Finding The Missing Pieces

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    A college student's journey to put herself back together
    More pieces April 25th, 2016

    Let’s say that I should be asleep, logically, but was woken up in the middle of the night by more bits and pieces of memory:

    New memories that I recovered:

    -Needing Mom to keep me company after I started worrying that Woundwort from Watership Down was going to come and get me (even listening to my Enya music — I used that at the time as one of many methods of sleeping — did not help). I know that it sounds silly (I’m…not quite sure how old I was. Middle school-ish? Fuck, even saying it aloud is embarrassing) but I do remember that I was just really freaked out by Woundwort from what I saw in a music video for the cartoon. Don’t really know whether I slept on the floor of her room or not, actually. Speaking of which…

    -Mom might have actually been pretty good about the boundaries in regards to the Freddy incident, the incident with C, and the incident with the Reavers. She let me at least sleep on the floor. And she didn’t really seem to approve much of it — she did acknowledge that I should be able to sleep by myself. I think my dad did similar stuff when my brother and I slept in his room while Mom was out on business trips. He let us sleep on this mattress in the back room, similar to when I was at some of my relatives’ (unofficial aunt, uncle and cousins; let’s say that my mom has a bad relationship with her brothers and is in VLC mode at minimum, and my dad has a brother but I only saw him occasionally, although that said, Dad’s brother was a very nice guy) house and I’d be reading my Deltora Quest books (which I also read on the way to dance class and such), just engrossed, horrified and enthralled with the adventures of Lief, Jasmine and Barda. In one of those instances in Dad’s room, I’d read a book of unsolved murder cases that happened to be lying around my Summer S (yeah, real kid-friendly, right? /sarcasm) and not be able to sleep very well because I was afraid of someone breaking into our house or something. That book of unsolved murder cases was, incidentally, how I learned about the Zodiac Killer, so…yeah, I learned about the Zodiac Killer when I was little.

    Like I said, real kid-friendly. /sarcasm

    -Another piece of the tampon incident: Mom might have been a bit frustrated that I couldn’t put it in myself. Not in terms of trying to punish me (unless my mind was trying to shield me from something, she wasn’t trying to hurt me. I actually am not certain of how much of the helping she did. Hopefully that will become clearer as I work on the damage). In terms of the first one I remember (because there’s one with a teacher that is like a black hole in my memory), my mom might have been saying something, but it’s like the audio in there is muffled and unintelligible, same with the cleaning memory. I also remember that with the cleaning memory — it was like I actually chose to forget it. Shove it away, act like nothing happened. Like nothing was wrong. But it still kind of kept lurking in the back of my head, very subtly.

    -Better times, like watching movies on the old boat we had (that got sold recently). Going swimming. Drawing in shaving cream at that old pre-K that I went to. Playing in the sink with sponges — at least I have a fuzzy image of it.


    I guess the weird thing of it is that there were definitely some wonderful, beautiful times woven in with things that are…well, questionable. And that I’m still putting together. My mom, who’s a suspect at most, doesn’t really fit the pattern, so to speak, of the sexually abusive mothers I’ve read about. And my dad, also a suspect, doesn’t really fit the pattern either, I don’t think. But my mom especially — the thing that kind of gets things fucked up a little is that she isn’t narcissistic, sadistic, anything like that. She was in my corner when I needed her, very encouraging of my talents as a writer, things like that. I honestly don’t want to have turned out to have been sexually abused. It’s too horrible to wrap my mind around. It’s too big. And I guess there are times when I’m wondering if I should feel guilty for being uncertain. It reminds me of one line that Mina says in the Francis Ford Coppola adaptation of Dracula that I watched for a college course: “Perhaps though I try to be good, I am bad.” I know that I do feel like it sometimes. No, even before that, I felt like it. Usually thanks to not being good at following directions, doing something unintentionally hurtful when I was a kid, not agreeing with something, losing my temper, things of that nature. Maybe I can just work on some of the flaws I do know I have to be accountable for, and try and do some deprogrammjng on the “I’m bad” thing. It’s the best I can do.

    More pieces April 22nd, 2016

    -So when I got back from the psychiatrist’s, I took a nap and had a pretty disturbing dream about the apocalypse, and a girl molested and raped by a teacher getting revenge on him.

