Featured Image: The corkboard I’m literally just about to talk about. Title is from a Fall Out Boy song.
I’ve been doing a lot of staring at walls lately (not much to do around here), but today I let my eyes wander to something I put up in my room a few months ago.
In my childhood bedroom, I had a milk crate of “memories,” which was mostly just bits of paper that had some significance to me. Instead of letting it sit in that box, I decided to get a corkboard and just stick it all on and display them. As I was sitting on the floor of my parents’ house doing this, my dad questioned some of the memories, particularly the envelope that says “For Her”. I explained it was originally from a card from my ex and now contained a bunch of handwritten notes we used to pass in high school.
But looking at the board again, I realized it is just a board of trauma at this point. The things and the people attached to them are all dead, dead to me, or didn’t win the election. So why am I keeping it all? Why torture myself by keeping things that make me sad?
There’s a letter from one of my best friends from high school that details how upset she was with me that I was seemingly picking my boyfriend over her. I picked it up out of the envelope and read one word and put it down because it was that painful. It is my biggest regret that I didn’t just pick her.
There’s a note from my psychiatrist asking my professors to give me extra time to complete my assignments in my senior year of college because I had been too busy trying not to kill myself that I wasn’t doing my schoolwork. He was also committing insurance fraud.
There’s a business card from my first therapist who tried to hypnotize me out of depression when I was 15 and so I stopped seeing her.
There’s a list of people who bought my book in high school. One person gave me $10 even though I was only charging $6. His name is Pat Skrabec, and he passed away 6 years ago.
There are two pictures of an old friend who was such a piece of shit that I have dreams about him killing me.
There are two pictures of my old pets who have passed away — Mr. Pig the guinea pig and Pablo the rat.
There’s a photo booth picture of my two childhood best friends that I no longer speak to.
There’s a piece of paper with a bunch of signatures that I got people to do at a party. Don’t speak to any of them either.
There’s a piece of paper with a bunch of quotes from my friends in middle school. Don’t speak to them either.
There are two drawings by Kevin Hickey from either middle or high school and while we don’t speak I think we follow each other on Instagram and he does tattoos now which is cool.
There’s an envelope of old pieces of homework that have really depressing stuff written on the back about how much I wanted to die.
There’s an envelope from when my 7th grade English teacher made everyone write little positive notes for each person in the class. I had that class with my crush, and he wrote: “Dudeee best friends forever no doubt and I’ve only known you for half a school year […] PRETTY-EST girl I’m friends with and I’m wicked lucky to even know you because you improved my whole year by 100% and you are the subject of most of my conversations and thoughts. I love you, Andria!” — unfortunately, he did not reciprocate my feelings and, after 12 years of friendship, got our entire friend group to turn against me and never talk to me again.
And back to the envelope of notes from my abusive ex-boyfriend. This one’s a doozy and I did actually open this one up to traumatize myself to write this part. There’s an entire note dedicated to saying all he does for me and my flaws (reminder: I was like 16 at the time).
“Why don’t you want to fix [our problems]. Space isn’t an answer. Why did you even want ‘space’. What does ‘space’ do for you.”
His “compliments” about me: “Beautiful. Nice. Smart-ish. Get along (usually). I can open up to you. Comfortable with you. Dependence. Trustworthy? I like your family, they hate me”
His “flaws” about me: “Let parents talk shit. Hide shit. Refuse to come over and go to Victorias [instead]. Constant threats of breaking up. [Own a] vibrator. Don’t engage sex. Never taking blame. Never admitting when wrong. Don’t listen. No blowjobs. Selfish? Immature?”
“Nice things [to] show I care: canceled [my] plans, pumped gas, buys donuts, etc., been nicer, give you bud, massages, got a job, got you a ring, got into that fight with [my] dad (you refuse to speak up). [name redacted- Robbed a kid who had SA’d me].”
But why, Andria? Why not only keep these memories if they’re so bad and even worse, put them on display?
As my friends know, I have one of the worst memories for someone without notable brain damage. My memory is so bad I basically have no object permanence — out of sight, out of mind. But that still doesn’t explain why I want to remember the bad. Maybe I’m secretly a masochist– Self-harm through the forced remembrance of my trauma.
But what I think it really is, is proof that I lived. Even though those memories are tainted with the knowledge that I no longer speak to those people, it doesn’t mean those happy times didn’t exist. Even the note from my friend who was upset that I had chosen my boyfriend over her, is proof that I was loved. The self-written notes about how sad I was, are proof that I can always overcome my depression. The note from my psychiatrist is proof that it’s okay to ask for help and most of the time you’ll get it.
Pretending those people and those memories don’t exist will literally start to make them not exist in my mind due to my terrible memory. The friend who I’ve had dreams about killing me, we stopped being friends 3 times and got back together because I kept forgetting he was an asshole. I have dreams that I’m back with my abusive ex, and the whole dream I say to myself “how could I let this happen?”, but keeping the memories of his abuse fresh and alive help me avoid men who will do the same. Keeping the note from my friend helps me remember to not choose a guy over friendship.
So thanks for the memories, even though they weren’t so great.
My ticket for the 2011 Warped Tour is on there. Best time of my entire life.
Also Pat Reynolds did win that election and he’s a great guy from my home town. He did however lose his most recent election but the guy who won was also from my hometown and helped me get my unemployment check faster.