There’s something that has been in the back of my mind for a few weeks now. Ever since we discussed Jackie, and Bea wondered of Kenny had hurt her, too.
“My parents had a group of friends…all couple friends, really, they are still friends. That’s the thing, they could never really stand up for me, do anything about Kenny because they would risk their entire circle of friends. But we did camp and do things with all the friends. They had kids….” I list out the kids, all girls, all ages between my brother and just two years older than I am. “I just….well, you were wondering…do you know what I’m trying to say?” I finally give up, after stumbling over my words, and look at Bea. She just gives me a look of understanding, nothing in her face says that she thinks I’m being dumb, or silly for not being able to finish out the thought.
“If Kenny touched them, too?” She finishes the sentence for me, and I nod. “There’s no way to know. Do you remember him being in trouble, a big trouble? Or any of the parents keeping their kids away from Kenny?”
“No…..I don’t think so, no. What I remember anyway, no.” Blank spaces in my memory can be so frustrating. Even normal everyday things are missing. I shake my head. I’m thinking back, but there’s nothing.
We sit, quiet for a few moments. I take a drink of my coffee. Being up at 4:00am made today a coffee day, instead of a tea day.
“Do you remember how it ended with him? What stopped it?” Bea asks.
I think. I don’t. I’m afraid if I say that, she will decided I’m lying. That it’s not true, that nothing actually happened when I was a little girl. Slowly I shake my head, “No, nothing, there’s nothing. I don’t know.”
Bea nods her head at me. “That’s okay. There aren’t always concrete memories to deal with. Is there anything that seems like an ending, or feels like it might have ended things?”
I shake my head. There’s something, but it’s nothing at the same time. How do I explain that? Who has memories that aren’t memories? “There is something…..but it just opens more questions. More holes. I don’t know.” I’m frustrated. I feel like I have no answers, and I hate not having the answer.
“That happens. Trauma memories aren’t like other memories, there can be holes, blank spaces, more questions. You might never get the answer to those questions,” Bea says. I’m looking down, sneaking glances at her. I’m mostly present, but I can feel that I want to go away. Sneaking glances up at her face seems to help ground me; every time I look at her, I don’t see the annoyance, disbelief, disgust, hatred, anger, or horror I expect. I see understanding, I see kindness. That’s all. She looks like the same Bea who greets me, the same Bea who talks about Kat with me.
“There was…….we always rented a cabin every summer with them. I was 12, my parents didn’t go, but they still sent my brother and I. I think they were having problems, were working things out while we were gone, maybe, I’m not sure.” I stop there. I’m so unsure of how to continue this, how to explain. How do you tell someone you know something, when you don’t remember it at all? I look at Bea! and she nods at me, so I keep talking. “Something happened. I don’t remember that trip at all…………but I feel, I know something bad happened.” Now I look down, cover my face. I’m so afraid she won’t believe me. I feel sick to my stomach, and my heart is beating too fast. I can’t breathe.
“That makes sense. So many, many people don’t have memories, they have feelings, a belief, but no actual concrete memory. If you were 12, that was after the sexual education at church, right? You were 11 then?” I nod, yes, but I don’t look up. “Well, then it makes sense to me that you would have to completely block those memories out, bury them so deep you can’t find them, because that was after you realized what he was doing, that it was sex, and you really started to feel dirty, fear going to hell, all of that. The abuse was too much for your psyche to handle.”
I look up at her, then. She’s just Bea, and she believes me. It makes sense. It’s awful, and frustrating, but once again, Bea has reframed my version of things to make sense. I’m not crazy. If I feel so strongly that something happened at the cabin that summer, it did. “Oh…okay. I didn’t know, I didn’t think…..I just….something happened.”
“Yes, something happened. Maybe it never really had an ‘end.’ Maybe things just ended with him as he grew up and moved away, and you grew up,” Bea suggests.
Something about that suggestion seems partly real. I don’t know. I shake my head. “I just don’t know. It’s blank.”
“There might never be an answer. Sometimes blank spots stay blank.” Bea sounds sad, resigned almost. Like this is too bad, in some ways, for people like me who want the answers.
“I just want the answers. I hate not knowing.”
“I know. Not knowing is so very, very hard,” she says, “Processing the memories and the experiences is important, but it’s the feelings that really matter. It’s the feelings you have to deal with, and learning to be grounded in the here and now, learning coping skills for today…all of those things matter, too.”
I nod. They do matter, and I’m making progress, I know. I just want answers, I want my past back. I want the holes filled in, and the gaps gone. I want to be whole and healed. I don’t know to do that without having answers, and lists, notecards, binders, timelines. Maybe, learning to accept things as they are, without a perfect timeline, a perfect list, is part of the healing work I need to do.