Recursion Therapy

I forgot his name this morning. Can you even fucking believe it? It was only for a brief moment — a brief moment where it felt that time had actually stopped — but it had completely vanished. There is a motive to me remembering. If I can recall his face, repeat the syllables of his name softly to myself, it will only make me stronger, more resilient. This routine takes on a similar but slightly altered forms in other aspects of my life. It is supposed to be cathartic, it is supposed to reinforce. Sometimes it does.

I’m trying to steel myself; I know that I will see him again one day. That is inevitable. I met a lovely young couple this past weekend, and when we became friends on social media I saw his stupid mug all over the place. His username almost highlighted on my phone. I felt nauseated. I went to spit out his name, full of vitriol, and it couldn’t be found. It still felt like he’d written it all over my body with indelible ink, yet I couldn’t actually remember what it was.

It is a punishing game I play with myself, recalling parts of what happened in vivid detail, with the intention that it will fortify the synapses in my brain. The point is, if I can make the memories seem distant, maybe the moment I am once again face to face with him will be less devastating. If I can carve out a chasm between the event and me, perhaps I can also file down the sharp points of the talons these memories have sunk into my psyche. This is my albatross, filling me with an agony trifecta of anger, guilt, and shame. It is so heavy around my neck that I’ll do almost anything to cut it loose.

I searched for his name, and when it wouldn’t come, it felt like the ground beneath me gave way. The strength of my pain had somehow given me something to stand on, without that one thing I felt completely off balance. What did it mean, that I couldn’t remember? Did it mean I wasn’t truly suffering? Or did it mean that I had reached a new level of recovery? Two very opposing ideas, and neither one felt right. When you spend weeks defining yourself by an experience, the idea of moving forward or backwards from it is terrifying. All of the new foundations I had built existed solely inside the trauma. I hadn’t given myself a way out yet, a way to actually move on, and I certainly did not want to shift into reverse. I was content to just exist here, gaining strength, until I felt it was time to push forth.

Recovery is not linear, and I don’t get to just decide when it’s time to pro/regress. I can’t choose what I feel, but I can absolutely control what I do with those emotions. I did eventually remember his name, and this time, instead of adding brick to the walls of my fortress, I used the strength to manifest a door. Now I just have to summon the courage to walk through it.

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