Friday, August 5, 2016

That One Track

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My subject is: How would you rewrite one chapter of your childhood? Not your whole childhood - just one chapter.

It was submitted by:


I’ve never really thought of my life in divided chapters. I’m more the kind of person who has a chronological life soundtrack—a list of songs meant to be played back to back preferably on vinyl or cassette tape that tell, at least to me, my life story. Said soundtrack would mostly certainly be the score to a film about my life and definitely has a few songs I am completely embarrassed to admit ever listening to. What life would be complete without a few *ahem* or maybe a multitude of embarrassments, guilty pleasures, bad choices, and lessons learned?

After so long thinking about life in the songs that accompany the times, it’s really rather difficult to consider my childhood or my life at all as chapters in a larger story, and it becomes more difficult still to divide my childhood up at all. It’s a blur of mostly negative flashbacks, fuzzy images that really fail to tell the entire story because, for complex reasons, my brain felt it best to forget most of it. Can that sort of memory-blur be divided into distinctive patches that combine to make the whole quilt? It seems impossible.

But can I pick out a moment, a song perhaps, to cut away, to delete, or rewrite without disrupting the flow of the soundtrack itself? Can I remove a moment, an event, or make a change without altering who I am? For the longest time, I would have said it’s impossible to take away anything I’ve gone through and still end up with the me that I know today as the final product, and as someone who is pretty fucking ecstatic about who I am, the idea that I wouldn’t be me at all anymore has always given me pause about making a change. I realize we aren’t defined by what has happened to us, but those events alter how we see the world, how we cope, our reactions and politics. So much of who we are depends on how we perceive and deal with what we have gone through and how we eventually cope or don’t with those things.


In the last few years, I have really started to wonder when posed this sort of question how I might fare without ever having been raped at 13. I have written about my thoughts on rape and rape culture extensively, and I know that, for the most part, I have dealt with the whole of it really well, but who would I be if I could just take that one thing back? My virginity was literally stolen from me by someone I called a friend. I lost my innocence on the dingy carpet in my own house. My own fucking house. The person I would have been without that betrayal died that night, and I can’t help wondering who that girl would have been. Could she have been better at relationships? Could she trust people? Let the walls down? Could she be anxiety free? Would she be able to answer the door when she’s home alone without having a panic attack? Would she be more social and able to leave home without feeling overwhelmed, clammy, and on edge?

I have never been able to know what it’s like to love innocently, to be able to be with another human being without the shadow of knowing what it’s like to have my own body stolen from me. For all of my teens and entire adulthood, I’ve lived with the weight of guilt and shame, with the anger and anxiety that comes from being a rape victim. So much of my time and energy has been spent on battling those demons, on coping and dealing and overcoming. Such a huge part of who I am has been molded by that one night, by just a few unforgettable, life-changing moments.

So, yeah, I love the person I am now even with the baggage, the scars, and the anxiety, but if I could reach into the past and just rip that night right out like so much garbage, like a bonus track that never really fit into the soundtrack anyway, I think I might like to know the woman who would have lived without it, the version of me that wasn’t killed that night. I’m sure she’d be pretty damn rad.  


Here are the links to the other contributions this month:

Baking In A Tornado

The Bergham Chronicles
Spatulas on Parade

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Southern Belle Charm

Confessions of a part time working mom
Sparkly Poetic Weirdo

The Lieber Family Blog

Never Ever Give Up Hope

When I Grow Up

Evil Joy Speaks


  1. Hard to know the woman who didn't get the chance to be who she was without the pain of your experiences, you're RAD now

  2. What an interesting and challenging assignment.
    It's impossible to know if you would have turned out exactly the same with that one chapter re-written, but for what it's worth, why don't you try and picture it? To be able to love innocently, to be able to trust people whole-heartedly.

  3. I hate that this happened to you, that it's happened to anyone. But I really like the person you are not because of it but despite it.

  4. Coming from familiar circumstances I know exactly what you're talking about. You never had that open, free kind of love and you never will. Even after 25 years of marriage I still have those feelings.

  5. Wow. I hate that any young girl has had to go through this. It is brave (and I'm sure a bit therapeutic) of you to share your story.

  6. You sound pretty damn rad as is! I can't find the proper words to say what I'm trying to say and have been fumbling around quite a while. Sending light and love to you. Thanks for sharing what you do and for writing such an amazing post for this prompt!

  7. I commend you for looking further into the question. If there is any event a person would like to re-write, I"m sure you picked the right one. And I'll bet you'd still be just as awesome!

  8. I think you're rad. I'm certain that the other version would have been rad. I'm sorry, that some monster took away your chance, to find out just how rad she'd be. I know the pain all too well, and I'm genuinely sorry you do too.

  9. Thank you for taking my prompt and sharing such a personal, raw story. I understand completely what you are saying and I felt the same way for decades. What changed it for me was when I wrote my memoir, as terrifying as it was to do that. What happened to me was I saw how my pain and my strength helped countless others. There is incredible healing in that and I never would have thought that was possible before. I am glad you are talking about it, sharing it and realizing you are beautiful and whole, you are who you are because of what you have experienced.