Today is 29 years since the day my life changed forever.
Today marks 29 years since my mind decided to flip the switch creating 29 years of confusion, pain, and struggle for my life.
Today, my body and my emotions feel everything, but my mind can’t wrap itself around the trauma because in this time and space that the mind can see, nothing is wrong. My body and my emotions are still in that space of that prison cell 29 years ago.
Today I woke up at 6 am like I do every day, but today I wake up realizing why if I sleep past 6am my anxiety becomes more prevalent and my whole being is afraid. Because 29 years ago, my body and emotions were put through an experience, I cannot even put into words. 29 years ago, my people were being murdered and my name was marked for death. 29 years ago, I was 5 years old. 29 years ago, I decided to live in a different world than the reality, because let’s be real, reality was far from ok.
Just recently I have begun to truly process my trauma and have realized that I have dissociative disorder, more specific, dissociative amnesia due to my trauma.
--Dissociative disorders involve problems with memory, identity, emotion, perception, behavior, and sense of self. Dissociative symptoms can potentially disrupt every area of mental functioning. (1)
--Dissociative amnesia involves not being able to recall information about oneself (not normal forgetting). This amnesia is usually related to a traumatic or stressful event and may be:
localized – unable to remember an event or period of time (most common type)
selective – unable to remember a specific aspect of an event or some events within a period of time.
generalized – complete loss of identity and life history (rare)
Dissociative amnesia is associated with having experiences of childhood trauma, and particularly with experiences of emotional abuse and emotional neglect. People may not be aware of their memory loss or may have only limited awareness. And people may minimize the importance of memory loss about a particular event or time. (1)
When I realized this was what happened to me, I recognized, I am not broken. Nothing is wrong with me. I decided to protect myself as a child, using my natural instincts and shutting down a part of my brain that would retain the information. I know that ONLY by walking my lands will the memory be possible to reach. This disconnection from the self is so common for trauma survivors that we often feel like we are multiple humans living within and cannot gain any control of self to be functioning part of society. The hardest part of living with no memory of your trauma is that you cannot find a valid reason for your emotional, physical, and spiritual unbalance. You have nothing to attach to, no home to relate to, no family to remember. Yes, I have family, yes, I can recognize their faces and know that is my family, because I have been told so. I do not remember them as family because we were torn apart at such a young age. The emotional pathways I would have learned how to navigate were all shut down. It is on days like this when it is so heavy and overwhelming that the need for escape and safety is so desperately needed, and it is on days like this when you turn to humans for the safety to express what they do not understand, that the expresser receives the “if you can’t remember, that’s good. Just laugh it off” or one of my favorites “it happened so long ago, why even dwell on it?” or another good one, “What’s the point of learning about it if it is going to cause more pain?”. All these and so many more are responses that we as survivors of extreme trauma do not want to hear. We know all those questions because we ask ourselves that every day that we live in this state of being. We need a hug, a moment to cry, scream, punch, laugh, love, and sleep. We need safety for our inner moment of vulnerability.
My dissociative amnesia effects my everyday life. If there is a situation that will put my body into a state in which I feel threatened, my mind shuts down, my body goes into hyperactive state of being, my emotions become uncontrollable, all the same emotional responses as a child to war, then I will forget my day, week or even a month. It will be as if it never happened.
Until learning about my dissociation, I never knew I dissociated from my everyday life, and especially during the months of April -Feb. Yes, that is a long time. To have 1 month where you feel in control of your life and your identity is difficult to say the least.
I struggle with finding out who and what I am daily because I do not have that knowledge. No amount of research online will tell me the truth of me and my past other than the land itself.
My people suffered as much as the rest and yet I cannot find the history of my moments and my peoples suffering because where I am from, I am the minority. As the media does it here, it did it there, manipulating events, moments, and humans into what they want. Creating fear and instability in every existence of ourselves. I have searched and searched for that moment on April 16, 1993 and all I see is the other sides. I see nothing of my people dying, being murdered and raped. Nothing of the Croatian villages attacked before the attack on Ahmici or others. Nothing of the suffering we endured too. I am not here to point or pick sides, I am here to find out who I am, where I come from, and what happened to me, to my people.
I want to so desperately to connect this feeling to something. I am so desperate to find the truth and to move past this moment.
My mind is way further than my physical and spiritual being that the connection within self is still not complete.
Today, I want to take a minute and to honor my land, I have no memory of. Today, I thank the humans who gave up their lives to free mine. Today, I give honor to my family who was murdered all because they existed. Today, I honor myself for deciding to fight against everyone and everything that told me I was wrong in my perceptions, actions, and reactions of my own life. Today, I thank those humans who, even after inflicting the damage they did, chose to save my life. Today I take the weight of my survival and wear it with pride. Today, I honor those I cannot remember.
I will never stop working on finding out the truth of my time and my existence.
My humanity is as important as the rest.
I wish I had more images to share, more to match my words, but that is the problem. I do not have anything nor can I find it. I have to go home and discover the truth.
This is the journey I am on now.