I guess the problem, right now, is not so much having memories, but having my adult mind giving commentary on the things I remember. Part of me approaches it like a logic problem: if this is true, and this is true, then this is the answer. But then I connect with it emotionally, and things start to go haywire.
I’m writing about the memories (in my usual vague fashion) behind the cut.
I remember hiding in a closet, watching my stepfather touch a little girl. I remember the darkness, I remember touching the carpet. There were clothes hanging above me, shoes and toys on the floor. The closet was a safe place to hid, he couldn’t see me, he couldn’t touch me. I abandoned that little girl.
I always thought she was my sister, because my sister is the one he touched. But this memory is from Alaska. And the little girl he was touching… she was big enough that her feet were halfway down the bed when her head was at the top. When we lived in Alaska, my little sister was only a year and a half old. I was four. The two of us were the only little girls in the house.
Sometimes, it’s memories of things I’ve been told that line up together.
My mother has always complained that I’m not very affectionate. She’s told me about the times when I was a baby, and she tried to cuddle me, and I just held myself stiff and wouldn’t snuggle.
Separate from that, she’s talked about how I started sleeping through the night when I was just a few months old. By the time I was six months old, I didn’t take naps any more. But I was a “good” baby, and if she put me in my crib, I would amuse myself, and not cry or complain.
My mother believes in spanking babies who are only a few months old, or at least she did while she was raising children. She was going through a divorce and found out she was pregnant when I was little; I know that she hit us more often when she was in stressful situations when I was older.
Was this when I learned to dissociate?
And sometimes, it is just persistent physical and visual memories.
I remember being in the bathroom and scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing at my… you know. Over and over, trying to wash… something away. I remember there being blood. I remember wondering whether I had started to get my period, and then realizing that it was just temporary blood. I can still see the gold-speckled formica of the bathroom cabinet, the ratty bath mat beside the sliding door of the shower. I remember the little square window, high on the bathroom wall, that looked across to the corner of the neighbors’ roof.
I didn’t start having this memory until after the first time I masturbated, and part of me asked why it didn’t hurt like... why I didn’t bleed like…
Most often, though, it’s just an upwelling of fear, nervousness, tension. I was talking about it with my new therapist last week. Just describing what I felt, emotionally, when I was having anxiety.
I explained that it’s not so much emotions as a sense of tension. Feeling like there are things going on, above my head. Like danger is lurking above me, and can come crashing onto me the second I let down my guard, make a mistake, do something wrong. Loud noises surround me, I feel the air as something comes towards me… and then nothing happens. Over and over, day after day, this happens to me. On a good day, it comes in bursts, and goes away in between. On a bad day, it’s there all the time.
After therapy, my internal voices started to rant. “Why did you say that?” they asked, “You know it’s all lies. Why are you lying?” My only defense was that I hadn’t said anything happened, just described what I was feeling. And I know for sure that’s what I was feeling. “You’re just trying to get sympathy,” the voices rant. “You know what people will think, if you tell them this is going on.” Of course, the voices have no good explanation for why I would make it up, but they’re making it unpleasant for me to talk about it.
Much as I hate this process, I’m very afraid of the alternative. Because I know that if I don’t keep pushing at this, I will go back to not really believing anything happened. Over and over, those voices in my head convince me that I was making everything up, or that I’m making too much of the things that I know for sure happened. They tell me it wasn’t bad, that it wasn’t hard… they berate me for letting anything out, because even if something did happen, I shouldn’t talk about it, and I certainly shouldn’t write about it. Much as I hate remembering, I don’t want to make myself forget again.