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Thu Sep 27, 2018, 01:03 PM

How I experienced real trauma - watching the hearing brought this back to me from the past. [View all]

This did not involve any sort of assault. It was a pretty silly little example, by comparison to what we're seeing and hearing in Dr. Ford's testimony, and for that, at least, I'm grateful. But it's really illuminating and helps me "get" what these victims go through.

It was at recess in high school. My freshman year. We had some "sports day"-type events going on during lunch recess. One event was called "the VW Pile-in." The objective was to see how many people we could fit into a VW Bug. Silly and fun, right?

So I got in line to participate. I was one of the first ones into the VW. Climbed into the back, up against the passenger side wall in the back seat. Jammed in between the seat and the floor. The VW Bug at that time had windows in the back seat area, but they were sealed shut, and weren't designed to be opened or closed. I was crowded in, with my head right at the rear passenger-side window. As more people were piling in on top of me and the others who'd climbed in first, I started to panic.

I didn't realize I was claustrophobic until that moment. I was quietly freaking out. My hands groping at the glass of that window, clawing to try to open it. I was trying hard to breathe, to stay calm, to not start trying to flail my arms or kick anybody, as the other participants' bodies crowded in around and on top of me. I was literally starting to freak out.

The event ended fairly quickly (although it seemed like hours for me!), and as soon as the last person to shove themselves inside the VW got in so a photo could be taken. And everybody climbed out. Me, too, FINALLY, although it took time to get all the others out of there so that those of us first in, at the bottom of the pile, could get out, too. I was never so glad to get out of a car as I felt, that day. I was still shaken, and shaking. I was still freaking out inside, but trying to suppress it so that nobody would know how freaked out I was. I did notice that nobody else seemed to be freaking out. It was loud, noisy, (presumably) fun and silly and everybody was laughing and giggling and in a very celebratory mood at the silly stunt we'd all just performed. Except for me. All I could do was try to maintain some level of composure.

The first period after lunch was History. I LOVED history and I loved our teacher. I thought she was terrific, and the feeling was mutual. She liked me a lot because I was what she referred to as "my prize student." I loved her class, relished every session, loved doing the homework, loved doing the reading, just gobbled it up, and she was a good teacher who encouraged that. I got NOTHING but straight A's in that class. NOTHING but straight A's.

That day was the day for the weekly history test. I remember feeling brain-scrambled as I took it, only 15 minutes or so after that VW Pile-In. The whole experience had left me feeling like somebody had removed the top of my skull and stuck an egg beater into my exposed brain, hit the "ON" button, and scrambled all the soft tissue of my brain into complete mush. The test came back the next week, with a ZERO. A big ZERO at the top, with an exclamation point. My teacher was shocked. I completely bombed that test.

Obviously my brain was totally scrambled from that VW Pile-in. I recovered and returned to ace-ing every subsequent history test from then on, as usual. I was a GREAT student. Always got some version of A. My history teacher later told me I was such a great student that she wanted to give me an A+ on my year-end report card, but was denied doing so because "they didn't give A+'s." The highest grade possible on the report card would have to be a simple straight A.

But THAT DAY... THAT SINGLE DAY... Watching this hearing brought that all back. In my own VERY little, minimal, comparatively insignificant experience, I completely and clearly understood trauma. I realized I'm a claustrophobic. Learned it for the first time that day. Learned, first-hand, the impact and effects of trauma. Even "trauma" as silly and stupid and comparatively microscopic as crowding into a VW Bug. This was LIGHTYEARS different from a rape or attempted rape. But it lets me understand, even in the most minuscule way, what a woman like Dr. Ford experienced, at the moment, and in the aftermath.

I guess I suppressed this, too. Because I just recounted this memory to my husband for the first time, I started feeling the trauma again. I literally started shaking as I tried to describe it. Almost started crying. That was freshman year high school. I think I was 14. I'm 65 now. And thinking back on it in detail STILL freaks me out.

I can well imagine how an assault victim feels, right down in the gut. My little experience allows me a sense of knowing. And my experience doesn't even begin to compare with theirs. It allows me to empathize, and to understand. But it doesn't even begin to compare with theirs.

For whatever it's worth.

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Reply How I experienced real trauma - watching the hearing brought this back to me from the past. [View all]
calimary Sep 2018 OP
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