It’s all in the past: 1963

***If you are visiting this page for the first time, please do look at the previous posts in this section.

This is my story and it will all make more sense if you begin to read where I began to write***

1963

My memories of my childhood are patchy to say the least. But now, when I look back, the most significant thing about them is that I can’t really remember any happy ones. I really wish I could. I have boxes of old photographs my mum collected of when I was a child but they just don’t trigger any memories of the happy events they depict. My earliest memories in contrast to these smiling images are anything but happy; they are traumatic.

The first distinct childhood memory is of suffering from Measles and being really very poorly with it. I can clearly recall lying on the settee in the living room and then sneezing and triggering a nose bleed so bad there was blood spattered all up the wall. I remember my grandma putting a bag of frozen mandarin oranges on my forehead to try to get it to stop. Why mandarin orange tsegments, I have no idea

My other significant early memory is that of getting my head stuck in the railings just a little way down from our house. I’m sure so many people share the same horrible childhood memory. Don’t ask me why I was there and what was in my head to put it through those railings. I don’t know. What I do know is how I panicked at not being able to get myself free. I know that somebody had to go and tell my parents, and dad had to be come and he forced the bars apart enough for me to get out. Not before I had a substantial audience though and was mortified and embarrassed at being laughed at. I was only five years old.

These two early traumas took place in, and near to the first of seven houses I would live in before I reached ten years old. At that time, I was also enrolled at the first of five primary schools I would attend before I was nine. Why we moved home so many times would only become clear many years later.

I was born in 1958 into a pretty ordinary family; my mum was a machinist and my dad was a motor mechanic. I was the first and eldest child of four my mum would give birth to by the time she was thirty years old. I have two brothers and a sister below me.

I believe that my memories of childhood are patchy because many were blotted out by trauma and most in particular, a terrible trauma I experienced when I was seven years old. I think it became easier not to remember the past, so I didn’t. I still don’t. Only recently have I begun to understand the reasons for this.

Trauma has a significant affect upon our memories and how our brain stores them. Those that cause us pain are often locked away for our own protection. It’s a mechanism of self-preservation. We can’t control it; our brain takes control. Some elements of trauma are buried so deeply that they may never re-surface, or if they do, it’s in the form of flashbacks and fragmented images that we can find difficult to understand. But then there are the times, where there is a bursting out of memory, triggered by an incident or a build up of events. We don’t and we cannot control this and it can creep up on us with little or no notice; even in a meeting of clergy…

It’s all in the past’

‘Get over it’ they say and…

‘Move on’, or, ‘remember, today’s a new day’

But what, when today holds over 55 years

Of suppressed memories and untold fears?

There are some things you can’t just ‘get over’

They are the things that will stay in your being forever,

Because they are a part of who you are

They’ve made you, they’ve moulded you.

 

And though you’ve come far

You can’t deny, forget what occurred

What you’ve hidden a lifetime, without a word.

And now you’ve disclosed the events from your past

And shared them, it ought to be easy, at last.

But you sense all the thoughts and the words left unsaid

The judgemental views playing through the heads

of those you’ve told of what took place.

It’s what isn’t said. It’s the look on a face.

Do they want the details? Would they then appreciate

what you’d actually been through

and the lifelong affect it’s had on you?

To indicate that you should just ‘move on’

Is to silently state that it should be all gone

From your mind

But there are things that can’t ever be erased

The things that you know you should never have faced

As you grew up.

 

So please don’t dismiss it as ‘all in the past’

My past is my present and I live with that.

My past has made me who I am:

I’m a fighter, despite all that was done

And even fighters sometimes have a wobble

And after 55 years,

This time, here and now, is my struggle.

But I will come back again,

Strong like before

I will paint on a smile and I will shut the door

on the vile things that should never’ve occurred.

And I will answer when you ask

and I’ll say, ‘I’m fine’,

But for now, please just give me the time

To face the demons I’ve locked away

Let me deal with them without judgement

Without the need to say

‘Just move on,’

I will do that when the time has come

When the nightmares, flashbacks and panics halt

And I can finally acknowledge, it wasn’t my fault.

I will move on, I will put it all back

In the box it’s lived in for such a long time

I will move on when the decision is mine.

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