It wasn’t until the last couple years that I ever knew I have been experiencing flashbacks to the incest of my childhood for most of my adult life:
I recently have had two very specific flashback experiences that took me off guard, one of which was on my way to the wedding.
POSSIBLE TRIGGER WARNING! The first was a few months ago. I have been having some neck and back-of-head pain and decided to see a chiropractor. Over the course of six visits, two things happened. One was this electronic massage table he would put me on for about 20 minutes. He wasn’t in the room or anything but the table had a rolling massage bar underneath the top of the bed that rolled back and forth from the neck down to the buttocks. Each time it got down to my buttocks, I became very uncomfortable and my memories immediately went back to my brother. I hated it but I dealt with it – I mean what was I supposed to say? “Excuse me doctor, but this table makes me feel like I am being molested all over again.” I wasn’t going to have to explain it. On my last visit, the chiropractor was massaging my neck and told me that I smelled nice. That’s it! Too familiar for me, especially after the damn massaging table! I never went back. Who would have thought that visits to a chiropractor would trigger me?!
The second experience was traveling to my son’s wedding. We flew into San Francisco and took a particular route to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. As we drove down a certain street, a terrible feeling came over me. It was one of dread. I was so confused – this had never happened to me before. It dawned on my that this was the route my father and I took when we used to drive my mother to a college there. She had went back to school and would stay in the dorms during the week and would come home on the weekends. Ok, so why was it bothering me now? It was like I was feeling something that I felt as a child, something long ago. Then I realized how old I was during that time period – it was during the years when my brother was molesting me. The only times my brother got his hands on me was when no one else was home, which was rarely. If both my parents were gone, the chances went up significantly.
As we continued driving, a memory surfaced. We were at church, my parents and I, talking to the youth pastor. I was to be in an up-coming church musical but a rehearsal fell on a day when my dad and I were supposed to take my mom back to school. We were asking if I could miss the rehearsal. I remember clinging to my mother’s leg as we asked. I think I knew what it meant if I didn’t get to go with them. The youth pastor told my parents that I had to be there – so I quit the musical. I can’t believe a church was like that but whatever.
This was the first missing memory I have recovered. With the feeling that came back with it, as we drove 19th Avenue on a sunny, bright day in San Francisco, I wish I hadn’t remembered. Honestly, with as many blocks of my life that are missing, I am afraid of what there could be to remember. I remember the beginnings and middles of individual instances of abuse but never how each ended. Did my mind just shut off or is there something my mind won’t let me remember, something worse than what I do remember? All I know is that I don’t want to feel like I did that day in San Francisco.