During the time I was being molested, meaning as a child, I spent a lot of time in the bathroom of the home I was molested in (FYI not my own home).
The bathroom felt like a safe place because it had a lock that I was allowed to use. I would take extra long to “go pee” so that I could stay in there. Or take super long showers. It was still scary because I was still in the house but I knew I had the lock.
Sometimes I’d let the shower run and just sit on the carpet beside it, not actually getting in. I remember crying at times, outside that shower, wanting to go home, wanting my mother. Not knowing how to express what was happening.
At a point the bathroom was emptied out and remodeled into an ocean theme. It had little light houses on the windowsill and blue bathroom rugs. It didn’t feel the same after that. All that comfort was gone. During the remodel I had to use the other bathroom in the house. His bathroom. I felt cheated. I felt that God had taken away my one safe place in that house.
The thing about trauma is, you often suppress memories because they are so painful and then they start coming back to you in waves. You start remembering things, awful things that you’d rather not remember. It is an unfortunate part of the healing process.
These are things in starting to remember.
Flashbacks come like waves. Sudden and dark and angry and violent. They are unexpected and they make you feel as though all of the air has been sucked out of the room.
There is much debate among the scientific and psychological communities as to whether or not repressed memories exist. I won’t go into all the breakdowns here, all the science and theory behind it. That is a post for another day and time, if anyone is interested in that. What I will say is this; the body remembers. You can block it out, you can disassociate during the events. You can pretend they didn’t happen or deny it to yourself even. But your body, your nervous system, and your senses will not forget.
A touch in the wrong spot, the glance from a stranger, a sound, a smell, a taste, even a particular place like a grocery store, will send you into a spiral because you will remember. One theory suggests that flashbacks and trauma resurface farther into our 20’s and 30’s simply because we may finally feel safe. Our minds are able to relax in a sense, to see that the person who hurt us, can’t get to us anymore. So we start to work through this trauma.
The complicated part of this is that triggers still set you off. Even if you do feel safe it takes less than a second to be that scared child again with no control. One moment to be right back there and to have a flashback so intense you’d swear you were actually there.
So no, I didn’t forget this memory and it wasn’t suppressed, but I finally feel safe enough to let myself re-experience it, and believe me when I tell you, remembering is re-experiencing. Even if justice wasn’t served. Even if he walks free. I know that I am not a little girl anymore and he will never get to me ever again. Now I have to process, and hopefully, heal.