This is my story so I could construct the sentences in such a way as to avoid talking about it. You don’t even know who I am so I can take advantage of that anonymous state and strive to distract the reader with colorful antidotes from other aspects of my life as to fill the obvious gaps that would appear. But that comes with a risk. At some point the reader could ask the question and then the flimsy wall that I had carefully constructed to hide this aspect of my story would be torn and my shame and embarrassment would be seen by everyone, again.
Obviously, at the time, I had no idea that I was living through these large blocks of time without any attachment or explanation of them. In fact I got along relatively well in my life, all the way to adulthood before I needed to confront what was going on. Early into my marriage this issue of dissociation came up. I call it an issue because it is only when dissociation becomes disruptive in a person’s life that it is really noticed or cared about. Up to that point it goes unnoticed, as it should be, as it continues in its effort to minimize continuing harm and pain to the person who is experiencing it. But as an adult it had become disruptive and I needed to address it. However, being fragmented and realizing that I was fragmented was a shameful and terrifying experience to walk through in those marriage moments, but at least I had some sort of explanation back to this time, here in this mountain top village.
When X15-QI emerged in that northern city I did not realize that the beginning of that creative writing assignment would end up being one of the last memories I have of being in any classroom. Six years of school would go by from that point, and I have three or four more classroom memories in which to share. It is not as if I have tried to remember. In fact, in addition to my childhood memory book, which is now containing less and less information with each grade, I also have school year books. I read through them and I see there are lots of references to me in them. I see my class photo, various descriptions of me, pictures of activities I participated in, art projects I did, sports awards and events I participated with, and most of those books are even signed by fellow classmates.
But all it really is, is a story about someone else. I don’t know that kid in those pictures. I read through these yearbooks with amusement and with shame. With excitement and with anxiety. With care and with anger. So much of my childhood has been wiped away.
Even now, writing about this time once again. It hurts. It hurts because it represents loss and trauma in my life. Sure, I have memories from this mountain top village but those memories are all outside of school. It was as if I never went. My report cards continued to show a virtual straight A student but I feel so stupid now. I know that I have the ability to be academic, as illustrated as an adult, married with six children, and working full time to support my family, I was also completing my masters degree. When the dust settled on that experience I had missed obtaining an honors distinction by less than a quarter percentage point but I still maintained that A average. But I feel so stupid now.
My children making their own way through high school, half of them graduated now – all of them graduating earlier than their peers, and the other half working hard to do the same and I feel stupid around them. Throughout their schooling I have not helped them and it is awkward when they come to me and ask me if I had to study or read what they are doing currently. Normally I can pretend that my age has excluded me from all of the new current stuff but that can only carry me so far. The reality is, I just don’t know and even if I did know, I don’t remember. It is not as though I don’t understand their material for I could sit down and do the work and it comes relatively easy enough for me to do so. Upon occasion I would have the opportunity to demonstrate to my children that I wasn’t an unlearned individual, but each time I would be faced with doing the task for the first time – like it was my first time – even though it wasn’t, and that is a weird thing to explain to someone who has not experienced dissociation.
So, this is the next chapter of my life, here in this mountain top village. I was here for a few grades, gone for one year and then back again. But I will get to all that. In the meantime, I will continue with my story and when the thin veil goes up and you as the reader begin to notice aspects being left out, don’t bother poking the veil for all you will end up doing is reminding me just how successful I was in deleting and neither you nor myself will be better off as a result.
I am a stranger. This is my story.