My therapist told me once, that t/Trauma comes in two sizes. Big Trauma, and little trauma. My t/Traumas have a name and they're called childhood. When I think about my childhood, I often wish I could remember things that were happy or filled with light or something that I could relay to you that conveys some kind of happiness. I try to force myself to remember instances of birthday parties full of presents (either mine or someone else's), play dates where I wasn't being forced on the other child's family. I remember feeling awkward and anxious from the smallest of ages. Other kids seemed to have it figured out already. Was it because their clothes were brand new and mine were from the Goodwill? Does poor have a smell? Was it because we took the bus home, while other kids got picked up in limousines? I try to remember some happy times, any happy time, and I come up blank. What I remember is always volunteering for recess helper jobs so that I didn't have to sit alone at recess or at lunch. I remember scrounging for food from the Poor Trays we had set up to give all of our extra food to the homeless. Did I eat from those trays because I didn't bring a lunch? Was I already eating for comfort at that point? Or did we not have enough food at home to bring lunch. Some memories are too buried beneath pain to ever exhume.
I remember the comfort of George Winston in room 5B, I remember the relief when I got home from the war zone that was a private school where I was a scholarship kid. I remember walking the mile to the library down the hill, across the boulevard, next to the courthouse, having called the librarian beforehand, Julia, to give her the list of books my nine year old self required be available for me at my arrival. But no happiness. Just relief, and escape, and desperation for acceptance by anyone, by everyone. I still go into deep read mode when I am in need of a total escape from the constant trajectory of anxious thought into anxious thought into even more anxious thought into swirling abyss of negativity. Only tears and catharsis and letting the light in helps. Facing my own inner Monster Morgan head on, telling her it's going to be ok, just one moment at a time, is the only way out.
When I was little I told stories, lies, for attention and understanding and acceptance. Some real whoppers. But the truth was scarier. The truth was that I was responsible for my sister from the age of seven until, well, I still am. Almost 30 years later, I am still responsible for her. At least it feels that way. Today, if I saw a seven year old child walking their younger sister or brother all across Ohio Blvd, and underneath the 405, without a parent, I would call the police. No one called the police for us. Can you smell "trying to make it work" as my mother always said? Still says.
Next summer, this upcoming summer, will be the 20th anniversary of my first truly happy memory. At church camp no less. As I uncoil every layer of anxiety that has built up in the past 30+ years of my life, I'm looking forward to the slowing down. To the day where I have so many more years of happy memories that the ones where I don't seem as distant in my line of sight, as the number 1 bus used to, while we waited for it on Westwood Blvd, nervously pacing, hoping that the kids from our school who were being whisked away in their town cars and limousines couldn't smell our poor from a few blocks away.