Blacked-out Childhood is a Scary Place

swings cropped

I think I moved into a more violent place. Not as in people are brawling on street corners or anything, but I hear arguments through the walls. Screaming matches when I’m near my window. Words from next door I can’t make out. The old man who shares a wall cursing at someone on the phone.

For some reason, it’s been making me think of blacked-out things from my childhood, and something my therapist said a few years ago when I asked why I have OCD.

I’ve hidden it

She says I’ve hidden it. The reason for my OCD. The reason why, deep inside, on a subconscious level, I feel constantly dirty. Like I’ll never be clean again. In the beginning, when the OCD first started manifesting when I was thirteen, it got pretty terrible. I would get these thoughts in my mind and have to wash my hands until I didn’t think them. If I thought them, I was ‘dirty’. If I managed to wash my hands without thinking them, then I was ‘clean’. Once, I washed my hands for half an hour straight and I couldn’t stop. I burst into tears because I just… couldn’t… stop.

Eventually, I managed to quarantine it to certain things, enabling me to bear it as it altered over the years.

Then it got really bad

A few years back, in 2017, it got bad again. As in really bad. My OCD and paranoia were out of control, sometimes not even letting me buy food or, sometimes, even eat. I wrote this blog post during that time. I seriously didn’t know how I would survive if it continued. I couldn’t function, could barely go to work or buy groceries because my OCD and paranoia were constantly goading my brain to a literal level of insanity. I felt that I might one day start screaming and never stop. It was perpetual, relentless.

By the time New Year’s Day 2018 hit, I made a pact with my paranoia, saying, “You have got to help me or I am going to kill us all.”

A Pact with my Paranoia

I turned the paranoia against the OCD. When my OCD says, “You have to do this again and again and AGAIN!”, my paranoia shoots back that, “If you do it more than three times, TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, BAD THINGS will happen!”

And it works. Pitting the paranoia against the OCD has kept me from that screaming precipice for over a year now.

It’s still there

But the OCD is still there, lurking inside, a parasite on my sanity. And what my therapist told me still haunts me. What happened in the time before I was thirteen that I blacked out? What caused this debilitating mental flaw that has lasted my entire life? This thing that messes up my brain and nearly starved me a few years back?

I’ve been trying to think back to what could have happened. What hints I can dig up to what happened to me. And I come up with little blips of memories that end suddenly and I wonder–what happened after that?

Are they really memories, or dreams, or am I making them up?

There’s one from when I was around ten. We lived by a bayou. The banks down to the water were big and soft enough for us kids to dig little caves to huddle in, and beyond the dirt banks sloped a grassy hill up to a path that people rode bikes and four-wheelers on.

I was playing by the caves with a friend when we heard the roar of a motorcycle. My friend dove into the caves to hide, but I was older than her and was like, “Tss! I’m not afraid!”

So I stayed visible as the motorcycle roared into sight on the path above the hill.

He must have seen me

He veered his motorcycle down the hill and stopped right in front of me.

I couldn’t see his face because he had a helmet with a visor that was completely black. He just stopped there looking down at me while I stood staring up at him, trying to be defiant but frankly scared shitless.

I think my brother came over the hill then calling me to come home for dinner and the motorcyclist revved up the bike and sped off.

But my brother doesn’t remember this. Did it really happen?

Another cut-off memory happened when I was nine.

I had a boyfriend whose father terrified me

I was inside his house. I don’t know where he was, but I was standing in his dad’s bedroom. It was dark, windowless, but the bedroom door was open behind me and spilled in sunlight from the windows in the living room. I was staring at the bed. At the rumpled sheets. Thinking, ‘Adult things happen in those sheets.’

A shadow fell across me. I turned around.

His father was standing in the doorway.

The glimpse ends there, on a note of terror.

Did I make it up? It’s not like I can ask, because the whole family vanished. One day they were there, the next they were gone. The house was empty.

Mystery upon mystery

I keep searching, trying to find blips of memories that might lead to something, but honestly, sometimes I’m scared. Because–

What can be dark enough to mess up someone for an entire life?

Maybe that’s why I write some of the things I do. Things that explore characters who’ve gone through deep trauma, who struggle through some tough shit. I know people have different capacities with regard to scope of emotion, some being pretty even keel while others have deep downs and high ups, and part of me wonders how many of those people were born like that and how many had it unlocked when some terrible experience opened those depths up inside them–us. Shook out the even-keel and plunged us into something deep and dark.

Once we’ve been to those depths, maybe we want to know what else is there, so we keep returning.

Or maybe we’re just drowning.

Drop by crazy drop.

P. S.

I’m not depressed, although this post may make it sound like I am. This is just a frame of mind I get into occasionally. More wondering what the heck was going on back then that I blocked out. And the OCD and paranoia battling it out is working for now, thankfully!

As to other things, I’m keeping my head above water and thank God for my writing, my family, my friends, my job, my cats, my flat, my life, and everything that goes with it. Also, I’ve been dancing with my ex [nothing romantic, though–he gives the West Coast Swing lessons that I’ve started attending, and they’re so much fun]!

Also, in an attempt to get more support from my writing, I started a Patreon 🙂 Occasionally, I have fun picking out excerpts to post there. Today’s begins:

The First Demesne stretched out into the night before her in a maze of cobbled streets, corniced roofs, and picturesque cupolas. Smoke curled like dragon’s breath from stout chimneys…

Owner of two cats and huge dreams and author of any kind of love story so long as wild stuff is going on...

Posted in Blog
One comment on “Blacked-out Childhood is a Scary Place
  1. raenegade says:

    It’s scary. And sad. Even though I dont have either of them I can only imagine how difficult it is. Also I loved the Patreon video…hopefully it works out. Much love.

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Sonya Lano

Sonya Lano

Owner of two cats and huge dreams and author of any kind of love story so long as wild stuff is going on...

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