Tuesday, November 9, 2010

~memory boxes~


The rhythm of life
rattles boxes
of the mind,
~ scrambling sequences
~ blurring actions
~ shattering absolutes.

Memories morph
in secret cells warped
by time and ... shame ...

Weigh the assumptions,
sift the claims,
measure the arc of pain ...

Find forgiveness for infractions,
understanding for self-blame.
Value the boxes
Be glad they came.

Box #1

Moody, late-winter morn:
Was there really a slap?
or simply the searing snap
of the word, "Slut!"?

Back up:
peeking, half-dressed, through panes,
measuring moisture and light
for apparel to match first high-heels.

Lust enters the room
 unbidden ...

Lust, I assume,
then self-disgust ...
 misdirected to me.
"Slut!" ... slap?
shock,  silence,  shame.
Did our eyes ever meet again?

Value the box,
release the shame,
exhale the pain.

Box #2

Sunny, early-spring day:
crowded bus-stop -
girl-woman in wobbly high-heels,
imagining other toll-free roads.

Fragile man-boy arrives
 tentative ... burdened.
Carrying battered heart
 in his work-a-day lunch box.

Unresolved energies crackle
spanning the questioning chasm
between them.

Bus arrives -
attuned bystanders shuffle
wobbly girl-woman embarks first,
sits alone
peering through panes.

Man-boy falters past uncertain ...
afraid a heavy heart might burst.
 Then, with his leaden lunch box
disembarks first.

Wobbly heels bump along alone
in sadness, silence and shame.
Trying to remember now
 if our paths ever crossed again.

Hold the box lightly,
release self-blame,
breathe through the pain.


Box #3

Late spring eve:
empty house a surprise,
absent items signal
a lonely leave-taking.

Rupture raw,
a permanent tear
~ a little one whimpers
~ a mother stares

Girl-woman removes
those first high-heels
and wobbles still ... 
in silence, blame, shame.

 Could it be she:
~ who made him lust?
~ who made him lonely?
~ who made him leave?

An unshod soul
peeks again through pains,
not knowing ...

she will eventually let go
of the desire
 for it to have been otherwise.

Boxes lightened,
 contents accepted,
even prized.

These thoughts were put to verse a while ago.  Now when I re-read them I no longer quake, they are simply memories.  They do not distress or define me.  I am not sure of the precise accuracy of the memories (and I have fantasized about what was going on in the other person's head), but in general the 'boxes' kept the memories intact, waiting to be sorted through and integrated with tender and forgiving attention.  That has been done.   I am at peace with my mistakes, wounds and losses and am simply sharing these verses as an example of how one can come to terms with painful memories.  No consolation or support is required, but I am certainly interested in how reading these lines affected you.

If you or a loved one are suffering from intrusive memories that interfere with the quality of your day-to-day living please find a therapist trained in the treatment modality known as EMDR.  It is the most effective treatment and now the treatment of choice among most psychiatrists and clinical psychologists for transforming emotional pain.  It is highly effective in treating post-traumatic stress-related problems. 

EMDR is a simple technique where bi-lateral stimulation (e.g. moving eyes back and forth, tapping alternately on your hands, a headset that delivers alternating sounds in your ears, etc) of the hemispheres of the brain seems to process and release information trapped in the body-mind.  It not only frees people from disturbing images, body sensations, frightening emotions and restrictive beliefs, but clients are left feeling a deep sense of relief, openness and joy.  It has helped thousands of people resume a normal life after debilitating trauma of all kinds.  It also works much faster than normal talk therapy, and can therefore save a lot of time and money.

 Laurel Parnell, Ph.D. has written several books for the lay person on the experience and benefits of EMDR therapy, if you would like to learn more about it.  EMDR treatment should only be done in concert with a therapist trained and experienced in the method.


  1. tears. a beautiful painful verse...not much more i can say...but its good and wise...

  2. My tears followed Brian's.

    Tears for my mistakes, my happinees, and my ability to not let my painful childhood define who I am. Your words evoked strong images in my head and heart this morning, Bonnie!

    Beautiful, raw words...

  3. Affected me? Let's see, I need to get back off the ground first. This has floored me. In some ways, I see the connection between your pain and your wisdom, Bonnie. It also gives me encouragement that these painful chapters do indeed evolve into things of beauty. They certainly have in your case, good friend. EFH

  4. I have read this posting about three times, Bonnie, and I still don't know what to say. I will try this, however. First, this is a really raw, visceral poem, and I commend you for publishing it. Second, as I read the poem, I felt at one with you, not because I have had similar experiences, but because I know we are all struggling with issues in the lifelong process of becoming human beings. Finally, I think its reassuring to all of us that someone like you, who is so accomplished, so creative, and so supportive of others, has faced her own demons. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  5. Those boxes can trap you there for decades/for a lifetime. So glad you broke them open/deconstructed the lure they had on your today, and put them aside, as past, as gone.

    Writing a memoir does the same thing, I discovered.

    Thanks for sharing both your verse, and your knowledge of the psychological processes used for accessing memory. This was a very important post.

  6. Brian: Thank you - your feedback is always highly valued.

  7. Gwynnie B: We have all been wounded in one way or another. It is good to know that emotional wounds, just like physical injuries, do release what is toxic and eventually knit shut. Even tho' there may be a tender scar left behind, it does not affect our ability to love, work and enjoy life. Thanks for sharing that you too have done this work. It is really a common, human bond.

  8. Expat: What generous words. I think if you did a poll of therapists at a convention or something like that, you would find that the vast majority are wounded healers. The initial interest in the field often stems from wanting to understand and heal our own wounds.

    AND BTW, if you ever go to a therapist, peeps, ask if they have been in therapy themselves. Do not work with a therapist who has not done their own personal work! Don't allow them to try to take you where they have not gone.

    Love your words: 'painful chapters do evolve into a things of beauty' - so true. I have seen it over and over again. Thanks friend.

  9. George: Thank you. It is so true what you say. While the events and happenings of our stories differ - the emotional pain of injury, neglect, abandonment, shame are the same. We may have no experience with the specifics of the story, but we can immediately recognize and empathize with the the emotional consequences.

    No one is exempt. We all have our own injuries to tend, our own healing/growth journey, our own demons. We are all works in progress and all deserve empathy, understanding and compassion. Thanks for yours.

  10. lakeviewer: I like that word 'deconstructed'. It is very much what we do in therapy. But one does not need therapy to deconstruct a painful past. As you suggest, writing your memoir is one good way to do it. As one teases memories apart, applies empathy and understanding to all parties involved, the 'deconstructed' story loses its power over us. Deconstruct and be set free. Thank you for sharing your insights!


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