    -I worked more on the writing exercises in The Courage to Heal, more precisely the “I Remember/I Don’t Remember” part and…well, I might as well copy and paste what I’ve got (can’t use real names, though, so I’m changing that):

    I remember generally having a happy childhood. I remember some of the stuff on the tapes, really, where I was running around laughing and happy. I remember playing dress-up. I remember writing a lot. I remember messing around on the computer in the back room. I remember that school was actually the hardest thing for me, although I do wonder if I might have maximized the impact that Mrs. T’s stuff had on me. I remember watching movies in S. I remember that I watched movies at home. I remember that Ms. H was very nice to me. I remember a lot of my drawings, none of which really had genital elements or called up stuff of sexual abuse. I remember that I used to pretend a lot. I remember that I used to hate my name because I usually associated it with me getting in trouble/getting picked on. I remember feeling like a doormat in elementary school and Summer S, even missing out on certain opportunities because of it. I remember sleeping on the floor of my mom’s room when I was a teenager because I was scared of Freddy Krueger, Reavers, C coming to my house to hurt me, you name it. I remember being occasionally intimidated by how dark it was in Summer S. I remember being into the Goosebumps books, though it was pretty much the ending of “The Girl Who Cried Monster” that I basically said, “I quit.” I remember being moved by the ending of The Ghost Next Door and it helped that I could relate to Hannah — very very well. I remember actually thinking Joselle Stark was supposed to be a role model because I was so ashamed of how timid I really was, even though there seemed to be nothing in the house to suggest such a thing. I remember asking my mom if I might be autistic, and she said no (later I learned that I was on the autistic spectrum and Mom had just denied it because she didn’t want to make me feel like I couldn’t do anything). I remember working with Mrs. R on stuff like the advice column and how people gushed over me. I remember — and after the traumatizing memories of elementary school, this is a fucking relief. Like, holy shit — that there were some teachers who doted on me. I remember falling off the monkeybars and scraping my knee really badly. I remember once, kissing my mom on the mouth (I think I did, at least) and her making a comment that I don’t know was appropriate (though then again, this is probably the matter of my whole “seeing double entendres” thing so who knows).

    I don’t remember second grade. It’s like a giant blank in my mind. I mean, I remember my teacher Mrs. A and how nice she was, but maybe it’s just what was recounted for me. Aunt K says that it’s not really a big deal, but combined with everything else, it’s unsettling. Plus, she’s like, in her fifties. She has more room, so to speak, to forget certain things. I’m 21-going-on-22. I should remember more, at least. Memories may not be video recordings but still…

    I don’t remember what exactly happened with the cleaning/cream memory that set off this madness, which is scary because I swear that as it was happening, it was so vivid and so clear and I could remember Mom’s hands spreading me. I remember the pain. I remember feeling almost like I was torn apart. I mean, I wasn’t being invaded (I don’t think) or digitally raped (I don’t think) but I can remember pain. I also remember feeling like an older kid in the dream — elementary school age? For all intents and purposes, the damn image might as well have been…oh, I just don’t know. Mom basically fondling me. But there was medicine there, wasn’t there? Some sort of ointment? I don’t know. I know that in general, the only assistance Mom gave me in terms of baths was just me washing my hair and that was because I couldn’t do it very well myself. I don’t know if that makes it better, but that’s what I remember. I remember…chronologically (I think) it seemed to happen after I read some stuff in Chicken Soup for the Soul about sexual abuse, etc. Could I have superimposed the events that I read about on my parents? I just don’t know. I have no idea. I just don’t. And considering sometimes the flash varies (I see Dad’s hands, or something like Dad’s hands but more weathered and with skin a shade darker than my Dad’s, but only a shade. Did I superimpose my parents on a complete stranger, or the other way around? I just find it all so weird), I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t remember any weird questions. I think Mom might have been trying to explain something to me, but I don’t know what, exactly. Someone suggested that if I was calm and comfortable and not being asked weird questions, I was probably recalling experiences that weren’t abusive, but then why the horrible pain?



    So yeah. I found another piece. I dredged it up. There it is. I realized the other pair of hands that flickered in the initial flash were more paper-y looking than my Dad’s (my Dad’s are a bit bonier and paler) and that’s when I went, “Hold on a minute.” I guess I can’t chalk it up to The Power of Suggestion either, because I know that there was some element of those hands also in the flash that set it off. If I opened it up a little further, I could definitely see those hands. Problem is, I don’t know anybody in my life who has those hands…hands that don’t even look three-dimensional, just paper-y and flat. Maybe my kid brain couldn’t think of any other image of that than the sort of paper-bag hands? They didn’t look very big either, and I know my dad has some pretty big (not giant, but rather big) hands. Best I can describe the new glimpse of hands I got in my flash were that they were kind of average, not very hairy. So…great. For all intents and purposes, I could have superimposed my parents over a stranger or vice-versa. This just plain sucks.

