Josh is away for the weekend and I’ve been staying up all night working, treading water it seems, but even when it seems my brain is occupied with code and configurations and the latest Tom Waits album, there is room for a little meditation.
A few days ago (or rather, Friday, as precision is necessary in the context of this paragraph) I took some time to sit and look and backwards over the last few months. I mentioned here about a month after my mom died that I was having some problems with my memory. I shoved it aside, a bit, expecting it to let up as time passed, thinking that it would get better on its own.
I would like to think that it has, but truthfully, I have so little recall of the two and a half months we spent in California before coming to Greece, and I have difficulty with my sense of time still – to this day. When I say “a few days ago”, I usually mean yesterday or the day before, and when I say “last week” it turns out I almost always mean a few weeks ago, or a month ago. When I leave the house, I check for my keys obsessively, then a few paces away from my apartment I can’t remember if I’ve shut the door or not.
When I brought it up with Josh yet again a few nights before he left for Germany (or the night before, probably – I don’t remember) he wrote down on his pad two words. Psychogenic fugue.
So I Googled it. Wouldn’t you? And figured out swiftly that whatever coping mechanism my brain has developed for dealing with grief that eats my memories and warps time like a bad sci-fi novel is most definitely not a psychogenic fugue. It’s a form of amnesia, though (in the generalized sense that “amnesia” means “memory loss”) and it’s not terribly unusual or unheard of. Sometimes, in order to get through the day after a traumatic experience, a person’s brain finds ways to dissociate. If I fight for it, I can usually force the veil aside and remember isolated events from the last few months. But it’s nothing like the recall I had before my mom’s death, and the one thing I am grateful for is that I remember that last night, and some of the week that followed it. It gets spotty after that. I reread my journal entries and question the truthfulness of small details – did we really eat that for dinner? I don’t remember going to that restaurant.
It feels good to have made some acknowledgment of this problem – to have done some research, to know what my next steps are. This is about healing. Facing up to the fact that is has been somewhat debilitating and knowing that I need to focus on it and work for it to get better has been somewhat harder. But it’s why I’m writing about it here. So that I don’t forget that I have not been remembering so well.
I’m hoping that writing more regularly, building an external memory as I re-train my interior one, will help me regain my sense of time passing. Will help me, period. I have questioned over and over again if it was wise to come to Greece for so long, removing myself from the network of support my family and I had built over the last year. But I think ultimately that it was good. Even though I have a miserable cold and I’m afraid it means I won’t be able to perform next week with the ensemble, I still think it was a good thing. We have amazing friends who are remodelling the house from the inside, making it different, and I needed that. My mother died there, and I could not come back to it if it felt like I was walking into that same room all over again.
Josh gets back tomorrow. We are staying in Lefkes this week, watching our friends’ house and their sweet labrador puppy. It is beautiful there. There is an amazing view of Naxos across the water, and I’ve been told the sun rises behind it in the morning. I am taking my cameras, largely unused this term. I am going to document the hell out of it. I am going to build a memory of my last two weeks on the island, because I wanted to come back so badly and I can’t leave without remembering that I was here.
So here is yet another beginning, another day to commit to documentation – as theory, and practice. To commit to healing, and actually getting on with life instead of just making the motions.