Hidden in the Wall – A Poem of Dissociated Abuse

Content warning: Dissociation and child abuse.

I had to write these lines this evening. I’ve been falling repeatedly back into a memory fragment since seeing the psychologist on Friday. We talked a little of the tiny amount I remember and she asked how it made me feel. I’m not very good at questions like that. Many of us are not good at questions like that.

It’s a memory fragment. I had no conscious memory of it until earlier this year when one of our parts showed a piece to me. Lucy was very cross about that. She was also very cross and sorry too when she showed me something a few months later.

All I have are clues about things that happened. The trouble is, the nature of memory is such that even if it all became clear there would still be no certainty that the things are true. They don’t make a lot of sense to me and I tell myself that moments like the one in this fragment are completely impossible.

Bear with the writing. I’m not used to remembering these things, let alone writing about them. This evening I had little choice.

 Hidden in the Wall

I smell his aftershave. Cheap,
Seventies fashion, stale musk sickness.
I stretch up, puppet mastered, pull straight,
Lean back into the pain as he
Pulls me tight towards harm by my hair.
Unwashed tobacco breath and he
Speaks words, bitter anger, love starved.
Never tell: Never tell, he bruise squeezes my arm.

I feel no fear. Fear is memory displaced.
Alone. Abused. Used. Without meaning.
Without comprehension. Without a face.
Alone. Alone. We become two, form together,
Until I can sink into the wallpaper
Patterns. Live outside stretched scalp
In lines, curves that never move or spit.
So I forget. As if broken without cause.

He shaved badly today. Skin harsher than eyes.
He speaks, growls, reaches down
I depart, one with the wall, solidity shame.
There I remain. Flattened, ignored,
My truth steamed off when the wall came down.
He feels, rubs, groans, demands.
I become nothing, hated for what he did,
Despised for what he said I made him do.

I am safe, hidden in the wall.
As his hand hurt me, all I thought was,
“Why did they stop the piano playing?”

Did that happen? I don’t know. It’s impossible to know. Such things are common, but that doesn’t make it so for me. The childhood photos I have don’t speak of sexual abuse but that doesn’t make it not so. With my imaginative skills I know I could create a whole world of problems that never existed. Except, I think in some way they did. Even the act of remembrance alters a memory but I have come to believe there’s at the very least a core of truth in the little our dissociative parts have let me know.

It’s all more than a bit confusing and unpicking my present, our dissociative system, and our past is not going to be the easiest thing we’ve ever done.

Do I even want to know? I don’t know. Who would want to remember when another part can continue to carry what they’ve carried for so long?

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