Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Memory Lane Has Potholes

My ex-husband called me last weekend to let me know that a group of people that I marched drum corps with and that he and I taught and taught with had started a group at one of the very popular networking sites. I had never visited this site but found the group very easily, and set up an account for myself complete with photo albums. As I've mentioned here before, I started marching in this group in 1976 when I was 12 and stopped at 18, then took a year off and came back in 1984 to teach for another couple of years, so my entire teenage life was spent with these people. Some of them I hadn't heard from since the late 70s/early 80s, but there they were, right there in the magic box. Its quite jolting to see a picture of someone you knew from 30 years ago then to see a picture from today, especially if, let's say, they've let themselves go just a bit. Wow. Anyone ever been to a hairdresser? I had to really, really look hard at some of the faces to find the teenagers I knew; I'm sure some of them didn't recognize me either, but I'm hoping that's because I've aged rather well.

This photo was posted by someone else in the group, taken in 1979 -- my D is the second drummer from the right. Isn't that cute? I kept telling him that all of us were total groupies of his drum corps, this is proof. (We didn't meet until 1989.)

I don't think I need to tell you what happens when you put 100 or so 12 to 20 year-olds on buses for weeks at a time. It was such a soap opera! People switching partners, hooking up and breaking up several times over the course of a summer. In 1977 I had my first real boyfriend, he was a drummer (natch) and we were together for the entire summer. I even have a very bad picture of the two of us at the back of the bus. God, we were so young! He's a part of the group and we've been swapping stories all week, it's been very fun. The next time I go home there will definitely be a reunion.

Having said all that, looking at these old pictures is dredging up a lot of stuff. First, I see myself in all these pictures and I have absolutely no memory whatsoever of that moment. I see that it is me, and I know all the other people in the picture, but there's nothing about it in my head. I guess that's normal, although it seems like a spark should have been set off by at least one picture. Pretty much everything before the age of 17 or so is just gone. That includes most of school as well. Of course, I remember the horrible stuff, but nothing from day-to-day.

Many of you newer readers don't know my history of sexual abuse, mostly at the hands of my older brother, who was killed in a car accident in April 2005. Before my Dad kicked him out of the house for being high at the dinner table one too many times (saving me unintentionally), the abuse had been elevated to include a good friend of his, who was invited to join us several times. The last time, he raped me while my brother played lookout. This was in the summer of 1975, I was 11 and they were 18.

The following year when I joined the drum corps I could hardly believe my luck -- getting away from my family for weeks on end -- sign me up! That guy from the picture at the back of the bus was my first real experience with what was normal, and he was so sweet and nice to me. All we did was kiss and hold hands the whole summer. He helped me to begin to sort out what was appropriate and what wasn't, and I am deeply grateful. Of course, he had no idea of how damaged I was at the time, but I was very fortunate to hook up with a guy like him. And now we're friends again.

In the same vein, a close friend that I met in 1990 in a therapy group for sexual abuse survivors told me the other day that our therapist committed suicide in 2004. We're both trying to process this information. So much intense work was done there, for several years, and I credit that doctor with helping me to work through a lot. I'm not quite sure what to do with this information; it feels very odd that it happened almost exactly 3 years ago and we've just found out now. We never got the chance to go to her memorial...anyway, I'm just throwing that out there.

I apologize to my horsey readers for this post, but sometimes the dark side does raise it's head around here. It ain't called the Velvet Cage for nothing. Miss is sound and well and Willow will be getting on her this week, which means I should be riding her this coming weekend.


  1. Kind of a mixed bag, dredging into the past that way, eh? I'm glad you had that good first boyfriend experience, at least, and that you've found a bunch of the original gang.

    Tonight, my hubby was opining (negatively) about the possibility of our daughter becoming a cheerleader some day... to which I said "Not if I have anything to say about it. She'll be in Pageantry Corps!" ;-)

    And yes, you certainly have aged well my dear. No one would believe you're already 29!

  2. Sorry Donna:-( I have been mentoring a girl for 6 years and the agency I volunteer for suspects her father and grandfather are sexually abusing her. They are waiting for enough evidence to build a solid case. It is hard to sit back and know that that is probably going on. She is a great kid, I hope one day she can open up like you and have the courage to not stay in the shadows. You are such an amazing woman Donna---I hope you know that.

  3. My memory of my childhood is like yours, I only remember the bad things that happened. I think it's normal for victims of abuse.

    It's good that you found something to get you safely away from home. And now with this group you'll be able to recapture some of your stolen memories. That is very cool!

    I think that's really sad about your therapist, a healer who really needed to be healed. Suicide is such a waste.

    Glad to hear that Missy is well.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. wow, my heart aches for you...for your lost childhood

    thank god you have wonderful people surrounding you now