Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Unwanted Rooms

I’m trying to function. I can barely stand to be in my skin.

Jeanine was upset with me for posting what I did yesterday.

You’re going to make my mother cry, she said.

It’s a sad thing, I shrugged.

I can’t believe such horrible things happen, she said.

Look at me. Such horrible things happened to me. It’s about me. My life. Not some global sense horror.

I know, I know, she says before fading away to a safer topic of conversation.

I know it’s almost impossible for her to take in. She cannot imagine. She does not want to imagine. If she does, she has to see the woman she is married to as a small child so afraid she wet her pants- often. She’ll have to realize some of the sadness is irreparable. I will always have it. When she holds me, she will have to realize how I was held against my will.

I need her to imagine. Imagine my fear I’ll never be able to sleep again without wondering, as I close my eyes, what I will see in my dreams. Imagine what it’s like to sit and without control, have what I can only describe, somewhat inaccurately, as flashbacks. My vision isn’t gone, but suddenly, as when I write, I can see the scene as clearly as if it were on a movie screen. As a writer, I have always locked onto the ‘picture’ in my mind and moved through the room to describe each detail for the story I’m writing. This is how my memories have come back to me. Unwanted rooms, unwanted detail. I have to make myself look.

My fear is that she thinks I’m making this up. Sometimes, I wonder if I am.

It is the clarity of my memory that pulls me back from questioning myself. The orange box of Spic an’ Span, the tiny black and white television on top of the cluttered desk. The closet of my father’s clothes, with a line of ties, where I would sit and crouch as deep into the suit pants as I could go. There was no door to close. There was no place to hide in that tiny apartment. It was the best I could do.

Those memories are crystal clear. I know they happened. It is these specifics I count on to keep me from feeling crazy.

It doesn’t start that way, though. Each memory begins with a very hazy image or sensation.

I have vague sense of something in my hand- I know what it feels like but cannot yet see the room, the place. I know it smells like canvas, morning dew. Then I realize there was a camping trip, to a place where the road was washed out in one place and my father drove the car over a small stream. And we pitched tents. Old army tents. I can’t see it all. But I feel myself start to panic. I feel the air leave the room.

I don’t want to remember anymore.

I start to run. I want chaos. I want to rage against Jeanine. I want to kick and scream and fight. Because if I don’t, I start to cry. Uncontrollably. I feel small and wrong and broken and dirty. I’ll never be whole again. It’s a huge, vast emptiness – my hope was ripped away from me.

I was just a child.

I have to function. I have three kids. Beautiful children who are not broken. They are alive and full. They believe in their happiness. I have to function for them.

No, I have to do more than that. I have to heal.

Which means going back to the canvas smell. The sensation in my hand. The terror in my throat.

I know it’s sad to read. If you cannot, then don’t.

I lived through it alone the first time. I was a child.

I have to live through it again. I will do it with or without Jeanine by my side. With or without her understanding.

I want to heal. I have to heal.


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