The story

Jun. 29th, 2016 01:26 pm
violetcheetah: (Default)
[personal profile] violetcheetah
[trigger warning for child sexual abuse]

Stories are essential; that's probably true for almost everyone, but for me, stories about myself are pieces of me, almost physically, as integral to who I am — or think I am — as my eye color or the birthmark on my ribcage. Even stories I don't remember, stories my told me about things I did when I was two, stories of relatives who did something that simply reminded her of me. But even more than those second-hand tales, I am the stories I remember happening to me. Or that I -think- I remember. The stories aren't the same thing as the memories, not for me; the memories may be fragments of events, blurry emotions, a sound or smell. Now that I am older, I can reason out what must have happened, like those intelligence tests they give kids where there are four pictures and you have to put them in order to tell a story. I have to do that with a lot of my own life — maybe more so than for people who grew up in "normal," not-abusive home — to make the shards of memory make sense, to have a concrete notion of who I am. Hopefully more often than not, I get it mostly right. But I'm never sure; I was told so many times by my family that things I remembered didn't happen, or didn't actually affect me, that even when I build a story on a solid foundation of vivid memories with only the tiniest of gaps, I doubt those immutable stones, even when I've bruised my mind's fists pounding on them.

One of my stories is about what happened with my brother in the junk car in our back yard. Some pieces are in perfect focus. How we played often in the car, how normal it was, how good it felt to play with my idolized big brother, how he let me sit in the driver's seat sometimes, how we often both sat in the back seat while a phantom chauffeur drove us around. The sound of his pants zipper is crystal clear. The mottled alien-ness of what he extracted from the opening. His reverence for that thing, as if it was holy to him. Less clear is the pleading, coaxing, cajoling, threatening; I remember some pieces, but not others. He just wanted me to hold it; I didn't have to do anything else; just put my hand around it; there was nothing wrong with doing it, Joe B.'s daughters did it all the time when he played at their place, and when he told me that, I ached with jealousy because he played there all the time and I couldn't go because I couldn't ride a bike yet and it was too far to walk, and I -wanted- to do what he asked because then maybe he'd stay here and play with me instead of going to play with my classmates, but I couldn't bring myself to.

Also unclear is the timeframe over which his requests expanded, and his justifications, and his threats. I was going to have to sooner or later, he said, because that's what wives did for their husbands, and my husband would be mad if I didn't know how, or if I refused; he'd divorce me. And I'd have to use more than my hand. My mouth. Around it. Not all the way down, just the end. And, he offered, I didn't have to swallow, I could spit it out. I don't remember whether he -said- "just like after you brush your teeth," or if my mind made the analogy based on what what-came-out looked like. I'd have to learn anyway. He wheedled. He always took the door handle off the inside of the one working door and put it in his pocket and I couldn't leave. One day he said that he'd pull down the back of the back seat and put me in the car trunk and no one would think to look for me there and I'd suffocate and die.

But he never made me do anything. In the end, when I didn't do what he wanted, or couldn't bring myself to do it, and the pleas didn't work, and the threats didn't work, and the guilt-trips didn't work, he didn't make me. That's the story. The end. I have nightmares, and flashbacks, of sensations, something in my mouth and throat choking me; I can't use toothpaste, often can't brush my teeth at all; shake for five minutes after a strep-throat swab. But I had a vivid imagination as a child, still do, and just from what I saw, and what he said, I apparently told myself a story of what it -would- feel like, until it was so real it was like it actually happened, and my body doesn't know the difference. That's the story.

There's a gap in the story, though. I've told it for years, to shrinks, to close friends, to myself, and never saw the hole. Not just a hole, but the climactic scene, or the anti-climax, when he lets me go, when he gives up and puts the handle back on the door and opens it and I'm free. The story ends — no, the story stops — in the middle, with the pleas and threats and graphic description… and then there's an epilogue. But I don't remember him letting me go. I don't remember him opening the door. I don't remember leaving. I don't remember anything one way or the other. My story has a huge hole, -I- have a hole, an enormous, vital piece of me missing, and I've never even seen it, not even a black hole that leaves traces, but dark-matter that no scientist in the world has any evidence of. The end of this story did not interact with the matter of my conscious mind; it passed through without leaving anything more than a whisper of a whisper, only hinting that it exists by having left no memory at all upon which to write the conclusion of this story.

It will never be finished. I will never be finished with it.


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Violet Wilson

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