Body Memories

I walked across the parking lot on my way into work yesterday; I had to fight every muscle in my body from turning around and running back to my car and driving away. I wasn’t feeling down, I wasn’t feeling up. It was what has become my norm of just riding that middle ground. At work I usually put on a good face, laughing, and working hard to keep things light for the people that work for me. I have always made it a goal for the close to 50 members of the team I run to enjoy the 8 to 10 hours per day they spend at their place of employment. Today however, I could not get my face to go in any direction, my mod was flat lined in that gray feeling, no light but no dark just straddling that line. I swiped my badge, walked in the doors and went to work. I had a calendar full of meetings so I knew I wouldn’t be interacting much with the team that knew my energetic and upbeat personality, hoping I could make it through the day without anyone asking what was wrong. I didn’t make it, a staff member reached out wondering if I was all right as I was not my usual self especially on a Friday.  The thing is nothing was actually wrong, I was confused, I was deep in thought or reflection about what my past night had been like. I had experienced something that I had never experienced before in my life and I could not get it out of my head.

I have always had a good memory, I can remember the smallest details about people, places, events, and they come to me at the weirdest of times as if I was watching them on TV. This, over the past three years, has been both a good thing and a bad thing, but Thursday night was something different. It started with a smell, at fist I couldn’t place it but it was not the usual aroma of my bedroom, not that my bedroom really has an aroma, but it was a foreign smell to what was usually around the apartment. It didn’t belong and I couldn’t place it. It was so familiar and comforting that I spent a few minutes just breathing it in, allowing a little bit of peace into the lengthy process of trying to fall asleep. As I lay there breathing in this air my body began to get warm, not all over, just my shoulders, arms, chest and midsection. It was a not a typical type of warmth like being under a blanket but the warmth of a body, a humid body. Then my back started to feel it. Like I was being wrapped up in something or someone.   This was not a physical sensation I had experienced since being alone, yet it felt so familiar that I fought falling a sleep to experience it just a bit longer. I dared not to move as I didn’t want to disrupt this experience, muscles were relaxed but still, my face, both cheeks, nose, and mouth now embraced this warmth. The smell then began to shift, to something else and that is when the rush of a single memory washed over me, drowning me in a flashback that I had long since left behind.

It was the fall of 2015; the 1800’s house we had moved into was just starting to fill with the crisp cool air that Vermont offered. I was in my music room playing guitar when she came walking up the steps to the second floor of the house. She had just returned from horseback riding, a horse we had just been able to purchase her, a life long dream of hers and mine. She stood in the doorway, I hadn’t heard her come up the stairs, and was just watching me play. She had a small grin on her face as she leaned her right shoulder on the frame of the entrance.   I stood up to switch my guitars out when I saw her and a smile grew across my face. She said the song I was working on sounded good and we spoke of her ride; she then said she was going to take a bath. We had a deep claw foot tub, one that she was able to lay in, being just shy of six feet tall baths were always a source of frustration. I listened while playing guitar to the sound of the water filling the tub and the eventual sound of her stepping in the water splashing a bit as she became fully immersed. I loved the sound of the water as she would move her arms and feet in the deep bath, the drips falling back down and the gentle swish when she would shift her body, then the sound of her standing to leave the warm water.

She had this long wide towel that would act as a dress to most other women and one smaller towel that would wrap around her hair in that twisted fashion that I swear women are born knowing how to do. She walked out of the bathroom, peeking back into the music room as she walked into our bedroom, I, in a sly fast motion put my guitar down and on my tip ties ran into the room. She spun around and gave me this look with a smirk that grew to a smile and simply said “whatcha doing?” I said “nothing” and walked towards her, gave her a kiss. She opened her towel and held her arms straight out to the side holding the towel like a blanket she is about to wrap around her back. I walked up to her and hugged her as she wrapped the towel around the both of us. I buried my face in the part of her neck that meets her shoulder and just lived in the warmth of her body for those moments. The heat from the water of the bath and her arms around my back felt like I was in the most pleasant sauna but instead of fat sweaty men, I was engulfed in the body of the woman I love. When we fell down onto the bed the twisted towel unraveled from her hair and we lay there for a few moments talking and tangled until the warmth faded and clothing was now a necessity.

I hadn’t thought of that day since and maybe that is a moment that I took for granted thinking there would be so many more. A few months later I found out how wrong I was. The smell of her skin fresh out of the bath was what filled my senses as I lay on my mattresses on the floor of the apartment that is 165 miles away from her. It all came rushing back because of her skin; I could feel the softness of the skin on her arms, and torso. I felt the skin of her back on my hands as I hugged her. The heat that came off of her body as she wrapped me up in that towel, and the warmth on my face as I laid it gently in that welcoming area of her neck and her shoulder. The smell as it shifted, the one that brought it all back was when we hit the bed and the towel fell off her hair, still wet from her bath. The smell of the shampoo and conditioner she used in her gorgeous long brown hair.

I am not sure how long this sensation lasted but when it started to dissipate, as it did that day when the warmth left the towel surrounding us both and started to turn just cold and wet, but it felt like hours. I felt the warmth slowly fade, the aroma of her skin and the shampoo fade, I begged for it not to go. I just wanted a few more moments but it could not last. I began to tear up as I lay still on my back, on the mattresses, on the floor of the apartment that is 165 miles away from her. I was scared what this would do to my psyche tomorrow and for the next few days, would this send me into a low, was this the wave that would finally crush me? I was able to fall asleep, pretty quickly to my surprise and although I didn’t get much sleep I was rested the next day. It was on my mind though; I had never had a memory cover my whole body. I have had dreams that felt real like that but never experienced something like that when I was awake. I thought about it all day, trying to make heads or tails of the feeling that came over me. Worried that I would have these pop up in the future, scared that they wouldn’t be pleasant memories. The overwhelming feeling was one more so of intrigue. When I experienced a less enjoyable full body memory last night while sitting in my recliner watching a TV show I knew I had to do some research.

I Googled full body memories and spent a few hours reading into, what to me was a new phenomenon, to find that they are a studied aspect of psychology, mostly of traumatic events. While I do not consider the being wrapped up in a towel with her traumatic what eventually transpired was, this was my body reminding me that the pain still lives inside of me. I have known that it was still inside of my head but never anticipated that it lived inside of my body as well. That my hands, arms, chest could feel the past few years just as much as my mind has. Some websites say to speak to your body as a way of recognizing the trauma, some say the body, unlike the mind, doesn’t recognize when the actual event it is reliving is over and that it is up to you to make it aware of that, others say activity or creating new memories will help. As usual there are hundreds of theories including that the bodies memory is strictly psychosomatic and that there are no plausible explanations or definitive examples of the body having the ability to store such memories. One website described cutting a tapeworm down to a fraction of its normal size then, as the tapeworm’s body regenerates, training it to do new things that it normally wouldn’t do naturally but having the tapeworm resist because the body remembers that is shouldn’t be doing that particular action.

I guess the outcome of this is that I still have no idea why this took place, was it my body remembering a better time, then a difficult time? Is it that my mind is still drawn back to her in such a strong force that my body has no option but to follow? Will I ever be able to resist the draw back to her? Am I not doing enough to move past this? There are possibilities in all of this, some more so than others but what I have taken away from this is a fascination of the concept of a full body memory and how amazing or how unnerving they can be.

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