By Janet Thomas
(Excerpt from the first chapter.) This has, of course, created doubt and dismay as I’ve tried to heal from the electric shocks that could never happen but did; the sexual slavery as a child that only my body remembers; the experiments that happened to someone else In my body; the days and nights in the dark that made indistinguishable my self from all that did not exist; the places where I became an animal, where being debased for the enjoyment of others was my charm and my glory. I heal from it all, even as I know it could never have happened to me. It is what I don’t know that has both saved me and condemned me. And it seems, at times, as though there is no difference.
I do bear one visible scar. It’s four inches long and reaches down the inside of my left forearm. On my left hand are five-year old fingers and a thumb that does not bend. There is not much feeling in this hand. It is a hand that is always cold, always numb, always looked after by my other hand–the right one, the one that writes, that does everything. “The scar is real,” it writes. It is a huge scar. It is connected to medical experiments and electric shocks to see if the severed nerve would grow, and electric shocks to make sure I didn’t remember the electric shocks. And shocks to obliterate the memory of the sexual exploitation, the manipulation of my mind, and the banishment of my self to a place of hiding so profound it would take me fifty years to get her back.
So, if I don’t “remember” being cut, does it make the scar unreal? This is what I would ask those who think recovered memory is a hoax, that there is only truth in the literal and sequential naming of memory and recognition. The real truth is that the scar on my arm is of little consequence. But the reasons it is there scared and scarred the very soul out of me. My five year old self lives in my five year old fingers. It is a hand I hold dear. A hand that tells me the truth and always holds me accountable to what it knows.