I don’t remember the exact day my previous and the first stepfather moved in with us. In my mind, it was gradual and not painful or scary. However, my memory places him in our home during a specific time.
One of my first memories of this stepfather is him sitting in our living room with his gear on the table (he worked in the music industry) and being curious about the equipment and all the wires. He would smoke and fidget with his stuff, and when I would speak or ask questions, he would get agitated. Over time I realized this was because he was also a cocaine addict.
These moments between my curiosity and his binges did not work out well for me. They quickly escalated to being yelled at, put into a water heater closet with the light off, and on few occasions, when he was smoking, me getting burned (I cannot confirm if this was on purpose or accident). It terrifies me even to write this out as I’m constantly waiting for the blowback of releasing these memories so I can escape my mental prison.
To this day, the sound a chain makes from a pull light in my garage can send me right back to that period, and I am that 9-10 year old again. Being on lockdown heightened these senses and wrecked my daily life, and some days I walk around as that wounded little girl.
Step-father had a few other girlfriends in other places, which my mother quickly figured out. The physical fights and coke binges escalated, but now I had an infant sibling. I wondered if this was what life was? I was very protective of my sibling and remembered holding them in my room, saying that it would be okay not to worry. I was there to take care of them while covering their ears from the screaming matches and dish-throwing below. I was too young to be in that role, but I knew someone had to reassure them for some reason, but to this day, I’m not sure if it helped.
My stepfather found Jesus after a world tour. I don’t remember him packing and leaving. His memories go from living with us to being in a new home near some railroad tracks. I loved the train tracks! I would place coins on the rails and then run to a tree line and wait for the train to smash them flat. But, of course, this didn’t work every time. This was quite dangerous for a child to be doing all alone. I had fun at this house though, and strangely felt safer with him than my mother. Perhaps he was turning his life around and getting clean? Perhaps he had found happiness now? Maybe he just didn’t love my mother anymore, as well as myself?
All my questions got put down rather quickly when my stepfather, just now a regular guy on the dating scene, began dating someone new.
At first, she was great, and she offered to “make me look and feel like a girl” since she was into cosmetology. However, later she would be the one to tell me that my stepfather, now just a regular guy, was no longer my dad, and I had to give his last name back. I had to do this because I was the daughter of a stripper, and that unholiness (she was a devoted Christian) couldn’t have a place in the house near the railroad tracks.
Then it was all gone. The stepfather, the tracks, my sibling, the hairstyling, and makeup parties. Gone. Just memories. I cannot explain to you the pain of having to do that. I can understand, I guess, but I don’t think I had the best help in resolving that. I just had to “move on.”
I can route to trauma through music. It is a land mine for me, and those that have been to concerts or clubs with me can and have seen it first hand. Use coke at a club? We’re going to have a conflict, and I will possibly throw hands. Play a particular song? I might yell at you for some odd reason you won’t understand and cause big drama. Repeat a song that takes me there and I could dissociate to younger versions of myself, providing a schizophrenic View-Finder of my past. It is a terrifying part of my c-PTSD.
I first noticed this at a Walmart a decade ago. A song played overhead as I was picking through the fabric, and I just fell to the floor cross-legged while my vision went blurry, and I fell into a flashback. It was terrifying; it felt like I was stuck in a bowl of Jell-O and couldn’t talk. That flashback wasn’t specific but somewhat random moments flickering quickly between each other, like random cutting room floor film just haphazardly stitched together in my mind. It took me at least 20-minutes to pull it together so I could check out and leave. I couldn’t drive back due to my head fog and vision, and I was fortunate not to be alone that day. It would be the first flashback my spouse would witness in public. I’ve had several of these since the pandemic started.
I suffer from the thoughts that I could have gotten drugged as a child; Maybe it was a contact high, or maybe I drank something by accident? Perhaps this is the case, but regardless it’s still sad to look back on a feeling no one was there to care, and that is the hole many of my flashbacks pull me.
As I grew up, I would limit my music not to annoy my mother. I happened to like rap and r&b, but she did not. This genre is the only style of music that wouldn’t trigger me, and I’m assuming it was because it was a genre not played in my home during the traumas. However, this music did not make my mother happy. I remember when she came to my bathroom early one AM, ripping me out of it because of the music. In a morning rage, she took all my CDs and radio and smashed them in the driveway. Then I learned to “remove my sound,” or rather, stop playing any form of music so that I could keep myself safe from “outside threats” like my mother. Strangely, this was heaven-sent as it would save me the remaning years I lived with her, which would only be a few more.
I can route to some of my trauma this way. I ruminate over this so much due to the natural fear of listening to music. I’m terrified of clubs, festivals, and anywhere there is more than one speaker. I’m not sure if it’s because one day I will look up at the person in the sound booth and it will be my first stepfather looking back at me with disgust. Or if I will freak out and dissociate to a younger, more naive, and exposed version of myself. Unfortunately, this is where I often find myself re-victimized.
I need to break this pattern, and I dedicate myself to doing so.