I have a memory like a steel trap.
In fact those are the exact words that I said in an email earlier this week to Mr. Attorney Man and I said them because they are true. If you say something to me, if we go somewhere, if we see something, I'm going to remember it. I'm going to remember it down to the way your head was tilted and the shirt that you were wearing. I'm going to remember it by the way the room felt or the glances from the people walking by. I don't simply just remember things, I re-live the memory.
I've often wondered about this memory of mine because I am keenly aware that it is not the norm. I remember things that no one else does and I remember it in such detail that I literally feel like I've pulled it out of a filing cabinet and am watching the memory on film in my brain. Because I am a nerd I have spent quite a bit of time wondering why my memory is the way that it is and the conclusion that I've come to is that I am simply more present in the moment than most people. I mean sure, I could be some kind of super genius or something, but the more likely answer is that after years of abuse (and several years of stalking) I have learned to be hyper aware of my surroundings. When you spend your life living like a prey animal, you learn to take note of the details. Have you ever watched a rabbit outside? Sure they are eating, munching on some grass, but you can tell that they are vitally aware of every. single. thing. that is going on around them because they know that they are milliseconds away from being snatched up by a hawk.
That's kind of how I feel.
When I'm walking with someone they often ask me "what are you looking for?" because they see me constantly looking around and the answer in my brain is "I don't know and that's why I'm looking at everything." If I'm having lunch with someone and a person walks past, to me it's not just a person walking past, it's "how many times has that person walked past? Is that the same guy that walked past me yesterday? Have I seen this guy before?" Every detail is important because every detail could mean danger.
My ex never talked to me, he only lied to my face. For ten years every conversation we had was a bunch of lies that were left up to me to decipher. While I may not be the best at reading people, because of my ex I'm extremely good at remembering every single thing someone says. Since he never told the truth I would just gather everything he said into my brain Rolodex and when I needed a real answer for something I would pull out all our prior conversations and piece together what made the most sense. Because of that I tend to remember every insignificant thing people tell me because in my brain, that might be useful information one day.
I think that when you become so accustomed to focusing on every detail going on around you and every word that was said, you tend to remember more in general because it's the details that really pull the whole picture together and create a lasting memory.
So a steel trap it is, a brain full of jumbled up nonsensical information mixed with just enough actual intellect to keep it chugging along. A memory that holds a lifetime of stories and a brain that has witnessed a lifetime of hurt.
A brain that is currently trying to protect me from that hurt.
You guys, I can't remember anything from the rape night anymore.
Like...nothing except for a few feelings that I wish I couldn't remember.
The details are gone.
In fact when I read the blog pages dating back to that time I feel like...have you ever been watching a movie and started thinking "have I seen this before? I mean I feel like I've seen it, but I don't remember seeing it" and as the movie continues on you become more certain that you've seen it, yet you still really can't remember it?
Do you know what I'm talking about??
It feels like that. Like I can almost remember it, but I can't.
Which seems like it would be great and all, but it's not. I obviously don't want to remember that night, but yet...I do.
I do because I'm having a hard time dealing with something that I can't really remember anymore. Like the pain is still there, but I can't remember that night enough to figure out how to deal with it.
Lately someone has been stealing my mail. Now in the realm of my life I realize that "stolen mail" doesn't even make it on the charts in the "things that suck" category, but everything surrounding the stolen mail is putting it on the charts.
So as I just said, someone has been stealing my mail. Gift cards that were sent to me for Christmas were stolen and used before I even knew they were gone. Four packages were swiped off my front porch that were also sent to me for Christmas. The mail from Mr. Attorney Man's office was opened and stuck back in the mailbox. A paycheck from one of the companies I write for was taken completely. The list goes on and on and just gets more and more annoying. I've rerouted everything to a PO box and while the "mail" issue is working itself out, it's everything surrounding it that I'm having a hard time with.
Who is doing this? Is it my ex? Do I have a neighbor that has turned on me? Is this someone from my family? Do I have another stalker? Is it the same stalker?
