Memory, Emotion, and Trauma: Flashback to Before Covid-19

FLASHBACK INTO THE PAST

Memory, emotion, and trauma can be surreal.  Just hours ago at a “drive by” Bar Mitzvah crawl.  Socially distanced, friends, and family gather to celebrate a boy’s 13th birthday, a special coming of age in Jewish tradition. The idea that two kids had organized events on the same block, hinted at normalcy and times of yore. I reflected upon being age 17, 15, or 12.  Then, I was able to freely roam between homes in my hometown. These were times when safety seemed unquestioned—times when “be home by dinner” was the only guideline to follow.

TRAUMA AND THE LIFE WE HAD BEFORE

Meanwhile, back to the drive through experience, parents and dogs walked by and greeted one another. Some adolescents wore makeup, and others exchanged gifts. Signs of life, of normalcy, or connection, were upon us again. Yet, listening to the adults recount memories prior to March 2020, it seemed as if it were eons ago. It was like we were frozen in time and entered a war zone of stress and trauma. We left, in pieces, the memories of the time before.

NEW CONNECTIONS

Then seconds later, a laugh bellows from two classmates, realizing they had never actually met. They had formed an entire friendship and become best of friends, shared screen watching and planned summers, and existed solely on Facetime, Hulu, Netflix and Zoom. The sheer excitement at being connected, at being friends, at being together, was refreshing in an entirely familiar way. 

A CLOSER LOOK AT FLASHBULB MEMORY

That is what the brain does in a trauma, at times, it slows down time in order to use all of our psychological and emotional resources to cope with the stressors.  The term flashbulb memory refers to this concept of acutely remembering every detail of a specific day or time surrounding a highly stressful event. You may find that you can recall all events or details or the last places you went prior to the pandemic or another stressful life event, or what you wore, or what you were doing just prior with remarkable detail.

IMPORTANT REFLECTIONS ON NEW SKILLS

This got me wondering what secrets on handling stress have we discovered in the newness of reconnection? What did we uncover in the sameness of slowing down and finding routines to help us redefine and reexamine how we lived? What applications have we found as essential guideposts for our march forward and backwards, all at the same time? The gifts of this experience can be abundant as its challenges.  Seeing them, depends on where we place our collective and individualized attention.

TAKE AWAY

Take the time today to write down, reflect and visualize where you were prior to your life changing course and then take time to close your eyes, visualize and write down where you want them to be a year from now. Let’s let our subconscious heal us by leading us forward towards reconnecting, rejuvenating, finding humanness, and being more real in all areas of our life.