The fresh light snow scrunches under my feet. The street lights glisten off of the surface, forming small diamonds wherever the dim rays hit the white flakes. I take steady steps, head down, admiring the brightness of the white snow in the pitch black night. I am afraid of looking up as I don’t want to know what is ahead of me….
The flashbacks to my childhood come in all sorts of forms. I can smell something which connects with a memory of a distinct smell from my past, and I can suddenly remember an event, a person, a feeling or an image from that time, just because the small thing reminded me of that moment in history.
Not all flashbacks are bad or about the abuse; sometimes I get good memories too. They still make me cry, but a lot of times it’s very cleansing, letting things out of my system kind of way. I guess it’s the release of emotions, whether negative or positive, which brings me to tears, but a lot of times the good memories make me sad because I know I can’t go back to that point in time; it’s gone for forever.
I have started remembering very random things I never knew before. The clothes I wore, the toys I had, how our home looked like. I get moving images of me doing things as a child, and when I look at myself as a little girl I get really sad; those days are gone forever, I never got to enjoy life the way a child should enjoy their life, and even during a happy memory, a dark cloud hangs over the thought, distorting the goodness in the image.
Such is the legacy of abuse – it hangs over even the nicest moments, and you can never get away. It affects your everyday life for the rest of your life in one way or another whether you liked it or not, and the only way to somehow make sense of it is to work through the layers of emotions, memories, and pain.
My way of doing this with regards to the good memories is that when the flashback comes, I close my eyes and dig deeper into the moment. I try to make the picture as vivid as possible, and allow the emotions to run at their own pace. I try to find a safe space, and allow myself be absorbed into the memory and re-live it as best as possible.
I’ve noticed that allowing myself to feel whatever it is that my heart is telling me to feel, I am able to re-connect, and let go. Little by little, these memories form a story of who I used to be, and it doesn’t hurt so much anymore to go back to the past in my head. The shadows don’t mean as much when the positive narrative is strong, and the overwhelming sensation of not knowing who I am gets smaller, for now I am able to laugh a little bit more about my childhood.
I also realize that I am strong. For almost twenty years my early childhood was a mystery to me, and it’s been as painful to remember everything as it must have been to live through the experiences, but having to do it twice and still be able to live my life in the present is a sign to me that I should be a little bit more appreciative of my strengths; that little girl that stood under the street light with the snow falling around her has grown up, but she is very much alive inside of me for her strength brought me to where I am today.