Monday, May 7, 2012

Amnesia Bliss (21)

Groggy, I awoke the next morning full of regret. I hoped I didn't do any permanent damage. The smile of my saintly wife greeted me, “Are you feeling better today?” she asked.

“I can't say I’m better, perhaps, calmer?” I could only remember bits and pieces of the previous day. I knew my voice was sore, my body ached from the incredible tension placed upon it by the boiling emotions of heartbreak, betrayal, and disappointment. Not to mention as I began to process the admittance of guilt by AFB and the refusal to directly apologize, in what I hoped to be a future meeting, I felt as if I was being abused all over again.

My outward appearance was a tall, strong man with slight greying in his sideburns and beard. On the inside I was a small, slightly overweight 15 year old boy. I was vulnerable and ignored, ripe for the plucking by anyone who would give me the slightest of attention. I was still physically shaking, energized and at the same time exhausted from yesterday's transformation into a mutant animal of hate and fear. I regretted what I had done, but I am not sure if, at the time, there was any other way to express what I felt. For decades I put those feelings away into a locked box of forgetfulness and amnesia bliss. I no longer wanted to be that person and I was going to have to repent to my family and wait for group therapy on Wednesday to learn how to control the out-of-control me. Hopefully, I could contain until then.

Individually and privately I took each member of my family aside and apologized for my behavior. I knew it wasn’t enough just to say “I’m sorry.” I needed to continue to change and never, ever do that again.

Days turned into weeks; the numbing effects of medicating the pain away were beginning to wear off. What used to be my one reliable escape was turning into another painful reminder of the past, and, like intimacy with my wife, each attempt at love making or self stimulation brought flashbacks and painful triggers. I wished I would go back to the time before I knew. Back to the time where I was just angry and ignorant. I was growing tired of healing. I didn't want to do it anymore. I began to lament the years of amnesia bliss. It hurt too much, took too much effort. I felt as if there was less and less of me and more and more of this other person that was a complete stranger. A broken, weak, emotional, less-than-human that can't even get himself off without being triggered into a remembering-stranger. I would repeatedly hear or see the same things like:

“Before you take off your clothes, let’s have communion,” as he pours the grape juice into a small clear plastic cup.

“This is going to happen,” AFB whispers into my right ear.

“Just one more time, then we will be through.” His voice orders me back to the desk. I resisted. He slammed my face into the papers covering the desk. My cheek reddened as the stinging from the impact spread over the side of my head.

A flash of opaque white viscous liquid slowly dripping down the side of a cherry wood paneled desk. I’m being forced to clean the unwelcome physical by-product of stimulation.

“FUCK! I can't even make myself happy without this asshole getting into my head!”  I cursed as I cleaned myself up.

“I can’t do this,” I thought, “This is too much to handle. All of these atrocities circling in my head is causing me to become unstable. I am happy one moment and full of fiery rage the next.”

I found it strange during that period of my life that the sanity I sought after when I opened my bible to the book of John for the first time had caused even less stability and sanity. I thought about the entire year of healing and recovery. Learning about what happened in the forgotten past and how it affects every corner of my personhood from how I behave in groups of people to the way I feel most comfortable in social settings, (I need to be able to see all exits and I must have my back at a wall--preferably a corner), were all classic signs of abuse.  I learned that my inability to comprehend or even experience emotions was a result of the abuse, as was my need for isolation and safety. It was the reason for my unexplained and mysterious mood swings. Each day that went by that first year brought out some new side effect of abuse. I began to think I was no longer a man, but a monster made solely for abuse. I was going to be forever broken in a way that I could not stand to be around people, and others would never want to be part of my life for any length of time. Forever hiding in a corner, claws out, hair bristling, fangs showing. DON’T HURT ME! I MUST BE SAFE! YOU ARE NOT SAFE! I AM NOT SAFE!

Everyday a new piece of the puzzle would fall into place. I was getting a greater knowledge and understanding of what happened to me, causing me to fall deeper and deeper into depression, isolation and internal malaise. I was sick with darkness.  Blackness covered me with an icy grip of death.  Memories would come when I least expected or wanted them.  I would go for days or weeks without a memory or new reminder and I would feel almost normal, then out of nowhere my body would re-experience a wordless pain or my mind would deliver a new graphic detail that had long been lost in amnesia bliss.  I felt betrayed by my body and my mind.  I felt like I was torturing myself by re-living my abuse.

