Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Trauma Machine

Forgiveness, healing, and forgetting are all woven up together as a single thing in our souls. 

When we have been wounded, that wound creates both physical trauma and soul trauma.  It's a part of how we are made, one of the ways human creatures learn to steer away from those things that harm and break us.  Moments of trauma form deep and powerful memory in us, memory that stirs in us fear and anger, anxiety and crushing depression.

Those memories, when stirred, return us to that place of harm.  Our traumatic memory, at best, is a prophylactic, as the reaction trauma stirs makes us rise up against similar potential harm.  But it takes a toll.  It rises, unbidden, in moments where there is no danger.  It stirs in us, warning that we must fight or flee, when something minor recalls that hurt.  A smell.  A particular sound.  A voice that reminds us of his voice.  A face that could be hers.  The sharp retort of a celebratory firework, harmless and far away.  The sound of sirens.

Those memories of trauma are fierce and bright and cut deep into us.  They can break us and keep us broken, always shattering and reshattering, never able to move on. 

Healing comes from a particular form of remembering, as our memories of trauma are overlaid with countervailing experience.  We learn that we can go out without fear.  We learn to trust others again.  We learn to overcome.  We change.  It's hard. It takes time.

It's not that we forget the harm that was done, but our remembering becomes different.  We allow it to be changed.  We human beings, whose memory is malleable and who can recall the same event differently as time and retelling blurs and shifts it in us?  That  is how we heal from trauma.  That's how we are restored.

But now?  Now we never need forget, not for an instant, not a moment.  This strange overlaying synthetic meta-mind of images and sounds that we have created?  This "internet?" 

It allows us to return to our traumatic moments, to re-see and to re-experience them just as they were.  It allows us to never, ever, ever forget, not one bit of it, not one detail.  No part of our lives.  No part of our history.  None of it needs heal, ever.

We return to those moments of collective trauma through glass lenses, in hi def and surround sound, ruminating over them, refreshing them in ourselves, returning to moments of pain and horror just as clearly as when we first experienced them.  Ten years can pass.  Twenty.  Hundreds.  Traumatic moments never need pass, never can be changed by reflection, will never be dulled, because these aren't human memories.  They are the memories of steel, machine memories, sharp as blades, cutting deep into us over and over and over again.

Pain and fear and rage, none of which we can ever escape.

What a strange thing we have done to ourselves.