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Friday, 10 July 2015

Streets of Memories

Forrest Gump was such a smart fellow.
There are not enough rocks in the world to tear down the houses and demolish the streets that hold my memories. My emotions are directed at houses and streets. I could even say that I hate those houses and streets. And I am not a person who hates. But there are streets that I hate. They are the only things I hate. But hate them I do. I can tell you their names. Virginia Street. Palace Street. Crystal Street. Fitzroy Street. Carlisle Avenue. Hate them all. And if I could, I would gather up all the rocks in the world and reign them down on those houses and streets. Not the people of course. Just the buildings that make up those streets. And dig up those roads so those streets never existed. When I think of those streets my heart races and I feel physically ill. I feel my legs go shaky. I feel that my emotions will boil over. I feel sadness, anger, outrage, disgust.
Now this will test you. Have you been following?
Because in my last blog I talked about only feeling these things for other people. But into my subconscious popped the realisation that I DO feel these things for myself. But instead of being directed at the perpetrator and protectors, these feelings are directed at the streets and the houses where the crimes took place.
In the world of psychology, for me, these houses and streets are known as triggers. That is, they are something that 'trigger' a range of emotions. For me these triggers activate memories of trauma and the feelings and behaviours that existed at that time. We all have triggers. These triggers can belong to good memories or bad. At the beginning they can be quite frightening. But when you can learn to identify them and then act on them they can be your best allies. They can warn you that something is ahead that might need your attention or action. They give you preparation time. So, in my case, I try to avoid these streets because I know that they are not good for me. I have the good fortune that they are no where near my home. They are very intense triggers. Geography is definitely a recurring theme in my triggers, even the less intense ones. Other triggers for me are feeling unsafe, secrets, feelings of lack of control and powerlessness and the feeling that I have no voice. I have been taught strategies to cope when these triggers show up. There are actions that I need to take. It has taken me a very, very, very long time to learn about my triggers, their messages, and the actions needed. One of my important tools is writing. This allows me to have a voice. Just sitting down with a pen and paper and seeing what comes out is very revealing. It is about allowing my subconscious to have a voice. For those emotions that have been stuffed down so deeply that they are no longer readily accessible to come to the surface. To be dealt with. To be released at last. To stop carrying them around. I experience a recurring theme in my dreams which warn me that memories or emotions are about to 'come up' or surface. I was also encouraged to write with my left hand, even though I am normally right handed. The theory being that different parts of your brain are able to be accessed. This technique was extremely successful and revealing for me. Like everything else some things work better than others.
Now if you are thinking that all this sounds a bit 'loopy' think again. I consider that my triggers are no different to people with other illnesses. If you have asthma you will understand. You may have triggers like pollution, change of seasons, pollens, smoke. Sometimes you are even warned about your triggers in the media. If there are bushfires in your area you may be warned to stay inside. Does anybody think this is weird? If you suffer from epilepsy you will be warned if there is flashing or strobe lighting being used. Loopy? If you have anaphylaxis there are warnings written on food labels. Crazy? So if you have asthma you may carry a puffer and avoid smoke, with epilepsy you may avoid discos and light displays, anaphylaxis you may need to avoid nuts. So you know your triggers. You get to recognise the warning signs. And you learn what actions need to be taken to minimise the detrimental affects on your health. Well I do too. But avoiding streets? Having no clutter in my home? Being unable to be in a unisex hospital ward? Quirky at best? Obsessive at worst?
Why? Why the difference? Why is learning to have a voice about these things so difficult? Because for me it's the fear of being judged. It's the shame and guilt thing again. Recently I 'tested' myself again (seriously, do I never learn!?) because there is still that little voice inside my head that says I 'shouldn't' feel this way. Get over it. I would never say these things to myself if I had asthma. I would never tell myself to 'get over' epilepsy. And guess what? I failed my test. So I am putting it in writing now. I am making a commitment to myself. I am never going near those streets again. Never. I don't care if I have to drive 20 kilometres to avoid them. They are not good for me. They are not good for my health or well being. And that's okay. So now I don't need the rocks. I just need my voice. And just like Forrest Gump - "that's all I have to say about that".


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