End Notes for chapter 36
from conversation with Ramona today after she read chapter 36 when I was over to her house
BEING FORGOTTEN – being in a state of “forgottenness” –abused infants, the forgotten ones
Ramona noticed that I “reported” the bubble gum story without emotion. That there was no self reflection in it and I asked no questions. There was just “utter acceptance.” I wrote it in the way that comes naturally to me to state my version of what happened.
I know it was all I’d ever known. That life was my reality. That position within the family – or outside of it – was my reality.
Her question: Can I know I was innocent of the individual and specific separate “crimes” of which I was accused and punished, but still believe mother’s overall message which was that I was unquestionably evil?
The answer to that is “yes.” I knew clearly within myself for each individual incident that I was innocent, that I was not lying. But I did not accumulate any body of knowledge about myself as “innocent” along the way. Nothing was CUMULATIVE except mother’s litany.
I remember the letter I went into the HS library to write on a typewriter at lunch time during my senior year – my letter to God stating that I knew I had lived before and done something so evil that I had been condemned to hell without chance of salvation, and that I was only back here on this earth as an agent of the devil’s to do the devil’s work. I believed it fundamentally. I also stuck the letter in my notebook, which of course mother later found. Proof to her that I was evil! How twisted is that? She’s the one that implanted that idea in my mind constantly from birth. She’s the one that reiterated her own belief in its truth when I talked to her when I was 30. Why did I put the letter in my notebook? Did I not know she went through everything I owned whenever she wanted to, and that she would find it? Did I know, and not care?
I think this has something to do with the mind disorganization I suffered then and now…something to do with how I didn’t and do not process time “normally.” It has to do with the separate “bubbles” not being connected to one another in my history – with a lack of cohesiveness and lack of narrational and autobiographical coherency. It had something to do with not knowing mother was nuts. When a new incident occurred, the other old ones were already a part of my “forgotten present” or my “unremembered present.” Peritrauma. Incidents did not build upon one another. Hence my sense of being “surprised” when she next lunged at me or came after me – how I was never prepared and could not protect myself at the same time I was hyperaware and hypervigilant.
The “unrememberable” present is always on the edge, where present becomes the past….altered states of time and sense of time in peritrauma. Events not connected to one another, me not connected to them or them to me – (Like looking at the mountains when you drive away from them and they look like they are falling on top of you – so you never look back. It is an unsettling and awful feeling, makes me queasy in the stomach to watch those mountains falling on top of me, always falling.)
In peritrauma the present is too unbearable and painful to remember. It is experienced in the present as each moment moves into the next one – but it is not truly forgotten.
[ ME remembren, fr. AF remembrer, fr. LL rememorari, fr. L re– + LL memorari to be mindful of, fr. L memor mindful – more at MEMORY]
1: to bring to mind or think of again
2 … b: REMIND
3 a: to keep in mind for attention or consideration b: REWARD
4: to retain in the memory
5: to convey greetings from
6: RECORD, COMMEMORATE
1: to exercise or have the power of memory
2: to have a recollection or remembrance
rememberability, rememberable, rememberer
Why would I remember things that happened to me that were that painful? Why would I be “mindful” of them when I had experienced them from the moment of my birth? It wasn’t that they were unique or unusual. The trauma always happened – just that there were occasional breaks between attacks. They were like the bubbles as I call them. Like beads on a string, each separated by some kind of time, each having happened to some other me – there was no SELF clear enough or strong enough to connect these experiences together as being me or mine.
I think the internal sense that connected me to myself was only the one of being alone. And it is the pain and sadness of that aloneness, that loneliness, that remains to so trouble me today. I don’t know if it is YEARNING. I will look at that a bit later.
