I remember when I was in the throes of it. The physical triggers as it first occurred to me that I had repressed a memory of childhood sexual trauma. One of the most painful and frightening things was being in the bathroom. I couldn’t shower, and I struggled using the toilet, by virtue of not wanting to acknowledge the existence of my genitalia. My vulva had betrayed me; if it wasn’t there, I reasoned, then I wouldn’t have been sexually abused and created a repressed memory. Any kind of contact between my legs made me sick to my stomach, so I avoided it like the plague. I remember putting off going to the bathroom for over twelve hours one day because the thought of wiping myself terrified me.
I also remembered trying to relay this information to a guy I knew. Despite the fact that he had told me things in the past such as “Those are very serious accusations; if you’re not currently in danger, then don’t worry about it; if it happened that long ago, and you can’t clearly remember it, then it doesn’t matter”, I had thought that maybe he would be supportive. He wasn’t. His response was, simply, “TMI, Aurora.”
What kind of fucking adult does that? I thought angrily. I was telling someone I thought I trusted something personal, something that I was really struggling with, something that was very seriously affecting me, and all he could say was, “TMI”? But, really, that’s just a reflection on the whole situation. There are too many people who, when a survivor wants to tell their story, refuse to listen. “TMI, Aurora.” Or, “I don’t believe you, Aurora.” Or, “Those are very serious accusations. You could ruin someone’s life if you talk about it, Aurora.” As though nobody cares that my life was and is being ruined. As though I’m suddenly the bad guy for wanting answers.
I’m at a point in my therapy where we’re peeling back the layers of the onion, as my therapist put it. She has me creating a timeline of before I was born up to now. I have no idea if I’m coming closer to any answers or if it will take more time, if it will waste another three years of my life. I’m continually debating whether or not I should maintain my relationship with my suspected abuser when I know others have cut him off, because I’m not sure if my future children will be safe around him. Because I’m not sure if something happened, but if it did, then why would I want a relationship with him to begin with? But even that decision becomes complicated. Because, what if he didn’t do anything, and I accused him of something that awful? Or, what if he did do something, but everybody takes his side? Then I’m forced to cut others out of my life that I care about because they care more about maintaining a rose colored view of our situation rather than supporting me as I struggle with my trauma. And it isn’t as if my goal is to “ruin someone’s life” or cause a rift – as it stands, I protect the identity of my abuser from most of the people I discuss the issue with, especially those that read this blog. I respect the boundaries of others who may know things about his history of abuse but refuse to tell me, because honestly, as much as I want answers, discussing whatever has happened – and something did, although it may not be sexual abuse – is obviously too painful for them.
So I wait. Approaching the three year anniversary of “that December”, as I refer to it. No closer to any closure. No closer to any reclaimed memories. No closer to any admittance of guilt, or any filling-in-the-blanks by people who know more about his history than I do. No closer to any fleeting feelings of sanity, or the mending of relationships that were ruined by this potential revelation. No closer to any kind of support from people who don’t want to answer questions, or who think that my goal is to blackmail or hold this over everyone’s head. I feel stupid, I feel wrong, I feel crazy, I feel like a liar. There was a time when I was so sure, so confident, so ready to heal. And that time is gone.
So I wait. Hoping, praying, that someday, instead of “TMI, Aurora,” or “Those are very serious accusations, Aurora,” I might hear, “I’m so sorry you had to go through that.” Because isn’t that what every survivor wants to hear?