June 7, 2009

The Void

A short departure from my usual fare . . .

In that vague space between consciousness and sleep, disjointed images once slipped in and out of my mind's eye like old carousel slides, whitewashed and spotted from exposure. Each lingered only a moment before morphing into the next, as I spiraled backward in time. Back to the days when my hair was blonde and baby fine, turned-up nose a spot of clay on my face, toddler legs exploring the art of balance. Still smaller I shrank, to the size of a speck, floating in a void as black and empty as space, where I could reach out and touch . . . nothing. Inside me was the same. I thought, perhaps this is the place where I began. Before feelings, before touch, before knowledge. Before I knew the brilliant glare of the sun in my eyes.

It scared me, these 60 seconds I call The Void. Not only the first time, but every time. It would find me on the hazy fringes of slumber, until my racing heart would rouse me. In my adolescence, I'd lie awake, puzzling and fretting that it was a sign of something broken deep inside my brain – another reminder of my seemingly endless quirks. As a teen, I didn't like being alone in that space yet felt driven in search of answers. What was The Void? Could I get stuck there? Was there some deeper meaning?

Lured by the mystery, I prodded myself, Do it. Go back there and see. I dare you.

Now, with the wisdom of living half a century, I see The Void as a beginning and an end in itself. A black hole that opened up for me as a refuge. A place I invented when I desperately needed somewhere else to be. At three, I was molested. I recall being bare and exposed, made to lay back on a couch in the shadows of a den with drapes drawn while a pubescent boy with freckles and a white t-shirt talked softly to me, lowered his mouth on me, did things that left me feeling strange. Not quite good, not quite bad – that came later.

He was the son of a grandmotherly babysitter whom my parents trusted. A son too old to be playing doctor, too engaged in intimate, grown-up acts to claim a childlike curiosity about anatomy, too calculated and covert to make the excuse of not knowing any better.

I still remember. Do you know I do?

I carried my secret for seventeen years. By then I had tired of telling myself, Hey, no big deal. With a stone face, I confided in a high school friend, and though she showed the shock and empathy I needed, I could see she doubted that memories from a three-year-old could be so intact. I was certain my mother felt the same way when I later gathered the courage – and belligerence – to tell her. To be fair, I only gave her the abridged version, the one that tiptoed around the details, the only one my wounded soul felt strong enough to part with. Would she sit in judgment? Look what you did. Look what you let happen. Or would a more careful exposition make her cry? I shouldered enough guilt for both of us, and I might have cried too. Because the truth is, I could no more describe what happened in adult terms than I could vocalize them at three. When I tried, the grueling effort of description disintegrated into a lumpy cancer in my throat.

My shame faded with time and acceptance, and The Void has not called for me in many years. Now when I remember the shadowy den, instead of succumbing to the dark space I become an unyielding force keeping vigil on my three-year-old self. Guarding the perimeter for someone who looks like a friend but is not. Who begs for trust but speaks lies. I am not afraid to stand in his way, not ashamed of who I am or who I was then. I embrace my three-year-old self the way I wish someone could have back then; and I rock her close to my heart, dry her tears, tell her how good and worthy she is. And I dare him to come back.
.

43 comments:

Hit 40 said...

First - A big hug for you!! This was a lot to share. Thank you.

I hope your mom has been there for you since with a hug and a word of kindness that she remembers what you said/ and to ask how your doing.

Hopefully, writing all of this helped you to release the awful memories. It happened. I believe you. I remember some things back to three years old.

daisyfae said...

my earliest memories - somewhere in that age range - are not verbal, but emotional/visual memories. they are real. just as yours are...

that you can process this in such a positive way is powerful. mind-blowing, in fact. and if he came back? you could have an army of us by your 3-year old side...

Julie said...

I am speechless. And you know *that* doesn't happen often.

Since I have no words, just accept this from me. (((((hug)))))

MamabearMills said...

Good for you! I was raped at 19 and still half blame myself for being drunk. I always think to myself that things would have been different were I sober. Bottom line is: it happened. I hid from it for a long time as you did. We are awesome people in spite of the ugliness done to us.