But the people who know and love me know about this sadness I carry with me – this aloneness that is past aloneness. It is not something anybody can fix from the outside, and I don’t know yet if it can be fixed from the inside. Thus, the writing of this book looking for that answer and that healing. It feels like the sadness has no end – and I don’t understand how it is connected to “fear” or what they call the “secondary manifestations of fear: anger and rage.” I just feel sad. And Ernie told me he was done because he couldn’t stand to see me this sad. It made him too sad to see me this sad. And even as nuts as our relationship was and his lifestyle is, I know he could not heal this sadness nor this aloneness – even though when I was with him it was absolutely at bay – and that felt so wonderful to me.
I told Ramona, it’s like I need a bodyguard. Someone always close by that watches over me but that doesn’t interfere or intervene in my life, but is there instantly if I need them to be – and can move from background to foreground and back again.
[ME memorie, fr. AF memoire, memorie, fr. L memoria, fr. memor mindful; akin to OE geminor well-known, Gk mermera care, Skt smarati he remembers]
1 a: the power or process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned and retained especially through associative mechanisms g: the store of things learned and retained from an organism’s activity or experience as evidenced by modification of structure or behavior or by recall and recognition
2 a: commemorative remembrance g: the fact or condition of being remembered
3 a: a particular act of recall or recollection b: an image or impression of one that is remembered c: the time within which past events can be or are remembered….
MEMORY applies both to the power of remembering and to what is remembered
I was not present to do the remembering. And there were huge lengths of time that I seemed not to be remembered by anyone else, i.e. left completely alone “while life when on without me.” (isn’t there a song with this line in it?)
- It is so important to me that I MEAN something to me, that he thinks of me, that he misses me, that he keeps my mind in his mind — that he doesn’t forget me.
I used to say that, even in graduate school, that I was like Changing Woman – a different person each and every day that I woke up. As long as I had my children at home I could remember who I was in relation to them. Once they were all gone from home, and not materially present in front of me every day, the shit hit the fan.
I can’t bridge the gap between separation and reunion. Whatever ability my mind should have to hold my loved ones close in my mind, to remember them, to be mindful of them, is missing or distorted. (Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme —- remember me to one who lives there…..) “Remember me out there so that I can stay here among the living.” Make sure that I am well known, known with value and meaning, with importance and cherished. This is all very painful, as I cry my way through writing this down. How can one heal a pain like this that has been a part of me from the day I was born?
FORGET (bef. 12c)
ME, fr. OE forgietan, fr. for– + –gietan (akin to ON geta to get)]
1 a: to lose the remembrance of: be unable to think of or recall b obs: to cease from doing
2: to treat with inattention or disregard
3 a: to disregard intentionally: OVERLOOK b: to give up hope for or expectation of
When nobody attunes with or attends to the mental and emotional state of an infant, perhaps that seems to the infant that they have been forgotten. Maybe they internalize this state of being forgotten into “being forgettable” like “not being able to remember.” Ramona says forget implies consciousness at some point…different from not remembering. I had no consciousness….
Each time my mother hit me, when I look back and say I felt surprised, maybe it was more exactly that I didn’t remember that she had done that to me before. Seems hard to believe this could be possible! That I could FORGET such a thing as the abuse she gave to me….but is that PERITRAUMA?
After all, there were only “brief intermissions” in the abuse…..the state of peritrauma was continual. Forget, as above: to give up hope for or expectation of…..is that the giving up, then? Is it a FORGETTING?
Like remembering is a way to re-member ourselves and others – to keep them “put together” in the real world…over time and in absence…keeping memory alive of someone or something. To be “membered” in the first place, to be formed, one must have someone that remembers them, pays attention, regards them…..or they remain forgotten.
[ME, fr. AF regarder to look back at, regard, fr. re– + garder to guard, look at – more at GUARD]
1: to consider and appraise usually from a particular point of view
2: to pay attention to: take into consideration or account
3 a: to show respect or consideration for b: to hold in high esteem
4: to look at
5 archaic: to relate to
1: to look attentively: GAZE
2: to pay attention: HEED
- To disregard – like not remembering, or like forgetting—- Interesting the word GUARD showing up here just after my thoughts on needing a body guard…
: to pay no attention to: treat as unworthy of regard or notice
syn see NEGLECT
Disregard of the needs of the infant goes deeply to being treated as UNWORTHY. And forgotten.
