I spent 10 years telling myself it didn't happen how I remembered it. I had a tendency to exaggerate the truth when I was young. I grew to become so convincing with my lies that to this day I still second guess whether a memory happened the way I think it did. I was in a behavioral health center for attempting to kill myself when I was sixteen. I was in a room with nine other adolescents eating an afternoon snack when a nurse began to recount the story of a neighbor and friend who molested her. As she was telling her story I had a memory shoved into the front of my mind. The trauma I told myself didn't happen. My story so closely resembled hers and I now had the knowledge that what N (my attacker) did was wrong. My ears began to ring and my vision began to black out at the edges. The next thing I know I am speaking with my social worker and sharing a story that had never left my lips before that moment.
My SW was very kind but I could tell from her questions that she wasn't sure if she believed what had happened was abuse. My "friendship" with N didn't end until I told my mother she stole something from me. She asked me why little aemcee knew that stealing wasn't okay but didn't know that molesting wasn't. Of course, SW wasn't the first one to doubt that what occurred was abuse. I was in group therapy for my anxiety, depression, self harm, and suicidal tendencies and made the mistake of sharing with the group just the general story of my trauma. I remember so clearly one girl saying, "Well, it's not really assault. She was just a kid and didn't have a d***." I didn't share any details with anyone after that. I knew from my mother (who is a survivor) that telling my partners that I was a survivor before getting intimate was important. So they got a vague "I was molested when I was 5-6."
Then I heard more and more stories about children who explored each other's bodies at a young and began to think maybe I had exaggerated the memory. Maybe it was just children's games. It wasn't until my sister took a psychology 101 class and talked about how some psychologists believe it's not possible to repress memories of abuse that I finally decided I'd imagined the whole thing. I was not a survivor of sexual abuse.
It took two years before the repression finally caught up with me. Admittedly, I did have occasional flashbacks and nightmares but I forced myself to shove it into the back of my mind and that it wasn't real. Then one day I was watching a video. I'd had a migraine all day. I was exhausted. I was stressed about work and moving. And I just cracked. I began doubting everything I'd ever done. I found myself wondering if it all went back to N. Was I ruined for the rest of my life because of perceived abuse? All of the hard work that I'd had with controlling my anxiety and depression crumbled within a matter of hours. I began having flashback after flashback. Now I can't help but feel like I'm 16 again. Aching with pain and scared of my own shadow. The worst setback yet.