Childhood. Well, judging from the pictures I’ve seen, I’d say life looked pretty good from birth until about age 12. Then I remember reaching that good ole number 13. You know, the one associated with being unlucky, as well as the first of the teen years.
To most, this number triggers a sense of fear and doubt regarding the future. For me, it is a symbol of hope and a new beginning. Age 13 is where my memories start to take root, so it is here that I will start my story. Let the journey begin.
When I look back, I mean, really take a moment to close my eyes, look within and allow my mind to travel back in time, I see her. Not only can I see her, but I feel her. (I read what I just wrote out loud, and ask my 5 year old, “Who is she”?
He avoids my question and points to my computer screen and asks “mom, why is there a mystery mark after the word she?” Seamlessly, he jumps from his question to answering my question with “she is you.”
My son is right, the girl I am picturing and can feel so intensely right now, is me. Wow, I am surprised I let myself in. I am also shocked by what I am feeling right now. This moment, it’s so contradictory to the girl I knew when I was 13. She is actually allowing me to feel her, she never did that back then.
Confusion fills my head but is quickly replaced by adjectives which clearly define each emotion for me. I am grateful for her honesty and willingness to open up. I know how difficult it is for her to be vulnerable. She wants me to know her, so I can share our story.
I start to cry, but no tears fall. My hands are shaking and something as mundane as typing has become a struggle. “Just focus”, I tell myself. I see her again, that strong willed 13 year old, the one that survived sexual assault and then forced her mind to shut down, completely erasing all 12 years of childhood!
I’m angry! I was a child, people are suppose to protect children. I was injured beyond repair, how does that happen? Those were meant to be carefree years, but instead someone didn’t care and stole my freedom. I spent the best years of my life, my youth, being tormented. Crying again. Still no tears.
It is difficult for me to watch others as they reflect on childhood. The expressions their faces make are always those of wonder and bliss. You can see their eyes light up as fond emotions are stirred. Wonderful images fill their minds, allowing them to mentally relive colorful moments.
I will never have this luxury, and I accept it. I only have one childhood memory and the expression it brings to my face is that of fear and horror. It causes my eyes to dilate and destructive emotions to be stirred. No imagery, just mental torture as I relive my darkest moments in that pitch black room. This is where my story begins.