It wasn’t so long ago when I was in the most difficult part of my healing journey. It was the first time some very personal memories had ever left the dark corners of my brain. But I had hit my bottom. I don’t know if everyone has a bottom or would ever want to go there, because I’ll reassure you, rock bottom sucks.
But today, I can kiss the floor of that bottom because it was the day I had no other choice but to look up and through. In the beginning of my process, it had been a constant battle to convince myself that the only way I was going to be able to move forward in my life was by allowing the memories and the words to travel out of my head into the light. Whether they were headed onto a piece of paper, onto a computer, or out of my mouth to another person. That the only way was through and the only way through was to get it out of my head.
Acknowledging it, speaking it, writing it, all helped me process and release many pivotal traumatic events that for years that wouldn’t allow me to ever truly be myself or relax.
The reason I’m choosing to write about this today is because I recently had a memory pop up that my past self would have looked at very differently.
Is there anyone who remembers when this was how you watched a home movie?
I remember being a little girl watching the movie Grease for the first time on one of those laser disc players. I don’t know if I was 7 or 8 years old, but what I did know was I always loved the idea of falling in love.
Ahhh Grease… and well “Grease is the word. Its the word that you heard, it’s got groove” …. Ahh you know the song. 😉
My path to my Danny Zuko was as simple as hot rollers, red lipstick, leather pants, and to be able to say … “Tell me about it stud.”
Yep.. Can you see it? I’m a dead ringer.
Many nights when I couldn’t fall asleep or those times I was abruptly awoken from my sleep, I would lay in my bed, stare up at my strawberry shortcake canopy, and do 1 of 2 things. If I was scared, I would say my “Our Fathers and my Hail Mary’s” as the good little Catholic girl I was until I fell asleep.
Or the 2nd thing I would do was try to make myself dream the whole Grease movie in its entirety.
Ever try to Make yourself dream something? It’s not that easy.
Because I knew the movie word for word I could do it. Just not while asleep. Because of the things going on around me or to me for that matter, this movie was one of my many mind escapes and dissociative techniques.
At 8,I found a way to dream myself into a different life. A place where the songs could be so loud, so fun, they could drown out the fighting. The pounding on the kitchen table, the yelling, the screaming, the crying all was muffled by lyrics like, “Tell me more Tell me more like does he have a car?”
Now when I began to first share this memory and similar ones, I would become very angry. Acknowledging the uncertainty, the instability, the seemingly lack of regard for my presence in my childhood destroyed me.
This silly movie became a trigger of a time when a part of myself was formed and broken. The sexual abuse going on had already taught me how to clearly disassociate from the present. But situations like this, validated my minds lies that told me I didn’t exist. My young mind thought if I did exist in their life, maybe they wouldn’t act that way. They would know I can hear this,that I’m scared, and stop. So I learned to isolate within my mind and create my own reality.
This was a tough pill to swallow when talking about it. My anger was in realizing that in the heat of their moments I was never a thought to silence their fights. I didn’t matter enough to quiet them even a little to check on me being a room away.
Only because I’m a parent myself do I realize how important that is. How our children hear everything and the reality of my own mistakes in this area. But I learned from my own life that when we are open, humble, and touch base with our children after the tidal waves rolled in, they might not take those moments and put them into little dark corners of their brain to grow and fester like I had back then.
You see, while I was in my bedroom ingesting all that was spewed or being destroyed, I was trying to drown it out with a movie score.
The reality on the other side was my parents were trying to just grow up. Yep. They had zero good coping skills. Kind of like this. (I once worked in a preschool)
If a 2 year old child takes a toy from another 2 year old child it almost always ends up in a bite, a swat, or screaming and crying. 2 year olds communication skills are limited and the only way they can voice their frustrations are through tantrums and acting out physically. Many of us it can take many years developing coping skills if we were not taught properly or have experienced trauma where the coping skills development is has been damaged.
I believe my parents both never quite handled things well because they only did what they knew. They didn’t know to check on me because they never were checked on. Period. They didn’t know not to fight in front of me, or scream all night long because they grew up in homes that never showed them differently. That’s the reality.
It wasn’t that they didn’t love me. They just did what they knew.
But its only now, I can see this. I can move on from this, forgive, and still love them very much.
Because I walked through it. I faced it. I felt it. I processed it. I talked about it. I cried about it. I asked my mom about it, I took myself out of it to see their side of it, and today can let it go.
It’s a huge step forward in my journey to be able to look back at these little memories that were once so harmful and angering to me and no longer allow them to consume my feelings.
I now understand the situation for what it was. The fact was my parents were young. My parents were overwhelmed. They fought.
So much so that they missed a lot of me in the storm. So I learned to find a way to become seen. In my head. Watching Grease … Being Sandy.
As I grew up, I spent alot of my life making bad choices in how I reacted or responded to others until I hit my own bottom. I longed to know more beyond my own pain.
Today I don’t need to go to places like that. I know how to handle things. Not perfectly but better. But the best thing about today is I know that the only way is through, and instead of being Sandy I can be me.
Are you struggling? Do you know someone who is? It’s important to talk about it. Write about it, draw it, paint it, whatever. You are only as sick as your secrets. Your journey can begin today. It’s up to you.
Here’s to living in the light.