Friday, 28 February 2014

Speculating On Missing Links In One's Past

In countless interviews and the like I have mentioned that moment when I was about five years old and suddenly changed from an energetic, expressive and extroverted child into a quiet one, preferring to withdraw into its own little world rather than deal with the outside one. I have so far ascribed this change to the struggle to define myself as all other children around me of my age split up into 'the boys' and 'the girls', leaving me floating somewhere in between. Recently while writing my autobiography and being forced to recall as much as possible from those years and those after it, I have begun to question this version of the story.

While there is undoubtedly at least a grain of truth in it as those changes could not have beneficial to my emotional development, the main reason why I have begun to question this recounting is due to the severity of the change simply not matching up with the events of the time in so far as they are known at this point. What happened was severe enough to not only make me withdraw into myself, but also to refuse physical contact including from my own mother while virtually completely halting my emotional development. It also created this mental blockage which would make me freeze up in abject terror at the thought of initiating anything involving other people. All of this would have to be due to this sense of discomfort at those changes around me. The more I think about it, the less it makes sense.

About seven or eight years ago my mother once carefully asked me a very sensitive question after an acquaintance of hers had mentioned this possibility. My mother's question was whether I remember ever having been sexually abused by my father or anyone else. At the time I was taken aback by this question, almost immediately denying that anything like that had ever happened. I couldn't remember anything like that happening, ergo it hadn't happened. It seemed so obvious.

If something like sexual abuse or the like had happened to me when I was about five years old, I very much doubt that I would have been able to remember anything of it. Together with my sudden change in behaviour at the time it does seem to match the typical symptoms for young children who become the victim of physical or sexual abuse. While I very much doubt that I will ever learn the truth of whether anything like that happened to me back then, it does give me pause for thought. In many ways it makes so much sense, including with the issues I was dealing with during my youth and still today.

In some ways it's better to know that something horrible has happened to you rather than to live with the strong suggestion that something like it may have happened.  Not always, of course. Sexual abuse has been a common topic when I grew up, with this neighbour's girl with whom I often used to play having been sexually abused by her father and a cousin of mine having been sexually abused by her uncle and grandfather for many years as a child with the rest of the family covering for them. You don't think too much about it as a child, of course. It's not until you become older that the full horror of it all begins to sink in.

At this point I'm unsure what to do with this line of thought on what may or may not have happened to me as a young child. I have to focus on the present and the future, yet I'm painfully aware of the impact one's past has on these.


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