I was at the youth group I was interning at talking to someone when a junior high guy suddenly jumped on my back.
“Get off me, please!”
His weight started pulling me down. I thought about defending myself, but I’m one of the adults responsible. I can’t hurt him to protct myself.
“You’re hurting me. Get off!”
My knees hit the floor, and the boy’s older brother called his name: “Get off her.”
Only then did he listen. I lay on the floor, staying the way I had been forced down for a moment. I was in shock. I wasn’t angry, but I wasn’t sure what I was feeling. I felt tears start to fill up my eyes, so I got up and walked into the empty bathroom.
I felt scared. I felt helpless and weak. I felt abandoned by the other leaders who could have stepped in sooner to help me. Physically, I wasn’t badly hurt. This twelve-year-old boy’s actions, though, brought up a fear that I didn’t anticipate and I couldn’t figure out why I felt this fear so strongly.
As the evening went on, I continued to think about it. Why was I so shaken up by him jumping on my back? My younger sisters, my cousins, sometimes a friend have all done it at one time or another. What was so different about this?
Then the flashback came:
I am lying on the floor of the entryway attached to the living room of my parents house. I am young, maybe eight years old at most. My cousin, who has been living with our family along with his mother, is sitting on top of me, still hitting me. I think he had tackled me, pushed me to the ground, and beat me up. It was unprovoked, and this isn’t the first time that this had happened. I don’t fight back. I would get in trouble if I did, so I let him keep hitting me. His mother does nothing. I don’t remember what made him stop.
I had forgotten about this memory. I had forgotten about my cousin and aunt. I didn’t even remember that they existed, and the memories of these beatings had been forgotten with them, until now.
Unknowingly, a junior high boy had triggered the same feelings of fear and helplessness that I use to feel when my cousin would beat me up. The memory is foggy at best, but the emotions are just below the surface. I have just identified one more of many triggers to unpleasant memories.