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

You expressed such tough emotions so well. I found that the more I read though, the angry and sadness I experienced. No child or grownup should be violated in the way that you were. It's hard to not push those memories so far back that they don't surface. By allowing them to surface, I hope that you will find the power to move on and fight for the person that you now are.

Thank you for sharing all of that.

carma said...

I am saddened to hear this :-( You are so courageous for sharing.

morethananelectrician said...

Sometimes those voids can seem like very safe places to be...bu tthey really aren't, huh? Kind of like that movie panic room. You can't sit in there forever. Eventually you have to come out and battle or sit in there and vanquish. I tip my hat to you for coming out of your void and "fighting"...

Kristina P. said...

Wow, thank you for sharing this. I believe you can have memories from this young.

creative kerfuffle said...

wow. i am in awe. really. it took such courage for you to write this post. i don't even know what to say. i do believe it happened. i am curious as to how your mom processed this.

♥ Braja said...

Well, for starters, you should depart from your usual fare more often; you write brilliantly from your heart...
I'm so sorry that a little three year old had to go through this; even more sorry that three year old was you. What an unfair burden for such a little soul to carry. It makes the heart sad and heavy.
Love you
xx

Amy said...

Living life with courage after trauma can me a most difficult choice, but it is a choice. I admire you, empathize with you and have so much happiness in my heart that you chose the path of courageousness.

As always, many hugs and ♥♥

drollgirl said...

oh god. you are so brave to write this. you are one strong woman despite the horrible thing that was done to you at such a young age.

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

I struggle to recall memories prior to the age of 8. My brother died when I was 9 and it seemed to wipe out almost all of my memories prior.

I wish I could remember back to age 3. I'm sorry your young memories are of a sad nature.

Sending a hug your way.

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

Beth said...

I have no doubt you can remember this event at 3 years of age. And how this event shaped you. And shamed you. You are a strong woman. Maybe these words will give someone the strength to tell, to fight back.

ModernMom said...

I'm struggling to find the right words. I hope your post helps to lift the weight of this secret you have carried too long.
Love and strength from bloggy land.

Suzy said...

Wow. You poor little girl, carying around that void. Tomorrow I'm posting about another void that I don't quite undestand and is not as painful as yours but just as real. Big kisses.

Karyn - (French Charming) said...

I can barely see the keys to type through the tears that are just streaming down my face ...I am so touched by your courage to share your experience.

I hope that by doing this that you never experience the void again, you are a strong courageous woman and I admire you.

Huge hugs to you!

this

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

I am sitting here staring at the blinking bar not knowing what to write. You are truly courageous to speak from the heart and stand tall against the injustice that you have held inside for years. I want to hold that three year old in my arms, rock her and tell her everything will be okay. I'm..touched...

Tabor said...

You left a short, sweet comment on my blog and I thought would return the favor only to see I am blown away by this naked post. I have grandchildren now and I see a memory like this in a different painful way. I do want to hold that 3-year-old and caress its hair and rock it to sleep.

Nancy said...

The blogosphere has brought many stories like this out. Out of the dark places we've kept them. Outing the wrongs done in the past. Hopefully changing, breaking the links to the traditional "family secrets". For it is only then, when it isn't shushed & hidden, that we can prevent this from happening to more innocent children.

You and I, and many other wommen I've "met" from blogging ... we share a sisterhood in a club we'd all prefer not to belong. But since we do, we understand and embrace each other. (((hugs)))

Janie at Sounding Forth said...

Oh, girl. I'm glad you shared.

I love you. And I think telling this story is just another step to total healing, something we all need.

I've missed you, but now...I'm back! Sporadically, but I'm back!

Anonymous said...

I honor your courage and your resilience in getting past this and embracing that young, wounded girl. You're both in my prayers.

Christina

foxy said...

I just wanted to give you a big ole sisterly hug from afar. I know how hard it is to get stuff like that out, but it feels so much better to have it out there. Know that I feel your pain and I luv ya.

Kimberly said...

