Photo Memories

Maybe because I'm trying to limit my time on Facebook, I don't get those "Facebook Memories" reminders in my feed anymore. But I do get memories of 1 year ago, 2 years ago, 3 years ago, and so on from my Google Photos. 

March and April have been...interesting. 

When I was having a difficult time in March with my anxiety, a coworker asked, "do you have any weird anniversaries around this time?" and I thought...well, yes. 

My photo memories had insane montages of my eye from March 2017, all red and scary looking from the scleritis that I had to travel in a blizzard to get diagnosed after spending Bryce's birthday in the emergency room. There's a scary eye progression, and then I start getting into the Prednisone Days. 

April is worse, though -- April has pictures of my coloring that I did while trying to get out of a 5-day fight-or-flight response as a result of the high levels of prednisone I had to take to keep from permanently damaging my eye, more gross eye pictures, one-dilated-eye pictures, and memories of having a mental health crisis combined with needing to go to the emergency room because my blood pressure was through the roof and my symptoms were mimicking a heart attack. 

What brought all this on? Stress. The root cause of the autoimmune attack on my eye and then the difficult medication and resulting side effects was a culmination of the stress of the 8 years we spent trying to have a family (and failing every which way), a culmination of trying to appear normal on the outside while I was howling on the inside with every loss and reminder of what was just not materializing, of what had already been lost. The cost became way too much, and I needed to land myself in an ER and in a car being driven home from school because I wasn't fit for public consumption before I recognized that. I needed to see Bryce crying in a chair at the emergency room while my blood pressure was something like 189/125 and they were drawing blood to test for heart attack enzymes. 

That was the ENOUGH moment. And I don't have photographic evidence of all of it, but I have enough that it startles me and brings me back to that time, four years ago. 

WOW. Four. Years. Ago. 

While that was insanely hard, and I let go of our dream of parenthood kicking and screaming, I am now so glad that we ended what was clearly no longer healthy. I am so grateful for my life, as it is now. I am even grateful for my hysterectomy two years ago, because it felt like an exorcism, a final closing of the broken door, and it finally gave me some answers to why I couldn't get and stay pregnant. 

It's good to be reminded of what I've been through, and to honor all the work it's taken to get where I am today. It does make me sad, and I had a real weird dream last night where we were possibly adopting a baby and then chose to adopt a 12 year old instead because we already had a twin bed and dresser (which is a) bizarre and b) unrealistic and c) WHY IS MY MIND BRINGING ME BACK TO THAT PLACE AND THEN MAKING IT ABOUT CONVENIENCE???), which I'm sure is related to my subconscious knowing that these anniversaries exist. 

I am not looking forward to the photo memories of May, that include the dismantling of a nursery, the packed-up-pile of baby things by the door for donation, the realization that it's been four years since we made that final decision, irrevocably disassembled our dream. But then there's the redesigning of my office-once-nursery, and the oatmeal couches we bought because we don't have kids, and the California Honeymoon trip we took that August. Those are happy memories. 

It's amazing how a photo can bring you right to a moment of time, and how that memory can become visceral. But it's also wonderful how the sting is so much less now that I am farther away from those raw times. Thank goodness for the hard work of healing. 

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  1. Photos are so powerful. Mine are all in storage. I look forward to seeing them again. However, when I ended my marriage, I went around our apartment and threw all of our pictures in a shoebox. That shoebox is also in storage. Not sure when I will revisit that. I'm thankful we had fun and happy times, but I'm sure it'll bring up various feelings if/when I open that box.

    I think you can turn off the google photos reminder feature if you want. I've only had google photos for a couple of years, so all I am reminded of is meals I've had and quilts I've made. Pretty benign and I'm okay with that.

    I'm abiding with you. (I hope I used that word correctly.) March 2015 is when I stopped pursuing motherhood and April 2018 is when my divorce was legally finalized. Tough months for sure. <3

    1. You did use it correctly! (Abiding, I mean.) Thank you. I don't think I want to turn it off, because it's not a bad thing to see how far we've come. Unlike Facebook Memories, I have to click on the notification to see anything, so I don't get smacked in the face with a 2-by-4 of grief without warning.
      I had a box (probably still have a tub somewhere in the attic) of photos from my first marriage. It's one of those weird things that happens when you get divorced -- what the hell do you do with all the evidence of a life that no longer exists? My wedding and honeymoon photos were especially weird. The infertility stuff is in a different box, that has been whittled away over the four years, and now just has the things I want to keep. But again, in the attic, where it can't jump-scare me.

      I'm sorry March and April are rough for you, too. So many endings, so many beginnings.

    2. My university roommate has been married three times (and is currently living with prospective Husband #4)... she had her only child with Husband #3 (he's now in his 20s). I sometimes wonder what, if anything, she's told him about Husbands #1 & #2 and what she's done with her past wedding photos!

  2. I remember how scary it was when all your health issues were happening. I remain happy that you moved through/past it, but sometimes memories do feel more present and vivid. Some extra self care may then be called for.

    I know that at certain times of the year, I feel more open and vulnerable. It’s not necessarily bad; I just feel a lot closer to the past and a lot more likely to be sensitive and reactive to things in the present. I’ve slowly learned to accept it and even treat it as a is after all a privilege to have a history and to remember it.

    1. Extra self care for sure! I am definitely being kind to myself and honoring when I'm super tired. Which I attribute to pollen, but also body grief, you know? The body just knows when there's a history of sadness. I so agree with you and love this statement: "It is after all a privilege to have a history adn to remember it." Thank you for that!

  3. Wow, to relieve this season from 4 years ago with you. A visceral reaction, for sure. I read your post in conjunction with Mali's ( and see just how much healing has taken place since your moment of resolve.

    1. That was such a terrible time. I didn't know what the heck was going on, and the support of this community kept me sane as I wasn't ready to share things with rest of the world (and never did share some of it, apparently my school breakdown was pretty well kept under wraps).
      I LOVED MALI'S POST! I read it after I wrote this one, and was like, how perfect. Thanks for linking it here!

  4. I think these reminders would be very hard to live through. But I'm glad that they also show such growth, and are testament to your survival skills, and the wonderful way you have embraced your No Kidding life. I'm in awe of you, Jess, because four years on I don't think I was in such a good space.

    Roll on the happy memories. I figure it's a way of travelling when we can't travel.

  5. Is that really four years ago?? You really have come such a long way since then, Jess -- I agree with Mali above; I don't think I was in such a good place after just four years myself! Sending (((hugs))) & good vibes for May!

  6. Wow you have come so far in four years!

    Maybe you and Bryce need to plan a trip or something really fun in May so that you can start having some amazing memories in that month too. A trip would probably be hard with school though...