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15 Nov

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15 Nov

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2 Sep

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02/21 Freewrite Prompt: The Clock

21 Feb

Daily writing prompt: “The Clock”

Write about anything you’d like. Somewhere in your post, include the sentence, “I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock.”

I heard the car door slam and immediately looked at the clock. 6 PM. He was home. I could almost feel him coming up the stairs to the porch. I listened as his steps got louder and louder. Short of breath and nervous as hell, I jumped off my bed and hid in my closet. The door creaked as he made his way inside of the tiny house. He let out a sigh, telling an unseen audience that he’d had a bad day at work. I heard him take off his shoes and throw them near the front door. He was the only one that liked to walk barefoot in the house.

“Ana?” he called.

I inhaled quickly, not letting another sound escape. I heard him struggle up another flight of stairs and walk towards my room.

“Ana? Are you home?” he tried once more. I closed my eyes.

There was a knock on my door. Then a softer one.

“I’m coming in…” he announced.

I squinted in the darkness. It was quiet.

He reached for the closet door and that’s when I sprinted out.

“Surprise!” I yelled, taking in the astonished look on his face.

“Oh!” He was startled. “You scared me!”

I laughed and embraced him in the tightest hug. My dad hated birthdays.

Free-writing

5 Apr

Alright.

This is my attempt at free-writing again. The last time I tried was for a short story class. It was extremely helpful to just let my thoughts go, but it was also frustrating not having any specific guidelines or rules to write by.

Lately, I’ve been exploring the idea of remembering. In a way, it’s been helping me get through the grieving process. Now that I’m getting closer to the end of my college career, I find myself asking “what’s it all for?” I guess it’s because I don’t want my mother’s death to be in vain. So, if I’m a failure, it’d feel like she died for nothing.

Yesterday I spoke with my grandmother about the five stages of death. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I think guilt should be in there somewhere, but I guess it ties in with depression and bargaining. She and I talked about what stages we thought the other has been through. She denied going through denial. How ironic. I know I’ve certainly gone through all stages.

Bargaining has been one of the longest stages. I found myself thinking “if only I had been more open with her” or “if only I had tried to help her more” as if it would have prevented or at least prolonged her death. Although in hindsight now, her death seems like it would have been inevitable. But, hindsight is always 20/20.

One of the biggest things I still haven’t forgiven myself for is sleeping in the living room the night before she died. Living in a 1-bedroom apartment was already cramped so I usually slept in her room with her coupled with the fact that as a child, I’d always been terrified of the dark. Unfortunately, my mom never helped me get over this fear head-on. She just allowed me to sleep with her until the age of 18. Not so healthy, but she did what she knew I would want. The night before she died, for some reason, I found myself laying down on the couch. She came in and said goodnight. I gave some nonchalant response like I always did and turned my attention back to the television. I imagine she was waiting for me to crawl into the bed with her like I did every night. And the next morning, she was gone. I beat myself up a lot over this. I couldn’t help but think that if I did go sleep with her that night, I could have heard her in distress or maybe asking for help. I mean, I don’t know the exact physical details of how she died (I know the reason, but not how) – whether it was silently or if it was clear something was going wrong at that very moment. Anyhow, I kept thinking maybe if I were there, I could have called 911 immediately or something, anything.

Of course now, I’m actually grateful I wasn’t in the bed with her. Maybe it would have been even more traumatizing to see her gradually go.

Another thing that has been on my mind as of lately is vulnerability. Once someone gives me the go, I have no problem opening up about my experience. I actually like sharing it. It’s part of who I am today, but I’ve come to realize not everyone can handle it. This usually makes me angry. I’ve cursed out one friend of mine in particular on numerous occasions because I felt like he wasn’t acknowledging my feelings. I ended up apologizing because I did realize where he was coming from. It’s kind of like the Stranger on the Train Phenomenon, which I’ve experienced on numerous occasions. Some total stranger comes out of nowhere dishing their whole life story as if you know them and it can feel pretty awkward. How do you decide when it’s okay to disclose to someone? What memories are shareable and which are totally private?

