My ex-partner used to say to me “Why do you keep track of the dates when your traumas happened? Wouldn’t be better for you to just forget?” and something about that question always bothered me.
On principal, of course she was right. It would be easier and probably better for my mental health if there weren’t anniversaries of days when significant traumatic events happened in my life – or “traumaversaries” as I call them. Yet somehow the idea that I was purposefully remembering the exact date really bothered me. I didn’t think that’s what was happening.
I wasn’t purposefully causing myself to be triggered on these days to somehow prolong the trauma for myself and ruin the day ongoing. It was just as if, somehow, I knew anyway. Then this year a comment from a friend turned the lightbulb on. They said “Isn’t it amazing how the body and emotions just remember these things beyond our control” – and I realized that’s what it was.
I looked back at years when I forgot one of the days, or tried to ignore them, and saw that even so, I had felt down and triggered all day without intentionally doing anything to mark it. My body knew what had happened to it on that day and it was remembering, even if I wasn’t.
I also realized that the traumaversaries I had acknowledged and prepared for were the ones I had dealt with better. They were ones that didn’t need days of recovery from or lead to things I regretted later. If I marked the day, let myself feel what I was going to feel, surrounded myself with safe people with whom I could talk about what I was going through/had gone through, and generally treated myself with gentleness and compassion, I came out the other side much easier.
So, I’ve come to realise the answer my ex-partner’s question of “Wouldn’t it be better for me if I just forgot?” is no. My body and spirit certainly haven’t forgotten yet, and they need the chance to be taken care of on their hardest days.