Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Childhood Trauma Flashbacks - Part III: We Are Abandoned

The fact that Midnight Cinephile exists is an anomaly.  Honestly and truly it is.  If my childhood were anything to go by, then it's downright shocking that I don't scare myself just looking in the mirror.  I've been doing a little bit of thinking lately and I thought, what the hell, I'll open up a bit to you.  Perhaps this will give you a bit of insight into an odd man who loves horror movies a bit too much.  Maybe you'll identify with me....or maybe you'll laugh at me.  I guess we'll see!

Ever since I can remember I've loved dinosaurs and monsters.  The thought that there were giant monsters that once roamed the very same planet I was standing on blew my mind.  I remember standing in the Boston Museum of Science looking at the fossils and feeling in complete awe of the remains of the terrible lizards that stood before me.  Naturally my love of dinosaurs led me to Godzilla and monster movies, which of course led me down darker paths. I've written about my taboo viewing of A Nightmare on Elm Street with my older sister when I was in kindergarten elsewhere on this site.

In Part II, I told you about how I would look at the box art of horror movies on their little flip cards that hung on a rack at the end of the frozen food aisle at Victory Markets when I was a kid.  This triggered some memories that must have been lying dormant for quite some time.  I had this.....fear....when I was a child.  I don't know exactly what to call it, maybe fear of abandonment, fear of being alone, fear of losing one's loved ones, fear of being lost.....they all sort of combined into this one dark, suffocating fear that I suffered with for a huge part of my childhood.

So, I guess we'll start with the memory triggered by the grocery store.  I remember going grocery shopping with my mother one night.  It was pouring rain out.  I must have been about six or seven.  She was parked quite a ways from the store.  She told me to stay put with the groceries and she was going to go and get the car and pull it up so I wouldn't get soaked.  If I remember this right, I had an ear infection (which I had CONSTANTLY) at the time.  I begged her to let me just go out in the rain with her, but it was cold out....probably September or October....and she didn't want me to be out in the cold rain.  I stood obediently with the groceries and she hurried to the car.  I lost sight of her.  I immediately started to sob.  A woman coming out the door, stopped and asked me what was wrong.  I told her that I was sure my mother just left me at the store.  The woman put her arms around me and hugged me and told me everything was going to be all right.  She started to pull me into the store (I assume to get some help) when my mother pulled up with the car.  Mom asked what was going on and the woman told her that I thought she had left me.  I remember my mother being upset that I had thought she would leave me.  She asked me why I thought that.  I had no logical was just an irrational and powerful fear that overcame me.

While we're on the subject of irrational fears, let's talk a bit about the almost paralyzing fear I had that every time my mother or father went anywhere without me, that they wouldn't come back home.  Not necessarily that they were going to skip town and leave.....but I had a horrible feeling that if they left and I wasn't with them that something bad would happen to them.  I wish I could say that this was something that only occurred in single digit ages, but it persisted into my early teens.  While, I had given up insisting that I go with anyone going out anywhere, I still got a horrible pit in my stomach and if they were gone any longer than I thought they should have been, I would go into a full on panic and my mind would race with every worst case scenario.  I wish there was a way to accurately convey the pure terror that I felt in these instances, but to be honest, there are no words.  To be honest, I don't know what happened in my teenage years.  I became quite independent and quite enjoyed it when I got the house to myself.  

I'll end this little confession of fear with quite possibly the most embarrassing.  When I was about four or five, if I wasn't in my house, or could at least see it, I was convinced that I was lost and I'd never see it again.  Now this wasn't being alone, either.  The whole family would be in the car and as soon as we turned the corner of our street and the house went out of view, I would panic and frantically ask my parents if we were lost.  My mother started to point out landmarks everywhere we went to that if I were ever lost, I could always find my way home.  It's funny because when I drive by these places now, I can always remember my mother telling me that if I saw that particular landmark, home wasn't far away.

My mother will still bring up the "are we lost" thing every now and then, because I became quite adventurous in my teenage and adult years and developed a love for travel and exploration.  Nowadays you could blindfold me and drop me in the middle of nowhere and I'd have a blast finding me way back.  No problem. In my early twenties I'd do stuff like drive to New York City and then challenge myself to find my way back without using highways or maps.  I thought it was great.

The greatest childhood fears I had were not boogeymen, monsters or any other Nasty that I might have seen in a film, my biggest fear were much deeper and darker.....more primal.  Perhaps I found solace in horror films.....perhaps they were a way to deal with the constant fear and a cathartic experience.  I haven't really thought about these old fears in a very long time, but it feels good to purge it out in a such an open way.

Thanks for taking that little trip back with me!  Now you know what kinda damaged brain is working under the cool, sexy, exterior of The Midnight Cinephile!


  1. An enigma, wrapped in a conundrum and tied up with a question mark! Bwaaa-huaaa!