A few years back my mom gave me all of our family photos. All of her childhood pictures. All of my childhood pictures. All of the pictures were now being passed down through the family and to me. Each picture I looked at. I wondered what happened in each person’s mind and heart and being right before that snapshot was taken. One picture is of my mom almost to her due date. She didn’t know she was having twins. I wondered how she felt at that moment. I looked through other pictures, through my childhood with my brother. In the pictures of me I mostly remembered what I was thinking when the picture was taken or around that time. I don’t have a great time line memory of what age or what happened before or after but I have an absolutely photographic memory of a moment in time and what was going on around me. I looked at these pictures a few times a week while I had them.
Something began to bother me. The memory that the picture held for me didn’t hold the same memory for the other people there. For example: Beaufort South Carolina pictures carried some of the best memories my dad had of my skiing life. For me those pictures reminded me of one more day of abuse. I started thinking about how one moment in time can hold so many different memories for each person that is there. If you live with 4 people and they are all present for one event, they will all remember it mostly the same, but little individual facts can be far different. That is because we remember in different ways and for different reasons. Dad remembered that day as me winning a ski competition. He remembers how proud he was of me. I remember that too. But I also remember things he doesn’t even know about. When I won I was looking at him but I was also looking behind him to see the man who was continuously molesting me. That perfect memory for him was very tainted for me. One picture can hold different memories for each person looking at it.
My brother said that his memories on the lake were not the same as mine. They were of a mom and dad raising their kids on a lake and trying to give them a good life. Those were also my memories. But intertwined in those memories for me were being molested on that lake and having those same two parents have no idea what was going on behind closed doors. We all had the same life. But we all have different memories of that life. They can’t reframe those memories to include my pain. They don’t want to. They didn’t try to. So I looked at these pictures which held different memories than anyone wanted to accept as real memories. And all of a sudden I didn’t want them anymore.
I didn’t want to be the memory keeper, the picture keeper, of the memories that only I had. The pictures represented a life of memories that I experienced on my own and that everyone else denied.
I packed all of the pictures in a box. I looked at each of them. I felt each of them. I looked at the faces of each one. I wished with all my heart that the happy memories they portrayed and exhibited and swore by were the truth for me too. But they weren’t. I kept this one of my nana and her sister. It’s the only picture in the box I kept. I sent the box to my brother. He can be the memory keeper now. He can go on living with the rest of my family who thinks that those pictures and their memories of what happened in those pictures were the perfect family that they look like.
I am nolonger the keeper of their false memories. They can have those back. The only way I can work through healing through the trauma I endured is living and believing in the truth which include the pain that I lived,that they won’t accept. The box was heavy. It cost a small fortune to mail. I’m sure when my family received them back they thought all kinds of things that were no more true than their memories that didn’t include my pain. I sent the pictures back because if my mom wants a person to pass the memories down to, I am not that person. I am nolonger their memory keeper. Just like I am nolonger their secret keeper. I am nolonger a sister, a daughter, a niece, a cousin. To them, I am nothing. They chose that. If I were something, they would have been at my door long ago. So I sent the pictures back as a way of letting them go. They can have their family, their pictures, and their memories. The are as real now as the pictures I sent back.
Fortunately, I have people in my life that did choose me. I am a wife, a friend, and a mother. I have other cousins as well. All who embraced me.
So my so called family, can fuck off! All the people who covered up my abuse and continue to act like nothing happened can fuck off too. They are all cowards and pathetic excuses for human beings. The lot of them.
Oops, did I just say that in this so eloquently written story. I could delete it. But I’d like to keep that as part of this memory now. It can be a part of the new memories. The one where I don’t accept those who ignore little girls who get molested any longer. That’s a memory I can live with. I will be a keeper of those memories.