The great thing about working nights is that you have long stretches of silence to reflect and think. I find I really need this. Don’t you? During these silences I have found myself making a mental list of experiences and events that I think have shaped the person I am today. The following is one of those.
My parents were high school sweethearts and married when my Mom was 16 and my Dad was 17. I was born 13 months after they were married. Because they were so young and Mom was still in school, I was cared for by several family members and friends of the family. When I was two years old I stayed with B, S and their son D.
The first thing that comes to mind is all the love. In the early morning I remember being swaddled in a zip up blanket and lain in the back seat of the car. The cold crisp air out side and the toasty warm interior of the car. This is my memory of complete trust.
Saying they spoiled me would be putting it lightly. I liked S so much I called her Mama, much to the dismay of my mother. I remember lots of delicious baked treats, especially brownies. S would stand and watch me as I reenacted the Tickle Deodorant commercial over and over in the bathroom mirror laughing each time.
They kept rabbits in a hutch in the back yard, bringing one into the house occasionally for me to follow around the house as it hopped and scampered.
I did not see much of B. I am assuming this was because he was working during the day but when he was there I was “His Girl”.
The crucial player in this whole story was D. I just remember thinking of him as a BIG BOY. He was only in second or third grade, 7 or 8. In my mind’s eye he was more like 10-12. I am told he had behavioral problems, but I do not remember this. I can not see his face or hear his voice but I do see his dark hair and his towering height. On the surface of my mind there is no anxiety or angst, fear or anger but that would not tell the whole story.
I can not remember my age but I was still living at home. I think I was a freshman in college. Mom said that D had died when he was hit by a car while riding a 3 wheeler in the fog. All hell broke loose inside me. If you had asked me his name I would not have been able to tell you but somehow just hearing his name and knowing she was speaking about S and B’s son was enough to open the flood gates.
I had never felt out of control before this. I screamed, stomped my feet, and tore at my hair as tears ran down my face. “I will not go to his funeral and you can not make me!!!!” I remember running into my parent’s room, slamming the door and locking it. When I was finally able to calm myself all I could think was, “I need help.” No one in my family had ever sought psychiatric help before so I was blazing a new trail.
I asked around and found a counselor that worked with several of the families in our church including our pastor’s family. I would have to pay $15 a session plus the gas back and forth to Smyrna. This in and of itself was a hardship for me at the time. I never would have been able to do it without the scholarship I received. $80 a session would have been completely beyond me. I wish that I knew who helped me pay for my therapy. They saved my life.
I remember sitting in the car outside the office, wanting to throw up. I was clammy all over. It felt like someone had thrown cold water on me. I thought I would pass out. Some how I made it into the chair in my therapist’s office. I think it was the hardest thing I have ever done.
Due to the reactions I have received from family I rarely share this information. Some doubt that it actually happened. Others can not possibly understand how this could effect me now when it happened so long ago. What my research tells me is that young children rarely lie about such experiences. Usually what they say happened did. However, because of their young age and lack of a frame of reference to sexuality, things can become jumbled. Also when the acts happen at such a young age it literally becomes part of the child’s model of the world. The younger the child the more devastating to the psyche. If these things did not happen where did all the anger and fear come from? I have a distinct memory of telling my mother but she could not understand me.
I have memory of one event. It is hard to believe that it happened only once and that this is all that happened but it is all I have to go on.
I am running through the living room into the kitchen where S stands behind the bar in front of the stove. Something is cooking. From behind me comes D on my left side. He tells S we are going outside to play. We run out into the sunshine.
The next thing I know I am laying on the warm hood of a car, staring up into the limbs of the tree as they sway and the leaves rustle in the wind. Watching the light shimmer and fade, casting shadows all around me. I vaguely sense someone below me to the left telling me to keep this secret not to tell anyone. For the sake of propriety I will leave out the specific act. In my mind the car is a yellow VW bug. However, my dad says it was a small car but of some other make and model. My emotions are mixed. I am torn between feeling good and knowing it is not right.
Even today with therapy far behind me this situation creeps up on me in the strangest ways. I have always loved and wanted a VW bug. I always said it was my dream car. Hmmm….
At 36 I fell head over heels for rabbits going so far as to have five at once in my house. Hmmm…
When I am super stressed I hear a static sound that very well could be the sound of wind through leaves.
Obviously on some level, at my age I am still trying to come to terms with the complex emotions that are the result of my experiences. The questions that haunt me are “What can’t I remember? What happened to D? Who was abusing him?”