A Closet of Memories

Another Friday Fictioneers prompt has come. This group is graciously hosted by the longsuffering Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who blogs at Addicted to Purple. Check her blog for information about how to become part of this group and respond to the prompts. Our photo prompt has been donated by Kelvin Knight. Bear in mind that this is his photo and must not be used for any other purpose without his permission.

I looked at the prompt this morning and thought, “This is great!” No murder and mayhem in this photo; it should generate some really homey, upbeat stories. So what delicious aspect can I write about in connection with home-made bread?

Sad to say, the story that popped into my mind a moment later is one I didn’t want to write. I hate going to places like this but I feel this is the one I should tell. Genre for this one is contemporary fiction, based on a true account of a young woman’s loathing for white bread and how she discovered the reason behind her disgust.

I’ve had a few similar experiences where I felt an intense fear or negative reaction to something for years until I finally asked God, “Why?” And got a clear answer. I believe many children experience things that leave them with a closet full of dark memories. It’s so awesome, then, when you finally open that door, the skeleton inside gives one last rattle and disintegrates. The place is swept clean, the dust swirls away and you’re so glad to be rid of the mess that you feel like dancing.

So here’s my tale:

PHOTO © Kelvin M. Knight

Memories Locked Away

Pam stares at the slice Tim decorated. A wave of nausea chokes her. That heart! He doesn’t realize…

It’s just bread. Get a grip! But she barely makes it to the toilet. Chucking her breakfast, she wails, “Why, God?”

Memories click into focus. Mom never home. No food. Older brother, bread in hand, luring her…she was so hungry! Ugly stains on the bedroom ceiling…waves of shame and disgust. The bread her reward.

Then a gentle voice says, “These memories you’ve locked away, I’ll take them now.”

Waves of freedom overwhelm her. Her spirit dances like a sailboat in light breeze.

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57 thoughts on “A Closet of Memories

      • My son served in the US Marines and came away with PTSD. It seems to be better now, but several years ago, some kids were playing with my grandson and pointed a very obviously toy gun at my son. He really freaked so yes, triggers for people suffering from significant anxiety disorders are very real.

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      • As an adult you can remember and understand the association, which maybe helps a bit in one way. But for a child, the original incidents may be long buried or blocked. All they’re left with is an unreasonable fear, anxiety, disgust, or whatever — until something opens up the “closet” and they get a look inside.

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    • Thanks. It’s so true. You often don’t realize yourself what happened or how it affected you.

      As an adult I HATED viewings and funerals. Something in me rebelled against looking down at a dead person. I avoided it wherever possible. Well, that’s just me, right?

      Then one day I was driving to another funeral, not quite as sick as Pam about it, but my mind revolting at the prospect of filing past the coffin. And it dawned on me finally, “This is NOT normal. Why, God? Why do I feel this way?”

      Right then a scene flashed into my memory. My baby brother died shortly after birth. I was 3 1/2 but can still recall at his funeral how someone lifted me up to look in his coffin — and I was disgusted. They’d lied to me! That was no baby — that was a doll! (Of course i wasn’t, but that’s what I saw.) Right there something twisted in my perception of death and dead people. I didn’t understand it and no one else knew.

      As I remembered that scene and my feelings that day, it’s like a light went on. “That feeling of disgust has stayed with you all these years.” I finally understood the cause — and I’ve never felt that revulsion again. Instant cure!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, Ali. when I wrote this story I was thinking of “big” things like her seeing the light over why she hated white bread, or me seeing the light over why I hated viewing bodies. (I wrote this little story in one of the comments above.)
      But I think this same thing happens on a smaller scale to everyone at one time or another. You have feelings about something, or a certain understanding of something, and suddenly you get a comment from someone else—or a thought will pop into your head—and you get a new perception that spins your thinking 180 degrees.

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed this account. As I said to Granonine, I really wondered if I should go this way. You’re right about the triggers; who of us hasn’t seen a sign or heard a few words that instantly brought a long-ago song or show to mind. (Which is what motivational advertising is all about, come to think of it. 🙂 )

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    • Thanks for your comment. I didn’t know about this but would gladly hear more. Have you written about it on your blog?

      As I said to James, one angle to flashbacks is when we can make the association, we see something that relates to the stress we’ve gone through, as with his veteran son seeing a toy gun and getting a flashback to the war.
      Another angle is when the person gets no flashback because there is no memory of the offense. The offending incidents either happened before the child was old enough to comprehend, or they have been blocked as in Pam’s case.
      For Pam, white bread didn’t trigger any memories; rather a loathing she didn’t understand. Or with me, seeing a dead body and being revolted never brought any flashback until the day I asked God, “Why?” and He gave me the flashback plus the explanation. (I wrote about this in the comment above.)
      The hardest issue I ever had to face was to go back to a time before I could remember — at the instigation of a relative who DID remember — and ask God for an answer. Did this really happen? I got an amazingly clear answer to my question, plus an explanation of cause and effect that gave me freedom from a life-long “limp” I never knew I had.

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  1. I was reading the comments above because I’m totally at a loss for words. You described CPTSD/ PTSD with such clarity. Memories do “pop” and are overwhelming at times. Flashbacks I understand all too well. Having them explained by another who’s ‘been there’ has helped me some, but not completely. This is an awesome write, and I LOVE how God works in our lives to whisk away our fears and anxieties one at a time! This is GREAT writing, Dearest! 🙂 (hugs)

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    • Thanks so much for your comment. Glad I hit the nail on the head re: flashbacks. I could tell you a few incidents like this that I went through and the deliverance really is amazing. Like being bent over for years—“That’s just how I am” — until God knows it’s time to deal with this deformity. He points to the root, straightens you out, and you can stand up straight at last. 🙂

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    • Thanks for your comment. It’s amazing how some people can find that way — have you ever read the book A Child Called It?— and sad how some sink under the waves.
      My Dad Forsyth was angry and miserable just like his own dad. His son resolved not to adopt that sullen nature and had a happy home. Mind you, he had a loving mom and was four before Dad came back from the war. That helped a lot.

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  2. I agree with Neil… except I don’t mind even a bit that she is finally free. This was well written, Christine. PTSD is not something that only comes from war. I have a friend who survived a heart attack who suffers tremendously.

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    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, the release she found for her trauma was so encouraging. She shared this experience with a young girl who was struggling with an inexplicable anger, likely from past abuse. I trust it inspired that girl, too, to find release.

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    • It is disturbing. These abuses ought never to happen to innocent children! And there are many other more minor incidents where a child get something fixed in his head and it stays as a misconception until some trigger brings it to the surface so it can be straightened out. Thanks for your encouragement.

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    • Thanks for your response. I agree with your last sentence — often the “being set free” happens in a short time, but realizing there actually is a problem, asking “Why” and seeking an answer — that can take years.
      I lived with a petrifying fear of the dark for thirty years before I finally said one evening, “This is NOT normal. Why do I have this fear?” A flash of memory, a realization of cause and effect, and five minutes later my fear was completely gone. But that’s another story. 😉

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