It was a warm, sunny day in July. I thought it would be unfair to keep the family inside. “It’s a nice day, let’s go to Boulder. Perhaps we can walk around Pearl Street,” I proposed to my wife. We loaded up the car with plenty of diapers, buckled the children in their seats, and began the drive north on Interstate 25 toward Boulder, Colorado. I had my most precious cargo on board--my wife, my daughter, my son. 

There was something not right that day. I felt as if I were in a heavy oppressive fog. A mantra repeated over and over in my head, “No one protected me. No one protected me,” then, “Did anyone notice that I was being abused? I was doing drugs, smoking like a chimney. I began hanging out with a more anti-social group of friends all of whom were doing copious amounts of illegal drugs. "Did anyone notice? Did anyone notice a change in me?” I silently pondered over and over in my head.

As I crossed over to Highway 36 toward the most beautiful mountain range in the world, “He noticed!” I suddenly shouted, startling everyone in the car.

“Huh?” My wife looked confused at my out of the blue outburst.

“My teacher at Randall Moore Schools noticed!” I exclaimed at the epiphany. “I remember my teacher telling my mom during a teacher’s conference that I had changed somehow.  He said that the first year I was at the school I was an example of a good, happy, Christian boy, but that when I returned after the summer I became different.  He didn’t know I was being abused, but he knew something was really wrong.  My mom mentioned it to me in passing later, but I blew her off.  She never tried to find out if anything was really wrong.”

My elation related to that revelation was soon replaced. “He noticed, but nothing was done. The warning signs were there. Nothing was done. I wasn’t worth the effort then. I’m tired of putting the effort in now.”

“It’s not worth it.”  

“It’s not worth it.”

“I’m not worth it.”

The entire walk up one side of the famed outdoor mall and down the other was like traversing through quicksand. I found it hard to move, hard to put one foot in front of the other. I found it hard to speak. My words were blocked by a rockslide of internal conflict. It was impossible to express my thoughts. I lumbered along behind my family  like a depressed spectre of doom and gloom. As we walked there was an area near the courthouse where the children could play in the water fountains. I sat on a bench nearby, and with despairing silence, pondered my life.

“No one noticed enough to do anything. I’m not worth it,” I repeated over and over. A heavy cold cloud of dark despair, grief and loss swirled inside me as if it were the death gargle of cancer taking the last breath of another victim.

My wife was obviously angry with me.  She kept trying to be supportive and prompt me to take an active interest in the joy of watching my children play in the fountain.  My darkness was suffocating her and the tenuous strength of her resolve to tolerate my absentia was losing its hold.  Her eyes had vacated and she was empty, unfeeling, when she looked at me.  She was acting for the children--trying to salvage the wasted joy of the day.

Driving home on the highway that bright cloudless July afternoon, though dark storm clouds inhibited my ability to drive safely.  The road was crowded but not so busy to slow the average speed of 70 mph.

If I hit that median wall, I can end this pain. It would be over. I thought to myself.

No, I can't do that. What if I survived? I argued back.

Just do it. At the right angle you could flip the car on its top. Take off your seat belt.

That might work, but what if they (my wife and children)  survived? I would want to kill all of us.

Perhaps if you get up to 100 mph you could hit the wall, fly into the air, and cross into oncoming traffic. That would ensure the death of you and your family--even some other rat bastard that deserves it.

I couldn't kill anyone else but me and my family. If they survive, I couldn't live with myself. I can’t risk just putting us in the hospital. Just then I realized there was a small spark of desire to continue. It was like the flickering light of a dying candle, but in my darkness it was as bright as the sun.  

My head suddenly cleared and I drove home safely. I didn’t tell anyone what was swirling inside of me that day.  To my family I was just being impossibly moody and selfish, ruining an otherwise beautiful day.  

“Amy,” I said as we turned onto the side street toward our home, “I need to get on anti-depressants.”

“Well, duh!”


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