I told Ramona that not being able to, or choosing not to “be inside” the five year old me of the bubble gum incident is a fear of being overwhelmed and lost in “her” world….
Like falling down a well that has no bottom, and depending on people who love me to have ropes lowered down for me to grab onto on the way down…And how that sentence that came to me at 10 or so, that it’s not humanly possible to be as bad as my mother said I was – was like a platform or a ledge in the well that I fell onto, that saved me.
That sentence kept me from “blacking out” or “blanking out” completely, from disappearing completely (as mother evidently did).
None of the dots were connected…
I see a room full of bubbles floating around in the air – mental representations as fragmented, scattered, not connected to one another or to me, no organization, pattern, order or structure…
I told R that I am not going to arbitrarily assign or attribute feelings to that child I see there – afraid if I truly “went there” to speak of her feelings, I’ll never come back…
Any observer that could be a fly on the wall during that episode (which a reader is, in a way) would have an emotional reaction that would come from INSIDE of them. As a witness…..(tied to my sibs and witness abuse?) There feelings would come from their own inner “body” of emotion – if they saw it, or see it when they read it .. sad, horrible, tragic, horror…how evil mom must have been – that they’d ask questions, “Why her?”
Ramona also noting that I didn’t ask those questions then….and why not?
I told her that the bubble gum memory was the first memory I tried to tell my therapist and Leonard in session…..therapist asked for it….and when I just reported it, they both dissolved into tears and I spent the rest of the session putting them back together again. I never told them another one!
Ramona says I could note to the reader, “How can I ask you to follow me into this story when I can’t go there myself?” This was my accepted reality, programmed into my brain and mind from birth. There was no other.
The reader will ask questions that I could not ask myself as a child…Ramona says question implies some ability to know this wasn’t “right” – wasn’t fair or deserved….I did not have that sense….Ramona says that what is MISSING in the story is significant, that I could not question.
Nothing was normal for me by 5 – no indignation, no rebellion (where was the staging of a personal revolt?) (questioning R says is not the same as wondering) Unlike a child called it…he did feel anger and he did question….anger at sibs, this isn’t fair….cause he had a self…
[ME, fr. AF, fr. L quaestion-, quaestio, fr. quaerere to seek, ask]
1 a (1): an interrogative expression often used to test knowledge (2): an interrogative sentence or clause b: a subject or aspect in dispute or open for discussion: ISSUE; broadly: PROBLEM, MATTER c (1): a subject or point of debate or a proposition to be voted on in a meeting (2): the bringing of such to a vote d: the specific point at issue
2 a: an act or instance of asking: INQUIRY b: INTERROGATION… c: torture as part of an examination d (1): OBJECTION, DISPUTE (2): room for doubt or objection (3): CHANCE, POSSIBILITY
Mother left no room for questions. My “seeking” was on a baseline survival level. Why ask questions when the situation is hopeless? One must be in some position of power or authority to ask questions, I would think….and how would I dare question her? The quest was for survival…..and yet, still, for novelty….i.e. the pattern of “beauty” on the ceiling…
[ME, fr. AF queste, VL *quaesta, fr. L, feminine of quaestus, pp. of quaerere]
1 a: a jury of inquest b: INVESTIGATION
2: an act or instance of seeking: a: PURSUIT, SEARCH b: a chivalrous enterprise in medieval romance usually involving an adventurous journey
1 of a dog a: to search a trail b: BAY
2: to go on a quest
1: to search for
2: to ask for
There was nothing I could ask her for….not even to use the toilet. (Interesting that the root of sense is also to journey)
We forget the present. It is the opposite of the “remembered present” Siegel talks of. It is the “un-remembered” present. Like driving spaced out – stimulus not direct enough…not paying attention in the moment….ignoring things…selective attention…
Wonderment – freedom to wonder. Forbidden opportunity to wonder or question..