*trigger warning.* Tied to a chair, the rope cutting into me. And duct tape. Around my mouth. I can’t even scream. My hair’s tangled. My hands tied so tightly behind the chair I can’t feel them anymore. I’m bleeding from the cut on my head. It’s dripping in my eyes. Tears streaming. I’m trying so hard to fight. I need to get out of the chair. My screams are choked by the goddam tape. He’s watching me, smiling… “round and round the garden, like a teddy bear…one step, two step…tickle you under THERE.” BAM. More pain. More choked screams. More taste of tape…
This memory has been going round my head a bit lately. I keep having nightmares where I wake up unable to open my mouth, because I can feel the tape silencing me. Or the burns on my arms as I tried to fight against the rope.
I’m thinking back to what the therapist said; I need to understand the inner child is putting these memories forward for a reason. So I wonder…why? My dear, little tiny me…what is it about this particular memory that you want my help with?
The emotions. If you look at my description of the memory, it’s very factual. It’s very action-based. I haven’t dared even glimpse at what my emotions were doing at this stage. If I look at the scene, my screams are silent. I don’t want to remember how scared I was…
But my inner child is still there. She’s still scared, and tied to a chair at the age of eight. I can’t ignore the emotions and leave her there. She needs me to be brave now…
So I thought: be emotional. Aha not so easy. Turns out there’s something about the memory that acts as a trigger, and simply thinking “be emotional” isn’t going to undo all my hard dissociative put-in-many-bottles-with-several-booby-traps-for-safe-measure work.
So I watched the memory again…watched me as a child in that state and of course I felt sad. But even I knew it was not sad enough. I was just like “oh. that’s not good. I hope it ends soon.” I looked through each detail and wondered which bit I would have locked onto as a child. Which part of the memory would I have locked all of the emotions into? There’s a key…somewhere…
I looked at the man. I saw his crazed eyes, his twisted lip and the foamy dribble at the corners of his mouth. His nose was running. I remember thinking “he needs a tissue” and “I wonder what makes dribble foamy?” Bizarre, huh? The mad things we think about when in such situations…just to form a distraction. He had badly shaven stubble. A corkscrew in his hand. I know what that means. That’ll be why he’s tied me so my legs are apart, then…
But no, the man is not the trigger. It would have been foolish of me to lock my emotions into that part of the memory; it’s too obvious. Look around the room… the single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. I remember staring at that whilst he hurt me, counting the moths that kept bouncing into it like *idiots*. I remember thinking “you silly moths. Why make yourselves die?” and then thinking “maybe you don’t like seeing this…” and then “the light is tricking you” and then “I wonder, do bright lights give moths headaches too?” Again, thoughts as a form of distraction. I wondered whether I’d keep headbutting a lightbulb if I was a moth. Some of them died instantly and fell on my hair. My messy hair. What a grim grave.
Oh but to have pretty wings… that’d be kinda cool…
No the trigger isn’t the light. Or the moths. What else is there? The chair. The bloody chair. It doesn’t matter how hard I rock on it, it just doesn’t fall over. I remember being at school and teachers nagging me for rocking on my chair. “Why are you rocking it? And with your hands behind it? Don’t be so silly – you’ll topple forwards and break your nose!”
Oho you sweet teacher…a broken nose is the least of my worries. I was actually practicing to see how I could topple it over. But little cute plastic school chairs are slightly different from great big wooden ones.
I hate the chair. My arms are so tightly bound round it I can’t feel my hands anymore. And it’s so wide that my legs are far more apart than I would ever like. And he has a corkscrew. And he’s going to hurt me. And this chair just won’t budge. I can feel the perspiration running off of me and settling on the chair. It just mocks me; it collects my badness. The rope feels like snakes. I remember thinking that. “Help me I’ve got snakes on my ankles.” That *terrified* me. I didn’t want snakes on my ankles. I remember wondering whether snakes prefer ankles, and thinking “it’s okay. I’m just eight. Maybe it’ll think my ankles are too small.” But they weren’t snakes. They were rope. Bound round me and tight. The slight bruising didn’t go for a couple of days. I wanted my teacher to see but how does an eight year old manage to subtly show her ankles to a teacher? It was in the days of long white shirts, covering my wrists…even though we were allowed to wear polo shirts if wanted (I was never allowed) and I had thick black tights. I could never show her where the snakes had bruised my ankles. Where they’d tied me up whilst the man hurt me 😦 I had no clothes on; my little tiny vulnerable body lost in some monster chair. Exposed.
