The Body Remembers

Grief has its way of making itself known.

Sonia Billadeau April 07, 2014
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It’s an incredible thing, the way your body remembers things that you thought you had forgotten. You’ll hear a lyric on the radio, and suddenly you are transported to another time, a memory reflecting in the walls of your mind. Sometimes it’s a smell, or a texture. Occasionally the memory can surprise you. Other times it can be more predictable, because it’s a date, something you know is coming– a birthday, an anniversary.

This year, my son turned ten. I expected his birthday to be hardest, and I prepped myself for the emotional onslaught that is usually attached with the day. However, the day came and went with little notice for me. I celebrated him in my own ways, as I always do, and I still felt that deep sense of loss that I usually do, but it just wasn’t as traumatic for me as it normally is. I felt as though this was possibly a step forward for me, showing that I had grown in the last few years.

But then Saturday night came, and I found myself remembering every tiny little thing. This year my body would throw me back, ten years prior, so I could remember and almost relive the night before I relinquished my parental rights.

In years past, I’ve had experiences with my body reliving physical pain associated with the adoption. Usually in May, I get unending, horrid heartburn, something that most would write off, but while I was pregnant with my son, I endured painful heartburn, all the way to the very end of the pregnancy. I wake up the moment he is born, if I’m not already awake.  My body feels heavier, and more exhausted during the month of his birth, and suddenly, a couple days after June 1st, it lifts. As if nothing had ever been there. The headaches, the muscle pains, the insomnia- all of it becomes non-existent.

This year, I was awake all night. Like I was the night before relinquishment. Each passing moment mirrored the minutes I had clung to ten years prior, as they so quickly slipped away from me. My desire to return to the place where all of this took place was strong, but I didn’t. I let the memories flow as freely as I could, and relished the knowledge that eventually, these memories would find their way back to their enclosed places in my heart.

I thought for years that there was something wrong with me for having these experiences. It wasn’t until I was in therapy, years later, that I was told that sometimes the body remembers things we cannot with our mind. Trauma, I was told, has it’s way of finding it’s way to live in our physical being, and eventually, it’ll show itself in some form. This was when I learned to stop fighting the aches and pains, both emotionally, and physically, and embrace what my body was trying to say to me.

It’s sort of comforting to know that even as time passes, there are memories locked in my body, ones that I’ll only remember when something specific clicks with them. I can’t help but wonder what will unlock itself when my son and I are reunited.

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Sonia Billadeau


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