Cleanly Shaven

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. TC mark

image – Paul Bollo

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  • Hgrad

    You’re not the only person. My brother and I both can’t recollect our childhoods pre-about age 12 or 13. After I got to graduate school and decided to talk to a therapist about this, his attitude was: “Well, we could try to break down those walls. but honestly, if it’s not bothering you too much, if you think you’re better off not remembering, I’d just leaving the coping mechanism in place.”
    And so I did.

    My brother has too, so far as I know. Sometimes it’s just healthier to not have a memory.

  • http://twitter.com/nickguyrees Nick Guy Rees

    There are many, many 20-somethings that can relate, including myself.

    • Oliver Miller

      “The Broken Generation” seems like a bit of an exaggeration.

  • Nishant

    That was brutal.

  • Jessica

    “Memories have disintegrated for the purpose of self-preservation.” i’ve been looking for these words for a long time

  • http://twitter.com/Kick62 Rob

    Raw, cathartic. More interesting than the usual dispassionate list of third person declaratives.

    • Asdf

      Agreed. Fantastic summary.

  • Green

    This is one of the best articles I have ever read on this site. I think we have all done bizarre things as emotional reactions.

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