Because of where my mailbox is located in my townhouse complex, I can't logistically have a camera facing the mailbox. I've been filing police reports over the phone like crazy but then I hesitate to pursue the issue any further (my town is not like on TV where the police actually follow up with you on their own, my town sucks). I hesitate because last time all this stalking stuff occurred it ended with me being raped. Last time I was actually in the police station I was there because I had just been raped. Last time I talked with an investigator I was in an interrogation room being asked about the rape.
**For those of you who have not read the back posts of this blog, I'm going to ask you to pause right here and read this before you continue on. If you don't read about the disaster that was my rape "investigation," then the rest of this article will not make any sense to you.**
A month or two later when I called the social worker at the police department to follow up, she said "Eden I think you really need to get a copy of the police report from the night of the rape and read it."
She wouldn't tell me why except that she felt the police were not doing their jobs and that it was important that I read the report (she couldn't discuss the report information until I filed a freedom of information act form to have the report released to me).
Why!? What does it say? WHAT COULD IT POSSIBLY SAY!?
Does it have details that I don't know about, things they found out from the neighbors? Does it have details they found out from their investigation? Does it say if the police anything at all? Does it paint me in a bad light as a terrible witness and possibly crazy? I mean I really was a terrible witness from the get-go. I do remember that even immediately after it happened my recollection of the incident was sketchy at best. I remember feeling as if I were there, but at the same time as if I wasn't, and because of that I often wonder if I just looked like a big fat liar because I could give them virtually no details.
It's been about 13 months now since she told me that and I think about it everyday, yet I still haven't gotten a copy of the report because I don't know if I can handle it. Is it going to jog my memory? Is it better to remember and deal with it or is it better to just let the traumatic memories fade?
I want to pursue this whole mail thing and yet I don't because I'm scared of what happened last time I went to the police for help. When I was being stalked and I filed a dozen reports and even went into the station with Mr. Attorney Man to tell them someone was stalking me, and they didn't do a damn thing about it. Then I got raped.
I'm afraid of being made to feel worthless again and left to fend for myself.
Yet I'm also scared of being stalked. I'm terrified because the stalking last time started with stolen mail.
I know that at this point I need to get the police involved in a deeper sense than just filing phone reports for stolen mail, but I don't know how to do that when I only have half the story of my own life. "Hi, yes. I was stalked for a really long time, then I got raped and saw the guy and everything, and now I'm being stalked again. I think it might be the same guy. No, I can't tell you what he looked like or if I've seen him around lately because I can't remember any of that night or even him for that matter. No, I have absolutely no recollection of the person whose body was pressed up against mine."
Yep, that seems so helpful.
So this time, that steel trap memory of mine, it's shut the door and left me on the wrong side.
I know that if I read the report that it might help me remember at least some of what happened, but I know my memory. I know that I don't forget things and the fact that I can't remember any of that night is a big red flag that my psyche is doing its damnedest to try and protect me from reliving what happened. I know this is how trauma works, I talk to women about this all the time in the support groups I run. I'm not naive to the fact that I'm dealing with a very real case of PTSD here but in many respects I'm thankful for that issue because I don't know if I could handle reliving the details of that night on a daily basis.
I know I almost didn't survive the memories the first time.
You all know that my children mean the world to me and I would do anything for them right? Well in the first few days after the rape I was the worst mom ever. Like...ever. I mean I took care of them and all, but not because I wanted to, just because I had to. It got to the point that I actually called Mr. Attorney Man and asked him if there was a way I could put the kids in temporary foster care because "I can't handle them right now."
Me. Me, who lives her entire life for her children was willing to give them away because I was in THAT much pain. That scares the ever loving shit out of me and I don't ever want to go through that again.
So will remembering cause me to relive that pain? Or is choosing not to remember what happened putting me in danger of actually reliving it again?
Is it better for me to just keep moving forward and away from the trauma, or is it necessary for me to first go backwards and see if I can remember anything that will help me (and the police) determine if I am being stalked again?
Ugh, you guys, what do I do!?
There is really no tie up for the end of this post because that's how it feels in my brain.
I really just don't know what to do.