Dear Dr. Archer,
I'm a 62 year old Italian American woman, mother of four, three who walk and one who soars. I'm a wife, artist, pianist, writer, cook, former restaurant owner, but mostly.... I am a mother. I'm also afflicted with a right brain vantage point.
My story is probably quite common, but I would be remiss if I didn't ask someone I have come to respect how a child's mind can rescue itself in the confines of "fight or flight" mode when there is extreme trauma. Certainly, the more central question is, why is it not possible for me to recall it in my adult years?
I have no memory of the first 13 years or so of my life, and I have no doubt the lost memories are symptomatic of some of the perils I was attracted to as a younger woman. I have dreadful fear of addiction, though I married an alcoholic when I was 17.
To be fair, knowing you have no history of my nuclear family, I'll stick to the question: Why can I not remember?
After having my head shrunk several times, I got a few years of EMDR treatment, if you can call it that. I've been diagnosed from bipolar to multiple personalities, all because my name is Joanne and I call myself Joanna, and I’ve taken many psych meds.
But now, I remain high functioning without these meds. They caused me suicidal tendencies and extreme confusion, so I cannot take them. Still, I cannot remember my childhood, and wonder if that would be productive to reprocess what went on back then?
Of my six siblings, I am the only one who is not addicted to mind altering substances. I am the quinsentential codependent, and yet with some cognitive therapy, that is at a low ebb today.
I am in my second marriage to a good, sober, wealthy man for 19 years and he has been impotent for most of those years, as I resign to his kindness to my children and myself and deny my own needs as a woman, I'm almost grateful.
My only published work is "Why Whisper?", a book about the suicide of my son, grief, and the raw truth about addiction, love and how the two collide. I suppose I'm a mixed bag. Thank you for reading. Regards,
I must pause and offer my sincere condolences on the loss of your child. He soars while you hold his memory close to your heart.
As for you, Joanna, you're a wife, artist, pianist, writer, cook, former restaurant owner, mother of four and a survivor. Wow. Sounds like a pretty good life, all in all. My immediate question would be, why go looking for trouble?
We don't know what's in your past. Many people cannot remember their childhood and adolescent years; it's not that uncommon. Sometimes it's just that they don't remember, while other times it's the mind's way of protecting itself.
You are an accomplished woman, who seems to have had a very full life. You still have many, wonderful years ahead of you.
My advice for you is to focus on today and make it the best day possible. Plan for tomorrow -- a new venture, perhaps? Enjoy spending quality time with that wonderful man you're married to.
Is there something you've always wanted to do? Go for it! Do you have grandchildren, enjoy that gift, too. How about a new hobby, or reconnecting with old friends or making new ones or perhaps write another book.
Based on what you’ve said, NOTHING of value will come from trying to drag up those 13 years. Nothing.
You are in the here and now, and I suggest you enjoy the present. As Hal Sutton said, "We are reminded how short life really is, and how we are just passing through. So, all the people you haven't told you love lately, tell them, and live your days like you mean it."
As I often tell others, the past is gone. What has happened has happened, and nothing will change the facts, whatever they are. Live your life for today, Joanna. Enjoy and appreciate each and every day for what it is -- a gift. All the best,