It’s really hard for me to share this right now, but…
This article I wrote was originally published anonymously in 2007 in a magazine for sexual violence survivors.
Today I’d like to share it with my name attached for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
»» Trigger Warning!! ««
Uncovering the Memories
Anonymous Natasha Lee
The following is one survivor’s personal journal entry about how lost memories are found again and the pain and healing that comes with uncovering lost memories. The author of this article is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
Where do I begin here? Memories are funny things. We try to hold on to the dear ones and we beg to forget others in order to protect ourselves. More interesting to me are the ones that are suppressed without us even knowing it. Once a memory comes back to you it’s almost impossible to imagine it never being there. But even after you remember you can forget again.
“Once a memory comes back to you it’s almost impossible to imagine it never being there.”
What does the mind protect when it files memories in the subconscious, hidden folders? How many other memories have been lost down there? Are they organized, is there someone watching over them, protecting them? Is it a mess? How do I access memories that have been forgotten? What triggers a memory? Baby shampoo, Mister Big Bird, Cherry Lifesavers, the color yellow, on all fours, “that feels good”, “let’s play a game”…
It’s fragmented, confusing, but these things trigger a fear inside of my spirit. I can’t even see the minor differences in the pieces to put this puzzle back together. How long did the abuse go on? How many generations did it go back? How many times did he stop himself before he finally gave in to the urge? How many other children did he abuse? What would life be like for me if he never gave in to the urge? What if he said no?
Right now I can’t even find the courage to write down what I remembered. It’s locked up, no communication with the outside world. No way to say it without making it sound as bad as it was. Who wants to admit things like that to themselves?
“As much as it hurts to know what happened, I’m glad I remembered so I can begin to file these things myself and do the work to heal instead of hiding it all under my bed.”
I wish there was a way to just show what the inside looks like. It looks ugly, twisted, black and red; there’s many broken pieces of bone, spirit, heart, glass and child that I’ve been rolling in for so many years the bleeding is extreme. The funny thing is that I can see myself torn like this, but I can’t see the memories that did this to me. Why didn’t I remember this until now? I can’t believe that I forgot. All I had were lost and broken transmissions. I don’t know how I got them but they just confused me. Now I’ve had new pieces brought to the surface. As much as it hurts to know what happened, I’m glad I remembered so I can begin to file these things myself and do the work to heal instead of hiding it all under my bed.
These memories came to me when I was under a lot of stress, my mom started to decline in her cancer treatments. I was staying at her house for a few days and under a tremendous amount of stress, so I had a bath to relax. While I was in the bath I found myself looking at a bottle of baby shampoo. I began to wonder how child abuse begins. I heard a voice say, "It starts with a game." I lean back into the water, and push my body below the surface. A pressure is felt on my chest, not a physical pressure, just a force felt from the inside. A flicker passes me and it wants out of this, it’s frantic. Another part of me says, “This is necessary, let’s go deeper,” and my face goes below the water surface. Darkness begins to surround me and I succumb to whatever led me here.
"Let’s play a game, he says."
I’m three years old again. I’m sitting on the edge of a bed. My hands are clenched nervously on the bed. I can feel the blanket, it’s polyester and it feels synthetic and itchy against my skin. “Let’s play a game,” he says. The wallpaper is yellow, is it peeling? I can see the sun slicing through the dusty air and it shocks the wallpaper bright, in slashes. A torso begins to form and I can see a man’s penis, erect, circumcised and near my face. I look sleepily to the right, try to avoid the situation I’m in. My face is touched by his hand, attempting to lead my gaze towards him, and he says my name impatiently. I turn my head back towards him.
"I want you to touch this." I do.
"I want you to lick this with your tongue." I do.
"Put it in your mouth." I do.
I gag on the taste of salt at the back of my throat.
I am being sucked back. Time stretches and I hear thousands of voices screaming in unison and sound stretches and I am surrounded by water. I can feel it coming, something tries desperately to stop it, but the rush is too strong, they want out, they’ll do anything to get out. This is something that has been hiding for 22 years. A wail escapes my heart and my body is helpless to stop it, no matter how hard I try to silence that pain, the wailing continues. With the sea of tears other memories flood in to join in the escape. I remember being on all fours, anally raped, the threat of death made against my family, “This is our game, this is our secret. If you tell anyone, I’ll cut them up and hide them under your bed.”
"With the sea of tears other memories flood in to join in the escape. I remember being on all fours, anally raped."
Emptiness followed that day, when the memories came back. I stopped eating, but not to starve myself. I stopped eating because the memory unlocked things that I forgot had happened. My present Self had no idea what happened and it made me sick to my stomach every moment knowing that I was used sexually, and not knowing how many times he did it.
Where am I today? I feel lonely, lost, isolated, I feel like a child again, and I’m helpless. I’ve started eating again but I still feel sick when my mouth is full. I don’t feel like anyone would want to listen to me or the things that happened to me because it’s disgusting— I don’t blame them, but I do hurt from the silence that I’m under. I draw pictures and write to deal with these things. I wait for more memories just so that I can put all of this away and continue on with my life, in happiness. I know it will be hard, but I’m ready for this battle. I’m putting my warrior armor on this time. The past will not defeat me anymore.
Note: The above pastel drawings were created by me recently after I was triggered when I ran into this article completely by chance through a google search. These are things that I remember my abuser saying to me.
My brave friend…who inspires me everyday.