Caravaggio by Simon Vouet
Today I had therapy, which got me out of my apartment, which was good. I am going a little stir-crazy. I started getting emotional just driving there, though. Last week, I brought up a gigantic hole in my past and my memory. About the farthest back I can remember in the "my parents were awful" saga is my parents arguing loudly in their bedroom about me. I knew it was about me because their bedroom was across from mine and I could hear my name. When I was in junior high, a neighbor who had some heart-to-hearts with my mom about me told me that my mom had argued with my dad about how he was treating me, and even threatened to leave him if he didn't stop. The thing is, I don't remember what my dad was doing to me before or during the arguing. I don't remember any verbal or physical abuse. I remember my dad being very affectionate towards me. I remember both idolizing and being terrified of my dad, but I don't remember why I was terrified of him when I don't remember any violence from back then. The violence seemed to start after the arguing.
Whatever it was, my mom seemed to accept the abuse going forward, the abuse I do remember. Their arguments stopped, and the yelling, death threats, and hitting started. I really don't remember it happening before that. I thought maybe it started after my brother was born. I know my relationship with my dad changed dramatically, and that I never had much of a relationship with my mom. She didn't seem to bond with me. She was not affectionate with me. I tried to get her attention when I was a kid, and that seemed to annoy her. I felt like more than anything she just wanted me to go away.
I am afraid of sleep. The nightmares I have, there is this crushing fear of someone coming into my room and doing something to me while I'm sleeping. I feel totally vulnerable at night. When I was a kid, I dealt with it by keeping my room extremely messy. I am a very neat, orderly person. I like having everything put away, everything in it's place. It kind of drives me crazy when something isn't where it should be. I felt the same way when I was a kid, yet my room was such a mess that you couldn't walk through my room. I had to sneak through on my toes to avoid stepping on something, even though I hated that because I might break something I liked. Why was it so messy? I totally know why. If someone came into my room at night, I would hear them tripping and stepping on things and I would wake up. It was a warning system. Or they wouldn't come in at all because it would be too hard to sneak in without someone hearing. Me or someone else. The real question is, WHY WAS I AFRAID OF SOMEONE COMING IN MY ROOM AT NIGHT AND DOING SOMETHING TO ME???
There is a Doctor Who episode (actually a 2-parter in Season 3 of the new series- "Human Nature" and "Family of Blood") where the Doctor hides himself from aliens that are pursuing him by making himself human. That way, the aliens can't detect him and he can protect himself. He puts who he really is in a pocket watch, and charms the watch so that it looks like nothing special to him and, without knowing why, he thinks it doesn't work and doesn't bother opening it. He keeps the watch with him, though, and when he does eventually open it at the right time, the knowledge of who he is comes back to him and he's the Doctor again. In the meantime, he thinks he's human with a regular human life. He dreams about who he is though, but thinks it's just his imagination. When confronted by his assistant with what the watch really holds, he resists opening it. He wants a regular human life. He wants to get married, have children, and grow old peacefully, even if it's not his real life. Even if his past remains a mystery. Even if he never knows who he really is.
Your mind doesn't need magic to keep something hidden from you that's there all along, if it's so horrible and terrifying that you can't deal with it at the time. I may never totally remember what happened to me when I was so young. I do know that all the little questions that blended into the background are now too obvious to ignore. So many little things, so many feelings that didn't quite fit before. How I felt disgusted and ashamed when my dad would do something affectionate towards me, like pat me on the knee or squeeze my shoulders. Why I was so good at dissociating (floating out of my body so I didn't feel what was happening to me) before my great-uncle had even sexually abused me. My mom insisting that she stayed with my dad to protect us when she was at the same time turning a blind eye to him verbally and physically abusing me. How she treated me like a rival for my dad's attention, and how I got the feeling she blamed me for the problems in their marriage. How I sometimes slept in the closet or woke up early, before dawn, and hid in the backyard. The way that they treated me, like I was dirty and damaged. Like I was a liar. Untrustworthy, when I was too young to even question them, to think that they were anything but perfect. The way I felt so ashamed and disgusted with myself. How I feared for my life when my dad was violent, but when he was affectionate towards me it was almost worse. Why my mom was so upset when my brother moved back in with my dad after she had left him. What my dad did to my brother before he killed himself.
I was raised to not believe my own reality. I was told that what I was experiencing was something else. I learned to not trust myself. I feel so many things right now- anger, disgust, sadness, fear, horror, confusion, and a little bit of freedom. I feel unburdened to finally acknowledge these questions that have only been able to get out in my nightmares before now. In therapy today I cried until I couldn't breath anymore; I was so stuffy. I still can't, and my temples are throbbing and my eyes burning with tears. But I got through all the intellectualizing, all the logical arguments I was making to myself, assuming that no one would believe me and I didn't think I could believe myself, and got to a point where I believe myself. I believe what I'm feeling, and I believe what I know. I believe what is real. I thought I'd need to convince other people before I could convince myself, but I don't need that anymore. One of the things that devastated me so much about losing my brother is I lost the only person who I felt would always believe me; who knew me. He knew I wasn't a liar. He knew I wasn't a troublemaker; I don't make things up. He knew how loyal and honest I am, and that I would never have caused the things I was held responsible for, that I wanted harmony and love in my family. I cared about our parents and never wanted to think anything bad about them. He thought higher of me than I did myself. No more. I believe myself now, and I'm willing to take on whatever that means for myself. Whatever it is, it's reality.
A week ago, when I first brought this up to my therapist I tried to backtrack and wondered to her why I even needed to think about this. I remember lots of abuse, obviously I was severely abused without even remembering this part of my life. What is the point of bringing up more? As soon as I said it, I realized how ridiculous that was. This is my life, my history. This is part of who I am. I deserve to remember my own life. Today she asked me if I was afraid to delve into this whole other level of abuse, not knowing what this means and how it affects me. Yes, I am afraid. But I really do feel a weight lifted of me, to acknowledge this to myself. I feel like I've given myself something really important- permission to remember and believe what I remember. Permission to think my dad capable of this, despite how it makes him that much more awful and depraved of a person. Permission to think my mom capable of covering this up, of doing such a pitiful job of protecting me and my brother, of being more concerned with her marriage than with me. Of the two of them making a sick bargain that my mom would accept my dad verbally and physically abusing me if he would stop sexually abusing me. Of them working together to convince me that I was the problem. Of my brother being sacrificed to this twisted and corrupt family. That I was the one meant to be sacrificed, and somehow came back from the dead. How fucking crazy and unbelievable it is, and yet, it is.