This post I am writing today, Sunday, June 24, 2012, will be filed in the section of this blog titled
which is included under the tab at the top of this blog I have named
I sit here staring at the blinking tiny cursor line on my computer screen wondering why this memory is so clearly and powerfully capturing my existence today 53 years after this memory began.
I say ‘began’ because it is tied to an entire series of insane abuses mentally ill Mother perpetrated against me until I left home at 18. I know as I begin this memory that the experience that became the origin of this series of terrible abuses was what I could call a ‘Seed Event’. At age 7 there was no possible way I could understand this, any more than I could begin to understand any of the abuse (far too innocuous a word for what Mother did to me and Father allowed to happen) that had happened to me from the instant of my birth.
Before I came to the computer to write this today I had another realization about this Seed Event and about memories of severe early infant-child abuse as a whole. Some memories, I am coming to understand, are what I all this morning ‘Gate Keeper Memories’.
I am aware that beyond the reach of the consciousness I allow myself to have about my 18 years of terrible infant-childhood traumas and abuse lie memories of suffering, terror and horror that probably number in the many thousands. I – on whatever levels this happens – PROTECT myself from recognizing these memories in any other way other than the stimulation of the traces of these memories that lie within my body itself.
To remember these memories that lie BEHIND the Gate Keeper Memories would kill me.
This age-7 Seed Memory (that so many thousands of following abuses could be tracked to) is evidently a Gate Keeper Memory as well. Nowhere on the pages of my childhood stories have I written about this memory before. Yet every day and every night I am haunted by this one. All the way through the horrible months of chemotherapy treatment 5 years ago for my advanced aggressive breast cancer this memory haunted me so that I COULD NOT recline in bed no matter HOW sick I was except at the start of days my body was feeling so near-death. Every time I lie down to sleep this memory haunts me.
And what is worse, I do not allow myself permission to actually remember this memory at all other than for the basic facts that I will relay here and now:
Some weeks after my parents moved out of the in-town (Anchorage, Alaska) apartment to begin their mountain homesteading saga in earnest, Mother was still selling her knock-off-to-Tupperware plastics through home parties. We were now living in the canvas Jamesway hut on the remote mountainside many hours of Jeep-trail driving and mountain-up-trekking way from town.
On this evening Mother had one of her parties, Father was who-knows-where. All four of us children were left at a babysitter’s who lived in this apartment complex we had just recently moved out of.
I was a child, true – but part of my difficulties with this memory concern the fact that there is a ME of many, many ages that is involved with the remembrance of this experience.
Initially here as I write there is a ME that retorts, “How could you have been so blind, so oblivious, so STUPID as to believe you were safe from your Mother just because you had been left in a ‘public’ setting where your Mother was nowhere around? How could you have been so STUPID as to FORGET that under no circumstances EVER were you allowed to (1) be a child or (2) to PLAY?”
This voice inside of me continues, “PLAY? PLAY? Be a child? Believe you were a 7-year-old child that had any human right to EVER PLAY – and PLAY with other children?”
This voice makes me out to possess flaws of felony criminal proportions for breaching these fundamental rules that I KNEW – had known for the 7+ years of my existence – absolutely applied to me!
How dare I have suggested in my thoughts, feelings and actions that I had found a way during these brief hours of reprieve at this babysitter’s house among this group of children — which included my siblings, the sitter’s children and some of the children she was caring for — to be so ‘bad’ as to circumvent my Mother’s laws in her reign of terror against ME?
Simply stated trauma experts report that there is a trauma-related phenomena called the creation of a Flash Bulb Memory at times when the impact of a trauma event begins. These memories are bigger than life itself in my opinion. Certainly in this case the trauma that arose on this quiet and for me-at-the-time pleasant evening created for me one of these infamous Flash Bulb Memories.
I clearly remember being my 7-year-old child self. In the babysitter’s living room her long couch was set across the room to face the apartment’s door, but with enough space behind it for a folding card table to be set up and with room to walk around it.
A bed sheet covered the table. This was our hospital. Inside their were sick and injured patients who were receiving expert care. We had several doctors and nurses, as well.
At one point it was my turn to be sick. I was given a Coca-Cola bottle containing medicine (water) and was bending over with the edge of the sheet in my left hand to lift it to enter the hospital while the bottle, held in my right hand, was nearly raised to my lips for a sip of life-enhancing cure….
When there was a knock on the door. Mother responded to the babysitter’s yell to enter, opened the door and took
One step through the door — I don’t even think it was a FULL STEP IN – when she spotted me with her razor Linda-seeking vision INSTANTLY and IMMEDIATELY as I was in full motion committing the above stated crimes.
Tears well behind my eyes as I write this. I can’t help it. I can’t help that this memory hurts. I can’t help that I committed these crimes at all. I can’t help that it was AT THIS EXACT INSTANT that Mother appeared as the beast she was entering that room with ME as her target.
