As a kid, distressed by my life with the Tyrells, I would often retreat to the bathtub to sleep. It became a place of comfort for me even dry.
In mid-life, my journey to C-PTSD began in a bathtub. I got in and long-forgotten memories overwhelmed me with sensation as did the warm water of my bath. At first I didn’t recognize what I was seeing; I’d heard of repressed memories but never imagined I had any. I was 45 years old when that happened.
On Monday morning in the bath, one single memory destroyed me. No sooner had the memory of the trees of our backyard entered my head than I was shaking with grief. Today, telling Dr. Shoja, it the grief overwhelmed me again.
The Tyrells lived on a hillside. Both the front yard and back yard were terraced and on the top level of the backyard were two small groves of Vine maples and between them were an almond tree and a cherry tree.
The rule around our home was that the Tyrells were not to be disturbed. I was to stay in my room or be outdoors. In the summer, the Vine Maple groves were my retreats. I spent lots of time there learning about soil and insects, picking the fruit and drying the almonds.
When we moved to the house on the hill, my father had offered me a present to bribe me into acceptance of their decision. I’d asked for the almond tree I cared for on the terrace.
Then one day a neighbour came into our yard and poisoned all the trees. I was beyond consolation but the Tyrells could not understand my attachment. I’d never once seen them interact with a living thing on our lot.
I begged Dad to complain to our neighbour and demand he replace the trees but he would not do it. Dad was a wimp.
In telling Dr. Shoja, I said I loved those trees and I did. Weird as it seems, I loved trees. I could not trust people, so I could not love them; pets and plants and trees were what I loved. A boy has to love, after all.
It was my father who beat me but it was my mother who ordered it done. The fact that he could not stand up to our neighbour gives me some solace; it feels less personal that he could not stand up to his wife and refuse to beat me.
I am (still) the boy who loved trees.