Final thoughts here. My grandma often tells me to keep my mother’s memory alive. I’m not sure if that entails only remembering positive and happy memories of her and trying to push the less pleasant ones out of my head. When you commemorate a lost loved one, I suppose you want to focus on the good times as much as you can.

On A Stolen Life

29 Mar

I’ve recently finished A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. For those unfamiliar with the story, Jaycee was kidnapped at the age of 11 and held in captivity for 18 whole years. She recently wrote a memoir describing her experience. [Warning: Spoilers below]

The book was a great read, offering an emotional image of such a painful experience. Jaycee went through everything imaginable from not being allowed to speak her own name, being handcuffed and left alone for extended periods of time, to sexual assault and eventually giving birth to two daughters by her kidnapper.

On remembering traumatic experiences, I kept wondering to myself how Jaycee was able to recall so much vivid information. Researching this week, I read about emotional and psychological trauma and its effect on memory. Memory loss is a natural survival skill we have. It serves as a type of defense mechanism we develop in order to protect ourselves from psychological damage. Emotionally traumatic events like what Jaycee went through can lead to dissociative amnesia, where a person can cope by allowing them to temporarily forget details of an event. They will often suppress memories of a traumatic event until they are ready to handle them, which actually may never occur.

I’ve attempted to capture traumatic experiences as well, but it seems every time I do, I can’t get the essence of what I’m trying to say. The memories flood and it seems like I’m forgetting important details. I couldn’t believe how well Jaycee captured her experience on paper. Through the text alone, I felt like I knew her. Her story was truly inspirational.

On “The Forgetting Pill Erases Painful Memories Forever”

9 Mar

I always think of the nature of memory as something uncontrollable. We can’t choose what to remember or forget and it seems experiences that are particularly traumatic are the hardest to put out of our minds. Now it seems we’ll soon be able to forget our past. More specifically, we’ll be able to pinpoint just what memory we want gone. Poof. Like it never happened. Sounds terrifying if you ask me.

My issue with this idea of “erasing memory” is that for one, I can’t conceptualize the thought of erasing specific memories. I’m not sure about you, but my brain often seems to work like a large collection of 5-second films. My memories flood through my mind constantly, but only in short bursts. I find it extremely difficult to deeply focus on any given experience without getting side-tracked. One minute I’m thinking about how embarrassed I felt when my pants fell down in 4th grade, and the next thing you know, I’m thinking about the awesome spinach omelette I devoured for breakfast today. Seriously — I just remembered that.

The idea that a “forgetting pill” can just delete any one memory is unfathomable because it depends on your ability to conjure up a memory and deeply focus on the associated emotions. It sounds like if I attempted something like this, I would lose way more than just one memory. Since my brain seems to “jump” around constantly, I’m not sure how drug administers could enforce the isolation aspect of a single experience.

I hate to sound so cliché, but I do believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m all for this treatment being offered to those who suffer from serious cases of PSTD or addictions that inhibit a healthy and normal life. Negative and painful experiences shape us. They help us to learn, to grow, to be stronger. If we had the ability to just erase everything we didn’t like, we’d all be a bunch of happy-go-lucky shallow fakes. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh here,  but as someone who has gone through the traumatic experience of losing a mother, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be willing to give up that memory. This experience is mine — something I cherish and like to hold on to.

This article reminded me of the novel The Giver by Lois Lowry. Without giving away any spoilers, the basis of the story is that everyone lives in an Utopian society. There are no feelings or emotions; individuals can simply take a pill when they stub their toe and all pain is relieved. Jonas, the main character, is given a set of memories of what life once was — pain, hunger, love, desire, sadness. Who was Jonas without these memories and experiences that make us unique? Nobody, in my book.