And now I know, I think. But I still don't know how to talk about it.
Retelling what happened, what I can piece together from flashbacks and real memories, feels glib, almost false. I don't know why that bothers me.
What I began with:
I was eight. I went to young men's basketball game with my father who was the YM president and, I think, also helped coach the team. I watched for awhile. I remember the game, the sounds, how the gym smelled. I had to use the bathroom. Someone followed me. I turned to see who. It was a man who was mentally disabled. He was odd looking. My mother had said he had a grown-up body but a little boy mind. I was at the door to the women's restroom. I thought he must have made a mistake and began giving him directions to the men's restroom.
He grabbed me and pulled me into the restroom. Then I got scared. I pushed him away; told him to stop. I was wearing a white cotton bodysuit and a twirly, floral skirt. The bodysuit had a front zipper. He unzipped it. I pulled it back up, telling him, again to stop. He lifted up the skirt. I pushed and hit and kicked and finally broke away from him. I ran to the door. As I reached it, he said, "Don't tell your dad. Don't you tell your dad!" I turned, enraged and defiant, and said, "I AM telling him. I'm telling him right now!" And then I ran.
When I reached my dad, I was less angry and much more frightened. I didn't know how to say what had happened. I told him I had been followed into the bathroom. I told him the man had tried to take off my clothes. My dad asked if I was okay. I said yes. He picked me up and set me on a chair. Then he left.
That is all I remembered.
There are all sorts of feelings connected with this. Most present has been aggravation at my father that he abandoned me when I wished to be held and made safe. Everything else has seemed less important.
Then, shortly after moving to Utah, I got triggered. Two mentally disabled men in their late 30s or early 40s sat in the pew in front of me one Sunday at church. Within 15 minutes, I could barely sit still. I was stressed to the point of being nauseated. Darrin asked if I needed to leave. I was somehow able to make it through the meeting, but when I got home I felt embarrassed and silly. I was not in danger. The men were completely unaware of me. I wasn't threatened in any way. Still, I was overwhelmed by fear.
Then the flashbacks began. And the nightmares. I became increasingly nervous and stressed. PTSD symptoms were rampant. I began to disconnect, emotionally, from everyone close to me. Touch became unbearable. So I contacted Therapist and asked to see him.
As the flashbacks and nightmares continued, I began to realize that the narrative I had always believed was flawed. There were things that could not be true. There were gaps and omissions. I didn't know what had truly happened, and not knowing was causing me terrible distress.
So I talked with Therapist and told him the following:
1. I have always been afraid of mentally disabled men. It's embarrassing and something I have hidden. I felt there was some bias or discrimination I felt toward them. I didn't want anyone to know.
2. The flashbacks were confusing. There was one in particular causing fear and confusion. I was standing near my father after the incident occurred. I looked down at my hand and saw blood on it. I knew it was not my blood. This same scene was replaying in my nightmares.
3. Whispering, especially from a male voice, terrifies me. If you want to wake me when I'm sleeping, whisper within earshot of me. I'll wake immediately. And I'll want to punch you in the face. Darrin is a chronic whisperer. He does it when he reads "silently." After about 30 seconds, I seriously hate him and want him dead. I realized, after the flashbacks began, that there was whispering when I was attacked, but I could not understand the words being said in the flashbacks.
4. The outfit I was wearing was impossible. It was made for me for a dance recital when I was five or six. The bathroom incident occurred 2-3 years later. The outfit would have been much too small. I could not have been wearing it.
Therapist said it was clear that I was preparing to find out what really happened, and my body was sending me messages to help with that process. However, I am not in a secure place right now. Many other external issues are also causing me distress. He asked me to wait until my circumstances were more stable. I said I would try. My body had other ideas.
Within three days I was no longer able to keep food down and I didn't want to eat at all. Sleep wasn't happening. I started losing hair, which always happens when I'm very stressed. I called Therapist and asked to see him. I told him waiting was not an option.
So we met a couple of days later, and I was given an assignment: Talk to my parents and find out as much information as possible from them about the incident.
So I did.