I can’t help that I remember this memory. I can’t help that I remember the truth about what was actually happening among this group of children of which I was for such a terribly brief, brief time actually a part of. I can’t help that I WAS a child!! I can’t help that Mother’s sick sick sick-beyond-imagining mind saw what SHE saw and responded the way SHE responded.
Right there! RIGHT THERE she flew into one of her horrible bestial rages at me. Which she had been doing without warning since the moment I was born. But she did it RIGHT THERE! Right THERE in front of those children, in front of this woman she had left us with to be cared for. OH I am STILL so far past humiliated and embarrassed and SHOCKED that — well — this Flash Bulb Memory has never left me.
In her twisted-faced-mouth-open screaming and roaring viciously physically assaultive way Mother raced across the room, around the end of the couch, and GRABBED me — and the series of abuses related to this event began – and did not end as long as I was confined to Mother’s realm of terror until I left home at 18.
Part of the problem with this memory is that when it grabs me and drags me into the maelstrom of ‘facts’ that include Mother’s then and continued assaults related to this — which for the reader’s information included her psychotic ‘vision’ that she ACTUALLY saw me drinking out of a BABY BOTTLE when she opened the apartment door — and that I was a ‘damned LIAR’ for trying to assert my truth otherwise — and that the fact I was drinking out of a BABY BOTTLE ‘proved’ that I wanted to be a baby – that I did not want to grow up – (tied to her abuse litany ‘fact’ from when I was 2 that I wanted to not only remain a baby but wanted also to be an only child) – that I was irresponsible as such a person who wanted to remain a baby……..
Well – you cannot IMAGINE!!!
When, as I was going to mention, I return to this memory I have to mentally force myself to shrink in size into the shape I was at 7 years old AS A CHILD. I have so few memories of actually escaping Mother enough to BE a child – ever – that I am often more of a giant when I ‘view’ memories such as these.
To allow myself even now the ‘luxury’ of seeing myself as a skinny, beautiful, precious little innocent child connected to any of my memories does three things: (1) it makes me feel VULNERABLE and defenseless as I was as a child, and (2) and it sets me up against Mother’s so-powerful brainwashing lessons that let me know I had no RIGHT to be a child in the first place — in fact, I had no right to have ever been born at all or to be alive — as the devil’s spawn, and (3) I am ‘guilty’ in this alternate universe (the one I existed in for 18 long years) of daring to know my own truth against the truth that was true because it was MOTHER’S!
Never mind – now – that one of the snaky-spidery-evil-hellacious threads (I would call them strong ropes of immense proportions) tied to this event was the fact that for MANY years following this – if ever as an exhausted child I committed the crime of sleeping too soundly in so relaxed a position as to be on my back with both my arms raised on either side of my head — Mother would wake me out of such a sound slumber by attacking me viciously — grabbing me as she slapped and punched me, dragging me out of my deep, deep sleep, out of my bed – by my hair or my ears or my arms — to BEAT me for WANTING TO BE A BABY.
Such was the caliber of my existence in childhood. Hundreds of my ‘crimes’ were added one by one over the years since my birth to Mother’s abuse litany so that she could assault me and beat me for every single one of them over and over and over again until I was 18.
But THIS memory – and the memory of abuses (such as I will allow myself to know about) – as a Seed Memory, as a Gate Keeper Memory — well, let me say this: I know today that hidden behind this ‘door number whatever it is’ lies horrors to profound, so vast, so overwhelming that I better NEVER punch through the thin parchment paper veneer of this memory to take a look at what lies on the other side of it.
The thing about self-disclosure, about memory retrieval of extreme infant-child abuse horrors is that we know what we know because (I believe) something about our essence (in combinations of our soul, our body, our mind) CHOOSES what we are able to safely remember — and what we are not safely able to remember.
The tissue paper thin veneer of the door that divides one batch of memories from another is very, very fragile IF WE GO KNOCKING!
I occasionally am tempted to punch through this barrier – hoping (falsely hoping) that something on the other side can help me in my healing — perhaps, in the case of this memory, be able to lay down like an ordinary person and actually sleep at night without having to battle my way around the aftereffects of this memory (and so many others).
In fact, though, in truth — I have not been able to even approach this memory to write of it honestly and truthfully. Even now all I can do is this cursory sketch of it.
The full force realization of how HORRIBLE my mother was is more than I can bear. I place another veneer door of thin tissue paper, or at best of a little bit stiffer parchment paper, between what I am able to know about Mother and tolerate (that she was VERY VERY SICK!!). Beyond this I dare not go.
So I work with not seeing a giant of a Linda bending over to lift the sheet, to sip the pretend medicine, who should have known perfectly well that it was not permissible for me to be a playing, happy child out of the range of Mother’s eyesight any more than I was ever allowed to ever be a real human child within Mother’s presence (and she controlled this strictly!)
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