Thursday, January 20, 2011

Witnessing Life through the Rearview Mirror

Yesterday I was talking with a good friend for quite a long time and after our conversation was over around 1:30 AM or maybe later I was attempting to sleep when it suddenly hit me. My friend and I grew up in dissimilar circumstances but many of our experiences were similar and like me she is long term post surgery and we live quite normal lives as women but what we woman of history often do is we witness our past lives like we are viewing it through the rearview mirror in our cars and sometimes the past life events in our rearview mirror really do appear closer than they should.

What happens to me during our conversations is I remember things that I have put into what I call my Way Back When Vault that has the stern warning “Open at your own risk fool” stamped all over it with full 128 bit encryption in force. I think my friend has her own Way Back When Vault because we seem to always be saying to each other “I have never told anybody else that ever” and our conversation continues on and probably once or twice every time we talk we both open the Way Back When Vault and access something neither one of us wants to remember or think about and in my case it is often cathartic. I feel better getting it out but not all the time.

She will mention something and I will unknowingly access my Way Back When Vault which I have somehow inadvertently accessed during our conversation and remember something and just blurt it out. Neither of our childhoods was exactly normal in the sense we really never thought we were boys so we faced a lot of the same issues with boys because we did not fit in. The irony is we were a Continent apart and here I thought the only brutish boys were in Massachusetts.

Sometimes the memories are hurtful. Sometimes the memories are humorous. Sometimes the memories are beyond painful. She said something last evening that resonated with me.  She said she felt like it was an out of body experience sometimes and I realized as I was falling asleep that when I access my Way Back When Vault I seem to look at the event like I am almost an interested observer and that is really not me down there. I believe all of us have this built in psychological self-defense system that kicks in to prevent harm. It could get ugly really fast when both of us were children in the dark ages for transsexuals.

When I access this Way Back When Vault sometimes as I tell her something I find myself not telling her everything because I do not want her to judge me because I really value our friendship. Sometimes they are secrets only I want to remember but sometimes it is because I am possibly embarrassed. Last evening she said something to me and it triggered this memory of High School and the granite steps that lead up to the main entrance and the fact my family church is close by and I remembered how terrified I was of those granite steps.

The first memory was that when I went back for my 10th High School reunion with the express intent of getting even I went to the school to visit some teachers and I mentioned this in an earlier post but what I did not mention was I was terrified to walk up those steps ten years after leaving and then last evening I jumped into my Way Back When Vault and told her why those steps truly terrified me.

In my sophomore year in High School when the boys figured out I was not what they originally thought I was tripped deliberately on those stairs climbing them quite often but in late fall of 1958 I was leaving school and planning my escape route from the boys I knew were waiting I was pushed down the stairs and if I remember correctly there are 25 granite steps and I tumbled all the way to the bottom and ended up on the sidewalk in a haze of pain and my own hysteria. I could not move and I knew my left arm was broken because it was kind of at an odd angle and it didn’t work.

This man ran down the sidewalk and asked what happened to this girl and one of my fellow students who were now gathered around and staring at me writhing in pain sort of laughed and said, “That is a boy” and the man backed away like I carried a contagious disease. I was on my side and I looked across at my church and the Minister was standing there actually smiling and made absolutely no move to help me.

I really have no idea how long I was there before a teacher arrived and the Police were finally called with the usual comment “oh it is that one again” and an Ambulance showed up and I was off to the Emergency Room.  I had a broken arm, dislocated and badly sprained left shoulder and bruises and cuts everywhere.  I was a mess and hysterical and there was talk by the orthopedic surgeon they might have to operate and I was more hysterical and I wanted my mom and she eventually reached the Hospital after the commute from her Office in Boston and when I told her nobody would help and our Minister did nothing they of course dismissed me as delusional.

The problems with pulling this kind of crap out of the Way Back When Vault is I cannot seem to push it back into the Way Back When Vault. It almost seems like the memory is saying I am out so deal with it and I am not going back in that dark place so freaking forget it so I deal with it by talking about it with my friend. I think she feels the same way because we discuss things at times where only one of us says anything for long periods of time and often we wonder if the other is still there.

There are things my friend has told me that left me in tears because it was either so vile it horrified me or so warm and tender it made me feel good. I think it is mutual because I told her last evening about the first time I did something for the “cause” back in 1971 and was a guest on a radio show in NYC. She told me it moved her what was said by me when I got mad but I did not tell her it was the first step in the process that would eventually convince me I needed to get away from anything transsexual and just try and be normal which can be relative when talking about us.

I now wonder when I finally empty my Way Back When Vault will bad memories finally appear much farther away in my rearview mirror?


Caroline said...

I wrote my blog to exorcise "the lost time". Memories packed away tightly then deep frozen and I thought hidden for ever. Amazing how we can hide from ourselves.

What it shows is that human nature is stupid and vicious and stubbornly refuses to learn from it's mistakes. We are hardly any further on towards full acceptance than when we were young.

Great to see the blog back on track.

Caroline xxx

Anonymous said...

As the Friend on the other end of those conversations, I can only repeat that my feelings about the them are identical. A continent apart yet I think we both felt isolation and believed we were the only ones.

There is much I dare not reach into and recall such is the pain associated with the memory. Not mentioning something has little to do with embarrassment from my side but more to do with the associated pain.

I too value our conversations and friendship, I wish I'd known you back in those times when our lives were so painful. Simply knowing there was another just like me may have helped. Just to look in the mirror or hear my name called or spoken hurt more than can be expressed.