    I’m also wondering if I might have jumbled up several events into one memory (as this apparently happens), because Mom did say that there was a teacher who helped me out with a tampon when I was…probably young-ish in Summer S (based on what I can remember, it was probably when I was taking swimming classes — I remember that I broke a pair of glasses there, that I was scared of wasps and actually fled to another table to get away from them, that the food there was probably made by Satan, that I was looking forward to when I could stop swimming with the younger kids in the shallow end — stuff like that involved putting your head underwater which I don’t think I was the best at. I also remember, on a more thematically related note, a girl I met on vacation teaching me how to swim to the bottom of a deep pool and me initially freaking out and worrying if I was going to drown. *) and she was actually freaked out by that. She did say that she was worried quite frequently about me possibly being molested. (Not…all the time, just frequently) She also said that she worried about me getting raped by a friend of mine, which is honestly ridiculous just because that friend is very much a gentleman and probably wouldn’t even dream of doing something like that. (Plus, either gender can be a perpetrator, and either gender can be a victim. And that’s the fucking truth)

    I also heard that I got the good-touch-bad-touch talk when I was in pre-K but I can’t remember a thing of it. And I heard it again when I was eight or nine, but I don’t remember that either. I do remember that I got into Greek mythology in fourth grade after watching the Disney version of Hercules,  and that when I had issues sleeping in fourth grade, I actually read just to help me sleep. (I kind of do that now too; I didn’t read much when I was nineteen because I was so overwhelmed by everything else but now I’ve gotten back into it) I also remember my pre-K years and the school I went to, and how it was kind of intimidating but also really comforting in a way. I remember that I met my best friend there. We hit it off, and we didn’t live too far away from each other, so the drive over there was pretty easy. And I can pretty vaguely remember stuff like the Christmas party at my pre-K school, chatting with the individual Santas (at pre-K age I talked a lot about my issues, but at probably four or five, that’s probably normal). I can also remember that from the videos of myself at four and five, I was a generally happy kid. Very bouncy. Had a good sense of humor (I think at one year old judging from home videos, I also had it, just a very silly streak). I also wrote my first story at age four, “The Tale of Little John Miss” (because from what I can recall, I was fascinated by the stories I heard and wanted to write my own. Emphasis on “from what I can recall”). It was pretty fun to write. I don’t know what age I was exactly (might have to double-check) but I remember going as Marie from The Aristocats for Halloween (wow, I actually remember quite a lot when I really think about it! My memory would probably extend at minimum to age four) and being kind of scared by something and nearly (emphasis on nearly; I’m telling it as best I can) falling down the driveway. I also remember from the videos that I watched that at one year old, I was pretty playful, easily excited, had issues with my sleep patterns (the more things change, am I right?), and was a generally sweet kid. A lot of messy hair as well — even when I was born, the doctors said I had a lot of hair. I also remember some videos of me at two or three years old, where I was very cheerful and chatty. (That was when I actually started talking, because at one I was mostly saying a few words, and at two I had to have someone else coach me back into talking — and according to Mom, we got on well, me and this tutor. I could be a defiant kid, but I could also be a friendly one. I guess — and this is something that’s poured into adulthood — I like to see people as generally good. I like to be idealistic about things. Being cynical can lead to moments of humor, but otherwise? Not fun at all)

    As I wrote about the whole my-experiences-with-water bit (and even after all that, I love swimming, which is pretty amazing), I also remembered a bit more about my mom helping me with a tampon when I was…probably a preteen or early teen. Jury’s kind of mixed on that whole thing — some people think helping’s gross, some people don’t. (There was someone else who said that there are circumstances where helping with a tampon can be normal and non-abusive, God bless, with normal being explaining it calmly like a doctor would and it being medical and objective and such. My memory is fuzzy, but I don’t remember a feeling of being pressured into it, like it was my mother’s idea. I remember that tampons fucking sucked, though. Those monstrosities had to be designed by Satan, I just know it, and anyone who designs an alternative to tampons is one of my new heroes. Swear to God.

    So yeah. I got a lot of pieces. Holy shit. I’m at least clearer on my history, even if I don’t know…everything that happened. Best I can do is take care of myself, and keep working on stuff that has to be improved. That’s the best I know.



    *In terms of other bad experiences with water, I remember that when I was six or seven (hey, remembering something when I was seven!) and on vacation with my family and their friends, my brother’s paper cup got swept out to sea and I, probably thinking I was invincible, tried to brave the waves to go and get it — fortunately, one of the friends was wonderful and vigilant and managed to pick me up before I got swept out to sea. The most harm I got was having my dress soaked and a lot of embarrassment. I think that was where my fear of sharks started really kicking into gear, because someone told me, I think, that the sharks could have gotten me. Nothing involving Jaws, just a pretty terrifying childhood experience. Like, if that family friend hadn’t been so vigilant and wonderful, I wouldn’t be here right now. And I know that I used to have recurring nightmares about big waves (one I had this year with a scene from the TV movie Storm of the Century and a giant wave climbing the fence) and tsunamis — one instance was actually really bizarre, because I had a dream about a tsunami when I was a teenager (probably fifteen), and later logged onto my email to hear about an earthquake and tsunami in Chile. That was pretty much how I found out.