The emotion that seems to come out of this thread is that I miss them. I miss the girls. There is this idea that we get used to things, and then we miss what was once familiar. That’s true. But I miss them because they were nice. They gave me candies and cookies and wanted me to sit in their laps and they were happy to see me. I wanted to be with Nata most, but the others were nice to me too.

I find it hard to explain this, but having left that world, I have found myself in new a world where there is a significant gap between my own experiences and those of most other people around me. On the one hand, this means that I never really know if I disclose something of my own experience how someone else might react. It’s a new experience to them—maybe not new in the abstract, but new as a here-and-now-there-is-a-real-person-in-front-of-me kind of way. And it’s very emotionally charged.

But the girls knew my experience. They knew what it was like to be trafficked. They knew what it was like to have one’s life controlled by a psychopath. And they knew, too, that evil is sometimes a thing that walks around on two legs. They accepted this about their own experiences. They weren’t going to react to mine.

It also means that, ever since then, my life must be explained very carefully to other people. I must understand it very thoroughly in order to communicate it to someone else. There is no easy, “Oh, I know what you mean.” No one will probably ever know what I mean again unless I am very clear about it. That’s true of my past; it’s true of my life now because it is largely about coming to terms with the past; probably it will be true of my future because the past is how I got there.

Connecting to other people—who may not have traumatic pasts or may have experienced completely different traumas—requires a lot of work. I can be understood, I have found, but I can’t be lazy about it. I have to really think. I have to understand my own experiences clearly. I have to think about the other person’s experiences very carefully so that I can communicate mine in a way the other can understand. It is not easy.

The last time someone knew what I meant without my putting a lot of thought into it was the night Nata died. The last time I was understood easily and effortlessly was the night I sat in the kitchen covered in blood while someone prepared very strong, very sweet tea for me. Because after that, I never saw the girls again.

I think I also miss them as individuals. They were a revolving door—people just disappeared. But they didn’t disappear all at once usually. It was one here and there, and you had a chance to get used to one person’s absence before someone else disappeared. There was time for a relationship and an attachment to develop even if it was not the absolute, close attachment I had to Natalya.

I don’t remember them as individuals very well, but I think that is because it hurts. I think I will start to remember them when it hurts les. It is not that I had no attachment to them. There are just so many kinds of pain involved in it that I can’t.

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