Patience is not one of my virtues. I have accepted that, and am, in most cases, not really even bothered by it. There have been many instances in my life where my impatience has served me well. The other times, well, those are other stories.
My frustration level rises (and my frustration tolerance dips alarmingly) when my impatience clashes with my inability to take control of a situation. But first, let me rewind…
Wispy images groove and bend at the edges of my memory. There are great black holes in time where I have no recollection of anything – any positive or negative occurrences, no intelligible timeline for how old I might have been when something specific happened. I can remember odd details – my phone number and street address from second grade, the first name of one or two friends and the exact layout of their houses, what it felt like to get pegged point-blank in the shins with a racquetball in our backyard, and the dark blue smear it left in place of a bruise.
I know that I fell victim to the sexual powerlust of a teenage boy over and over again while his mother babysat my sister and me. I know this because my sister revealed it several years later, not because I had any conscious memory of it myself. In fact, it was another decade after her brutal disclosure before I realized I, too, shared her shameful history. Still, I cannot say that the images of that time have been colored in for me. I have placed myself in that house, in that bedroom. At first hesitantly and full of fear, and as time passed, more boldly and face-forward. I can see his bedroom with absolute clarity, I recall the names of his siblings and his mother. I know where they lived and what the front stoop looked like. I cannot remember the actual physical contact, nor do I know where my sister was when it happened.
I want to know. I am uncertain why I feel this compulsion to investigate every sordid detail and be able to replay it in my mind. I cannot tell you the reason it is important to me to fit the film strip into its slot and play it from beginning to end in excruciating entirety. I want to know how old I was when I walked in to that house. I want to know what my bookbag looked like, what was rattling around inside my lunchbox. I want to know where my brother was and what my little sister was doing. I want to know if I reacted by crying or fighting or simply lying there and waiting until it was over. I want to know why my sister never forgot and my mind has done so much to erase it all.
My therapist has assured me that when I am ready for the memories to come, they will. I am ready. I want to know, but I don’t know why. Shouldn’t it be enough to know what he did? Why would I torture myself with details that may not be so easily expunged once they are brought to the surface? Is this a Pandora’s box that I only think I want to open? I don’t know the answers to any of those questions. I only know that I have some unquenchable thirst to let the dirt and grime see the light of day, if only so that I can call it what it is and clean it up. I don’t want to be haunted by what I cannot see any longer. I want the wisps to come in to the light of the circle and away from the shadows. I know that this circle is strong and full of love and can vanquish the most heinous evils with time and honesty. I just can’t convince them to move forward.