The Tip of the Iceberg

It’s funny how one thing; one thought, one remembrance can lead to a cascade of some others.  And that’s the way with us.

You know how it is: you see a birthday cake and you remember a birthday you had. You remember a gift you got then. Then you start remembering the gifts you got on other birthdays. Then you start remembering old friends – the ones who brought the gifts (I suppose; I know we had birthdays, but they were small except when we were in the ‘Hood, where the whole neighborhood was like one family all living together on a dirt strip side street not far off Tobacco Road.)

And so you go on remembering other things; like the places you lived; the weather there – the differences in the housing, the differences in the people, your parents (how they acted depended where we were.  The more public the housing, e.g. some apartments, the more quiet they would become – and the less we’d get abused.  The more remote – or the thicker the walls of the apartments, such as those WWII barracks built for German officers during the war – with their three foot thick outer walls, and one foot thick poured inner walls. You couldn’t hear a thing – like a child’s scream – especially through those thick steel doors on some of them.

But this is about another thing. “We” had a memory today.

It started out innocently enough: we were doing some laundry. And then we saw something which triggered something (it started as a joke) – that turned into something else.  And then a whole chain of ‘phrases’ unfolded . . . and the reasons for the emotions behind them.

I had always heard seeing ‘pink elephants’ was not a good thing.

The thing is, the line “seeing the elephant” had always been triggering to me. Not ‘the pink elephant’ – but ‘the elephant’ at all.  And I know this is a funny thing (that’s how us survivors can be) – but that phrase would suddenly pop into my mind sometimes (especially during a nature show, and especially at a zoo where I’d see one) – immediately and always followed by a vague sense of unease and upset.

I’d always chalked it up to one of my ‘others’, since when I was a very young child I once got my arm sucked up by an elephant.  I was feeding him some peanuts, he snorted them in – and took half my arm up along with them!  I was very upset at the time; arm covered in ‘elephant boogers’ which to me looked like pink slime.  I was about 3 years old at the time.  And I’d probably been sucked up more except I was being carried by an aunt of mine. She whipped out a tissue and wiped my arm clean and we continued on our way.

“It’s just ‘him’,” I got to thinking (because I really like elephants at heart – they are intelligent, social beasts who do not deserve what has happened to them; their destruction by the hands of mankind).  “He’s still upset remembering that thing,” for it was felt as a sense of betrayal.  ‘We’ were feeding him and things got out of hand. He suddenly and almost ‘sucked us in’ (through the cage and the iron bars). So we got scared. But we didn’t blame him for that. I blamed ‘me’. For holding the peanuts too close to his nose.

But there we go again:

“Seeing the elephant.”  “I’m going to go see the elephant.”  Seeing, hearing, typing those phrases gives a deep sense of unease, nauseousness.  And it always has.  That is the important thing to remember here.  It’s not a ‘sudden recalling’ or a ‘sudden remembrance’.  It’s a case of something never forgotten – but it was RIGHT THERE.  Just lurking around the corner, just hiding right ‘in there’.

And in that feeling there is a sense of nastiness – which is what the ‘joke’ was all about, anyway.  It’s a crude form of a joke, just like the ‘white mouse’ is (see there? Another phrase I remember – from my childhood.  You know what “the mouse” is, right?  If you are a guy you do – I think. It might just be me! There again it’s one of those things I don’t know: Is it normal?

In my family phrases counted.  There was one, “Dig it out with a spoon.”  (Don’t read unless you are strong stomached.)  That hung around until our teenage times and beyond.  “Put a rag in it.” (Meaning “shut up” or something said in nuisance when a baby was crying.)

But now I can remember those others – and they need ‘processed’, I’m afraid (not really ‘afraid’, just hate the work).  They will make me sick and make me nauseous and I’ll still have to go on. I may not resolve them correctly nor completely. We shall see.

But to them we can add these elephant things.

“Going to see the elephant”, and
“Seeing the elephant”, and
“I’ve been to the elephant”, and
“I sucked the elephant” or “I sucked the elephant’s trunk” (or anything like that).

I will also need to change my views on laundry. I want to go back to that ‘good feeling’ when I’d see those elephant ears.  I want that giggley laughter feeling; not this current sickness and depression.  It’s a matter of changing my mind; my perspectives; try to ‘see’ it in a good light . . .

and I wonder who that ‘fellow’ is – the one in the ‘snapshot’ (in my head and memory) with his head cut off (our attention was on something else; the elephant’s head.  Or maybe his trunk and things).

Anyway: weird knowledge, but progress in a slow; albeit clumsy sorta sensitive way (We were listening to our alters and questioning things . . .)

But the funniest thing of all is that it started as a joke.  Both then and again today.

Odd how one can recover things. Right in the middle of an ordinary life, doing an ordinary thing – like doing laundry.


About jeffssong

JW is an adult childhood abuse survivor with DID*. He grew up in a violent family devoid of love and affection. He is a military brat and veteran. He no longer struggles with that past. In 1976 JW began writing "The Boy". It took 34 years to complete. It is currently on Kindle ( ), or if you prefer hard copy, on Amazon ( JW resides somewhere in the deep South. He is disabled and living with family. Note: Please feel free to take what you need; all is free to all. With that in mind, keep it that way to others. Thank you. We have 3 Blogs - One for our younger days, 0-10 (The Little Shop of Horrors); one for our Teen Alter and his 'friends' (also alters) with a lot of poetry; and finally "my" own, the Song of Life (current events and things)
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2 Responses to The Tip of the Iceberg

  1. Michael says:

    Much of the work was getting used to how my memory worked and it is not at all normal other than for my experiences. Two factors were the way my memory worked changed as my brain changed adjusting to the new experiences of memory and when doing the work my memory was taxed to the max so my memory in the now was not working as it was worn out.

    The memories for me are often thawed. Sometimes I “see” ice or what is as close to ice as there is in the physical world.

    I have got very used to it. It is still hard. It is nothing like when I first started.

    Memory is much different as a very young child. It took much work before I got past the point were I was at an age where I was verbal.


  2. DollyPopper says:

    it is interesting how we recall memories, often they can’t be forced but your’e reminded in that chain of remembrance that you described. Everyone is different, but it sounds like you’re very pro-active with your recovery and gaining your understanding: that’s great. x


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