever is fully formed. The focus, the intent of the experience, and the concern of it lives in my body because that is where it started, and that is where it ends. 


In the beginning stages of my familiarization with this process, I described it as someone’s hand curling around the back of my shirt and pulling me slowly backward. Not maliciously; though I had to do work to believe that. Moreso, in an attempt to demonstrate a trust fall. Only this trust fall isn’t into this unnamed person’s arms but rather my own. Eventually, the external urging grew unnecessary as I became more attuned and acquainted with the heavy, provoking, pressure. Identifying it for what it was: an invitation inward. Thus, into it, through it, autonomy emerged. A choice to feel it, make space for it and redefine belief into something that has transformed my entire existence. Making this fall into trust the very foundation upon which I have learned to live again.


The parts of me programmed to survive still resist. Beg me, pleading me to not go inside myself and experience the pain. To not be present to this tearing part of grief that threatens to, with jarring honesty, keep me from ever wanting to live another day again. The agony of meeting my past lived experiences, previously so dampened and dulled to survive them, demands that I sacrifice everything to feel it. It is a collision of fear, confusion, and torment that breaks me open and spills out remnants of my body’s lived experience across everything I know. Shrinking all of life, for the length I remain consciously present to it, into a small flicker in comparison to the weight of the injury.


Today, it is more aligned to say my experience of this trust fall feels more like my inner child’s hand has reached out from inside of me and is pulling me back into myself. It is a whispered “Listen” that feels so different than the loud whiplash of a trigger. I may be more prone to project my traumas into life, my sensitivity certainly becomes more fragile, and I feel more distant from the world. However, it the heavy, provoking, pressure in my body that defines the aforementioned into an unmistakable acknowledgment in myself that I have a memory waiting to be freed.


After sitting with the pressure for either a few days or a week, I build up the courage to surrender fully. Near the end of the process, my vision becomes far more blurred. I’ll be staring at the ceiling or wall or anything and it’s like I’m in a dream state. Normally, I lay down on the floor, relaxing my body as much as I am able to, open my palms and say to myself, “Okay. You have permission now.” Then, I plunge into pain. My hand's clench, my entire body tenses, and mouth ajar, I silently or audibly sob. I don’t always get the full picture but I always feel the entire event in my body and that’s what I’ve grown to focus on. Align with, and tenderly believe. Each phase happens in stages. Never all at once. It’s a process, and the process became safer in me overtime. Again, the focus, the intent of the experience, and the concern of it lives in my body because that is where it started, and that is where it ends. 


In my body is where hell and freedom intertwine in sacred matrimony.


Just yesterday, I was sitting on the ground after a day with a heavy, provoking, weight pulling me inward and I cried audibly ”Money doesn’t own us anymore.” As a sex-trafficking survivor, money is a tender and vulnerable thing. So, when I said those words, I felt breath for the first time. Real breath. There’s a memory there. Waiting. I know it.


It’s here to help me become more free.


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Skyler Weinberg