So, while reading a few short stories online, I came across a story about a couple who for different reasons are afraid of storms and their affects. It of course made me think about my own fear of storms, or rather my own sense of foreboding and hesitation over them. Like all fear it is connected to a memory, a bad one.
I was a young woman, a girl really and it was storming outside. I had gone to visit a friend of mine and was spending the night. She'd gone to take a shower and her brother, whom I found incredibly attractive, was home. He'd come into the living room where I'd been watching the Olsen twins in "Double, Double, Toil and Trouble" (yeah, this was a while ago). He'd asked me how long I'd known his sister, if she was my best friend, things like that. He was making small talk, putting me at ease, which didn't take too long. I was a lot more mature than my other friends by the time I was 10. Much of which was due to things I'd experienced earlier in my childhood. I remember that it didn't take long before I was smiling and laughing with him. I'd been raised in a very strict, very correct and upstanding "Christian" household. I put the quotations because while my mother was the embodiment of a true Christian, my father was only the shell of one. But that's neither here nor there.
Because of my upbringing in this staunch Christian household, my parents had pretty much glazed over the whole sex talk thing. I do believe that when I started my monthly cycle at the age of 9, my father took me out for ice cream, told me that now I could get pregnant. That sex was where babies came from and that sex was only for married people. So when my friend's brother asked me to come to his room and then asked me if I wanted to play a game called sex, I was of course, reticent, about the whole thing.
"My mommy and daddy said that sex is only for married people and that that's where babies come from." I'd told him with sincerity and innocence, completely trusting.
"Oh no, they got it wrong. Making love is for married people. And babies come from inside of the mommy's belly. But you can't get a baby from playing sex and anyone can play it," he'd responded, sounding so sure, so certain, so knowledgeable and HELPFUL that I believed him almost instantly.
Well, anyone can deduce what happened between me, a 10 year old girl, a P.K. (Preacher's Kid) and this 16 year old "man". After getting me to take off my clothes and lay down on the bed, after hurting me, after ignoring my please and cries for him to stop, after he'd finished with me, told me to get dressed and then pushed me out of the room, I was afraid of storms. You see, it had been storming really hard in Meridian, Mississippi that day. Oh I can sleep through some of them, if I fell asleep before the storm started and I've taken the right "painkiller cocktail" I can sleep through almost anything, but if I'm awake when the storm starts, well, I stay awake through the entire thing, my hands slightly shaking, my throat tight, my mind struggling not to remember.
As I read this story, I struggled with my own memories of that night. Then I struggled with memories of the two men that I'd shared that story with and of their two different reactions. I'd shared that story with Christopher, my fiance, shortly after seeing a senior citizen get mowed down by a vehicle in the middle of the street (I still remember that incident with clarity) and with Brandon, someone I still cannot identify even after all this time (was he my boyfriend, my friend? What the hell were we to each other?). And just like the two of them, their reactions were like night and day. Brandon listened to me as I shared with him this painful story, said "Aaww baby, I'm so sorry. C'mere" and pulled me into his arms, rubbing my back as I jumped at every sound of thunder, falling asleep way before I did, forgetting the entire incident in the morning. Whereas Christopher, my knight in shining armor, listened, pulled me roughly into his arms and then demanded the name of the boy who'd raped me. When I refused to give it to him, because really, it had been 11 years by that point, the statute of limitations was up and honestly, I'd gotten past it....for the most part. Realizing that I had no plans to tell him, he'd sat down on the bed and pulled me onto his lap, wrapping his arms around me. We sat there for almost fifteen minutes just holding each other. Then he'd laid down on the bed and held me in his arms, then he began to talk to me about our future together. How many children he wanted us to have, the house he wanted us to live in, how he'd be the man behind the woman when I took over the world with my writing, acting, singing, dancing and non profit organizations.
Christopher whispered words of love to me, cherishing me as I relived the painful memory. Then he held me in his arms, singing softly to me (off-key and out of tune) until I fell asleep.
People will always have different reactions to your life story. Everyone has one, everyone has a special sort of "life hell" that they'll have to endure and people around you will respond to it and to you differently. You'll lose people from your life when they're unable to handle it or to understand you or the situation(s) you'll endure. People will enter your life because they see you going through hell and it makes them feel better about themselves and their own lives. Then there are those people, the Christophers, who want to fight on your behalf, who love you, who draw you through the thunderstorms, protecting you, loving you, until the hell, the storm passes or until you find peace.
It's the difference between those people who are temporary dwellers in your life and those who are etched into your life. In a year or so, a few months Brandon will be completely forgotten by me (and not a moment too soon), but Christopher will be remembered by me forever. He, I will never forget, and will never want to forget.
I may have met Brandon after Christopher passed away, but it's Christopher who is freshest on my mind. He is the reason why I only shake a little when I hear a thunderstorm rather than fiercely shaking and crying silently when one hits. I will remember him forever. I will love him forever. And that's just something that you don't ever forget.
Is there something in your life that's tied to a painful memory? How can you tie that thing to something positive? Who is the person in your life who can help? Think about this today.
Have a great weekend all!