I live in a haunted house, which is a bit weird as I also live in a one bedroom apartment. Yet this house will always be where I live too. It is the scene of horrors untold, it is also a place where I buried things. The place I stood outside my house, while watching the windows shatter, near that pond with a terrifying icey Ophelia with my face also is a place where things are buried. I know this house. I lived there.
I didn’t realize this was the house on William’s street from Estancia until the windows broke and I could actually remember the house and go inside my mental domicile. The wallpaper is less faded in my head than in reality. Where had I been standing? In my secret place that everyone knew about. Between the gate and the lilacs, staring into the windows that I dreamed of, not that were real. This is the house my mother moved us into when marrying one of her now ex husbands, this is the house where my sister and I shared a space and I had to fight for her life. This is also the place where in a few short years outside my bedroom door, instead of a window I had a door that couldn’t be secured. Of course I went insane from lack of sleep… yet outside this door was a house sized lilac bush, which always bloomed, a butterfly bush, tulips, irises, and every pet we had. Some were killed by disease, neglect, cars, but most by Grandma.
It was in this garden I found myself trapped by my fears for Nymph. Yet it was through that door that I entered this house consciously for the first time since we left it. I had locked away memories and the feelings I hadn’t known how to handle. Mostly sad things, a few happy things, not one spot of anger was in this dusty haunted house. What haunts it so? The lost little girl adrift in this great big world trying to understand why it hurts so much. This house is haunted by my unshed tears, by the pain that I couldn’t take. It is a house built out of repressed memories.
I was wrong, this house is not terrifying, and once the window broke and i opened the door it turns out to be just a sad place. It is a place where hopes were born, dreams were killed, it is a place where I had thought I was the world’s largest failure because I couldn’t stop a literal giant of a man (6 feet 6 inches) from raping my mother. As that is a 15 year old’s duty. I knew he was going to hurt her and I obeyed her as she told me to leave the house. A part of me knows she thought to protect me too, but most of me wonders if she believed my warning or if this house of memories will hold more moments where I am like the mythical Cassandra, right but wronged. Never hear, only believed once people are laying dead.
In this house, I find memories of my Sensei, lost to me until I opened that damned door. I find silence too. There is no one else here. Most of the memories until I want to access them are still pictures scattered over the dusty and broken floor. There are elements of furniture, the bed where my step father killed my cats and stuffed them under it because I had told him I didn’t want to do something. The mirror that fell and broke cutting his femoral artery. My wishes are there engraved in his blood for his death.
In this house there are ghosts too, they are quiet. Most ghosts are. People see them rather than hear them. There she is, in the front window, her big eyes staring out into the endless night. She is waiting for her father to come and take her to visit. She feels utter terror. She would piss herself with fear if she had learned long ago that only meant she would be wet and beaten harder. She also feels a terrible gnawing sensation, she wants him to come because if he shows up this time, it means he loves her after all.
Then there are the ghosts of them, my family. I see my sister and her friends smoking pot, a memory I had. I see however from outside in the moments before I take a toke and end up unconscious and not breathing, and kicked into a corner left to die. I see my sister’s face. I see that she’s just afraid to feel. I see as I am passing out that she is as scared as her friends. I wonder now why instead of going for help she chose probable death for me.
I see that first time I was pushed down the stairs to the basement by a “ghost” too. Except that I can see the ghost. It’s my step father. He wanted me dead. He pushed my mother to choose between he and I, and she chose him. I wonder if she regrets it. I see in the memory as I start to fall, his anger when I am balanced by a cat. The other ghost in my memory. A cat that couldn’t be, because this is a cat I never remembered before. I see him kill her.
It is after that, that I had started trying to kill him. In this house are other rooms from other houses, other places exist outside. It turns out this is the landscape of my suppressed memories. They aren’t in the same plane as my other memories which are full color. These are black and white sepia dreams of silence, no music, just breathing if anything, a periodic gasp, it is all looks and body language. The small smile when someone made pain happen. It is all this overwhelming sadness.
This house is my loneliness growing up, and sometimes now. This house is my suicide. This house is my homicide. This house is my desire for patricide, matricide, and siblingcide. I am sure there is a better word for that. This house is when I became a wild child. This house is the first time I saw my sensei cry because he knew I was hurting. This house is my rapes. This house holds the key to everything I couldn’t quite understand.
This house holds no god. This house holds no future. I feared it, because I knew deep down inside it would bring me more sorrow. So I look into the pond again, and the face before me is no longer my own. It is that of the child I once was. I kneel over the cracks and whisper to her, to me, that it’s okay to thaw. You see, this is that stolen innocence, drowned by rage and hatred. This part of me under the ice is there because that was the only way to survive. It wasn’t about being an alien robot like I told myself, it was just about not hurting so much so that I could go on. It was about no one believing me that my mother is a serial monster marrying monster.
In that house are the times my brother raped me. My grandmother strangled me. In that house is terror, but terror is not scary for me. That seems sort of ironic. It is this child under glass, I am not so sure it is ice after all. She is sleeping beauty, snow white, she is a fairy tale. She lays there staring up at me but her eyes don’t see me. She is trapped in that moment, the moment lost for all time where I could have been. She is my potential. Potential is never lost, but often buried.
So as I stare at Ophelia in the pond, girl under glass, frozen in time I realize. All along I have been the fairy princess. All along I have been the warrior woman. I am like Jean D’Arc. I am a super hero. I am the perfect woman. I am the strong man. I am the bearded lady. I am the freak. I am all my dreams. I cannot leave this haunted house, yet I already did. A part of me is buried with all those things I never had and all those loves I lost.
