A new toddler book arrived in the mail yesterday. And, unlike this post, it did not come with a trigger warning.
One day, I want to be the kind of person who is free of any attachment to past trauma. It would be lovely, in fact, to one day abandon all memories of my childhood in favor of a richly abundant present. One day, I will know with certainty that I am living authentically, from a place of joy. Yesterday was not that day.
A Yummy Surprise sits innocently enough, still in the books-of-the-month-club packaging, on my kitchen shelf. I can’t look at it without jumping back twenty-five years in my mind, to the day my dad found me in the apartment laundry room surrounded by older boys from the neighborhood.
To be fair, he was actually my mom’s boyfriend at the time, as my dad had died years prior. So maybe that’s why he was able to judge me so quickly, rather than jumping to protect my innocence.
A bunch of the boys from the building – a ghetto complex in East San Diego – had lured me into the laundry room to play a game. They sat me on top of a dryer and instructed me to close my eyes and open my mouth.
I was hoping for a popsicle.
Instead, I got a dick.
Just as my eyes were opening wide with surprise, for a dick is nothing like a popsicle, a very angry man stormed into the room.
“What the fuck is going on in here?!” he shouted as he lunged for me.
For one brief moment, relief washed over my five-year-old self as I thought I had been saved from this cruel and gross game. A very brief moment.
Yanking me off the dryer by my arm, he pulled me up the concrete stairs to our apartment, where my mother was sitting on the couch.
“Do you know what I just caught your fucking daughter doing?” he growled at her.
Needless to say, much screaming and punishment followed. I had been a very bad girl and had done a naughty thing; what kind of slut puts a dick in her mouth in front of a bunch of other guys?
“She gets this shit from you,” he sneered at my mom.
Twenty-five years ago, my voice was silenced. I wish I could say it was the first or the last time – for the abuse, the neglect, the blame, the violence. But the instances were frequent and hazy enough to render that declaration impossible.
Yoga teaches us to turn inward, honoring our fullest expression. Find our voice, trust our inner guidance, enjoy oneness with everything as healthy, joyful, whole beings – this is the aim of practice. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how in order to speak our truth, we must first learn to listen to our inner voice.
In my case, and in many others’, turning inward can be terrifying. I have uncovered a lot of dark, painful, devastating – beautiful, empowering, inspiring – bits of dialogue.
Someone said “healing is not linear; it is a spiral.” Just when I think I’ve turned a corner, releasing-old-shit-wise, A [fucking] Yummy Surprise shows up on my doorstep.
So what is the lesson for me in this experience, in reliving this sunshiny childhood memory? Perhaps it is another opportunity to acknowledge my inner truth by speaking – writing it – as it happened.
This is what happened. It was wrong and sad, and not my fault.
Introspection, like the mail, does not come with a trigger warning. Thus, one must gather much courage and curiosity in order to do the work of uncovering the innermost self.
Though slimy memories may come to the surface, they are simply opportunities to slough off some density in favor of the bright and joyful me-est Me that I can be.
Now that’s a great toddler title!