Sometimes, our memories can haunt us for life. From recollections of their parents’ poor decisions to flashbacks of almost getting abducted, these people have been through it all. Follow along as these individuals tell the tales of their most messed-up memories.
I woke up from a bad dream and went to sleep beside my parents in their room. On the way to their bedroom, I had to pass the front door which had a big window next to it. What I saw made my blood run cold—two guys were trying to break in and when they saw me, they knocked on the window to get my attention, motioning for me to unlock the door.
My mom said it was a dream, but to this day, the image of those two guys at our front window is as real as any childhood memory I have. This happened over 40 years ago.
I had to be eight years old or so, coming back from a week-long camping trip the school provided. Well, on the return, we were stuck in traffic for what seemed like ages and I had to go #2 really badly. Imagine an eight-year-old holding on for dear life, white-knuckled to his seat as we pulled into the parking lot of the school.
The teacher told us to wait until our turn to get up and go, but I wasn't having any of that, so the moment the doors opened, I bolted. I heard my parents yell for me, I heard the teachers yell for me, and my friends were laughing as I ran. None of it mattered—I was eight years old and had a thunder down under ready to explode at a moment's notice.
I vividly recall the bathroom door as I rushed towards it, thinking I just made it—but I was so, so wrong. I threw my entire weight behind me as I smashed into it, and immediately, I shrieked in pain. Who knew the school locked the bathroom doors after hours? As I crumpled to the ground in a heap, my bowels seized the moment and led the charge. Someone picked me up, then immediately dropped me. That didn't help either.
I remember having a friend in high school whose parents were practically absent for most of his childhood. We used to make jokes about how jealous we were that he got to do whatever he wanted. He could sleepover at anyone's house any day of the week, and he never had a curfew. We got close and I started coming over to his house, which was filthy, to say the least.
All the food was microwaveable or non-perishable junk foods. They had a turtle tank in the kitchen between the sink and the stove, the dishes were always stacked, and there was trash everywhere. My friend would jump at any opportunity to stay at our houses whenever our parents allowed it, but I had to stop after a while because my friend didn’t clean up after himself often.
Things came to a head one day when he left bread crumbs all over our couch. My mom was furious: “He should know better, what would his parents think?” “Well mom, I don't think they’d think much.” I proceeded to explain the conditions of his house. My mother was shocked and insisted he sleepover whenever he needed, but only if I made sure he learned to clean up after himself and was well-fed.
My mom had anger issues. When she got mad, she'd deal with her frustration in the most psychotic way—by slamming her head on the wall. I thought that was a reasonable way to deal with frustration until I tried it myself and it really hurt…go figure. So, I stopped doing that, but I would punch walls fairly regularly hard enough to break a bone or put holes clean through the wall.
My worst memory was when my uncle was withdrawing from his substance addiction. He was always the fun, loud, and crazy uncle. I was around 10 years old and my mom and I were coming home from somewhere, but when we pulled up, he was sitting outside and said he needed a place to stay. My mom had to work the next day so she said no, but I hung out with him for a while outside the house.
Then, the worst happened—I could tell he didn't feel well because he was dry heaving. It was terrifying. I asked him if I should call for help and he said that he'd be okay. Unfortunately, he ended up passing from liver failure as a result of his refusal to receive medical help.
I was about four years old at the time. My family was having a BBQ and we had a few family members over. Naturally, everyone was occupied with the preparations and getting stuff ready. I was hungry, so my mother nuked a corn dog to keep me satisfied until the food was done. I was also too young to really help, so I got bored and started balancing around the lip of our pool.
It’s important to note that our pool had been broken for months and had a few feet of algae-ridden water at the bottom. It was also full of tadpoles. Of course, after some time, I slipped and fell in. Mid-fall, all I could think was, "No, not my corn dog!" I raised my corn dog up and laid face down floating in the water. At that moment, I was stunned—I didn't know what to do.
I began to drown with one arm raised. My oldest sister heard the splash and came running out and screamed, "OMG, OMG! Let me get my bathing suit on!" and proceeded to run back into the house. My brother jumped in, fully clothed, and saved me. My corn dog was dry as a whistle. My sister came charging out in a black one-piece a minute later.
When I was around six years old, I used to walk my grandma upstairs every time we visited her house. She said she liked holding my hand. When I went to her room, she’d always compliment my shirts and say things like, “What’s this on your shirt here called?” I’d say something like, “Oh that’s Winnie the Pooh,” or whatever character I was wearing.
She’d go on to tell me stories about the character or talk a bit about it. Then, when I was 16, she hit me with shattering truth—she’d been blind for years. She’d ask me to hold her hand up the stairs so that I could help guide her to her room. She’d ask what was on my shirt because she could feel a pattern on it. I don't know why, but that kind of made me feel both sad and very loved.
