…a tiny preview to those who’ve read my rough draft–here’s how I’ve begun revising my memoir. It’s rough, but I like the tone.
What I’d like to give my readers is hope—the kind that sneaks up on you when you’re doing the dishes or taking the kids to school or petting your cat: it shimmers in your chest for a moment and suddenly you realize that you’re going to be okay. That’s how it happened for me.
I was driving home from a therapy appointment in 1995, belting out Comfortably Numb when I had to pull over because I had a sensory flashback of the night my father took my virginity while I was sleeping. Out of nowhere, my vagina’s on fire.
I park by the side of the road, music off now, and I’m trying not to hyperventilate while I do a panicky, improvised Lamaze breathing–because, hell, that’s how you treat pain down there, right?
But my lips start tingling, so I shut off the car and get out.
The heat hits me like the backdraft of a bomb, and I forget about the pain in my crotch. The pavement cooks my feet through the soles of my sandals as I hurry to the grass beyond the sidewalk.
Off with my shoes, and I’m standing barefoot in the skinny shade of a palm tree, and another more recent memory sweeps in. My sons, playing naked in the slimy thick mud in the front yard. Their bodies caked and splattered, hair spiky with it. Happy. Me, too, watching them, then, and now. Happy.
Another feeling, one I can’t identify, is in my chest and it hurts a little. At first I think it’s sadness, which would make sense, given that I’ve just pulled over to quell a horrible memory. But no, I’m feeling something good, and the closest I can get to naming it is contentment.
Today, 16+ years later, I have a different name for it: hope.
That was when I saw that now is more powerful than the past.
Now is my gift. It’s mine, every tiny second of it.
The flashbacks are like rips in time’s fabric: sometimes I slip through. But the beauty lies in the weave: I never fall without being able to grab the threads of now.