(Graphic. Be warned)
It’s bedtime now, really, but I feel unusually lucid for this point in the evening. I thought I would write for a while beforehand.
I had sort of a nice afternoon. I had a nap and woke up, lay in bed feeling bad for maybe 10 minutes. Then Maths Ma’am called me up. She wanted me to come teach her son. We had made a plan that she would come in the evening for that, but she didn’t have any work to do that day, there was no electricity, and it seemed like a good opportunity.
So I had a cup of coffee very quickly to revive myself and get myself out of my post-nap state and went to her house. I taught her son, Lucky (let’s call him), for maybe 20 minutes. He’s seven and after that, I could feel him getting him tired. His body began to move: he was losing control of it. It was interesting to teach him. I could really feel in my body the effort it was taking him to learn: we were working kind of over his head, because that was the material Maths Ma’am could find, but also because they just don’t teach what they should in kindergarten here.
We chit-chatted after that, his mom and I. I watched TV: she keeps the TV tuned to Al Jazeera, and it always does interesting programs. I could feel it getting dark and the usual stuff happened. I got kind of dizzy, which tells me I’m too stressed and there’s a certain kind of “switching” going on so that I don’t have to deal with something. A little voice inside me wanted to go look for C’s pieces. Evidently, I get panicky in weak moments and think I need to go find her dismembered body parts.
The horrible thing is I know that’s a memory. Not of her, obviously, but I know the panickiness of needing to locate body parts is real. It happened. It’s something I felt: “I can’t find all the pieces.” I don’t know why I would feel I needed to find them all, but it’s a terrible feeling to sense that something is missing. Like there’s a hand missing or a head or a knee and you can’t find it. You don’t know where it went.
I think this has been the trigger with C about not knowing where she is. There is something about my dad’s whole process that did that to me. It removed that sense of location a dead body otherwise has, and the thing about the forced cannibalism (I’m sorry about the graphicness) is it removes it in a really profound way. Once it goes inside you, the body becomes in some important way lost. It’s destroyed. You have a bowel movement later (imagine I’m five in this kind of thought) and you think, Is that her? You look at your own body and you wonder how much of her has become you. It’s terrible.
And I think every time I don’t quite know where C is, every time she feels even slightly “lost,” I get that sense of a horrifying dislocation again. There’s no reason for it, precisely. It’s not logical in any way. But it’s something that happened. It was a part of my understanding of the events. It’s part of the memory of trauma, that feeling of the body having become “lost.”
The darkness is connected to so many things—the worst triggers usually are, or they are just repeated and terrifying. The worst triggers are never from single incidents. They connect in a million ways to a million things.
The one I hadn’t thought of was the darkness of gathering unconsciousness. That darkness gathers at the edge of your vision. My dad liked to cause me lose consciousness. I think not letting me breathe was the primary method. Then he frequently raped me (again, I’m sorry about this) and I would gain consciousness and he would be on top of me or he would be finished and I would just know that it had happened. There would be traces of it, I would feel the lingering pain, and I would know.
Anyway, the triggers weren’t fun and I dissociated, but I didn’t go entirely behind glass. I had some idea what they were about, and they weren’t as alarming as they might have been in the past.
We were watching a program about Palestinians with physical disabilities and it was really interesting. It was interesting, too, because it was in Arabic, but subtitled. Arabic does something to me. I can’t really figure it out. I have these vague memories of other girls I thought were Afghans—they might have been—and of Aisha and they seem to connect most closely to Dari Persian. I mean, I don’t have the same clear sense about them that I do with the Russian girls, where I know very definitely they were Russian, they spoke Russian to me, they read Russian books. I don’t know why it’s different with Aisha, why it’s more vague and less definite and I don’t quite know what country she was from or what language she spoke to me. I think probably I was younger. It’s possible they stayed in a single language less of the time, and there was more a polyglot among them.
But the thing is it made me feel safe. I was listening to Palestinian Arabic and I felt safe, and it seemed the sense of safety remained with me after dinner, when I left and went to the shops to buy something before going home. There was almost no one on the street and I was walking down the hill and I just felt safe.