The Forgotten

Trigger Warning: alcohol use, sexual assault

There have been two times in my life where I’ve ‘lost’ chunks of time – without the aid ill-advised beer-before-liquor combos.

In my last “the Appointment” post, I mentioned that I had seen a new doctor, and will be seeing her shortly one more time. Something she said in that appointment struck me, and I’ve been thinking about it since.

She asked me if I’d ever ‘forgotten’ a chunk of time, and of course I had; not recently, but twice as a child. So I told her as much, and she replied that it must have been scary.

I nodded, feeling like that was the right response, and not sure how to explain the truth – that it wasn’t, not at all.

It was a huge relief both times, to go on with my day without the weight of whatever those minutes or hour (it’s difficult to know which it was, as I didn’t admit to anyone that I’d lost time) would have brought upon me.There was also a vague fascination with the idea that I could just suddenly find myself transported safely out of a terrifying situation. To my young mind, it felt like magic – and I did chase magic for as long as my youthful naivete allowed me.

Later in life, I would remember that relief when I systematically drank to blackout each Friday night in my first year of school, crying it all out without the burden of remembering my shame and loss as a result of sexual assault earlier that year.

I had less “embarrassing” fits of crying in my crowded dorm room. I could make friends and focus more at school. My flashbacks became fewer and more far between as I drank, cried, forgot, lived, repeat. Just like magic, it was over – I thought.

I no longer get blackout drunk, for safety and for my friends’ sake, who would remember me falling apart each Friday even when I, blessedly, could not. But neither do I have a moral to the story.

I guess what I’m trying to highlight is the complexity of the apparently not-uncommon experience of dissociating. It certainly doesn’t feel like a box I can check on a symptom list and be diagnosed. I’m certainly still confused about what it meant to me.

Not to mention the unsettling fact that my teenage binge drinking produced the same not-unpleasant ‘shielding’ effect as my own brain had done earlier. I was lucky that the drinking didn’t have worse consequences, and have only incredible friends, female and male alike, to thank for protecting me. I am aware that alcohol often has deadly serious consequences. It is the #1 date rape drug in terms of popularity, and I take that very seriously.

But first-year ‘me’ was certainly too overwhelmed with trying to forget previous assault to be worrying about the possibility of any in future. I was raised in the widespread culture that tells us rapists are few and far-between ‘monsters’, and I had assumed one was all I was ever going to meet – this was false, unfortunately.

Thanks for reading,

– C.

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