I Forget More Than I Remember

It was midmorning.
Or it was late afternoon.
Maybe it was just after lunch.
I really don't remember.

I do remember what the air smelled like.

It was springtime.
Or was it fall.
Maybe it was summer.
I really don't remember.

I do remember how frightened I was.

I was nine years old.
Or I was ten.
Maybe I was only eight.
I really don't remember.

I do remember choking back the tears and trying my best to be brave.

I was riding my bike.
Or I was walking.
Maybe I was running to my friend Jeff's house.
I really don't remember.

I do remember how humiliating it was.

There were eight guys there.
Or there were six.
Maybe there were only four.
I really don't remember.

I do remember the face and the name of the one who put the lasso around my neck and pulled it tight until it left a bright red rope burn behind.

There is so much I don't remember about that day. No matter how hard I try, I cannot access some of the details that should be so obvious. I forget way more than I remember.

But this I remember.

I remember what their giggles, chiding, and mockery sounded like.
I remember that I thought I might die that day.
I remember sobbing underneath the willow tree in front of my house until I thought I had myself pulled together enough to go in and pretend like nothing happened.
I remember lying to my parents about what took place.

I am not sure why they finally released the tension on the rope. I am not sure why they let me go. But the sensory memory has never let go of me.

I may not remember the details. But I do remember the trauma.

This is nothing compared to what many women and men have experienced in their lives. But it is an example of how our brains process traumatic experiences, and what is stored deep in our being. The details do not stick. Our brains cannot process the details in the midst of trauma. That is a physiological truth.

So please, do not expect someone who has experienced trauma in their life to be able to recall all of the details in their entirety. Listen to what they say about how they felt and what they experienced.
Those are the only details that really matter.
Believe them when they trust you with them.


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