(CN: for sexual abuse)
“Why do we fall, Bruce? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” ~ Thomas Wayne, Batman Begins
I haven’t always been afraid of the dark. But I remember why. It’s not the dark that I’m afraid of–it’s what’s in the dark. It’s what happened in the dark that scares me.
Yes, I am an adult who’s still afraid of the dark. Because, you see, four year old me learned to be afraid of the dark. That darkness hangs out in the recesses of my mind until certain things bring it to the surface.
These memories are about 20 years old now, and I’ve been keeping them buried for as long as I can remember. This was also my mind’s way of protecting me. Until such a time as it can’t, and the memories come flooding back. Nothing stays buried and hidden forever.
When I was four, that’s when it started. There are things I don’t remember from my childhood…even some good things. I had trouble sleeping. I wet the bed a lot. My pediatrician told my mom I had an overactive bladder. What I had was a normal reaction to terrible things a four year old cannot even begin to comprehend.
Four year olds shouldn’t have to know that kind of pain. The kind of pain that a neighbor and children’s worker can inflict by touching a child in a way that they cannot understand. Things the child who grew up into an adult still deals with. Things that are covered up by a church, by a father, by a wife.
By the time I was seven, I knew I was different than most kids around me. I was known for an overactive imagination, being kind to kids who got bullied, and maturity beyond my years. It turns out trauma makes you grow up really fast.
The memories have been coming back more frequently. It’s the time of year and I’ve gotten how sleep works. My biggest fear now is what if there are more memories? what if other things happened? what if…what if there are more. My biggest fear is what if my dad was involved. To put words to that nightmare…I am afraid. I am afraid of letting myself remember. I am afraid that letting myself remember will break me. And I have already fallen apart so many times before.
Let me tell you: this voice in my head is loud. The voice that says, What if I fall apart this time, and the pieces don’t go back together again?
I try to make this voice louder and repeat it to myself often:
If you do fall apart, it will be ok.
You are safe.
You are loved.
You are not alone.
I know the memories are going to come. But for once I actually feel like I believe I’ll be ok. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like it will destroy me to remember.
Because for the first time maybe in my life, I believe this:
You are safe. You are loved. You are not alone.
Maybe I don’t believe it all the time. But that doesn’t make it any less true.