My First Memory

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I have perky personality and a quirky sense of humour. My optimistic outlook on life rarely wavers in the face of adversity, even though I am married to a rather taciturn man with a pessimistic outlook on life. It is a comical situation given that we have been inseparable for 35 years.

However my body existed in an incongruous state of tension and anxiety. At times paralyzing fear would grip me, seemingly for no rational reason. One day a forgotten memory, really my first memory emerged from my subconscious as I sat in silence meditating, breathing slowly, deeply with my eyes closed. It was an image that was foreign to my conscious mind, an image that was pre-verbal consisting only of raw emotion.

A tiny me, dressed in a white dress, lay curled in a ball, a fetal position on the ground.

Black wisps rose up, drew together forming

into a hug, broad-shouldered, faceless, nameless shadow.

A shadow that loomed over tiny me, drawing ever closer.

My unease became fear, quickly soaring into terror, gripping, ice-cold terror.

My adult heart pounded, my breathing was short, shallow, my hands gripped the arms of the chair.

I was riveted to the scene.

I tried to force my inner movie to unfold.

I strained, I needed to see what had happened

In a disappointing flash

My inner vision was gone,

replaced by a pale, dove grey, blank screen.

Peace flooded my senses, erasing all traces of panic and terror.

My body slumped, relaxed, drained.

It was like my inner T.V had been unplugged, disconnecting me from my inner memories

My mind was smarter than me;

I demanded rational answers, a conclusion, an explanation

but I was not ready for that first memory.

Soon I smiled, then laughed with joy

because I knew instinctively that

my first pre-verbal memory was the key to my freedom.


26 thoughts on “My First Memory

  1. You have a flare for poetry. However, I must admit that I have little confidence in early memories—pre-verbal or not. Memory is a tricky thing. Unless there is a record from the time that we think we are remembering, how can we be sure that we are really remembering and not just vividly imagining?

    Try this experiment: Talk with someone you grew up with about events from your childhood that you both remeber. I’ll bet you’ll find at least some events that you remember differently, in ways that are mutually exclusive, despite both of you being certain that your memory is accurate. Like I said, memory is a tricky thing.

    But, that having been said, it was a beautiful post.


  2. Great post. totally irrelevant question: how does an optimist stay married to a pessimist for 35 years? been struggling with the pessimist by my side…nowhere near crisis…just wondering, any advice on dealing with life’s challenges when viewpoints are so different?


  3. Congrats! Breaking the link between past traumas and our current state is such a freeing experience, and yet, not always a ‘one-minute-wonder’ process! I always liked the saying that I think was made by some saint in the 400-600 ad time frame (I’m hoping you know which one I’m remembering!)

    “Grace comes, not when it is earned, but when it is ready to be received.”


      1. I read so much and often remember the saying, the conditions, time frame etc., but forget the IMPORTANT stuff!

        Oh, for my dad’s eidetic memory, instead of my shoddy associative one! LOL


      1. Depends upon which theological viewpoint you’re looking at it from – – 🙂 This topic was highly debated around 1100 ad – – in fact, those who wrote on the subject were, by turns, either saints or heretics, dependent upon which Pope was on the throne – – 🙂


      2. A friend and I recently had a conversation regarding ‘suffering’ – the definition, is it beneficial?, etc….

        I believe suffering to only be beneficial when you determine that your suffering has meaning – otherwise, suffering is just another way of ‘despairing’ which is, in most western theological traditions, a no-no – –



      3. There are those who believed Grace to be an unearned, pre-determined, gift from above – – –
        And those who felt mankind should strive to meet Grace half-way, in other words, do their best to be worthy of the grace they received…
        And those who believed grace was only bestowed once a person was worthy of receiving it – –
        This seems to have been a hot topic of debate for a couple of centuries or more – – nearly as big as the debate regarding the divinity of Jesus that took place back in the early parts of Christianity. 🙂 I know which side ultimately won – but, I do like learning about the debates as they happened…. 🙂


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