This week my husband and I traveled to Bedford, VA to see the homes and building where all my abuse happened. For three days my body felt the stress as each day became harder and harder to walk. We visited the two homes I lived in until I was 10 or 11. The small homes are across the street from each other. I remember the first home that we lived in until I was 4 but the second home that I lived in for 6 years I have no memories of at all. We knocked on the doors but no one was home or no one wanted to answer the door so I didn’t get to go in. I did get pictures though. And my husband and I walked the long street to where I would catch the bus.
I remembered a man that kept a garden a few houses down from ours and I have one memory of being in the garden with the elderly man and feeling of safety. But that is only one of very few memories that I have of this neighborhood. The rest of the memories are of abuse.
The next place we visited was the original grocery store that my mom and I would go to. Yes, the original grocery store from 40 years ago! I couldn’t believe it when we walked in. They had the original cash registers where they were punching in each price…no scanning codes here! The avocado green produce tables and gold stripes, late 60”s shelving and refrigeration and meat counter. It was amazing to see.
I wanted to go in there because I have such powerful reactions when I go into grocery stores. It feels like my spirit leaves and my thinking becomes very foggy. If I go in with a list of a weeks worth of groceries I tend to “wake up” as the clerk is scanning the items and see only several bags of chips and boxed cereal. I didn’t know if any memories would come back from actually walking back in the store but none came.
The next place we tried to find was the Jaycee building. The Jaycees no longer have a group in Bedford so I knew that it would be a long shot to find it. But with any luck maybe they sold it to another group and it is still around. The only thing I knew was that it was located off a road going out of town and the property beside it had a two story white house and the road was gravel. The memory I have of this buiding it is all made out of blue metal. On the map we located 7 major roads leading out of town. We didn’t know if we should go North, South, East, or West. My husband decided to run back into grocery store and ask the older ladies that worked there if they remembered an old Jaycee Building from 40 years ago. One lady said there was a baseball field called the Jaycee field and gave us directions.
So, we headed that direction looking for a gravel road. We found one with a locked gate, parked, and started to walk down the road. My eyes were closed as I walked because memories started to flash by me. I hadn’t seen the building yet but my body knew this was the place. I just knew this was the place where my dad brought me to “bury” me. The further we walked the smaller I became. When we arrived at the building I saw the sign “Lion’s Club” above the door. The parking area was a large graveled area in front of the door. I didn’t react to the front of the building because I remembered a large metal building with a metal roof. The front looked like a small building made out of cinder blocks.
When I looked in the door I saw the inside where I had been abused by the other Jaycee members. It was a large open room with a stage in the back. When I walked around the side of the building I about lost it because there was all the blue metal building that I remembered. It stretched the length of the entire building. There are NO windows in this building and it is set so far off from the road that no one could hear anyone scream. Why do you build a building with no windows???
As we stood with our backs to the building we looked out over the baseball field and beyond that we saw shooting ranges. My husband estimated that they owned 30+ acres. It was completely sounded by trees and completely isolated. No one could see this property from any angle.
We walked the entire property before I stopped dissociating. It was a stressful day that I am glad is over.