I’m currently writing about a particular memory for an assignment at uni, we’re learning about memory. About how deceptive it can be, and in how many ways it can be warped. We also learnt about the magnificence of how it remembers many things that it doesn’t need or can’t possibly keep.
This got me thinking.
As a child I questioned what was happening to me, especially after the first few times when nothing was said to me about this weird sexual contact I’d never experienced before. Maybe I was remembering things wrong, maybe it wasn’t real? I was 5 and I was supposed to be asleep after all, so I stayed silent. There was no one to tell me ‘this is real, this is happening and it isn’t okay’.
In my darkest days, when I truely thought I’d snapped, when I’d thought I had finally ‘gone nuts’, I questioned if everything I thought I knew about what had happened to me was real. I thought I was so mentally ill that this was all a dream. And I’ve never had the guts to say that out loud because I have never even been so sure of who I am and what has happened to me before I’d began the ‘healing journey’.
I thought surely, someone couldn’t possibly have hurt a child that way for so long and for others to not have known, to not have seen a single thing. How could that be?
Maybe my memory made it up, every single memory I have of it, maybe just maybe all those memories were a result of an overreactive imagination, I thought this for the longest time.
It was almost some kind of denial.
How could something so huge happen to me, and for me to still be here?
I almost felt lucky.
I would often look back on myself, on what memories I have, and even now the ones I am slowly re-gaining in confusion, I realise I was detached from myself. As the journey progressed I noticed the clear differences in the two people who I thought ‘she’-the child-self’ and me were. I look back and I realise that I saw the child me and the adult me as two completely seperate people, one a child I barely knew and one an adult I thought I knew.
I’d look down upon this child-self that I had been told I was and think ‘Oh how strong she must have been’ believing that I knew nothing about her and I’d marvel; ‘Oh how incredibly brave and courageous she must have been to survive all that’.
I didn’t see, that she; was me.
I was none of the things she was.
That can’t be me? Right? Am I really all those things?
This self doubt, this complete disassociation from my self, this uncomfortable thought process; is not fun for me, it is not comfortable for me to talk about or feel these issues all the time.
Why would I do this to myself? Why would I deny myself what I knew to be true?
So while I question my memory in my darkest points and I wonder if I am truely crazy?
I would have had to have been completely insane at only 5 years old to make up a story of 6 years of on-going sexual abuse and then to later endure years of very real mental illness, then to write about it for 2 years once I’d grown up. I’d have to be some kind of lunatic to spend my spare time connecting, contacting and replying to messages and comments from other survivors, all while being able to understand the pain of the experience.
My memory knows what he did. I know that I have never been crazy, or a lunatic, I have been mentally unwell. But that is all.
I know what I know, and I know what he deserves. The people left healing these wounds know what happened to them and know who these people are and will spend the rest of their lives using their voices against them.
We know how it feels but we also know how it feels to be the better person. Even if it takes a whole lot of time to realise that we should never have doubted ourselves because it leads no where and to always trust what you know to be true.
Somehow, the man that causes all this grief and confusion, isn’t even in jail, he has never once taken responsibility for his actions.
I have to trust and believe in every single thing that my mind tells me that this man did to me. My memory changes over time, my memory changes conversations I’ve had, it changes clothes I thought I was wearing, it changes things I’ve said in arguments but this, this thing that my memory tells me happened to me has never changed, never faltered, no memory I have of him has anything but sexual abuse and disgust in it.
No lies have ever been told because there are none to tell.
This was what happened to me, and this same thing happens to one in three girls all around the world.
My memory fails me often.
Many of my memories have been taken over by what he did. Creating blank spaces of late night visits, hollow memories of a time I should have been completely present in.
Even though my memory now, fails me at times; I know that it is that way because of the trauma he inflicted on it.
Some memories can not be changed.