"What's your worst memory of childhood?" Dr. Lecter asked Clarice, and I closed the book and stared into space. And all I could remember were fantasies. My mind is wiped clean of childhood memories. The actual events were so disturbing and painful that I changed them into fantastical and often horrendous scenes that could not have taken place in real life.
I lie in bed and it's dark and I can't sleep and I'm scared stiff, staring out the balcony window where a man raises an ax and lets it fall, thock, thock, thock, a dull sound of chopping off heads. As soon as the new head is chopped it appears on the wall to my right and starts talking. It joins the rustling chorus of others that are already there and I think I will pee myself, I'm afraid I'm next for that man to chop off my head. This bed and this darkness is where I was abused and all I remember is the man chopping off heads. This scene made it into Rosehead.
I'm in an outhouse and I have to pee and for that I have to squat over a dark draughty hole and there is barely light and as soon as I pull down my panties I know there is a dark man in the hole underneath me and he is stretching up his hand and he is covered in shit, black and slick, and if I won't pee fast, he'll get me, oh yes, he'll get me, he'll get me! The outhouse was another convenient place to abuse me and all I remember is a shit-man in a shit-hole. This hasn't made into any of my books yet, but it might be coming in Janna.
I'm in the hospital and I just had surgery and I walk along a deserted corridor and I open a door that is ajar and in there is a bathtub full of blood. In reality I had my tonsils taken out and I stumbled on the tub where they soaked stained patient shirts, nowhere near as bloody to make the water look red. The other kids bullied me and I spent most days crying into the pillow. Some of this hospital stuff has made it into Siren Suicides, but not all. More is sitting in me as according to family legends I was taken to the hospital with bloody diarrhea as least three times. Was I fucked in my ass because it stretched better? I'll never know for sure, but I think I might have, as the position on hands and knees gives me a huge scare and I hate anal sex. I always think I will die.
There is so much of this in me, I want to cut myself open and leech it all out on paper as carrying it inside takes a toll and that is why I write as fast as I can. To get rid of it, to get rid of it, to get rid of it...
There is a memory of something terrible happening in the gangway of a train—lots of it has made it into TUBE—I only remember the peeing part. There was no restroom on the train and I had to pee and I had to do it between the cars. I only remember the terror of watching the ground fly by under my feet and the overlapping plates bounce and grate and then something bad is happening and I go blank. A few years ago I found out that my father took me on the train to a 5-day daycare in Tula when I was 5 and that after I came back I stopped talking and I danced around myself (this made it into Rosehead) and started soiling the bed. There is lots of peeing in TUBE, as you will see, and for a reason.
The worst part of abuse for the child is often not the actual physical pain. The pain is not terrible and can be forgotten, unless it's inflicted by a true sadist or a sociopath or a pedophile of highest perversion degree and is truly damaging—often that kind of physical torture damages the brain and leaves it unrepeatable, unsurvivable. Those of us who did survive were lucky enough to get it just on the edge of very bad pain but not bad enough to make us lose our minds, though bad enough to screw us over and to make us suffer for years after. The worst part of abuse is the confusion. You know something happened, but you don't remember what. You try to explain it, but it comes out wrong. You try to tell your story to adults (if you dare), but they don't listen. They think it's so outrageous that you made it up. It's what abusers feed on, count on, this confusion. Blocked memories. Blurry facts. But there is one part of you that remembers clearly, remembers everything in acute detail.
"Didn't you think for a second you'd made that up? No, if you'd made it up, it wouldn't sting," Dr. Lecter said to Clarice.
And I had to close the book again and I nearly cried. I battle this feeling of having made up all this stuff every day, but the sting is real. THE STING IS REAL. My body's pain is real, so real that it started bleeding to convince me. That's how I started remembering my abuse, by peeing blood and having doctors feed me three courses of antibiotics. When they wiped my immune system and I was still peeing blood they shrugged and said they didn't know what was wrong. My body was screaming at me, that's what was wrong. My body was screaming at me to remember.
And I did. I remembered bits and pieces that slowly fit together and the worst (and the best) part of this process is, I still remember. Every day. It comes to me as I write and I'm scared of it, scared of it to death, like Clarice standing in the pitch-black darkness, knowing the killer is right there, right in the room, and not being able to see him or to know where her death will come from.
You see me sometimes joke on Twitter or on Ello or on some other online place I frequent about how scared I am to start writing on a particular day. I laugh it off but it's no joke. It's like facing the monsters who hurt you every fucking day and beating them into the ground, knowing I'm not a little helpless girl anymore and THEY CAN'T HURT ME.
Sometimes I wonder how I would've carried on with life if I haven't started writing. I'd probably still be carrying that cesspool of shit in my gut and wonder why I'm so tired at the end of each day. Books delivered me out of darkness in my childhood. I read books and I escaped what was happening to me, I escaped into stories. Funny how it came full circle. Now I read books and they show me what I've escaped and I pluck it out of my psyche and toss it. And it's gone, and I feel so light like some helium balloon, like I will float to the fucking stars and pop there and that is how I'll die, happy.
This is my scary story for you. Happy belated Halloween. And happy NaNoWriMo, if you're doing it. What's yours? "What's your worst memory of childhood?"