I wrote once before that I’d tell anyone anything except how much I weighed. It’s not true. I won’t tell anyone that I was molested in nursery school. It’s not on purpose — it’s not like I made a conscious decision to keep it a secret — it’s because I forget that it happened. Not forgot, which is past tense. Forget. I forget in the present. I actively forget.
I only think about it when I’m triggered, and last night I read Dylan Farrow’s “Open Letter” in the New York Times. In it, she details how she was sexually abused by Woody Allen as a child. I’m triggered. I’ve been triggered.
I didn’t feel traumatized when I read the article. I didn’t connect Dylan’s story to my own; I didn’t flashback to the back room at the White Nursery School, or the teacher who took me there to brush my hair. Instead, I went to the kitchen and ate everything within arm’s reach, and had a cigarette or ten. Then I thought about getting high. I’m right across the street from Cedars. I used to go to emergency rooms with fake headaches and walk out with prescriptions for percocets and oxys.
I didn’t tell anyone what happened until I was in my 20s, when I told my therapist, Jody. She gave me a set of cassettes called The Courage to Heal. She told me that I might be uncomfortable listening to them — that my body might remember what I didn’t — and that I should push through it.
I was up for it. I wanted to stop feeling the way I’ve felt since I was a kid: bad, dishonest, and ashamed. But I listened to the first cassette and went straight to Silverlake to hook up some dope. I returned the tapes to Jody the following week. I didn’t get any closer to remembering what happened, but I felt it, and it was too much.
Last time I went to rehab — Rehab #4 — I was determined to confront the past. My first day there I told a therapist, Mike, that I had been molested, that I couldn’t remember it, and that I wanted to. “It’s been fucking me up for my entire life,” I said.
“You’ll remember when you’re ready to,” he replied. “For now, how about you focus on getting your shit together?”
It was sage advice. Instead of working through the events of 40 years ago, I worked on putting my life back together, and I put the memories away again, stored safe. But after I read Dylan’s letter last night – as I walked to Lee’s Liquor for another pack of smokes — I thought about nursery school, and the floor boards of an unfinished room. I’m doing ok, but I could be better.
I know Dylan Farrow believes what she wrote, and by writing about it in the New York Times, she brought attention to sexual abuse, and because of it, others might break their silence. I don’t know what happened to Dylan, but today people are discussing a subject they’d much rather ignore, and this I know. I’m one of them.