No, amnesia is not the solution for traumatic memories


Have you ever tried to talk about your PTSD issues with someone, only to have them cut you off with the advice to “just don’t think about it”?

If only it were that simple!

I wanted so desperately to “just stop thinking about” my traumatic memories, that I actually tried to force myself to have amnesia. I thought: other people get amnesia, so why can’t I? I tried everything I could think of to psych myself into having Zero Memories, because total amnesia would surely be better than walking around with a head full of horrible, haunting, trauma memories.

But I could not do it. I even tried self-hypnosis to no avail. My life is still my life, my memories are my memories, and they are, apparently, here to stay.

The best thing I have found for dealing with my trauma memories is simply: acceptance. Accepting that my reality is real, my life is indeed my life, the things that happened actually did happen, and no amount of wishful thinking is ever going to change any of that. It is what it is. And yet, in spite of everything, today I can honestly say that the Lord brought me through!

I recently googled the addresses of two houses that I lived in more than fifty years ago, where some of my worst childhood traumas happened. To my surprise, I discovered that both of these houses are listed online as having been for sale in the recent past. One sold in 2014, the other in 2016. Although they are no longer for sale and their listings expired years ago, all of the interior and exterior pictures are still there.

As I clicked through the photographs, I remembered this terrible thing that happened in this room, and that awful thing happening in another room. On and on, through more than fifty pictures between the two houses, my memories flooded in.

I was feeling overwhelmed! But then, a picture came up that was taken inside a family room that had been added onto the house, after it was foreclosed and my family moved away. This picture, which you can see at the top of this post, is centered on an open doorway that leads from the new family room, into the dining  area and living room beyond, two rooms that hold many haunting memories for me.

Above the wide open doorway between the new part of the house and the old, hangs two large banners. The words on the banners, in beautiful bold letters, declare:


~The above post was inspired by this terrific article by Cynthia Bailey Rug:

OK, this is really weird (comments are now closed)

I took this picture last December, of a snow-covered pear cactus in the alley behind our house. This was right after a 2-day hurricane force blizzard hit our area, leaving our town buried under 10′ snow drifts.

WOW — thanks to the therapeutic value of writing a tell-all post about how miserable I have been feeling lately, and thanks especially to the wonderful, kind, and compassionate comments I’ve received since yesterday, I had a much better day today.

Thank you, ALL!!

However, although I don’t feel half as “crazy” now as I did on Friday morning, the weather here in east central New Mexico has gone completely insane!

Yesterday, our high temperature was 69 degrees Fahrenheit. Not quite the 71 that had been forecast, but very close.

In addition to Friday’s unseasonably warm temperature, we had an afternoon wind storm with gusts up to 75 miles per hour. At one point, I went outside to check on how our new metal roof was holding up, and I almost got blown over backwards!

But today’s weather has been even crazier than yesterday’s. This morning, we started out with temperatures in the low 50s. Then by late morning, our warm wind, which had been blowing from the southwest, suddenly turned and started blowing from the northeast, bringing snow and an arctic cold front along with it. Within an hour, our outdoor thermometer reading plunged from 50 degrees to just 13! In less than 24 hours, our outdoor temperature had gone from short sleeve summer-like weather, to a day at the North Pole.

Now, as I am writing this, our outdoor temperature reading is 4 degrees, with a wind chill of -15. Brrrrr!

When I moved to New Mexico in 2003, I thought I was moving to a place that is always sunny and warm. We do get plenty of triple digit temperatures in the summer. But what surprises a lot of people — including me — is that we also get single digit temperatures in the winter.

Last December, the day after Christmas, 2015, we had a blizzard here that was worse than any snow storm I have ever seen, including the five years I lived along the coast of Maine. The Goliath winds reached hurricane force and blew for two days and two nights straight. A freight train was blown off the tracks just four miles outside of town. Three big grain silos were blown down a quarter of a mile from our house. We had no electricity for 21 hours. Tall trees blew down, and roofs all over town were destroyed, including ours.

When the blizzard finally stopped, we had snow drifts over 10′ high outside our house. The roads were impassable for days. Even a homeland security snow cat broke down, trying to reach stranded motorists.

More than 30,000 cattle were killed in this area, and several people lost their lives. I pray we never have a blizzard like that again.

I don’t like it when the wind blows like a hurricane here on the high plains, and I especially don’t like it when the temperatures go down so close to zero. But I am very grateful for our snug little house and our central heat. Most of all, I am deeply, intensely grateful for the love of the Lord and for my precious family and my caring friends. You warm my heart!

Thank you for stopping by. God bless, keep warm, and Merry Christmas!

UPDATE ADDED Sunday, December 18, 7:30 am: Our outdoor thermometer says last night’s low was 0, current temp is 1. Roads are icy, hubby was awake all night — his PTSD often causes that — and I woke up with a headache, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands. So, we won’t be going to church. 😦

But I’m still feeling Ok emotionally, and very grateful for my loving little family, my wonderful online friends, and our snug warm house (except we really need to insulate the crawl space, the floors are COLD right now). I am also super grateful for the two sweet dogs we rescued off the streets, a little peaches and cream poodle boy named Scrappy and a beautiful golden lab boxer mystery mix named Baby. They are both wearing sweaters and cuddled up with me now as I am writing this.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for all these blessings and so many more… like my yummy Earl Grey decaf tea with raw honey!