It's amazing what one can recall or what one would like to forget.

It sounds like you have released this demon - more than not.

I wish much more healing in your life to keep you from the void.

Michel said...

wow. I am so sorry that you had to live with that weighing on you and hope that you have reached a point where you can find peace.

This was truly a beautifully written post, that must have been very difficult for you to share. Based on the comments above - you have touched so many with your honesty.

Big Hugs.

Vic said...

I read this last night. I came back and read it this morning. Very powerful, and very touching. Thank you for trusting us with it.

Madame DeFarge said...

Like others, I am touched by this. There is little that I can add, but you are brave and strong and that can provide strength to others.

nikkicrumpet said...

This made me so sad for you. I wish we all could have been there to hold that sweet little girl...and give her the love and support she needed. I hope that in writing this...it helps you heal even further. Your writing is so strong and beautiful. It touches my heart. You are an amazing person!

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Ack - you're not kidding about veering away from your usual fare. What an awful thing to have to endure and ponder and figure out. Your post was moving and beautiful and honest. And if you need me to go kill, I mean, punch this guy in the face for you, just let me know. Good for you to have the courage to write this and share it with us. You are awesome!

XOXOXO
Margaret

Vegas Linda Lou said...

Wow. Your writing is poignant and brave. Very powerful--thank you for posting this. (And a big hug to you.)

Andrea said...

Wow. You protected that little 3-year old girl with The Void. I envisioned you trying to tell your mom and hoped that she just pulled you to her and held on for a very long time.

Fragrant Liar said...

Thank you everybody. Just reading your kind and encouraging comments makes me feel very cared for and worthy. I appreciate all the support, and on this subject like no other, I welcome the hugs.

"and if he came back? you could have an army of us by your 3-year old side..."

I am particularly grateful for this remark from DaisyFae because it really captures my mindset of resolve about this guy now.

WhisperingWriter said...

*Hugs*

I am so so sorry. I cannot even imagine. My heart clenched as I read this. When I thought about someone doing that to my little girl I wanted to throw up.

diane said...

Honey, I am so sorry that happened to you. I can't believe you would trust all of us with this, it's very brave of you. So, I will tell you that I was also sexually abused as a really young child. It's something that I thought about for a really long time. I guess I let it go when I was a young adult and told my sister what had happened. She had not been abused, but she was the right person to talk to. I don't think about it anymore, but I am very guarded with my daughters and my grand daughter. Actually, even with my son. I made sure all of my children understood what was acceptable, and to tell me if anyone ever made them feel uncomfortable.

troutay said...

Ah damn. I have tears here. Because I remember that strange nakedness, the confusion, the beginnings of embarrassment. And I never said anything. But I remember. And I hold both of our small selves today.

Belle said...

How brave of you Girlfriend. That's what puts you on my 'special' list.
xxx

sherry lee said...

Nancy sent me to you. And I thank both Nancy and you for being open, for sharing and for connecting those of us who have been in this situation. There are far too many of us. I'm glad to have discovered this wonderful place you call home.

Kimberly said...

I have an award for waiting for you over mi casa...

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

I am so impressed that you put this out there. Sounds like you are a very strong woman. Kudos to you for knowing what you know yet living life for each new day.

Hallie

midlife slices said...

I have no memories before the age of almost 7 and I often wonder why that is so......but i don't wonder long. If I've repressed something, I'm thankful it's lost to me. Mostly, I think I had nothing memorable to remember until that time....which is kind of sad of you look at it that way.

HUGS and let's hope that void stays long gone.

~Tom~ said...

Big warm hugs to you. I know first hand the pain abuse can cause and the scars that it leaves. I commend you for being brave enough to post this blog.

Dee-Zigns Handcrafted Jewelry said...

I'm so sorry. My stomach aches from this sick act done to a child and I hope like hell your mom has been there for you and listened to you and believed you. Like so many before me have said, you are brave and strong. I hope that void has been filled with love and joy. Sending a big hug to you.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

wow. That was a powerful piece of writing. You are so brave and honest. Big bow to you.

I wonder what became of that young man...