Fragmented Memories of Abuse
My very first memory was that something was not right; I was probably 6 or 7 years old. And when I say that my first memory, I don’t think that was the first time I had been abused. That memory has become the collection of fragmented memories of abuse. If I string them together, the picture, still fragmented, is a bleak one.
The fragmented memories of abuse are the only memories that I have. They may be the only memories that I ever have. I know that my parents abused me. I know it with every fiber of my soul. I may not have the memories, the specific details of my abuse, but I know that I was abused.
I was planning how to stay awake that night to tell our father, “No.” We were planning on standing up to him together. I did what I could to protect myself. I woke up again with no clothes on. I went to bed wearing pajamas. I know I did.
Are My Memories Real?
I have a recollection of asking my father why I woke up naked. I don’t know if I did ask him that question or not. I wanted to confront him. I remember that. I tried to blow his whole abusive plan out into the open so that we would be protected. Most likely, I chickened out. But maybe I didn’t.
When I confronted my father, he denied my truth. It was the beginning of what I think of as grooming the victim’s memory. I was young enough to question what I knew and to look at the adults in my life to help me identify the truth. What I got back was not the truth.
But the truth was that I couldn’t trust either of my parents to discern fact from fiction.
Yes, They Are
I do know that my fragmented memories are accurate. I know them to be true within the very soul of my being. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still doubt what I know because I do. It was what I was taught to do, to challenge myself. Doubting myself keeps me from the truth.
I can go on with the fragments that I have, but that isn’t my WHOLE story. It is a PART of my story. The story that I think is even more important than what happened to me is how I lived my life. It is what I did with that.
Only Partially Broken
Combined with the emotional abuse that my mother hurled my way every day, I was a broken child. I recall more of the emotional abuse that I endured, the insults, the put-downs, and the hatred than the sexual abuse.
I guess my brain knew what I could and could not handle. I think if I have memories of those times, it would completely break me. As it stands now, I am only partially broken.
The emotional and verbal abuse was terrible. Don’t get me wrong. The subtle jabs that on the surface may not have seemed “that bad,” but taken in combination with all of the others, it was all abusive.
Living with Fragmented Memories
For me, I was unable to cope with the abuse. When I left home, I had a safe place to go, a warm, dry bed that was mine. I was determined to graduate from high school, a feat that my mother told me time and time again that I would never accomplish. But I did.
During all of that time, I drank. I drank to keep the demons at bay. To keep the darkness on the fringes of mind. To numb and quiet my mind that told me that I was worthless and that I shouldn’t even try. I needed alcohol to live.
It turns out, surprise, surprise, alcohol was making everything worse. The more I put myself in situations that I needed to be someone that I didn’t think I was – intelligent, confident, outgoing, successful, the more I needed to drink to keep doing those things.
Because I didn’t think I could. That is key to my healing. I need to believe in myself, belief in myself, and trust what I know. So much easier to write than to put into action.