I don’t remember much of anything good from my childhood. My first memory is of crying as my mom drove away, leaving me at preschool. I remember taking a blue bus from preschool to kindergarten and I remember a spider monkey that lived at that preschool. That is really all I can honestly say are my own memories prior to my first trauma. There are pieces of that life that I have picked up through stories told by my mother but they aren’t my memories, not really. There are tons of cute and funny (happy) stories from my childhood that I have absolutely no memory of, those stories feel fake to me. Here is what I do remember, I know that while I was in kindergarten I went to a different school because of the before and after school care I received while my parents were at work. I know that when I started first grade I went to the school near my neighborhood but I don’t remember going to school…until that one day.
My first real vivid memory is of coming home from school one day in the first grade, I know it was warm outside because I remember what I was wearing, a romper with ties on my shoulders. I remember that the sunshine was coming in brightly through my bedroom window. I had two older brothers, K was 5 years older than me and D is 8 years older than me. That day afterschool, K was gone as usual, he liked to hang out with his many friends. D was home, he had to be there because he was my babysitter. When I came into the house I took off my shoes and went into the bathroom, I had to undo the romper at both shoulders and take it all the way down to do my business (this is why I remember what I was wearing). It was a small bathroom right across from my bedroom. When I was done and starting to put my self back together the door opened, it was D.
That was the first time I was raped, I was 6 and he was 14. I did not understand what was happening but I knew it shouldn’t be happening. It was very painful and I was so scared. Afterward I felt so bad and embarrassed by what had happened so I didn’t tell anyone. I wanted to scream and cry but I couldn’t, I didn’t want anyone to know. Everyone would hate me and call me names because I’m so disgusting and ugly. Even though I did not tell anyone what happened it still felt like everyone knew and were talking about it to each other. I automatically began to see that people looked at me differently even though nobody really was. I hated him but mostly I hated myself because I was gross.
It was a little while before it happened again but then it became more and more frequent. I just became more and more mad, depressed and anxious. I felt completely unsafe at home. I started acting out my anxiety at school, I wanted to scream! One day I remember being told to come to the carpet for reading, I didn’t know it then but it was a trigger that caused a panic attack. I threw a huge tantrum and refused to sit on the carpet, I kicked and screamed because the carpet signified rape to me. School was supposed to be a safe place but now it felt unsafe. Nobody understood but expected them to read my mind and let me be. Of course I was sent to the principal and then I kicked him so I had to be picked up from school. This meant I didn’t have to go home alone. I got into trouble but that was better than being raped, right? I did this several times, not consciously but as a coping mechanism.
As my tantrums became more frequent and more brutal, my mother started beating me with a belt and she would get so angry when combing my that she would hit me with the brush and eventually had all my hair cut off. I hid in my closet and under my bed a lot, I was so scared in my own home. My brother and my mother were both hurting me. I was not ever going to tell my dad any of this, he had a temper and I was scared of what he would do to my brother. I was scared of breaking up our family and I was scared that they wouldn’t want me there anymore.
I started having vivid nightmares that a man was always laying on the floor by my bed and I could physically feel his breath on my neck when he would jump into bed with me. I always thought someone was waiting to pounce on me in the dark, in my room. I was afraid of the dark, afraid of the basement, afraid of everything. I started having digestive issues and became very depressed. Anytime I was backed into a corner, felt a lack of control or felt trapped, I would lash out. My parents took me to see a psychiatrist and I was tested for epilepsy…this was the 70’s. Kids don’t get depressed or have anxiety. They gave me some kind of medicine that I took for about a month but I never got any more and I never went back to see anyone about it again. I wish I had told someone, I wish they had known that I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
To the rest of the world my family seemed normal. We were well enough off that we had nice things, we went on trips, we had people over to our house and we went to parties, the drive in, dance class, etc. The perfect family image and nobody was the wiser.
This is the beginning of my childhood lost….