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The Day Everything Changed MAG
I remember everything about that day down to the small insignificant details. I guess it’s good that I have one day of perfect memory, seeing as I pretty much have no memory of my life from the age of five to seven. It’s called psychogenic amnesia and occurs after someone experiences trauma, especially related to sexual assault, rape, or being molested.
Most people go around talking about good experiences from their childhood and good memories they have with friends, but for me, I only have one day. I was eight years old and in 2nd grade. It was the second semester of school. It started off as a normal day; we all got to class and started reading. I’m pretty sure we did this every morning but I have no way of knowing. I remember going to specials after we finished reading; we went to art; we worked on drawing a 3-dimensional cake. Mine looked nothing like a cake but my art teacher told me I did a good job, so I was happy.
After we got out of art class I was pulled into the office. I didn’t know what was going on, but I wasn’t worried because I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. That’s when the words that would change my life were said. My mom and dad were both there; my mom was sitting on the left side of the office and my dad on the right. The room had a list of to-dos written on the whiteboard, and there were some half-dead white flowers in a vase on the table, and in front of them there was a big poster with Oprah Winfrey’s words that said: “Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.” I remember every single detail about this moment because of the many times this exact memory has played in my mind.
My mom looked at me; she had obviously been crying because her eyes were red and swollen and her mascara was smeared down her face. Why had she been crying? I wondered. She looked at me and said: “A teacher has been arrested and accused of molesting his students.” When I heard those words, I felt my heart drop into my stomach. I thought she was talking about me. I was so confused; no one knew; I had never told anyone. How was it possible that she could have known?
“It was Mr. Vasquez … your teacher.” At this moment I felt a sigh of relief. I realized not only was she telling me this information because she believed I didn’t know, but that he would really be gone. No more “tutoring,” no more coming in early to help him “set up.”
I finally felt free, but I had just been staring back at my mom when I realized all this and so I looked at her and said, “What?”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I know you were close to him, but I need you to be honest with me right now. Did he ever do anything to you?” The next words that followed would be the thing I would come to regret for many years and most likely for the rest of my life. I looked her right in the eye and said, “No, he never did anything to me.”
I’m not sure why I decided to lie and act as if nothing had ever happened, but I didn’t even know what to say. There was too much information that I was getting all at once and I didn’t know what to do with it all. She said okay and I was allowed to go back to class.
When I got back everything was sheer chaos, everyone was crying and there were five police officers outside of our portable. Why were the police there? I asked myself.
When I walked in our teacher was handing out sealed envelopes to give to our parents. My friend and I looked at each other and he said, “Well, I guess we’re done with tutoring now.” And I’m not sure why, but we both fell to the ground laughing until tears came out of our eyes. But then, suddenly they were just tears. I’m not sure why, but we almost felt sad, as if everything we had known for the past few years of our lives had just been taken away. Even though we knew that what was happening was wrong, it was almost like it wasn’t because it was all we had ever known.
I’ve thought about that exact day almost every day since. I’ve always come back to the moment when I had the option to come clean about what happened to me. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if I had just told the truth. Would my life have been different? Would I have maybe ended up okay and not as messed up as I am now? Or maybe, would I still be the same? Maybe the reason that I am the way I am is because of what happened to me and not because I didn’t tell the truth when I first had the chance to.
At the end of the day, who knows? Maybe, I would have changed. But it doesn’t change the fact that I said what I did and I can’t go back. I can only move forward and learn how to come to terms with the decisions I’ve made and not let them haunt me. While I hated myself for not telling the truth, and years went by before I ever said anything to anyone, I realize that I can’t go back and change the past. No matter how terrible, we all must come to terms with our decisions.
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