I would move the shoes over so I could have room to sit but I found comfort in the feel of the clothes. I didn’t think anyone would look for me here. As long as I was still when they came, I would be safe. I hoped.
For years I could still hear their whispers as they walked down the hall. Two of them. A memory. No. It was more. It was past and it was present. It lived in a continuum of space.
The whispers. The sound of footsteps. Getting closer and closer. Flight or fight. I freeze.
I keep my eyes closed. My only goal is to survive. I leave the room for a little while. My mind takes me away. I disappear. My body remained and it felt the pain as they took turns unlocking a part of my soul. Unlocking…? No.
Kidnapping. There was no ransom that I could pay.
I was relieved when they left. I was relieved it was over. relieved I was still alive. I didn’t know that it would never be over. That I would die again and again. And again.
After that night, I would sleep in the closet when I was home alone. Sometimes I slept on the floor beside my mom’s bed in a space where I could be hidden. I preferred the closet. But I never really slept. I sleep more now but there are way too many nights when I don’t.
I never told anyone. I didn’t call the police or make a report or go to the hospital. I needed to forget. So I pushed the memory as far into the depths of my brain that I could. The brain can do some amazing things to aid in our survival. It can replace a memory of being raped with that of skipping and flying. And the false memory will seem truer than the reality. Sometimes I can still remember those moments of flying. I skipped then soared into the air, happy and free. There still remains residual sadness when I have to remind myself that I never defied gravity.
I made my brain forget. But the thing is that while the brain can forget. The body remembers. And it can sometimes respond to a subtle touch by evoking strong emotions that don’t align with the present moment. The body will tell the truth even when the brain lies. Because the body remembers. My body remembered. I could barely receive a hug at times without having anxiety and I hated being touched. I long to be touched but the vulnerability that comes along with it can create intense feelings of fear. I don’t mean mere hugs. But the vulnerability that comes along with being truly embraced. The trust it takes to lay my head on someone or let someone comfort me. What if they hurt me? Some risks are worth taking. Because it is through trusting and being vulnerable that I can heal some of those wounds. I continue to heal.
Periodically, the shame will surface. Why didn’t I fight? Why didn’t I call the police afterwards? Why didn’t I tell anyone? I try to have compassion for my sixteen year old self. I remind them that it wasn’t their fault. That they needed to forget. Forgetting was the only way they could survive at the time. Forgetting was necessary.
But now. In this moment. It is okay to remember. To heal. and share. It was never truly forgotten.
The body remembered. And now the brain and soul can too; they can all heal. together.