It happened again last night, at a dinner party.
It’s been happening more and more often lately, and it may be the cause of my being such an introvert lately-the reason WHY I would rather be at home writing than be out and about in the people-y world.
And, I am unsure of how I feel about it, but it won’t stop me from writing. Not this time.
Writing on Medium has given me the freedom to speak about my past. I am finally able to talk about the monsters in my childhood and the effect their abuse has had on me during my (almost) 50 years of life. But, it has come with an odd price: It has become a silent trigger to doors I forgot existed and memories that I had shoved into dusty boxes in mental storage rooms.
A lovely couple, who we don’t know “well” had us over for a wonderful Romanian feast. There was wine and fancy drinks, and cigars. There were open conversations, as the four of us begin to get to know each other better. There was chatter about life in Romania and how the couple met, and a reciprocal chat about how Dave and I met.
Then the flashbacks started.
I see flashbacks from my childhood as if they are on an old console TV. The kind that sat in the middle of living rooms in the ’70s with bulging glass and cabinetry around it. The kind that weighed 1000 lbs, and left a deep depression under the shag carpet it rested on. Sometimes my past movies come in color, sometimes black and white. No matter how they return, they are vivid enough that I can smell them. It’s creepy as hell.
I haven’t shared the abuse in my family with our new friends. We just aren’t there yet. I carefully spoke about the flashbacks I had, as we sipped wine and cappuccino after dinner, hoping they wouldn’t judge me. The rerun show came to me so vividly, I had to shake it off and excuse myself to their powder room.
It was during my childhood when my parents used to “rent” out bedrooms to strangers. They would give us 3 kids, (my sister would have been around 10, my brother 9, and myself 5) no notice that these “new” people would be sharing our house. They would just appear in the morning, sipping my mother’s coffee. Strange men, and sometimes women would follow my parents home from the bar, and sleep in our downstairs bedroom for an undisclosed period of time. Sometimes it was two men, sometimes it was a single man or single woman-nonetheless, it was scary for us kids.
During the stay of two random men, I remember vividly, that they blamed us kids for stealing money from them. In fact, they even called the police to come to visit and scare the bejeezuz out of the three of us, warning that they could bring a lie detector chair to make us tell the truth. (Back then cops could do these things). None of us had a clue what these men were talking about-or so it seemed.
After the cops left, my father gave all of us children the strap. He pulled off his belt and took turns, pulling our pants down and strapping us over his knee. Once we all had our turn of 20 strokes of his leather weapon, he stood us all in a line and said, “If you don’t tell the truth, you will all get it again”. The renters sat in a chair drinking beer, watching the show. My mother sat with them, making no effort to stop this madness.
I believe my brother bit the bullet and “confessed” to the theft, to save us all from further punishment. He got the strap again and was made to apologize to the two strangers.
I told this story last night to our friends. I have no idea why that particular movie played in my memorial TV, but it was clear, and I could smell the odor of my father’s beer breath as he yelled at us kids. As the recollection came to me, my mouth spilled out the imagery to the 3 people around me, and they all looked at me with their mouths agape.
After I got it all out, our gentleman host looked at me, held his wine glass up and said, “Wow! You turned out so wonderful with a childhood like that. Cheers to being you, and being such a doll.”
He has NO idea what kind of life I had. That was a tiny drop in the bucket of the hell I endured.
Why I Am Telling You This
I had forgotten about all the “boarders” we had in our childhood home, and the drama and stresses they had brought with them in their duffel bags and suitcases. I had forgotten many of the movies and images from my past, until this past year.
I started telling my stories.
I started to dig deep and divulge secrets from my past and they started to snowball. I wrote a story about my Grandmonster just the other day, and it leads to more memories of her that I can write about later. They just keep coming!
The Day I Got Revenge on My Grandmonster
You know, sometimes I am grateful for the lessons and memories of my past. I can thank those people who abused me in my…
I started to share some deep dark secrets that have haunted me for 50 years, on THIS platform.
I started writing “the book” about my past over 20 years ago, but the bumps into my family along the way, caused me to STOP. The emotions when I deal with them are still too raw, and I don’t want my story to be a cry fest. I want it to be a “story”. When I struggle with relationships with those people now, it corrupts the direction of my storyline and characters. It is MUCH easier to write daily on Medium.
Bit by bit, piece by piece, slide by slide, odor by odor and image by image, these memories come back in flashes that turn quickly into films. Some last longer than others, and some are short burst like a GIF that repeats over and over until I face them with words on paper.
The floodgates have been opened and I know when I share stories, I will piss many of the people in my family off. I will disclose more and more as the memories come up on the TV set. I will SHARE.
I want people to know ME. I want people to learn from my past. And I want the therapy of being able to finally purge the shit out of the bowels of my suppressed childhood. Some of it is so unbelievable it will make you wonder how I survived. Some of it, I can look back on, and feel empathy or sorrow for those who caused damage to my soul. Other memories just make me angry, at the unfairness and injustice of being born into a family who saw me as nothing more than a toy for their pleasure and power trips. Parents who saw me, at times, as an inconvenience.
Medium has given me the gift of freedom to explore those old dusty boxes and see where I came from. It has also given me the gift of seeing where I have am now, and being able to be beyond grateful for the ability to appreciate every little thing I have, and for the people who surround me.
Mostly, it has empowered me to finally speak about all of the issues that have boiled inside me; ruining relationships, and causing mental health issues my whole life. I finally have the lady balls to call myself out and dissect the reasons for my introvert behaviors and OCD. That, honestly, is something that therapy has never done for me.
Reading stories on Medium, as well as writing, has saved me this past year, in many ways. Yes, I do spend a lot more time alone writing and reading, but it hasn’t made a negative impact. It has helped me get to know myself better and has forced me to be the real me, regardless of who likes or dislikes that person. I couldn’t ask for a better gift to myself this past year.
I invite you all to purge your emotions, your memories, and your floodgates. Allow this platform to be your freedom from your stresses, your challenges, and your struggles. Your mental health will thank you for it.
Just remember to take time to:
…and live a balanced life. It can be addicting to purge out your emotional insides. Once the gates open and the flood begins, you need to take time to take a break- until the next TV screen pops up, reminding you to write.
Thank you all so much for reading, writing, and holding my hand through this journey. It means more than you know.