There’s another memory that surfaced along with the last one. It runs along similar lines, although it’s not nearly as traumatic.

We’re in the hotel together—there seems to be some kind of lounge where they can all get together. It’s not in Yuri’s house. It’s at the hotel. It seems weirdly thoughtful to do this for them, to create a space where they can relax and enjoy themselves together. But anyway, it’s there, even if it doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe it doubles as something less thoughtful at other times.

We are watching something exciting on TV. I don’t know what it is. I suspect I wasn’t very interested even then. They are drinking, and a few of them are drunk.

And one young woman—she’s not a kid, like Kristya was. She’s maybe early 20s. So she’s teasing me about something, about Nata, I think, and trying to get me to kiss her. I mean physically trying to do this, not exactly forcing me, but trying to initiate an unwanted, sloppy, drunken make-out session. I don’t remember where Nata was, if she was there right next to me. There’s a sense that she isn’t, that she’s gone to change the baby. Or something. I don’t exactly know.

The other girls pull her off me. There’s a certain amount of tut-tutting or the equivalent thereof and then Nata comes back—so I guess I do know she was gone. I remember the rush of pleasure at seeing her walk in the door with Veroushka.

There’s no reaction from her this time. I suppose I don’t tell her.

It points out something to me though, something sort of dreadful, which is that I was in this dangerous world. There was a lot of violence, and terrible things were done to us, and all through it, I was supported and given some amount of protection. Mostly, Nata was doing that, but the other girls did too.

Nata was in a fistfight, and I was scared, and someone put her arms around me and held me close so that I wasn’t as close. Someone tries to force me to kiss them, and the other girls pull her off me. When Nata died, they wrapped me up in a blanket and made tea.

It was totally unlike my own home, where there was nothing. I was fed (mostly) and clothed. My basic needs were met, but there was no protection whatsoever. There was no one who provided any support or nurturing. There was no one I would even trust to do that. No one who could put her arms around me when I was frightened that I wouldn’t be even more frightened of than what had made me frightened in the first place.

My family life was horrifying. Not just because bad things happened, but because there was no support with it. There was nothing. It’s both an absence of nurture and the presence of abuse.

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