A major transition in my life came when I was ten, and if I am deranged (and I suspect that I am), I must have lost my sanity at that age.
When I think back to my childhood, one memory lingers: the time I shaved the head of my stuffed bear with a pair of purple scissors. The victimized plush toy was a gift from my father, a man who can be quickly depicted as someone who was never there, and thus cannot be described at all because I never really knew who he was. What I understood as a child was that he betrayed my mother and me. In order to seek my revenge, I decided to torture a plush toy. To this day I feel anxious trying to decipher the meaning of my actions; tormenting stuffed animals seems somewhat sadistic, especially since, in those days, I perceived them to be alive.
It was routine for me to wake up in the middle of the night; it was as if I knew there was another world that existed in the dark. Once my eyelids opened, my pupils would slowly adjust to the moonlight. Everything was different: the silhouettes unfamiliar, the noises foreign, and the reflections tricking my eyes into seeing objects that, in the daytime, weren’t there. Slowly, it was as if the world were being assembled before my eyes.
I dared not blink because I was afraid that if I did, it would all fall apart. Fuzzy outlines emerged and soon I could distinguish the various plush toys lying on the shelf across from my bed. I could see beady eyes staring intently at me. Gradually I would see their lips move, their eyes blink and even their bodies march forward; I was convinced they only remained lifeless in the daytime with the intention of spying on humans for reasons unknown. They intrigued me. Every time I climbed out of bed towards the shelf it seemed as if each toy stopped moving, the gleam of their eyes fixing back into place and the fur on their bodies no longer swaying. They were hiding something and they didn’t want me to know, just as there were things I hoped others didn’t know about me.
I considered decapitating the plush toy and even possibly flushing him down the toilet, but as a logical child I knew I did not wish to be admitted to a psychiatric facility or to flood my home. It felt as if shearing off fur was a more sophisticated way of releasing my anger. It was not until my mother opened the door and started tearing up that I realized it must have looked far worse than it was. She must have seen in the near future a troubled teen with daddy problems or a child going through an emotional crisis. I wish someone could have captured the moment in a photograph, because, to this day, I never seem to be able to grasp the feelings I felt when I saw the tears roll down her cheeks.
Shaving my plush toy bald isn’t what made me feel deranged; what caused me to reevaluate my sanity were the red flags that were raised as my memory began to morph. The transition began when I was told my father was not a good man, with the bear shaving incident being the last memory I’ve retained since then. A vast majority of my memories are left unredeemed in a vast empty space, where time continues to elapse but nothing is recorded. Memories have disintegrated for the purpose of self-preservation. Everything that happens is admitted into the same black hole from which they never again resurface. This protects me from memories that could hurt me, but prevents me from forming memories I could cherish. Now I see myself and consider the extent of my psychosis unknown, since I am the only person I’ve ever met who involuntarily forgets her past.
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It started with a right swipe, a little green heart. Tinder of course.
Though I acknowledge and appreciate the differences in human experiences, and while your heartbreak is (and always will be) uniquely and completely your own, I must urge you to consider that I have been where you are.
With his hat cocked back, body tilted away from his cane, and right forefinger pointing directly at his audience, Joseph Ducreux commands the attention of those viewing his self-portrait.
I was born in 1990; he was born in 1973. I’m 23; he just turned 40.