I began to stir to the jarring rhythm of my son Shyre kicking me in the ribs. I could feel the warmth of my husband beside me and could recall a few sleepy attempts at waking up that I had believed were dreams. My husband troy was sitting up in bed smiling down at the baby and me sleeping.
Am I in a dream? I’ve never seen them before.
Then I was in absolute darkness and could not remember where my body was in parallel with my surroundings, I became dizzy and disoriented.
When did I get here?
My eyes were wide open in the darkness.
Who is calling me baby?
My eyes were wide open and the light poured in all at once. I did not know my husband; I did not know my child. The next few hours I cannot and will not describe. The next few days anxiety did not leave my body, I suffered through panic attack after panic attack. Any bit of focus I could gather turned into a ringing omen of all the days lost. My body remembers more than my mind. Visions of my rapist and what he did to me play over and over in my head until I get a headache, the first week this was the most recent, most vivid memory I could recall. I can feel him touching me and even when I am able to shake myself from those memories, my skin burns the same way it did that day. I am 21 years old and still fighting this, my skin is still burning.
I am just a stranger in my own body with a baby I do not know right next to me, kicking himself awake every morning; I cannot remember my husband and he seems just as terrified as me when I tell him I don’t know who he is; I have to keep reminding him that I do not know him. I can tell this kills him, he lost his wife and now he is lost too. I have to watch this strangers face fall from a smile too many times for my own heart to handle. I watched his mouth form so many words but I remember few of them. He spoke so solemnly to me once and I knew I would remember to write this:
“We struggled and fought through 3 years of hell and just like that—you woke up— everything was gone”
My sister and Troy told me everything about my life for the past several years and I still cannot picture it easily. I’m in disbelief about how unbearable my life was. I was numb, fast, and acted fearless. I did all the things I never thought I would do; I did all the things I was terrified of. As a child, I truly believed when I spoke out about how unhappy I was that I was a liar. But how does a child who is forced to think they are a rebel, no-good by those who accused them of whining, defend themselves against petty name calling adults? I was not lying but now that I know this, for the millionth time I am left wondering—who am I?
I know what it takes for a heart to break. I feel so much guilt the sensation of free falling perpetually hangs around my gut. Sometimes I hide myself behind a blind positivity, while inside I am screaming at myself to wake up or to regain any sense of lucidity. How could I forget my own child? This is so painful for me to write, friends—and how could I forget you? I don’t know anyone anymore, I wonder about the people I see on social media and the contacts and photos in my phone. I wonder “Does anyone miss me?” if my memory could return at any given moment, will I then be gone or will I remain with my current frame of mind? Which version of myself do I fight for? At first I was too afraid to want to remember who I was, but when it never happened I wished that I could. My eyes are dry from crying, my lips are chapped, I put off drinking water because my stomach just won’t hold it in when I am anxious; So what’s the excuse not to be honest with my life, my struggle, and my tomorrow? I do not have one. I am not afraid anymore.
That’s the thing about a broken heart; it can make you brave, wise, or dumb. I think I became all three. You can become all three, you know? A heart can break for many reasons. When I found out about my parents and the rest of my family, my heart broke. My mom and dad never got along with me, so I was not surprised to be told that they had psychiatrists prescribe me a lot of medication at the age of fifteen, so they could own a more docile daughter who wouldn’t show opposition to their—pardon my language—bullshit, to continue ignoring me and the struggles I was going through. Twenty eight to thirty pills daily until I was 19. I was told that once they found out about the brutal sexual assault I had suffered, they never looked at me the same or treated me the same again. They kept me locked up for “protection” and let me know every day that they did not trust me. They let me know with their words. We don’t trust you.
This was why I was so fearful of my parents, because I always knew it wouldn’t take much to withdraw their love for me. I had hoped I was wrong and that I was just paranoid because of the losses and trauma I had experienced at twelve years old. I had hoped the days I spent isolated in my room fantasizing about a life I could never have weren’t as lonely and that I had not been forgotten, but I these were the lies I told myself. Only small pieces of my life have been brought to light for me, I have read many journal entries that gave me a small glimpse into how things were but there is so much I do not know about. I learned that I have post traumatic stress disorder which causes me to have panic attacks and flashbacks and spells of confusion. Imagine your consciousness escaping just out of reach like you are experiencing a far off, muted thought that is so important, you have to chase after it, never reaching it. I am trapped in this cloud of questioning reality, yet I know deeper than my soul that I remain for a purpose bigger than myself.
It is on my heart to write about what has been going on in my life but getting it all from my head to my blog is a very trying and mentally exhausting endeavor. I have had to teach myself how to use my phone and social media. Every day I have to remind myself where I am and who is no longer a part of my life. I lay in bed visualizing my small new home and family so that when I wake up it doesn’t take me too long to remember that several years have gone by. These weeks since March have proved an incredibly scary struggle that I have had to walk through, yet I’m learning that it definitely is not the worst struggle I have been through. I have found peace relying on my faith to guide me at each moment and to give me courage to face this trial.
My son Shyre is my entire world. Not only does he bring me a joy I never thought I would deserve but is a constant tangible reminder of love. My sister and brother are my best friends and the two people I trust more than anyone. They are the only ones who truly know what I have been through and who love me no matter what. Troy is a being beyond the man I prayed and wished for as a child. I look back to the five year old little girl I once was, wrapping myself up in my blanket on nights when I couldn’t sleep and sneaking to the living room, I find myself pleading with God send someone to rescue me—I know that someone is Troy. I have never felt more loved and accepted in my entire life. Today Troy told me that I deserve someone on this earth who will love me as deeply and beautifully and mightily as the laws of the universe will allow. He told me that my love is the greatest, strongest love because of the pain I have felt before in its place. He told me that no matter my confusion or memory, he is sure of his identity because of the way I love him, that I took care of him for so long and it is his turn to take care of me.
Everything, everyone for the past several years of my life has completely vanished. I cannot recall a single moment of high school, or college, or work, I cannot recall meeting my husband, let alone marrying him. In my deepest thoughts I cannot even imagine giving birth to my son. I have been searching and praying relentlessly day and night but I am surely learning to live my life as it is now. I am no longer trapped. Their scorn left wounds but my mind, body and soul are no longer my guardian’s to torture. I do not belong to men who claim God guides their lips and actions to punish and gives humans power of divine judgment. I can dream about the woman I will become and I can become her.
I woke up one Monday in the third month of the year 2017 and I had lost my memory but now I have everything I ever asked for. I am loved, I am able, I am strong, and I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, a human capable of anything. I can grow from this place in life, blossom; I am who I have always wanted to be and I am finally free.