I write a lot about why I don’t verbally process- I am much more at home with my keyboard. Typing words into the computer creates a clinical separation between my thoughts and my emotions. Typing keeps me level-headed and calm while I deal with monstrous issues. I feel that I have a gift for being able to take terrible situations and explain them in all their terribleness, while at the same time not forgetting to forgive everyone in the process. However, I only own that these are my descriptions, my recollections, and because of that, they are fallible in the way that all memories are.
However, there are some wounds that are so deep, so dark, so hard to find that we try to forget they’re there. While we’re busy trying to forget our pain, it exponentially multiplies. We tell ourselves that it’s nothing right up until those around us think we’ve suddenly snapped. It’s fine right up until it isn’t.
For instance, I truly believe that the reason I released her name when I did is because I internalized leaving Portland and the body memory shook me awake. It’s been over a year since I’ve had any hope of seeing her face, of telling her the truth, of being able to cry and scream it out so that it would be OVER and we could be at peace again. It shook me up so hardcore that I audibly heard my words letting go of my body and streaming into the flow of my content.
The clinical separation was intact right up until the postmortem. Someone asked me if I thought there were others. I said, “I can’t think about anyone but myself. It absolutely skeeves me out to think that there might have been other little girls. So until I can look at that land mine by itself, I’d like to believe I was her one and only.” In fact, my inner 14-year-old freaked the fuck out, because to believe that there were other little girls in her life at the same time as me would mean that I wasn’t special, it was all about control, and there was never any genuine love between us.
I don’t want to believe that. I want to believe that we would have been perfect for each other if we hadn’t met in that place, in that time, where the age difference mattered. It wasn’t as if the only thing we had in common was lesbianism. She was my favorite singer, my favorite conductor, my favorite person in the entire world because I was so excited about music and choir and anything she could teach me about getting better faster. I read an opera dictionary so that I could converse with her in her jargon. I was extraordinarily precocious, and there was nothing she could throw at me emotionally that I couldn’t catch. We got along on so many levels, which is why it was so easy to gloss over abuse in the first place. We spent a lot of time not talking about what happened, but it didn’t bother me because I didn’t realize that I was being redirected. It might have been an unconscious reaction on her part, but doesn’t render her blameless.
My truth is that not once has she ever told me the truth about my childhood. When I asked to meet with her, she said she couldn’t do it and sent her partner in her stead. When I said anything negative about her, no matter how insignificant, her partner would lose her shit and verbally wrestle me to the ground until I cried Uncle, which by then she’d been doing since I was 19, so she was really fucking good at it. I didn’t want to talk to her. By this time last year, I was ready to throw her off a cliff. It’s a good thing I pray, because there are a lot of cliffs in Portland.
My abuser claimed that I put her on a pedestal and wouldn’t let her fall so that she could just be herself, and she could never even conceive of how much it’s untrue. I know what I know, and have known it for 24 years, and I have loved her anyway. I have been her friend anyway. I’ve given her grace and peace and love and attention because I wanted to, which I never would have been able to do if I’d been bitter about what happened. I have gone through the natural stages of grief for what was stolen from me, and I don’t think it’s unfair to name the thief. I can hold it in my mind at the same time that I love her, and I can’t protect her. But whatever her story is, whatever she has to say in response to anything I’ve written, is all true, too. All emotions are valid. This relationship came to a crashing halt when I laid out how I felt about her, she encouraged me to trust her again by saying that she would like to engage in my process, and slammed the door just as quickly, even though I’d already told her that my nephew was in cardiac distress and not to contact me unless she was in it for the long haul.
I am far enough along in the healing process that I know what I need from her. It is the acceptance of the damage that she caused to my psyche despite the fact that I understand every reason why it happened, and can even empathize.
And in explaining all of this, one of my other friends said, “I think you’re right. I think something in the dynamic with you led her down the wrong path because you were such kindred spirits, anyway.” It makes the story more beautiful than tragic, but at the same time, it’s just a nice thought. It doesn’t necessarily make me feel better, but it does keep me from obsessing over the fact that I might not have been the only one from both my inner child and my inner parent’s point of view.
And at this point, who cares? I tell myself what I want to hear because I don’t have the luxury of feedback. If she has to live with a Google tattoo, she has to know that it’s equally as hard for me wandering around lost, trying to piece together what happened on my own and trying to make sense of something that will never balance out. I will never come back together again in exactly the same way before she came into my life.
It was 1990, and my biggest accomplishment to date was making it into the eighth grade band the beginning of my seventh grade year. My next biggest accomplishment was not getting kicked out of high school for bad grades… which no one could figure out because I’m just. so. smart.