The Faces Have No Eyes

Sometimes I write blog posts as a means to connect to you all, or in an attempt to communicate something I find profound. Today, this post is simply me needing to put words into the universe. 


Photo by Kevo287 from Wikimedia Commons

When I wake after dreaming that I have been molested or sexually assaulted, I can still feel the fingers on my skin. In the middle of the night. In the morning. The fingers are like shame, are like dirt, are like a sadness I don’t have words for. 

I woke up like that early this morning, after a string of nightmares. The worst part about my dreams was not the violence, it was what I dreamed after: that no one cared. And then worse than that, that everyone told me it was my fault. No one felt compelled to protect me. I dreamed I was assaulted in the middle of a room of people, and half the people did not notice while the other half noticed and were indifferent.
Hours later, I am still carrying that feeling of stricken aloneness. Abandonment. Along with a sickening sense of vileness. In the middle of the night comes the knowledge that it is only ever me and God. But God’s hands are not corporeal, and my skin cannot feel their warmth.

In my life, I have stories that might be memories which I have never told another soul. Because I am not sure they are real, these stories. It is likely that I have memories that are actually dreams, and that I have “dreams” that are actually memories. I stopped trusting my own brain a long time ago. I remember at the age of eight, and ten, and probably other ages, I remember working to forget “something bad.” I remember repeatedly telling myself that if I pretend it never happened, it could be like it did never happen. I remember the act of forgetting, but not what was forgotten. 

And what I do remember is a bit like waking hours after a dream. The feelings are still visceral and potent, but the images and the plotline have become blurry.
It feels like when you have a word on the tip of your tongue, you just know while at the same time you have nothing at all. 

I am currently reading a book on trauma (The Body Keeps the Score), and though this information is not new to me, it is a good reminder that “traumatic memories are fundamentally different from the stories we tell about the past. They are dissociated: the different sensations that entered the brain at the time of the trauma are not properly assembled into a story….the imprints of traumatic experiences are organized not as coherent logical narratives but in fragmented sensory and emotional traces: images, sounds, and physical sensations. ”*

In my memories, the faces rarely have eyes. I remember hands instead. I remember heaviness. I remember holding my breath, or not breathing, or not being able to breathe. I feel the sensation of choking when I remember. My chest feels tight. I feel small.

And when I remember, always, on the heels of everything else—terror, aloneness, shame—come the words “I’m sorry.” As if apology is a shield. From past feelings or present danger. As if “I’m sorry” is a secret passcode to safety. As if saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” would free me from the nighttime. The nightmares. The hands. The present. The weight of feeling. From myself. 

I dream my dreams, my nightmares, my memories, and wish that apology was enough for some kind of absolution. It hasn’t been yet.





*The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. Pg 196 and 178.


One comment

  1. tony brouhard · · Reply

    love ya

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