I believe we all have had some type of traumatic event in our life, an occurrence that made a lasting impression. Some of us have had many of these.
We often forget those bad moments or traumatic events that occurred. It happens often with accidents of some sort. I’ve heard several people say, “The last thing I remember is…,” (which was the moment the crash was about to happen) and then the next thing they remember is being in the hospital. This is our brain’s way of protecting us. Or maybe it’s our soul or our guardian angel or it may be Jesus and God himself that are shielding us of the memory and the pain.
I can tell you that I have forgotten many of those traumatic moments over the years. That is until I experienced the trauma of relinquishment. Over time, the good memories of my childhood would be replaced with traumatic events that altered my emotional state.
Other than those scary moments when you get separated from a parent in a large department store, which can be pretty traumatic for a young child, I’ve had some other unique experiences.
My earliest memory is when I was around three years. I saw George, a live-in boyfriend, who was sometimes an abusive man to my mother, much like my own biological father, get very angry at my mother and shove her up against the wall, banging her head repeatedly while she cried. I felt helpless.
Another time, around the same age, George walked in my mother’s bedroom and saw me laying on top of my mother’s bed, grinding on my dolls foot. He scolded me and disciplined me. I wonder how I learned this. I must have seen this or experienced something like this. Children mimic what they see. This moment has impacted my sexual life.
When I was five, a lady in the neighborhood babysat me. My mother was working and my older siblings were at school. We were in her backyard as she sat on a lawn chair and watched me frolicking in the yard. I saw some dogs, about five of them. I ran over to the fence, hopped onto the fence to get a better look and then called them over. The dogs looked at me and one of them lunged up towards me. My babysitter got to me just in the nick of time with the raging dog just inches away from my face. It seemed there were some stray rogue dogs roaming around our neighborhood. After that experience, I’ve always been a little apprehensive around dogs.
When I was around six, I went for a drive with my mother and her date. My older siblings were away for the weekend with their paternal family. My mother’s date drove to a playground that was located at one of the local lakes. They pulled to the edge and asked me to ask a lady that was there with her kids if she would watch me for a moment while my mother went to park the car. The lady agreed. I ran back to the car to let my mom know. I played for a while. At that age, I didn’t have any concept of time, but what I do remember is the lady saying to me, “You’re mother is coming back isn’t she?” What a thing to say to a small child. When my mother and boyfriend did return, they parked in the same place they dropped me off. My mother got out of the car, fetched me and we left. I remember saying to her that I thought they were parking the car so we could go to the park. I’ve always wondered why they left me there. Where did they go and what did they do? Anything could have happened to me. This memory created an abandonment feeling inside me.
Another time, my mother’s boyfriend took me to our family doctor. I got on the table and the doctor examined my vagina. I recall the Dr. looking over and asking if it was okay for him to examine me first. I’ve always wondered why my mother’s boyfriend, a man who later became our father however who did not attend school events or activities or other doctor’s visits, except when my parents took me to Philly to have my hearing tested, took me to the doctors. I’ve asked about this but it seems they don’t remember or they give vague responses. I would think this would be something they would remember as it was such a rare occasion for my step father to take any of us to the doctors. What happened? Being on the table in the doctor’s office with my lower half naked and exposed, without my mother or siblings there, being among two men that I didn’t feel that close or secure with made a lasting impression on me. But I think it’s the not knowing why that has created more anxiety.
I would continue to experience a few other moments throughout my childhood of the scary, drunk, angry, yelling step father, gritting his teeth, threatening and pushing our mother, with my younger brothers screaming for him to get away from her, that left our mom and us kids so scared that she yelled for us to go get our grandparents (my step dads parents). They always seemed to be able to calm the situation. We just never knew what the night would be like when dad came home from drinking with his buddies. We didn’t know what personality would be walking through the doors and if one thing said could turn the switch and make a calm night turn chaotic. It was not an easy life to experience and one that left me feeling fearful many times.
I was visiting with a friend recently and we were talking about my second pregnancy and my relinquishment. I was telling her how Noah’s mom has asked me over the years if I ever had doubts or changed my mind about adopting out Noah. I would always reassure Noah’s mom and tell her that I didn’t. Maybe that was my way to cope with the truth. My dear long-time friend said, “Don’t you remember? You had changed your mind. You had decided you weren’t going to give up Noah, until your mom came to Texas.” I shared my deepest and darkest secrets with my dear friend and relied heavily on her for support. She remembered for me what I could not remember or recall for myself. I had forgotten all about it. I didn’t even really discuss it much in the book. I wanted to put on the reassuring face, the please everyone else face, the make everyone else happy face. And that left no room for Karen and her feelings, her wants, her needs, and certainly not her pains.
When I think back and look at my actions, it is very clear to me now. When I went to the hospital, I never called the agency. My doctor must have informed the agency because they called me and asked me if I had the baby. A few days later, I took my baby home and planned on parenting him with Jaren but the events that would occur over the next few hours would be tremendously difficult for me to bear. I am angry at a lot of people but mostly I am angry with myself for allowing others to coerce and manipulate me during my vulnerable moment into doing something that I wasn’t prepared to do. At times, this traumatic event and the pain that I feel as result of my choice are almost too much to bear that I sometimes fear that death itself will be the only healer of my heart and soul.