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  • Writer's pictureAimee Murphy

Frozen, a short prose piece

They say that when a trauma occurs, it’s like a part of you gets stuck, remains frozen

in that moment. I spent six months doing Eye-Movement Desensitization and

Reprocessing so I could heal from a pile of traumas I still can’t fully put into words.

The risk of dissociation at certain triggers (like Nissans and certain scents) was

incalculably high, but the full-blown panic that I’d spring into otherwise is palpable

just thinking about it. I was asked to assess “the pain level”. The symptoms started at

a 9: I’d start tearing up and I’d feel my face tingle a little and my heart would start

skipping beats and racing as the lump in my throat would get so big I could hardly

breathe. So then we began treatment. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth,

my mind running through what happened that cold month (the worst month), that

stupid holiday (the worst day), that cruel instant (a moment that still haunts me). And

then I’m digging up the blame and the shame and the alienation and the loneliness.

And then I’m telling her, “it’s not your fault. You did what you could. He took

advantage of your kindness. He took advantage of you. Your response to it was to do

what you needed to survive. But that survival response isn’t serving us now. You can

stop now. You can rest now. We’re safe now.” By the time I was done with the EMDR

sessions, the symptoms were reduced to a 3 or 4. Weird science made massive

progress. At the end, I closed my eyes and I meditated and imagined myself hugging

her and I said aloud, “the frozen little one has caught up to the rest of me.”


Now I’m twice as old as I was when The Haunting Moment from The Worst Day in The

Worst Month happened. The anniversary punched me in the gut and laid me out for a

week. Remembering what came after is sometimes the worst part. Because even

though he threatened to kill me if I didn’t have an abortion, I’ll never really know

whether or not I’d been pregnant. I know now that I have a gene mutation that can

cause miscarriage, if left untreated. So it’s entirely possible I miscarried then... But

now I’m in my thirties and I’ve been trying to have a baby with my husband for almost

9 years now, but we both have the damned MTHFR mutations (yes, I definitely call

them “M*th*rF****r”). Doctors say that perhaps not even IVF would work (that being

said, IVF is off the table for us anyway: ethical concerns about commoditizing children

and then of course the whole “being Catholic” thing is there, too). So then we’re

praying and mulling on embryo adoption. “Snowflake babies” was the term of choice

back in the era of W. And I think about you: thousands and thousands and thousands

of tiny, defenseless humans, stuck in freezers, at risk of dying any moment if the

power goes out. (F*ck. It just occurred to me: I wonder how many of you died during

the power outages in Texas and Louisiana this week. Ugh.) You’re too small and too

young and too defenseless to even know what’s going on, but nonetheless you are members of our human family. But your most immediate family perhaps “didn’t want

any more babies.” Maybe they decided they were “done having kids,” even though

you were there, already existing, waiting for them. Not a “potential human”, a tiny

human whose life has huge potential.


But still, you’re stuck there, frozen in that moment. Literally. All of what you’re going

through is a pile of trauma you may never be able to put into words. It occurs to me

that I might be the same age as some of you — conceived around the same time, that

is. But I was given a chance to grow and have a family and a home, to struggle and

survive, and live and thrive—! You’re alive, but… stuck... arrested development

(literally) at just around 4-14 days past conception, frozen in time. You’re not yet

grown enough to know what it feels like to have a heart that could skip beats. You

don’t even have a throat yet for lumps to get stuck in. And maybe it sounds cruel, but I

want you to have the chance to experience these things. I want you to be able to grow

and struggle and survive and be cared for and have a home and a family…! And then I

think, “Could it be our family? Could it be our home?” And I go back and forth, back

and forth, back and forth, my mind running through what it could take and what it

could mean for us to adopt you — at least one of you. I think about what it would mean

to prepare for you (it’d be a month filled with anticipation), and bring you home in my

womb (it would be a truly joyous day), and cherish any time that we’d get with you

(those moments would be precious to us, no matter how long your life). And then I’m

trying to dig up the courage and the boldness I’d need to even try. And then I’m telling

myself, “Sure it’s not your fault they’re there. But it’s not their fault either. And they

deserve care, a home, a family. Babies don’t belong in freezers. Take advantage of this

time you have now, while you’re young enough. You can help them to survive. You can

serve their needs. It’s no time to rest now, because they’re not safe yet.” By the time

I’m done mulling it over again and again (and again), I want to adopt 3 or 4 of you

“snowflakes” right this instant. Still, I roll my eyes at all of this “scientific progress”:

it’s brought us more dehumanization: only, more high-tech! At the end, I close my

eyes and imagine myself hugging you, and I wish aloud, Little Frozen One, that I could

catch you up in my arms.

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