“Grey UnMemory” chapter from RECOVERY WRITING 101


So many traumas and events have occurred in my short life, that when I pause to focus on them, I am amazed and humbled to be alive.  There were many long years of my childhood where I drew complete blanks…awkwardly comfortable grey, unlined pages in my head..wisps of familiar sensations in my fingertips..the true hallmark of blank memories.

When the brain has enough blank pages, it holds a written story with invisible ink.

Almost two years ago, after much-MUCH- therapy, I sought the courage to remember.  I contacted the Mulberry county courts and they helped me located a case I helped close at the age of 12.  The package came.  I opened it with numb fear.  And I read it.  Although it did not reveal all the memories, much of it returned.

The writing exercise below was a difficult one.  As each memory awoke, another stirred, and so it continued until the memories that were ready to be addressed had been acknowledged.  There are more pages in the head yet to reveal themselves.  In time, they will demand their moment.

Although it is written in a fictional way (as it was originally a chapter from the first “Finding Tina”) the memories and dreams are mine.  Walk with me now as the character Tina explores her mind while under sedation from her abductor.

“Grey UnMemory”

My mind drifts, drugged so deeply that I cannot climb out of the astral haze of bluish grey curling like clove smoke. Cerebral swirls and dip, the rat maze of my thoughts full of trap doors and detours.

A specter of hot white brilliance, I travel at slow speed, a tourist gawking with turning signal on for miles, perusing the events of my existence.

I am watching my mother, young, beautiful, jumping through fire to rescue me. I am barely a year old, coughing in my crib, skin covered in soot, rivulets of black running from my nose. The room changes, nearly two years later. My mother is arguing incoherently with her brother, who is prying her clenched fist off the handle of the gas can. She is losing her mind from the abuse and the crazy talk. She wants to burn the house down with all of us inside. Her brother is pleading with her.

She draws in a ragged breath, releases the can of gasoline. They collapse on the floor together. I see myself, a little girl, run to them and they all cuddle and cry on the carpet. The light inside of me aches. I cannot linger here, and resume my way down memory lane.

I’m paused inside of myself briefly. My knee is pressed into a picture frame in the back floorboard of the old Opal car. I’m nearly buried by books, boxes and old suitcases. I can overhear my parents arguing. The faint reflection of a three-year old child is staring back at me in the picture frame. Her eyes spill tears as my mother is fighting ferociously to get into the car. The door slams, the engine roars and the gravel sprays finely out. A man is roaring pissed yelling. The reflection is bouncing around now. I focus on her eyes, feeling myself jump into the reflection and out of the Opal.

Floating with warm relief, my light resumes its journey, searching for good memories. Around the bend of my mind, my childhood friend awaits. I speed up, eager to glimpse the past.

I float safely above the happy family in the living room. I see a young girl, about ten years old, playing with her best friend on the floor who is only eight. I recognize myself as the older one, and fly into her to experience the memories of being young and carefree. I look at my small, tanned hands holding the dolls. What pretty dolls we play with.

The friend’s mother excuses herself to make dinner, and it’s just the old uncle and his two teenage sons, and us little girls. The uncle motions for my friend, who wordlessly drops her doll to sit on his lap. I feel bile rising in my young throat. Something is about to happen. I bail out of her, and hover.

I see my eight year old friend forced on her knees. The ten-year old me is made to watch, while the sons keep a lookout. He has threatened us all, and we believe him. We do everything he asks.  I watch the blank expression on my young face, realizing that the little me has seen this before, and will be next later like always. I tried to protect her the first time. There is no escape.

Perverted pictures of children fall from the ceiling like snowflakes, drifting down to rest at our feet. I pick one up. I see myself.

The room flashes brightly, and the memory is different. I look down at the table in front of me. There is an old tape recorder and a microphone. I look at my hands on the table. My hands are bigger. I’m twelve years old now.

I hear the muffled voice of a man asking me questions. I’m uncomfortably shifting in my seat. I don’t want to answer him. He is asking me questions about sex. He is recording for a trial. I feel myself leaning forward to talk. I’m shaking. No, no, no more.

The scene zooms out long focus, until the young girl and the table is a tiny speck in tunnel vision, winking off like an ember dying in the blackness of space deep within my soul.

I thank God I cannot recall, and continue my journey on within the recesses of my scrambled grey matter.

