For years, I had no happy memories of my childhood.
Anytime I would think of my childhood, it was filled with horrible thoughts that usually lead to anxiety attacks or other PTSD flashback symptoms.
As I started to work through a lot of these memories in therapy while living in the DC area, happier memories also started surfacing.
The more I worked through the bad things, the more I was able to think about my childhood in a normal manner.
I have some great memories of my childhood — a trip to Disneyland with my grandparents and aunt and uncle, many weekend trips spent with my aunt and uncle in their house in Marin; time spent running around the neighborhood with friends.
I have some not so great early memories. I think the “out of the ordinary” moments stick with us and leave a longer lasting impression than normal every day memories.
I remember being in the hospital when I was 5 for my foot surgery. There are three things I remember about that hospital stay — they put some sort of net over my bed to keep me from climbing out; my bed at one point was moved because there was a child on a ventilator that needed the spot I was in since it had a better outlet; there was a Christmas special on TV (it’s the one with the mice and the young mouse tells his dad he doesn’t believe in Santa Clause and almost ruins Christmas for everyone).
I remember being rescued from an apartment we were living in due to a fire. I can’t remember if the fire was just in the yard or in another apartment, but I remember being carried out and there was a lot of smoke.
I remember being physically abused by my mom and the “belt” my step-father used for spankings.
I remember when I was in kindergarten, my mom would pick me up from school and then we would go to her Diet Center appointments. Afterwards, we would come home and watch Andy Griffifth or sometimes she would do Richard Simmons workouts.
I remember the morning I scratched off the game piece from the box of Cookie Crisp and found out we had won the “grand prize” of 100 Milton Bradley toys and games. I went and woke up my mom and she was sure that we hadn’t actually won that we had just won a “chance at winning”, but when she contacted the number on the game piece she found out we did win. We received about 90 of the actual 100 toys and games. We each got to pick one out for ourselves and most of the rest we used at birthday and Christmas presents for the next couple of years.
I remember the morning I found out that my younger brother was born. We were on the trip to Disneyland with my grandparents. We had pulled up at the hotel we were planning on staying at for a few days, and my grandfather and uncle went to go check us in. I was in my grandfather’s Cadillac when they came out and told us that my brother had been born. I was so excited to get out of the car that I cracked my head on the door frame. I couldn’t wait to get home and hold my little brother.
For a long time, I thought I would never have any happy memories. I’m grateful for both the good and bad things that I remember.