There was once a little girl who had a special friend she liked to spend time with. One night when she was spending the night with her friend the girl found a monster in the night. She awoke in her friend’s room, but her friend wasn’t there. She walked down the hallway and heard strange noises coming from the basement. Walking down into that room, the girl saw her friend and her friend’s father. Her friend’s father was doing something the girl didn’t understand to her friend, but it didn’t look like her friend liked it. And it didn’t look like something any grown up should be doing to a child. So the girl ran across the room and yelled at the man to stop. The man turned to look at the girl and stared. He said “I am a man of God. If this was wrong then God would strike me down.” He was quiet for a moment then he pointed at the girl. “If you tell anyone I’ll hurt your brothers. You have to do what I tell you from now on.” And that was when the girl understood that monsters hide behind familiar faces.
When I decided to start blogging about what I can remember about my childhood trauma I decided to use a narrative method. It allows me to talk about what happened and how it felt without fully pouring into that madness. There are huge chunks in my memory from around the ages of 7-10 and I’m guessing that’s when the abuse happened, but the truth is I just can’t remember. It’s funny what the human mind will do to protect itself. In my case I forgot. I learned to ignore things that didn’t make sense because looking at things too closely would tear down those walls my mind put up. Forgetting worked for over twenty years, and then things started coming back. Small things came to me: I remembered I inexplicably stopped talking to my friend in middle school and never got into another conversation with her until the night we were leaving high school. I started having dreams about that house. I started to notice things I had done since childhood – never leaving my bedroom door closed, sleepwalking, and always keeping my finger nails long enough to scratch if need be. Looking at these things now they all speak the same language: possible escape. If they door was open I might be able to get away. Sleepwalking got me out without me even being aware of it. And those fingernails could be quite effective in warning someone off.
There was a counselor I was working with that I was going to talk to about the trauma once my cancer surgery was done. But. He died unexpectedly and I feel like I’m dangling in the wind now. It is HARD to find someone to open up to about this. This is not fun to talk about. It hurts to write about it. But I don’t want to be a victim to that man of God anymore. He has no power over me. And so I’m going to write. Until I can find another counselor who I feel safe with and won’t make my trauma worse, I will write. Because this anger/grief/shame/not-feeling-safe needs an outlet. Writing about this feels like talking about the ghost of my childhood. I don’t know if I tried to talk to anyone about it when I was a child, but I do know I escaped into books. Words helped me to survive then and they will now.