My ‘Secrets’ blog is a serialisation of my story. You may want to first go back to read previous weeks’ accounts 🖤
I clearly recall that large man, the light brown hair and the colour blue. I know he came out from the transport cafe next to our house, and that he seemed friendly when I agreed to go for a walk with him. I recall the laughing. Even across the years as we continue with the EMDR I can hear the laughing – but then nothing, a total block of memory. The EMDR prompts flashbacks of emotions and images but never anything that is a concrete memory of what happened next, how I got away, how I got back home. As I tap and focus, there is just that vague awareness of running and hiding. The block in memory becomes increasingly distressing over the weeks. What did he do? Did he let me go? Did I wriggle myself free? Did I escape from him? Did he threaten me if I told? Is that the reason I didn’t? Is that why it’s been my secret for 55 years? So many distressing, unanswered questions.
By now my counsellor had recommended a book called ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ by Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist, author and researcher, particularly in the area of PTSD.
I had ramped up my running, regularly doing 5km round the country park in my village. It was my greatest escape, my obsessive escape. As I ran, I listened to Bessel van der Kolk’s theories on my AirPods. As the book unfolded, so many of my questions about why I couldn’t remember became clearer. The brain, basically won’t allow it. When a trauma is too severe for an individual to cope with, the brain locks that memory away and with it the ability to articulate what happened also disappears. It happens because when any deeply traumatic memory is awakened, we relive it, the feelings, the emotions become real again. This is a part of PTSD. This happens particularly with childhood trauma.
I had a choice. I could continue to push, to drive myself to distraction, trying to unlock the memory, which could cause me even more distress, or I could accept that maybe, just maybe, I was better now knowing the ‘what happened next’ part of it all, and just maybe, perhaps I was being protected from it all.
Pondering upon this led me to write another piece of poetry:
Trying to pull back a blocked memory of an assault upon my seven year old self, and suffering flashbacks is incredibly painful and feels every bit as traumatic as it did all those years ago. It is a reliving of the fear of the event, without knowing exactly what happened, and realising a fear of the unknown.
The following is written, inspired by ‘Footprints’ as a positive exercise, in response to that deep rooted fear and perhaps the fact that my Heavenly Father, unlike my earthly father, has looked out for me and protected me from all the details of what happened that day.
I lifted you…’
I reached down and gently I lifted you up
I just knew you couldn’t take anymore,
Your young mind needed to shut the door
On the what and the why
Of the awful events that happened, the day
A stranger stole your innocence away.
And so I lifted you.
I lifted you up
And took your young brain, to a place
where you would no longer recall
The detail, the horrors
of the worst that occurred
Of an assault, which changed your view of the world.
With a screen and a cloud, I hid it away
When I lifted you up in my arms that day
I lifted you up
and I chose to blur the memories
that flooded your innocent heart.
I kept you safe, held you apart from
All the details for so many years.
And now when the images flash
When they cause terrors and fears,
Still, I am here, lifting you up
And gently turning your face away
From all the hurt and the shame of that day.
Because to me,
you will always be
My precious child
With no need to recall how you were defiled
By a man who caused such awful pain ~
I lifted you then and I lift you again to
Prevent you from putting the fragments together
Just to cause more hurt, that you’d carry forever.
And as I lift you and hold you safe in my arms,
Let me be the judge of the one who did harm.
I lifted you then and I lift you still,
Just lean on me and trust in my will
For all that is good and gentle and true
Lean on the one who’s protected you through.
I love you, I’ve shared your hurt and your pain
I lifted you then and I will lift you again,
and again…and again…