Memory and Blank Spaces

This term I am taking a wonderful women’s studies class entitled Women, Writing, and Memoir.  The first two classes of the term involved the completion of free writes on the prompts “I remember…” and “I don’t remember…” My responses were highly reflective and raised my intrigue for these exercises.  I have decided, for this blog post, to combine the exercises and complete a free write just to see, out of pure curiosity, where it goes.

I remember the way I existed in a constant zombie, absent state as I progressed from class to class in that fiery October when I was mysteriously, unprecedentedly called to the high school administrative office for my mother to pick me up.  To the hospital, she said we were going, and all I can remember is the relief that I can finally sleep, sleep, sleep.  Sleep away the demons rooting residence within the fabric of my brain, quickly signing their renewal leases, tenants disruptive and unforgiving, destined to never leave.  I remember the discovery that no, I was to be imprisoned in a psychiatric ward where sleep was a commodity, a rarity, a luxury to be bartered for.  It was Halloween, the mountains of Southern California were ablaze, and they painted my face, me a child, the color strokes not indicative of the fourteen years of age I carried. Visitors presented, yet I was absent, my ties to the world severed, floating in catatonia.  I bowed my head, unaware of the forces struggling to break the barrier and draw me from the depths of hell in which I resided.  I remember smuggling broken tiles from occupational therapy, feeling deftly for the sharpest edges and drawing the points across my forearm until they drew blood.  There was a girl there.  I did not know her well, nor did I express the choice or will to, but I remember the ways she tried to touch me and the protests of discomfort and intense dislike I offered.  I remember the day I was allowed to leave, realizing the broken way in which these two worlds attempted to collide.

I don’t remember the white hot flashes that surged through my mind and danced their bruises across my mother’s arms, her hiding them at work to avoid the questions she knew would be asked.  I don’t remember the rages that possessed me and elicited horrific acts, only that they occurred and that I collapsed in confusion and unknowing.  While I remember the breaking of the glass, I cannot recall how it felt to pull the shard across flesh, nor the specific hue of red that emerged and trickled like a slow-flowing creek carrying away garbage cast afloat by a desperate teenager seeking cleansing and catharsis.  I do not remember the first time I prostrated to pray, but only how I ardently seek to replicate the feeling of connection I felt to God in that moment – the worlds beyond being opened to me and offering solace and forgiveness to and an understanding of the monster residing within me. I don’t remember the first time I contemplated suicide, only that the urge has never left.  I have little recognition of childhood, of a semblance of normalcy, a state in which my mind was quiet and not disruptive, sadistic, or cruel.  Most of all I do not remember familial happiness, a time in which the devils did not dance, the connecting ropes strained by illness and marriage, a time when sisters partnered rather than eschewed.  I do not remember every tear shed from red eyes, but I remember in vividness the ones which I caused.

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