The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #11: Memories of Christmases Past

Image 2I can only recall one Christmas from my childhood. I was 6 years old and I was beaming with the holiday spirit. I don’t remember much else up to the age of 15. People tell me stories, but they might as well be telling me about someone else’s life. Because of this, I sometimes feel that I never had a childhood. All I know is that I cannot recall two thirds of my life. I have learned to be okay with this fact and once in a while, when I really dig deep, I find another distant memory that I can add to my odd collection. This is comforting, because then I know that it’s all in there somewhere and bit by bit I’m discovering my life.

I have not always been okay with my lack of memory; it used to create an unsettling lack of self. I didn’t know who I was, because I didn’t have the tools to deal with all the bad things in my childhood. And in my respected, academic family it was preferred to sweep it under the carpet and uphold the illusion of a well-functioning family. But Christmas was a glistening sham, where we could pretend that alcoholism and violence were strangers to us. Therefore I packed all the bad, but also the good, memories away. And I lost myself in the process. I spent my teenage years trying to piece a person together. Not on a blank slate, but on a weird, dark, wobbly slate that I couldn’t read or understand. It was like starting from scratch, but having to build a hopefully stable person on unstable ground.

At the age of 20, I finally went to my first therapist to deal with the dark wobbly thing that followed me around. It was like living above an abyss that I was afraid I would fall into. I had found some peace with my missing memory, but still struggle with the consequences. However, now I was confronted with questions to which I didn’t have any answers. I had no idea who I was or where I came from and it was terrifying to let someone onto this secret. But it was also very hard to explain. How could I know so little about my own life?

Now I have created a mess of a collage from stories and pictures and unearthed memories. I build myself and my life every day and I create new memories that I try my hardest to hold onto. Mostly I rely on feelings. I may not remember the details, but I remember the feelings from the other Christmases.

And for now that’s good enough.


One thought on “The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #11: Memories of Christmases Past

  1. I really feel for you and empathise deeply becuause this is also true of a lot of my childhood. I have glimpses of memories, flashes of the houses we lived in and some things that happened there, good and bad, mostly bad. Christmas is mostly one jumbled memory amalgamated from them all, nothing really specific. Birthdays are the same. I spent most of my childhood building a wall that kept me safe inside. Breaking that wall down was hard and traumatic. It took me until my late 30s and early 40s to really assemble a strong sense of who I am and I still have to stop myself to think what I’m really feeling about things and not just do what’s expected of me. I still don’t have good recall. I take lots of pictures to help jog my memory now, that really helps. Writing my blog helps me process and recall as well. I thank my lack of memory in some ways because it helped my resilience and kept me strong but I wish I could remember the good stuff that happened especially my friendships. Thankfully my old friends remind me of school days and tell me stories about things that happened. I hope you get to a place when you feel you have a strong sense of who you are and are able to build adult memories that you are able to enjoy recalling,

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