Random Shameful Memories

English: Beaches houses on the western side of...

English: Beaches houses on the western side of Misquamicut Beach, Westerly, Rhode Island. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A psychiatrist once asked me what my earliest memory was.  I told her I was alone in the basement of my parents’ house looking for a toy car I had lost.  She remarked that was interesting because most people will recount an experience with one of their parents.

I remember as a young kid (maybe five and younger) having a desire to make babies cry.  At the time I felt no remorse.  I enjoyed it.  Later on I felt guilty about having that desire, like it was further evidence of how flawed I was.  Now it makes sense.  Everybody shamed and picked on me and it made them feel good so I tried to mess with kids more helpless than I was to make myself feel better.  I don’t recall ever doing anything too horrible.  Still I am sorry for anything that I did in this regard.  They truly did not deserve the shame that I attempted to pass on to them even if it was passed on to me when I was innocent.

I remember my grandmother (my father’s mother) at our house.  I think there were other relatives there as well.  They were all sitting in the kitchen.  I remember walking in and talking to them about a dream I had.  All I recall about what I told them was “the pinecone with wheels”.  I don’t think I actually had any such dream.  I’m pretty sure they all knew that what I was talking about was being made up on the spot.  I remember going down the basement stairs and saying to them all in the kitchen, “now remember, it’s the pine cone with wheels.”  The feeling associated with this memory is complex.  I have the feeling that I thought it was funny.  I also have the feeling that my relatives were annoyed with me.  I don’t think I cared at the time but later on the memory made me feel embarrassed.

I remember when I was 5 or so telling my mother that I was running away.  She said, “ok” as if she didn’t care.  I went out the door and made it half way across the front yard and turned back.  Now that I look back on it I wonder why she didn’t ask me what was bothering me.  I feel like she knew that I could never actually run away.  The prison of shame was already well constructed at that point.

I remember taking my sister’s girl-scout canteen and going out the formal front door (as opposed to the door in the family room normally used for going outside).  My mother ran out the door in the family room to see where I was going (as if I was doing something wrong).  She took the canteen from me.  I remember feeling I had been caught doing something terribly wrong.

I remember one summer I kept sleeping in later and later.  Eventually I could not get to sleep at night.  I went into my parents’ bedroom and told my mother that I could not sleep.  She said, “just remember that you have a wedding to go to.”  I thought that was weird and left the room.

I remember one summer not having anything to do and running around the house a few times.  I came in and told my mother and she said sarcastically, “oh yeah, now what are you going to do for the rest of the summer?”  I suppose she wanted to send me back to Village Day Camp (a camp I hated because all the kids in my group and even the counselors picked on me).  Recently the subject of Village Day Camp came up and I mentioned how much I hated it.  My mother responded, “but you told me you loved going there.”  This made me very frustrated and angry.  I explained how everyone there humiliated me.  She acted as if I was attacking her.

I remember riding my bike to the pool at the country club by myself, getting in the water getting bored and riding my bike back to the house after about 15 minutes.  Similarly, when I was in college home for the summer I drove to the beach in Rhode Island by myself.  I went on to the beach got bored and drove all the way back after a half hour or so.  I think it was cold that day.  I associate these events with feeling lonely and isolated.

In middle school I got a detention slip.  I forged my mother’s signature and the teacher figured it out immediately.  I had to go to the office.  I cried.  The assistant principal asked me why I was crying as if he thought it was inappropriate.  They put a new signature line down under where I signed and made me go home and have my mother re-sign it.  It was very difficult to work up the nerve to tell her but I did.

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