Fueled by Half-Memories of Abuse
As a childhood survivor of childhood abuse, there are many things that I still grapple with. One of those is the half-memories. They still bother me. They pull my awareness away from what is currently happening to a long-ago memory. It is but a fragment of a long-ago memory. If I remember, let me remember all of it, not just snippets.
What if I did remember everything? What would I do with it? I do not know. If I am to remember, let it be the entire memory, these pieces, like shadows in my vision’s periphery. Those shadow memories come unbidden. Those visions of shadows, of things that do go bump in the night. The things that I (my mind) locked away to keep me safe.
Now that I think I want to know, even though I don’t know what I would do. Or even if remembering everything is important. Is it really, though? Perhaps that is a reason that I continue to keep those memories on the edge of the shadows.
To Have Memories of Abuse
I stand on the edge between two worlds. One world is the light; the other is the darkness. The place where those memories beckon, whisper to me to remember, but I can’t. Or can I? To have or not to have. To remember or not, it is such a tortuous conundrum, these little snippets.
What are they? A small reward for walking closer to the darkness? Maybe. But do I want that? Do I really? In my case, memories, or lack thereof are how I protected myself and continue to protect myself.
Memories are power, and I have none, or not enough to make a difference. If I don’t remember, no one will believe me. If I don’t remember, then I have no story to tell. With no story, who am I? I am nobody. Or so I used to think.
I am standing on the edge, staring into that twisting, tearing storm. I can feel the pressure of the stillness all around me. The feeling that I am in danger. My brain knows it before I do. We all do before the storm. We feel our nerves vibrating to move, get out of there, board up your house, and leave. I can’t; I am frozen, unable to flee.
Standing there within the stillness of the eye of that storm as it threatens me from every angle. Getting close, but not close enough. I don’t move; I stand, immobile, only staring out in that turmoil. My head tilts to one side as I hear something or have a sudden awareness of what is within that storm. There are things in there that I want to know.
Do I dare walk into that chaos? Do I take on what is in there? And to what outcome do I challenge that darkness? Do I willingly go in there to bring some calmness to that storm? Calming the storm will bring peace to me.
Take a Breath into Memories
I stand, staring for a moment longer. Taking a deep breath, I walk towards that wall of chaotic darkness. I steal myself against what I assume will be a painful step as I move out of the calm center. Who knows what I will find in there, in that darkness? I cannot see much beyond my initial steps, the storm’s dense curtain. What I thought would hurt does not.
The storm breaks for me as I walk through it, looking around with awe. I expected this storm to hurl things at me, to try to break me, but it does not. It is almost welcoming me as I walk, waiting for me to do something. What? I have no idea. It is like the storm is holding its breath to see what I will do next. What that is, I do not know.
Do what I do best, and what I have denied myself my entire life. I will write here amidst the chaos. I will sit and ponder the things that have tormented me while I sat in the calm middle of the storm. As I think about what I will do, everything that I need is there in front of me. Somehow I am not surprised by that.
Opening Up to Memories
It seemed I had to leave the center’s safety to walk into the storm to find what I was looking for. Even if I didn’t know what I was actually searching for. I thought I knew. I thought I was there, in the middle of the storm, to remember the things I had forgotten. I now realize that is not what I am supposed to do.
Those memories that mock me at the fringes of knowing those are not what I need to know. Those memories do not hold the answers to the questions that I have. Those answers are within me. They have always been within me; I didn’t realize it until now.
Here I sit, and I begin the process to figure out why. I dig and dig within myself. I am starting to figure somethings out. Suddenly, I realize that I am not the only one who once sat in the calm center of chaos with fear in their hearts of walking into the storm. They, too, were thinking they were safe, thinking that they should stay in the safety of the center.
The Search for More than Memories
We have learned that entering the storm is something to fear. But that is not true. The storm holds the key to us finding the answers within ourselves. And that makes us very dangerous. When we find what we need within ourselves releases us from the power and control that others hold over us.
Within the chaos is learning and change; neither of those can occur when it is calm. The only result of calmness is stasis, and nothing will ever change. When nothing ever changes, complacency becomes the blanket that we wrap ourselves in. Complacency allows us to forgive the most egregious sins, to ignore things because we are afraid of the chaos, afraid of the storm. We shouldn’t be afraid of the storm. Within the chaos, the strength to seek out and acknowledge those answers when we find them.
Here I sit there writing, within the swirling darkness, and I know that this is where I should be. I avoided this, the chaos, for far too long. For years, I tried to live in the calm center, but it was all false—a false sense of happiness, being content, and being me.
That falseness started the feelings of unease, of not being worthy, because I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I was where I thought I should be. Sitting here, within where I never thought to venture, I realize that this has only just begun.
All of us have different ways of reaching out for help from others who have been through similar experiences. I highly encourage you to reach out for help in the way that you are most comfortable. Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse has a lot of great resources and forums.
I read A LOT of books and listen to as many podcasts as I can. It was while I was listening to Brene Brown’s podcast, Unlocking Us when she spoke with Sonya Renee Taylor. That episode got me thinking about staying in the safe center of the world. Not rocking the boat if you will. Especially for me, who is deathly afraid of water, rocking the boat is not something that one does, especially while in the boat. It was after I listened to the conversation that I wrote this post.