Stories: A Buried Memory

I had buried the memory of the incident. It only came rushing back into my mind when someone sent a Facebook suggestion that I be his friend. My immediate visceral response was an unequivocal NO.

I reached out to a trusted friend – someone who I had gone through life coach training with and who I knew it was safe to be vulnerable with. I told her my story of when I was about 7 and said, “He molested me, or, well, he touched me inappropriately.” She kindly and firmly told me, “That is molestation.”

I’m glad she brought my attention to the word choice. I guess I was trying to make light of it, to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, to lessen what happened to me. He is a relative – not close – but I was taught in many ways not to rock the boat, not to air the family’s secrets, and that “blood is thicker than water.”

A Compassionate Witness

By calling my experience what it was, that it was indeed molestation, I was able to recognize it was abuse. It also helped me understand why my initial reaction was fear and avoidance.

For me, it was healing to have a compassionate witness who recognized and validated my experience. Later, when I shared with another family member, the reaction was not so positive, and it made me even more grateful for my friend who was able to hold space for me to grieve and who believed me.

2 Replies to “Stories: A Buried Memory”

  1. I have so much trauma that I fear will never leave me and from which I’ll never heal because it’s hidden and will remain so. Much of it is from preverbal experience. Some is from trauma upon trauma, layers of scar tissue. Things that I was aware of on some level, but too young and already too traumatized to recognize or deal with.
    One incident I DO remember is STILL very much clouded by the uncertainty of self-doubt and too much time gone by.
    I hadn’t yet turned 6. My family had just returned to the states after six years in Nigeria, where I’d arrived as a highly over-vaccinated newborn.
    We were staying briefly with another Church of Christ minister and his family.
    I MUST have had to pee REALLY REALLY bad, because I opened the closed bathroom door (without knocking?). Whether before or after I used the toilet, I don’t recall. I’m not even sure I was aware of someone else being in the room with me.
    What I DO remember is the “man” of the house flinging open the shower curtain and standing there fully exposed, laughing long and loud, as I gaped up in horror.
    I vaguely remember, too, getting in trouble for bursting in on someone behind a closed bathroom door. I may have gotten a spanking.
    Is what this man did “abusive”?

    1. Dear Patti – I wish we had a clearer answer for you that would help
      take away even a bit of the amount of pain. Ultimately, how you feel
      and the pain you experience every time these memories come to mind is
      what matters most. If you are not currently under the care of a
      therapist or counselor, and would be interested in seeking this type
      of support, know that there are many resources available. While we do
      not offer counseling services, other organizations including RAINN
      [https://www.rainn.org/get-help] and Speak Your Silence
      [https://speakyoursilence.org ] can help connect you to resources and
      support you deserve. Thank you for being such a valuable member of our
      community – Amrita (Gravity Network Team)

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