23 Aug

When I was two, I fell down the stairs and landed face down on the cement floor of the basement.  I lost a front tooth.  I screamed, cried, and carried on until dad picked me up and carried me back up stairs.  I have flash memories of falling down the stairs, hitting the floor, dad carrying me back up holding me on his left side.  What dad was wearing is also part of that memory.

It is the only memory I have of that age.

I’ve questioned why I have that memory, how I can have it.  Is it because it was an oft-repeated story?  Or, is it a real memory?  After asking mom questions of the things I remember that weren’t part of the narrative, things she confirmed, I believe it is real, I can see it happen, like watching a fragmented movie in my head.  Other parts I gained from the narrative, my age, the day of the week, what I was doing when I fell.

My next memory I have is while we were on vacation, when I had the fingers on my right hand crushed in the hinge side of the station wagon door.  I can watch it unfold in my head, my hand following the side of the car from the front, my fingers going between the door and the car, the door being closed and my fingers stuck in the jam.  I can see what happened after, I can hear myself screaming, feel the pain.  I can hear the panic and the anger from dad that it was happening, that it happened.  I was four-years-old, it was also an oft-repeated story, told from the adult side of the story, yet I see the story unfold in my mind from my eyes, a more complete memory than the first, longer in duration.

That is the only vivid memory I have of that age.  I have flashes of other memories but I can’t hold on or expand them into any specific place, event, let alone watch it like a movie in my head.

Again, I’ve questioned whether it was a real memory, or a created memory from the story being told.  I think it is real, I can feel the excruciating pain when the door closed, the interminable time before the door was opened removing the crushing pressure, the different pain that caused.  I can remember dad fixing my hand in the motel room they hurriedly got instead of camping.  How gently he tried to be fixing each finger, while I was crying from how much it hurt for him to fix my little crushed fingers.  I remember the feeling of his anger come off him in waves that this could happen to his little girl.  The throbbing pain throughout the night keeping me awake, crying, crying out.  I know I was four based on the year we went on that vacation, not because I remembered my age.

But yet, I still questioned whether they were real memories, even after believing they are true memories, questioning how you remember something that happened so young, but not have other memories.  Last week I read the article below and it made sense.  It’s the trauma that makes it different from other memories our minds discarded combined with the narrative being part of the conversation on a regular basis and the mode of storytelling.  I also think it matters that the narrative included dad rescuing me if you will, a repeated pattern that was set when I came home, he was the only one who could calm me, not just momentarily pacify me, he could calm me so I stopped crying.

Childhood Amnesia: Understanding the Symptoms and Causes

I’ve read many stories written by adoptees about remembering their feelings, past events.  Memories that based on the age when they came home, or before they did, that shouldn’t exist.  I know people dismiss them as making it up.  Perhaps it’s not far-fetched, perhaps it’s time to start believing them.




Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


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12 responses to “Memories…

  1. Tara-Anita

    August 23, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    The earliest memory I have is riding on the back of a wagon during sunset. I remember looking at the trees going by and the beautiful sunset showing through the trees….someone was holding me in their lap…and I remember thinking (knowing) that this is going to be my last ride (with them)….It felt like it was in a different country….


    • TAO

      August 23, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      Are you an international adoptee?


      • Tara-Anita Brown

        August 24, 2016 at 12:49 am

        Yes I am. Born in Canada (Native American-Ojibwae). Adopted by Bahamians (Raised and living in The Bahamas).


  2. Luanne

    August 23, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Because of working on memoir for so long I’ve read quite a bit about memory, and I am intrigued that your earliest memories are so different from mine. Where yours are caused by trauma, mine are of the involuntary, but seemingly insignificant type. Not that I didn’t have plenty of trauma as a kid, but the actual memories seem kinda silly. Whereas yours are smack on scenes of trauma. As you know, I am not an adoptee.


    • TAO

      August 23, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      I have (had) an extremely good memory for some things, but everyday things, not so much. I used to be the go-to person at work to explain what specific thing happened, where to find the file…just a different.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. cb

    August 23, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    I can only remember flashes too. When it comes to traumatic (or almost traumatic) events, I can remember the event but not much before or after. For example, when I broke my arm at 5, I remember exactly what happened (I ran into a wall). By almost traumatic, I mean the time that I fell into the pool and dad lept over the fence and pulled me out and another time when I was standing at the back of the garage and mum said to move to the side and when dad got into the car, he accidentally put his foot on the accelerator and hit the back of the garage.

    As for other memories growing up, I have very few memories of life at home – my main memories are of holidaying with aunts and some school/fellowship(church) related stuff. I can remember very few of my birthdays or of Christmas.

    With other things, it can be just like a flash here and there no matter how hard one tries to expand one’s memory. For example, when I was about 12, our class went down south to visit some caves and the next day we went further down to a town I’ll call G and we were billeted with local families. I can only remember that our bus parked outside the school and it was very small, I remember us all “dancing the Nutbush” in the school hall and I remember going and sitting in a field on a rock with some other girls and having a real sense of peace being in that field (it wasn’t related to being with the girls). I’ve always remembered that feeling of peace and when I got my OBC, I noted that my bfamily was from down there. I really wish I could remember the name of the school we visited (even though it was definitely in town G, the weird thing is that the school and fields that resemble my memory the most are the ones in town D (birthfamily’s tiny home town) even though I know that is not where we stayed).


    • TAO

      August 23, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      Glad I’m not the only one. I found the article fascinating…but then I find many bizarre topics fascinating…


  4. cb

    August 23, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    As for very early memories, my very first *real* memory is very mundane and sort of embarrassing (potty training lol). However, I’ve always had this other “memory” and I’ve never known what that was about or to do with. It is a *memory* of floating high above the water and looking down on a harbour (not sure which harbour but one in either a large town or city). Now it is possible that that is a memory formed when memories were too early to be formed and my parents were on a boat (although I seemed even “higher up” than that) or perhaps even seeing a harbour on TV as a baby, I don’t really know. For some reason, I’ve always thought of it as a prebirth (or peribirth) memory. I have since discovered that my bparents met on a boat between Australia and NZ (although I wasn’t conceived on that boat).


    • TAO

      August 23, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      I’d want to know the source for sure. Memories are funny things, some people remember daily events throughout their lives, others like me don’t.


      • cb

        August 24, 2016 at 1:40 am

        I remember there once being a discussion on an adoptee forum about memories and quite a large number said that they had very few day to day memories of their childhood, regardless of the quality of their childhood.


  5. eagoodlife

    August 24, 2016 at 12:43 am

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Memories and trauma…..


  6. cb

    August 24, 2016 at 1:48 am

    I will say that I do have more memories of my childhood before the age of 8 than some of the years afterwards – we moved to Australia when I was 8. I did find it hard to adjust to some degree, perhaps that contributed to it? Also, we seem to have more photos as a family while in NZ than in Australia.



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