Seven by Rios de la Luz
***Content Warning: this piece is about my experiences with childhood trauma, including molestation and emotional abuse.***
I had an episode this month. I cried myself to sleep for three nights. It sounds dramatic and even while I wept into my hands, there was a voice telling me to stop being dramatic. Memories came back. I thought about the nights he snuck into my room while I was sleeping. It made me feel like I was seven again.
It always makes me feel like I am seven again.
Fear strikes and I think of unlikely situations. At a family gathering, he will be there. My family losing all memory of the hushed words exchanged over the phones from Texas to California about Luis. I will have to face him. I will have to look him in the eye again and wonder if he even remembers what he’s done. Does he realize I have dragged him along with me, trying my damned hardest to separate from those times where he hurt me. He invaded me. He violated me. He told me to stay quiet.
I could never fight back.
I was so small.
The episodes used to happen once a month. Puberty hit and my crying patterns started. I locked myself in my room and cried myself to sleep. During sleep paralysis, shadows hovered in corners and ghosts floated above me. I screamed out of the numbness and woke up with my heart shouting into my ears.
They were manifestations of this man.
These days, I have an episode every six months or so. When I see the shadows now, I curse and I shout at them so they can disappear faster.
I have written stories about Luis. Never for him. The first time I wrote about him, I was twelve. I made a magazine out of notebook paper and jotted down family members onto each page. I indicated those who were “cool” versus those who were “not nice.” I wrote down his name and I described him as “not nice.” I didn’t want to write about the rage I hid or those moments I wondered what it would be like to shove him off of a tall building.
My brother is named after him. I know there are occasional phone calls. My younger sister and baby sister are in contact with their half-siblings. I see the half-siblings on social media. They say “I love you” to my brother and sisters. It hurts. I am not sure why, but it does. It could be my own selfishness and pride. I was the one who raised them while my mom worked during the day. I changed their diapers. I fed them. I helped them fall asleep. I loved them as hard as I could.
This is the good that Luis has given the planet.
Memories of this man are clinging to my skin and pulling me strand by strand and I keep dragging my feet. I continue to interact with people as though I do not have these memories of this man hovering over me. I continue to smile at fuckers in spite of his presence following me until I wait for it to pass. I have to wait for this episode to be over. It always passes.
These past few days have been alienating to a point that I haven’t felt before. I know I am not the only one with trauma as a part of my childhood experience, but fuck, it feels so god damn lonely sometimes when I have to relive those moments. They come back and I am the one who has to build myself up again.
Yeah, I’m strong.
Yeah, I’m resilient.
But I would have been this way without that fucking man.
I love myself and he has no part in that.
After each episode, it becomes clearer. Luis is not a monster. I will not give him a whimsical title. He is simple. He is a human who violated another human. He was a grown man who hurt a child. He does not deserve my forgiveness. I will not give it to him.
I do not want to give him this power.
I will continue to have my episodes. I know this. I will let myself cry. I will let myself be angry and then I will whisper messages into the wind. The messages will be for all the people out there overcoming their childhoods. The messages will be for all of the people who feel alienation and loneliness while dragging along the ghost of a perpetrator.
You are loved.
You are not alone.
This was originally written on April 4th, 2015. Writing has been an outlet for me since I was a child and I wanted to share moments of vulnerability that happen to survivors of trauma because I am tired of being ashamed. We are not all the same and these incidences do not define survivors. I am thankful for the people who have been there to support me and lift me out of episodes. It is a privilege I am lucky enough to have. Sometimes, being gentle, sympathetic and kind is what humans need to be to each other.