Trauma and the passing of time
Contains Descriptions Of :
Reminders of fathers murder
25 Years And Counting.
On the 25th January each year we celebrate Burns Night where tradition has it that we celebrate the life of the bard Robert Burns by eating haggis, having a dram and reciting his poetry.
For me it’s the anniversary of my fathers Murder.
My father was brutally beaten to death in his Council flat in the Gorbals in Glasgow on the 25th January 1996, 25 years ago today.
I don’t celebrate Burns night, in fact when I begin to see the Haggis adverts on tv or the tartan bunting in the supermarkets I know the dreaded day is coming.
The murder of my father, even 25 years later is still traumatic on many levels. On the days leading up to the anniversary, while others may be making plans I’m trying to recall the I last saw my father. On the 25th, I’m consumed by the events of that day like it’s the worst version of the movie Groundhog Day.
In that movie Bill Murray tries to perfect each day to gain what he’s looking for, unfortunately due to my trauma I’ve never mastered that possibility even though I’ve had 25 opportunities. Trauma isn’t like that for me.
After the 25th of each year I try and recall the dates of the subsequent events, the police questioning, the capture of the murderer, the date of the funeral, the court date, the name of the murderers, what his sentence was and when he was released. The reality is I can’t remember most of those details because trauma has robbed me of these memories except the ones that hurt the most.
We all have anniversaries of things that happen to us, both positive and negative, and most people can process them accordingly but trauma survivors often process these events differently. For those who have experienced their trauma anniversary on a day such as Burns Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas Day etc you are reminded each year via tv, in supermarkets or generally from the way that society treats these events. All trauma however is real and alive long before the date due to other visual reminders and triggers.
So, does time heal trauma?
For me no. Time for me leads to confusion, leads to more memory loss which in turn leads to sadness and frustration and a re-living of events each year.
On a day where Burns is celebrated all over the world it is his iconic ‘Auld Lang Syne’ which springs to mind with the lines:
'Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne? '
The interpretation of this clearly is that we should never forget others and remember them for ‘Old Time Sake’ the irony of this poem on this day isn’t lost on me.
The lesson for me now is to accept the memories I have and not to be persecuted by the trauma memories. It’s been a 25 year life lesson and one which I have to revise for every 25th January and one which I assume will continue each year for the rest of my life.
I miss my father, I wish I could ask his advice on many many things but I can’t. My 4 year old son has a grandfather that he’ll never meet, nor will my father meet him. I think I see my father in my son and it comforts me. So folks cherish your loved ones, live in the moment with them and make sure you create positive memories that last a lifetime.
And as for trauma, I’m not a victim I’m a survivor, life can be good if you believe it can, anything is possible when you believe.
This blog was written by Michael Byrne who is one of our charities trustees. Click here to read more about him.