To this day, I still can’t walk into a mechanics shop or a garage where a car has been parked or worked on without the memory of scent triggering these events. The smell of a old rag with oil on it sends a chill up my spine, so much so I just got one merely writing about this. It’s funny that we can remember these events so clearly but can not clearly remember the exact age they happened. The mind, when blocking out a trauma, for me anyway, does so in chunks, and you literally lose all the memories, good and bad. Locked away for self-preservation to be dealt with when the time is right. I would have been around 8 or 9 I think. I was always a tomboy and gifted at sports so spent much of my time playing soccer, hockey, baseball or football with the boys. They were all older but since I could keep up, it was ok for me to play. This to me was awesome. Older kids knocking at my door to get me to play sports with them? I felt special and wanted and good at something. They were all good kids, nice boys from nice, middle class homes. None of them would hurt me, I would finally be accepted. Then it started again. One kid, who again, I will leave nameless, lived across the street a few houses down. His parents knew my parents, so it would not be uncommon for us to be at one another’s house. I don’t remember the day it started but I do remember it was multiple times. I recall him saying that I wouldn’t be allowed to play with them anymore if I didn’t go into the garage. It had a door attached to the house, and a stinky old car with a workbench covered in tools, and old oily rags. I remember the garage floor always feeling so cold on my butt and legs, and remember he always threw me a dirty rag to clean up with after he was done. I would then clean up, pull up my pants, and he would open the garage and we would get the rest of our friend and go play soccer. This must have gone on for about 2 years. Life went on as usual, just a piece of me died every time.
I remember it stopping only because his mom came in from the house through the garage door and saw me pulling up my pants. I didn’t have to go back into the garage after that, but nothing was ever said. Life went on as usual, just a piece of me died every time. My confidence sank to an all time low and I now not only believed this was normal, but that I had done something to deserve it. I’m not sure now if it is even possible to know how wrong it really is when you are that young. How it robs you of the one thing that is childhood…innocence.
A good friend told me that often the things we don’t speak about are the things causing us the most trauma. So I didn’t and couldn’t have a voice then, but I can and will now. I will share anything that may help anyone from being hurt like I was, to protect and speak for the children today who have yet to find their voice. Sometimes all you need is a glimpse of light to know that the tunnel does have an end.