Memories, Trauma and Healing – Part One
It has been snowing and the temperature has been dropping. I captured this photo from the doorway looking into my backyard. I was captured by the designs, the contrast of darkness and light and thought that it would make for a good image to bring here if it had turned out – which it did – to my satisfaction. I know that I have posted perhaps too many of such photos here, and taken hundreds more, perhaps of even the same location and time of day over the years. There is something about darkness in contrast with light that stirs something deep within me. It’s something that I now recognise as being cyclical like the seasons of the year and the flow of day into night into day.
I learn from this. I learn that even at noon, when night is banished from the heavens, the darkness is still there, waiting for its turn. There is a parallel with inner darkness and the light of consciousness. Awake, each of us is conscious of the world in which we find ourselves and claim that world as a world of fact, of truth, a place where we carve our own identity living in the moment, being present.
Yet, we all fall asleep and that waking world reality is supplanted by figures and realities that emerge out of the darkness of the unconscious. Things we have banished into the darkness of forgetting and denying still hold a place and a power that refuses to be banished and denied. This is where we park our traumatic episodes and our memories of them.
Last night I was listening to Michael Conforti via a teleseminar called Memories, Trauma and Healing. In the introduction to the series of four presentations, Dr. Conforti notes:
“Traumatic memory carries a power all its own. It has the force to sweep us across the threshold of tangible reality into a field where the trauma lives on and continues to toss us on a turbulent sea of volatile emotional, physical and psychological upheaval. We know so little about the workings and deeper meaning of memory, trauma and healing, three forces which perhaps shape individual and collective life more than any others. “
As many of you have survived trauma, and there is no need to rank the trauma to determine who has suffered the most; and because I have also survived trauma, it is important to realise that the traumatic impact on the psyche has determined much of our journey to the present. Many mistakenly believe that with enough therapy or drugs or life-style changes, that the dark container within ourselves which holds the memories will somehow be wiped out leaving us free to move through the rest of our lives without having those memories reappear and once again shape our lives. Fortunately or unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
As we become aware of the presence of this darkness that was born out of trauma, we learn how to cautiously navigate our lives knowing that it is there, hovering ready to disrupt whether it be via an unconscious response in the outer world, or through a dream, or through a descent into a dark mood. We learn that we are on shaky ground, not on firm foundations, as we go through life. And somehow, we learn to live in spite of the trauma and the darkness that was born with that trauma.
Needless to say, I am looking forward to next Monday’s teleseminar presentation.