But no, the trigger isn’t the chair or rope. Although it’s getting closer. I can feel myself trembling a bit. There’s a pain building in my chest. This is where emotions scare me; will they kill me? Will my heart literally break?
The tape. How did the tape get there?
I remember being carried into the room. I was kicking and screaming, begging the man not to. “I’ll do anything. I promise I’ll tidy up better next time. I’ve done all my homework, just ask my teachers! I…I…I’ll make you big breakfast tomorrow! I’ll wash your car!” Desperate pleas with what I felt would be good bargains. So innocent, looking back… he didn’t want his breakfast or his car cleaned. He wanted his kick.
I remember being carried. And thrown into the chair. I remember trying to scramble up. BAM. Something hit me in the stomach. I’m back in the chair. He’s kicked me back into the chair. He leans over me, oh god his breath stinks. “Now little girl…you’ve been so naughty…why did you drop all the plates?” I tremble, feeling my face already wet with tears. “I’m sorry…I was trying to be all big you know…I wanted to be a big girl and help.”
He inhales slowly. “Oh big girl? A naughty big girl…my my…”
No no no no no….
He pins me down with his knee as he ties me up. I scream and scream. He hits me. Then I hear the dreaded noise. The ripping sound of duct tape. At this point I still thought it was called “duck tape.” I didn’t want to taste a dead duck. I didn’t want it on my mouth. What if the dead duck made me poorly? Why was the dead duck so sticky? It rips. It’s scary. It’s a scary duck and it’s going to glue my mouth together so I can’t breathe. I hate the dead duck. I feel myself go crazy, fighting harder than ever to get out of the chair so the dead duck doesn’t get put on my mouth. But he’s too strong. He pins me down. He holds my head still by throttling me. I already know if I fight when he’s throttling me my head will fall off. I stay still. I still scream though. But it’s all gaspy because he’s throttling me.
RIIIIIIPPPPPP. Dead duck. RIIIPPPPP. Dead duck. Dead duck. Dead duck. Dead duck.
On my face. AHHH. Ohmygod. Ohymgod. Ohmygod. Ohmygod. The dead duck is going to make it so I can’t scream. I can’t breathe. I don’t like the taste of dead duck. Oh it’s so tight. It’s glueing me together. How will the man know he’s hurting me too much now? (Still at the point where I thought he actually might give a toss). Oh I’m so scared. I’m really so scared. That corkscrew is going to reeeeeally hurt me. Hurted me.
Duck not let me scream and the corkscrew hurts me. Duck make me quiet. I not like being quiet because it hurts you know.
“Round and round the garden…” oh no I not like this game mister man. Please can we not play this game. Oh and I not be able to say so because the dead duck. I cry and cry. But the water is running to my nose. Oh now I’ll drown. Oh mister man please I promsie I not be bad girl again.
“Like a teddy bear…” Yep I want my teddy. My teddy not hurt me you know. Oh where’s my teddy. Duck get off my face pretty please. I say magic word. I want to shout for teddy. TEDDY. TEDDY. Cry cry cry. Oh oh oh why I break those silly plates. I just droppeded them you know. You know that, Teddy?
“One step..” no no no “two step” oh I want to die. Please moths show me how to die now. Fight fight fight but I can’t move. I can’t breathe. I not even scream now because of silly duck.
“TICKLE YOU UNDER THERE!!”
DUCK GET OFF MY FACE IT HURTS IT HURTS SO BAD I NEED TO SCREAM I WANT MY TEDDY PLEASE GET THE MAN GONE I NOT LIKE THE CORKSCREW DUCK PLEASE GO AWAY I SORRY YOU DIE BUT GET OFF MY FACE AHH I SO SCARE I SO SCARE PLEASE I JUST WANT TO DIE MAKE IT STOP HURTED ME PLEASE.
It all gone. I just lie now here and cry and cry. Oh I hurted bad now. I going to find my teddy. Dead duck ripped off my face. It rips a lot. Rip rip rip…
I saw it on the grey stones at church too. Rip rip rip. The dead ducks just everywhere. 😥 😥 😥 😥 too scary.
And there we have it. Emotional breakdown. I can now hold my little tiny self and show her I’m not on the chair anymore, and there was never a dead duck on my face…
My god… tape, it turns out, was the trigger point.
I had a few minutes of extreme sobbing, hugging myself and clutching the cushion. Finally I let my inner child cry out her fear. The dead duck wasn’t silencing her anymore…