I lay on the ice and stare at her. She doesn’t breathe or move. Perhaps Innocent Ophelia is dead after all. Her eyes open, her skin pale, there is no color in her face, and it looks to me as if she has actually resurfaced, this pond didn’t hold her before. It could be that though this ice won’t break by it cracking I reclaimed the part of myself that I needed to. I forgave the part of me that wasn’t able to protect my mother from her own actions. I forgave the part of me that was a child and therefore couldn’t stop Grandma from being used as a murderer of pets, as a punishment for loving.
I feel whole. I don’t feel shattered or broken, I don’t feel a stabbing emptiness when I think of memories or these things. I feel the hole I have fought to plug in a myriad of self destructions, millions of atomic bombs to mutate my self failing and destroying, is filled. Oh, I feel sorrow. I feel grief. I will feel anger, I will feel rage. I still feel joy. Oh yes, joy. Because I remember. These silent films, still images, photographs on the dusty wooden floor? If I look at them, I can touch the memory without the pain.
If I didn’t know better I would think my PTSD was cured and I could “move on” with life. Except that I cannot ever leave this haunted house. I can add a yard, I can add a memory but the house is my head. I have continued to build around it, and now I can go wherever I please. So I walk out again, I don’t want to live in memories and sorrow. I leave the princess of ice behind in her silent night.
I stop at the gate, I look behind me at the ghosts, I take a breath and I walk into the world of color. I walk into the thoughts of my future and dreams. It is here that I am writing a book, it is here that I am laughing with my friends, it is here that I am Batman. It is here that I get to kiss the girl, it is here that I get to be whoever I dream of. It is here that I am also living in the moment. Past is still past. That house will wait for me, I will likely find more hidden rooms too.
As far as Ophelia in the Ice? If she is living, she is me and I am seeing a reflection. If she is dead, I am not, and I am a second person. If she is waiting to be set free it is not her time yet. I am not burying Nymph in that grave yard of pets either, I am merely letting her memories roam. Rose is there too, in these parts of me that are alive.
Someday perhaps I will be able to let that house be in color too but I am not sure I want it to be. It is the house that sorrow built, each board and nail created to survive being disallowed pain. Some of the things that will go into my PTSD book are part of this house. In fact, being told constantly to just move on, is a part of this house.
I see my mother with my adult mind telling my child self to just move on and I realize, she didn’t want me to hurt. She just hasn’t grasped the fact that no one ever just moves on. We may live, we may heal, but you cannot set the memories down and throw them away and be just fine. Instead you must let yourself heal. Moving on is suppression and repression. Healing is doing what you must to survive while preventing the gaping wounds of mind and body from being infected.
A second book that pulls at me is a children’s story. The story of a fairy princess who is also her own hero. She saves the prince, doesn’t slay the dragon but makes friends with it, and in general defies her parents’ ideas at every turn. In my imaginary future for this book there are print outs with different art, girls of each color and body type getting a book with their own image reflected by this heroine. That’s what I wanted. My Sensei gave it to me, though it was much easier to do since I am white, red hair, and beautiful by the standards of society. Still, this was before there were many strong female characters at all, and he found them for me.
I will say that there are rooms in color in that house, just very dusty. These rooms hold the memories of the people who didn’t let me get lost in the maze of conflicting demands made by the adults around me. These are the people who saw me for what I am, or at least a facet of that and guided me. The teachers who taught me things, instead of getting frustrated because I knew how to read and write and had already learned the things they should teach me.
Yet my favorite memories are not in that house. They are memories I have been making in the last year. Some even overlap recent horrors. Yes, I am sad and i feel the emotional pain of even having had a giant house I couldn’t see was there. I feel pain. Yet completed. I know there are missing things, my literal thought as I opened the door was, “Oh, someone stole all the furniture” which tells me there is more coming. Yet I am strong, after all I am the conglomiration of my childhood imaginings, I am a warrior princess alien witch zombie wizard ship who sang sword carrying dragon charmer sex goddess battle master bad ass. So I will wait, I will work on healing old wounds that I did not see before, and I will try to repair the house of Memories.
I will also lay flowers for Ophelia everyday, she may not be what I think she is now, but at least I see that a part of me is a frozen child. It is terrible to be that child, there are flickers of memory. Likely escapees when the ice cracked. I am a damsel in constant distress, yet I save myself. That is the lesson of this house. I have always been alone, yet I have never been alone. I am dichotomy woman, though somehow I doubt that would work as a super hero name. I think I will try sleeping a bit more now, all the word steam has escaped and I feel worn out suddenly. Trying to hold all this back in my mind for so long is exhausting.
There is something odd about this house though, I found no glass on the floor and my mental constructs are always complete with such details, which means that there were never any windows to begin with. It was all in my head. Yes, that’s a joke but it is also truth. The barriers that kept these memories back weren’t something as tangible as all that, just as the memories aren’t as solid as they feel. I can see them, hear them, smell them, and touch them as I described but the sword on the wall won’t cut my hand. It still hurts. So I am reminded by the lack of shards on the floor, to forgive myself and to be gentle with myself. It is natural to forget things that will make it impossible to act for survival. This is how society itself works. You discard information constantly in order to either preserve opinion, hence people who believe things that shock you with their stupidity or they form ideas that are as shocking as what others believe and seem brilliant but unfathomable. Yet it’s the same idea. I am just glad my brain didn’t stab itself, that would’ve given me a real headache.