A door waits, barely ajar, light softly streaming out. I curiously look in. I see my mother, much older, chopping onions for dinner. She has been dead so long, but here she is quite alive, contentedly cooking, already a little plumper than before, aging gracefully. I glimpse myself across the counter, helping as always. I am barely eighteen, with big rock star hair, tanned, skinny.

Eager for a taste of this, I become my young self, looking around with my young eyes.

We’re in the country living a very simple life. Crickets are chirping outside, it’s a hot evening. Mom leaves the room gracefully with her usual jokes as I laugh so tenderly through my onion tears and toss the cuts in a bowl.

The force of him knocks my hips into the counter. His callused hands blur by my vision, large and pawing my flesh. Nausea washes over me from the sickening scent of hard booze seeping through his sweat. He is so tall that his erection presses painfully into the small of my back.

It feels like this happened before. I hear a gasp, a crash, and I am released. Mom saw.

I run through the tiny hot house to the bedroom, locking my door, as Mom chases him out the open front door with a dangerous look in her eyes and a knife in hand. Silence settles suddenly. I look out my window.

Mom is being held up by her throat against the oak tree. He is tall and lanky, slamming her with intoxicated force. I scream with all my might out the window until my voice box scratches painfully. Mom is dropped, she runs to the house, and we huddle behind the locked bedroom door together.

He slices the phone line and frolics drunkenly bare ass naked under the tree for hours until he passes out. Mom pushes me out the window. Go, she says ghostly.

But she refuses to go with me. She won’t leave him. Kissing her hands, I promise to get help. I cry quietly as I run to the Caprice, hoping he didn’t tamper with it again. The engine starts. As I peal out of the drive and roar down the dirt road, dry hot dust rolling in waves, I barely see him staggering back to the house. Mom’s still inside.

The Caprice fishtails around a corner and parks next to a hospital bed in ICU. Mom’s dying.

Instantly I force myself out of this awful memory hard with such force that I fly out like a cannonball from the old car. I feel myself flying too far up, panicking, falling upward and backward, recklessly propelled in astral flight now, up into the heavens of bright silver-lined cumulus adorning the clear air.

A light whirrs past me. It’s a bright light like me.

We fly together at the speed of light, flirting, kissing, sashaying on the way to her destination. At the top of the cloud clearing, I sob tears of gratitude with the sight that fills my senses. The Gates are magnificently terrifying in their golden glory, standing strongly like monoliths, locked. A high lush hedge wall spans on to eternity from either side, leaving me filled with such a humble appreciation for the Master Gardener.

My companion light flits through the left Gate as it opens briefly to admit her. I follow her close, making it through just as it closes behind me. The Garden stretches forever, fragrantly overgrown with the sweetest blooms, hundreds of colors, blossoms as large as my head, swaying in the soft warm breeze of Heaven. I become myself, and my bare feet sink into the soft ticklish moss. The love of spirituality saturates my senses until I fall to my knees with such gratitude that I cry tears of joy. My tears grow more flowers, beautiful beyond mere words.

I see my light friend float slowly through the orchard heavily laden with unknown, perfectly polished fruits. She transforms into a recently deceased little girl, with wavy blond hair. She steps into the small white tent to the left. On the right is an immense steel safe, securely locked, holding all the secrets of the Universe. I cannot stop myself from walking to the small white tent. The little girl soars up into flight with her new angel wings as a very tiny Figure hobbles out of the tent flap, wrapped in white linen, skin very old and leathery, missing hands and feet.

The face is my mother’s, yet is also everyone.

The Voice resonates in my head. I’m not ready to be here yet. I have to go. I’m glowing so intensely that I shut my eyes, squinting. I cannot see anything but hot, white, liquid bright. My body aches, consumed by the white fire of my spirit being reborn.

The Phoenix within me beats her wings, tipped with molten fire, testing the impending Wind. I am alive, inhaling my lungs inside out until they burst forth with such pain that I break out of the fire and soar up, cawing exhale triumphantly.

I am the Survivor. I cannot die, I cannot be broken. I become supernova, soaring into the Holy Sun of Life, warmly living, loving.

The Sun bursts apart with the rise of my heavy lids.
My chest slowly rises, full of rales and gravel. I cough instinctively. My pupils reflect the infinity of lost time, drug-induced hallucinations. I am becoming aware. Grey matter has stopped its chattering.

All is quiet, save for the beating of my slow, thick heartbeat in my veins, feeding the beast of my migraine.

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