I had a recovered memory the other day.
My relationship with my mother has been on my mind a lot in the last few months. She admitted to me over the phone one evening that she had been very depressed when she had me and we had just … never bonded. She didn’t know what to do with me.
I distinctly remember, at the ripe old age of 8, trying to do anything I could to make it easier for her. My younger brother would throw a fit if his rice bubbles weren’t completely covered with yoghurt, and he wouldn’t allow the yoghurt to be watered down in any way. Whenever it wasn’t fully covered, I would immediately say “I’ll have that one! He can have mine / you can make him a new one” to stop the inevitable melt down from my younger brother. To make it easier for my mother.
I was eight, and I knew without words that she was deeply unhappy, and I wanted to do everything I could to make her less unhappy. I was eight.
My recovered memory wasn’t that. My recovered memory was squeezing my excruciating legs to my body and curling into the fetal position, clenching my teeth to stop myself from screaming, and crying silently in my bed because they hurt so fucking much, knowing that if I got out of bed and complained about them, she would say “they’re just growing pains”. These were my first symptoms of fibromyalgia. I wanted to scream in pain, but at thirteen I already knew that complaining about pain got me nowhere.
I spent many nights like that, curled in on myself and clenching my body tight to stop myself from making any noise, especially when the pains hit me well into the night. I couldn’t disturb mother.
They were only growing pains.
It’s no surprise, then, that at 32 I don’t express pain. I was speaking to a woman the other day about my trigeminal neuralgia, and how disappointed I was that the MRI came back clean, because it means that my hoped for treatment, microvascular decompression, wouldn’t do anything. She asked me if I really wanted surgery, and I assured her I did. She asked me why and I said because I am in pain daily. When she still looked sceptical (because I was carrying on a conversation normally and not looking like I was in pain) I told her I wanted to stab my face it hurt so much, because that would provide some sense of relief from the constant burns and aches I feel. She looked shocked.
I won’t, of course, because it won’t do anything other than cause more problems, and it is an illogical act to do (hooray for being autistic), but some days I lie there and fantasise.
I have fibromyalgia and trigeminal neuralgia and you couldn’t tell just by looking at me. I still throw hay bales around, talk till the cows come home, and do all the things normal people do when other people are around. Because I learned very early on that showing pain gets me snapped at. I still don’t show my pain much with my amazing human. I say it matter of factly, but I don’t show it. I don’t think I know how.
I have many more issues stemming from an unavailable and depressed mother, and I’m only just beginning to learn about them. I’m definitely going to need therapy to help me untangle this mess!