Read an article, Why can’t I remember my own birth?, at The Register.
So, it’s time to put this rather fun thing down somewhere.
From a very young age I occasionally had a particular nightmare. Sometimes I had a form of it while awake – often when I was feverish with some childhood ill. I called it a “daymare”.
At around 10 or 11 I “got control” of it. I was awake (skipping school and not feeling well and laying in bed) when I had some of the daymare. That day, perhaps because I was old enough or experienced enough with the thing, I found that I could turn it on and off and even play a bit with its intensity. That was quite an experience for me, as it had been very scary for as many years as I could remember (and I had a very good memory of being young – back to 2, at least).
What’s that all got to do with birth memories?
Here is how I described the main part of the daymare at the time: “I’m going through square rollers.”
So, what are “square rollers”?
Well, first, by the age of 10 (and younger), I knew that these nightmare rollers were physically impossible. But “square rollers” was the best I could do for a word. “Square rollers” are like kitchen dough rollers, but not like them.
First, imagine you are lying on a Roller Conveyor. Now, imagine that the rollers are powered. They are moving you along. Head first. Not fast. Now, imagine that you are not simply lying on them, they are above and below you and on your sides. Rolling you along. You have no sense of gravity.
Now, imagine that the round rollers don’t seem to individually move continuously down your body. Instead, they press almost like the corner of a square in to you, pushing you along. As you move relative to them, the corners become the flat sides of the square. That is, you are not pressed by an edge, but instead by a flat surface. Same pressure. Just not as sharp. Then, lower on your body, you feel the corner again. But the flat parts overlap with the corners in some strange way. And the corners are not sharp, like they must be. That part is hard to put in to words. They are sharp, but in a different way than a sharp corner of a square. Duller, but not duller. It’s sort of like when you misinterpret something out of the corner of your eye. That is, if you don’t pay too close attention to a particular corner, it feels sharp. But, if you really take notice of that corner, it just isn’t quite as sharp feeling.
Well, again, at 10 and younger, the only rollers I knew about were kitchen dough rollers. They were the right relative size, but they had some problems:
1) They did not conform to the shape of a body. The nightmare rollers did. For example, I could feel the same pressure from the “corner” of a square roller all across my body, high points and low, and around on the sides.
2) A kitchen roller is too round.
3) If they were square, they would not be able to turn. They were close enough that they would knock against each other. They would need to mesh like gears. But, I knew that such gears would counter-rotate in pairs. These rollers did not.
The rollers were not painful. But there’s no question they were doing some serious squeezing.
By the way, the rollers covered the whole body, head to toe. I could not help wondering how I could breath. But I had no sense of lack of breath.
The daymare had an extra component not in the nightmare: If I had my eyes open, the corner of the room would recede, like I was moving closer to the floor or shrinking or the room was expanding. That was the part I could adjust on that day at year 10 or so. I could move the corner of the room toward me and away. And, I could put the rollers on and take them off, so to speak.
From that day, the nightmares were no longer scary. I had them, but they just didn’t have the power they had had. In fact, they were kind of fun. For several years I’d play with them when I was not feeling well, or when I just felt like it. I could pretty easily do the room-corner thing while feeling the square rollers through my 20’s. After that time, I had kids and could not be sick any more. Now, all of this is a memory of a memory to me.
So, back to the subject of birth memories.
Sometime in my early 20’s I realized that the whole thing was a birth memory. Muscles can feel like the square rollers. And, it’s hard to imagine that one-way trip down the vagina as feeling anything but exactly what the nightmare felt like.
I’d need to search through a lot of old private writings to find out exactly when that realization came to me. I think it was a couple years before (and this is related to some of the text of the Register article), at age 24, I realized that people exist who think in words.
But that’s another story.