Disclosure: Before for you read any further please know that I am about to unleash a shit storm of words. I am a perfectly imperfect human. I have experienced both the extraordinary and the ordinary. I am just like you and I am nothing like you. This part of my blog is a thought exercise, it is a personal therapy experiment – an attempt to unravel my brain from years of negative neural wiring. I am not a therapist or counselor and all opinions are my own. I will hit on tough topics that some might find triggering, so read with caution.
Memories are funny things. When I remember a story from my life, I am really just remembering the last time I remembered a time. Time becomes less tangible, more translucent. Memories are buried beneath thick overlay; memories lay hidden beneath the fog of current personality and modern perspective. Memories alter to fit the analysis of a grown up mind. I have spent the last 20+ years chasing down answers, seeking explanations for why I am who I am and why I experience life the way I experience. Answers to questions in memories. Answers molded by experience. Answers that are never… quite… satisfying.
But I always come back to this…
I have often wondered if my anxiety started before or after being molested by my brother. Was my anxiety an inborn trait or was it PTSD from this early experience? Nature or nurture. The timeline of my childhood is broken and out of order, so it is hard to tell.
The next thing I wonder is if I was ever molested at all. My mother has referred to it throughout my life less than I can count on one hand, my father not at all. It is a dark secret, mentioned only as that thing that happened with your brother. A wound, never healed with a discussion or apology, whose festering stink is ignored at every family gathering. Children are curious. That’s all. Right?
When I look at my eight-year-old daughter, I sometimes see my younger self…
All soft hair and pink skin. She’s cornered in a tiny trailer bathroom. A blond boy, who is five years older (an early teen), is putting ketchup on his penis and making her suck it off. The acidic ketchup taste, she will come to hate, mixes with soft, sweet flesh and the smell of urine. Later she is laying on cold linoleum flooring, underwear around her ankles. Her head is tilted to the side, cheek resting on the dirty floor. She is memorizing the shiny linoleum pattern… green diamonds and ivy leaves. She is softly crying as hydrogen peroxide is dabbed at her vagina with a cotton ball to see what would happen. This is my fault, she thinks, she encouraged this when she allowed him to kiss her after school in the backyard. His tongue poking around the inside of her mouth, a teenage explorer. Don’t worry, it is innocent, you’re curious too… Right?
As a grown woman, post #metoo, I am still told that this kind of thing happens in all families…
Here is where I stand up. I walk around my kitchen a bit… I am finding little distractions to entertain myself from writing. I dump out my coffee cup, rinse it. I look in the fridge. Am I even hungry? I sit back down, read the words I have written.. Ask myself if they are too harsh. I imagine my mother, father, brother, daughter reading them and I cringe.
I read a book recently. See that is what I do, I read. The book was The INFJ Writer by Lauren Sapala (more about this shortly). A while back, I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and learned that I am an INFJ. My normal response to anything I find interesting is to dive into the subject and learn everything I can. So I am an INFJ, all introverted intuition and extroverted feeling. I find the patterns, intuit what will happen based on subjective information inside my brain, all while carrying the emotions of the world on my shoulders. Look at me.. I am a martyr. (insert audible laugh-snort)
All of my research into the INFJ personality was so accurately me. I literally started to question everything I had ever told myself about myself. You see this book, The INFJ Writer, reminded me of all of the reasons I have refused to write over the years. My soul screams words at me everyday. My brain is alphabet soup, a kaleidoscope of words, a boiling, bubbling cauldron of chaos that demands to be placed on paper.
Like most people, I have a bucket list. There is really only one item on mine:
- WRITE A GODDAMN BOOK
Here’s the catch. I have been telling myself that I am not a good enough writer my entire life. I tell myself that there are so many better writers in the world. I tell myself that if I can’t see the end of the story, why should I waste my time starting it. Patterns. Find the patterns.
The truth is, I am afraid of the darkness inside of me. Sure, I am afraid of sharing the darkness with you dear reader. I am more afraid that my darkness isn’t good enough. You see, it was implied for 20+ years that I was never molested. So when I remember being molested, I ask myself questions such as this one – If I wasn’t raped, was actually I molested? When I imagine this happening to my daughter I think – Fuck yes, of course I was molested.
But there is – No one talks about it, so…. Am I remembering remembering so much that what I remember isn’t quite real?
Then follows this thought – My molestation was not as bad as what others have experienced, so I really shouldn’t complain. It could be worse.
Here is where my discomfort with writing down these thoughts turns into dark humor and I laugh out loud. Did you hear that? I am actually insecure that my molestation wasn’t bad enough. It wasn’t dark enough. It wasn’t reason enough for me to have PTSD, to have life long anxiety, to have issues with sex, body image and the ability to believe in myself. INFJ at its finest. Keep the darkness in. Keep the stories in. Use the pattern to intuit what will happen to others and save the world.
So we circle back. What came first, the chicken or the egg, the anxiety or the cause of the anxiety?
Extraordinary or extra-ordinary. Both.
– Intuitive Ginger