“Have you ever been sexually molested or raped,” the female nurse practitioner asked me.
Silence. And then I began to cry. Weep. Sob. Uncontrollably. Hysterically. It was as if a floodgate had opened, allowing a waterfall of emotions and words previously buried and forgotten to barge full-speed ahead.
Granny sat there bewildered and afraid, before the nurse practitioner asked her to leave the room. I had never told granny. The intern had a Damn, medical school didn’t cover this look on her face, before she too left the office. She returned with some Kleenex and a hug.
I’m here because of bronchitis. What does my past have to do with anything? Who asks such questions during a doctor’s visit anyway?
No one had ever asked me that before. I had certainly never discussed it with granny or strangers. Up to that day, I had only told an ex-boyfriend and friend about what had happened to me, over and over. But, never too many details. No need to complicate matters.
“Did he penetrate you?”
“I don’t know. I don’t remember.”
Repressed memories. I used to think they were a bunch of hocus pocus. Psychobabble. Until I began remembering. No matter how far away your memories are, you never escape them. You never truly forget. They sneak up on you at the most inopportune times, causing unexpected and uncontrollable reactions. Reminding you that you are vulnerable, fragile, and not as tough as you thought. Reminding you that evil does exist.
Like the time I sat on the phone venting to a friend about a boyfriend. The memories and the pain came from nowhere. Or, so I thought. The memories came so hard that I put the phone down, rolled into a fetal position on my bed and cried. Gut-wrenching, snot-flying, headache-inducing, loud, unashamed sobs. When I picked the phone back up, my friend was still there. And then I went on with life. And I forgot. Until that day in the medical office almost six years ago.
I remembered again. I see my bedroom. It is dimly lit. I am lying on a bed. I don’t remember how old I am, but I am young enough to still need a baby sitter. He is on top of me. The baby sitter. The neighbor. The family friend. I am wearing a nightgown. It is white flannel with some design on it. His face is a blur of unrecognizable features. I know that he is tall, big, and dark. I remember darkness. Silence. Stillness. Like a snap shot. Frozen in time.
I know who he is. I know who they are. I won’t forget again. My memories finally caught up to me.
He is but one of several. I am but one of many. Of millions.
Why did he do it?
Why is my story all too common? Why are millions of little girls silently lying still and stunned beneath strangers, family friends, relatives and people who are supposed to protect them? Why are little girls unsafe in this world? Why are little girls searching for the memories that invade their dreams and psyches? Memories that will change and haunt them in ways they’ll never know.