But after his eyes close he's greeted by a new blackness, one not caused by a lack of sight but appearing in his mind's eye. With this blackness, feelings of shame and powerlessness, crash over him like a wave and his heart accelerates rapidly as fear reclaims its grip on his body. The young man's eyes snap open as he mumbles to himself, "No, not again, not again. I don't need this. I'm not there, wherever and whenever it was."
He hadn't wanted to believe what he felt, of course. When his mind would flash black and he'd shudder from the anxiety and those feelings would rise up and his mind would tell him he'd forgotten something, feeling like it was scraping nails inside his scalp. He didn't want to believe what the feelings made him think, "Molested... Trauma... Blocked..." He still didn't know if the words in his heart were true, but he'd come to believe them. He couldn't be certain, but he felt the truth of it deep in his bones. He had told his mother, when he could no longer deny it to himself and watched her face go white as a sheet.
"Tell Dad," she requested, voice hoarse. "He'll listen."
I don't want a rerun of the last time I gave him a good look at the inside of my head. I don't want to hurt like that again.
Don't ever talk about those things again! And don't bring them up to anyone else either! his father's voice snarled in his memories.
"Mom..." he began.
"I'm serious," his mother said, in a tone that left no room for refusal. "He'll understand, you'll see."
As the boy collapsed onto the furniture his dad said, "I can't tell you that it happened but I'm not gonna dismiss it as nothing. How long have you been feeling like this?"
"A couple weeks?" the young man offered, uncertainly. "Since getting out of the hospital after the second episode at school."
His dad's eyes grew wide and his mom visibly flinched. "Why... Why didn't you tell me sooner?"
"'Cause I didn't want you to dismiss it. Or call me a liar," he answered. Like you always did, he added bitterly in his thoughts. Or take away my ability to feel in the name of helping me. It wouldn't be the first time, Pop.
"I'm not gonna say those things," his dad said, sounding far more shaken by this new revelation than the first. "I-I don't know why you'd feel that way."
The boy's mother shook her head, annoyance flickering across her face at her husband's last words.
"Doesn't matter, Pop," he said, having no desire to go through that discussion again. His dad may have handled this better than expected but the boy wasn't in the mood to rehash the past or why he'd expect his dad's reaction to be negative. Even if the past can't die for him, he wasn't interested in reliving it with his father. It always led to a fight neither wanted, even when his father attempted to help or truly wanted to understand. While his mother came close to understanding she had her own problems: nightmares that woke her screaming, a seldom surfacing split personality, and specters of mistakes made that showed up masked as people she loved.
"Do you want to see your psychiatrist again? Get on some new medicine?"
The young man felt his face twitch in a scowl, but he placated himself with the knowledge his dad meant well, just wanted to help which was an improvement from times prior. "Nah dad..." he said, attempting to sound calm. "All she did last time was make my eyes roll up, remember? I don't need sore eyes, just time."
"You should know... I know it did sorta happen once," his dad said. "But you stopped it yourself and it was in full view of the two of us and your grandparents. Nothing happened."
"Mom told me years ago," the young man replied, tone growing sharp. "Oldest cousin, right? I was 4?"
"Do you think that could be what this is?" his father asked glancing over at his wife, either missing the edge in his son's voice or choosing to ignore it.
"No," the boy said flatly. "Pop, if I stopped it myself, I had no reason to feel powerless. No reason to feel shame. And I do."
"I'm sorry then," his father replied, genuine guilt in his voice. "I can't think of anything more than that."
The young man stared at his father, trying to decide what to say. In the end, he opted for silence and just slid off the couch and hugged his dad hard. "I'm gonna fix this," his dad whispered in his ear.
Don't bother trying, the young man thought as he pulled away and the wave of blackness surged in his mind's eye. You can't. And I stopped waiting for you to save me a long, long time ago.