She couldn’t see anymore but she never wanted to let me worry about it and still managed to compliment what I was wearing all the time. She passed on while I was still very young, but those memories stuck like glue.
Back in the fifth grade, I remember that I always felt as though I was going to die. I thought that life was a dream of mine, and I constantly tested if it was. My teachers would always call my parents about my odd behavior, and they were shocked to discover what I was up to. I would never swallow my own saliva, and I have no idea why. Then, one time, a kid brought in treats, and I threw mine away because I thought he poisoned it. I also twisted my hair because of stress-related issues.
I was a really paranoid kid around that time, and I'm sure my teacher thought I was crazy.
I went to a friend's house on the weekend to play video games at the age of about 10. We had a good time and played a lot of games on the PS2. His mom came upstairs from the basement to ask if we wanted food. I turned around and said, "Yes, please," and before I could finish saying please I noticed she had a black eye. I asked my friend what happened to his mom's face, and his reply gave me shivers: "I can't say."
10-year-old me just said, "Oh, okay," and we proceeded to play video games. I didn't realize until I was about 19 this happened.
When I was five or six, I lived in a complex with eight units. One day, my dad asked me to jump through one of the unit's bathroom windows, run through the house, and open the front door. I didn’t really want to, as there was an old lady who lived there and I thought I’d get in trouble if I got caught. Anyway, off I went through the window and I made my way to the front door.
As I got to the lounge room, I was met with the creepiest sight—she was on the lounge chair, slumped, with her eyes opened looking straight at me. It scared the heck out of me. It was creepy, but I more so remember thinking I had been caught breaking into her house. Anyway, I opened the front door and ran past my parents and neighbors straight home.
The ambulance came not long after, but it didn’t really click what was going on. I later realized in my teens that she had passed. Apparently, she had been gone for a few days. Everyone in the complex was worried about her, so they used me to get into the house to check on her welfare. Over 30 years later, I can still picture it.
As a kid, my parents were split up. I’d visit my dad on certain days and go to my mom's on other days since they didn’t live far apart. One day, I really didn’t want to stay at my dad's house. As a kid, I was an ignorant person and I didn’t enjoy spending time at my dad's as much as my mom's. I had more stuff to do over at her place, so I preferred it.
One day, I completely protested staying at my dad's and had a tantrum for about two hours, saying how I wanted to go home. My dad's reaction caught me off guard. I didn't really acknowledge it at the time, but he was crying. He isn’t an emotional person, and although he was a nice man, he wasn’t overly cheerful or portrayed much emotion. So, looking back at it, this was really bad.
He did end up taking me home late at night and I got yelled at by my mom, not from him. It was never mentioned again. He passed in 2017, probably two years after what happened here. Ever since I started remembering times like this where I sometimes absolutely hated going up to his house. I hold a lot of regrets because I didn’t cherish the moments with someone who I wouldn’t have a lot of time with.
One of my worst memories is when I got framed for something I absolutely didn’t do. The act, in question, was absolutely horrific. Some kid threw a stone at a woman walking past the school and told the Headmaster it was me. I got suspended for it, of course. The only reason he believed the other kid is because I had thrown a stone at a car driving past a couple of weeks prior.
When I was about 10, my dad offered to buy me candy. He stopped at a store to run in, even though we had a long drive back. I asked where the candy was and he said it was in the bag in the back, but that he’d get it for me when we got home since he was driving. I said, “It’s okay, I can reach it.” As I reached for it, he reacted in the most unexpected way—he slapped me and yelled that I could wait until I got home.
My father had never hit me before that and never did again. The most confusing part to me was the look of utter sadness and shock on his face after the fact. My dad was a drinker and he passed before my 18th birthday. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood he had bought a bottle of booze and forgot to place it in its own bag. There was never any candy.
My dad had a rare type of cancer that affected the bones in his face and jaw. When I was five years old, he had a tumor the size of a softball removed from one cheek. They removed his cheekbone, bottom jaw, nerves, lymph nodes...basically everything. He survived, but the worst was yet to come—that's because the surgeon did a horrible job with the skin graft and spaced the stitches way too far apart.
A couple of weeks after his first operation, the wound got infected. I remember my mom and I were coming home after school one day and it was unusual to see that my dad was also home that early. He was getting out of his car as we were pulling up to the house, and the stitches on his face had started to rip open, but he tried to hide it from us as he ran into the house.
That was just one of the many horrible things that happened while my dad was sick. Being a kid and witnessing that level of gore so frequently desensitized me to it. I didn't realize how bad it was growing up in a household with a mangled parent until I was much older. Seeing the stitches on his face rip open like that was not part of a normal childhood at all.
When I was around five years old, I was out shopping with my mom when a man grabbed my hand and walked out of the shop with me. I didn't realize it wasn't my mom at first, but the moment I didn't recognize him, I tried to pull away. Then, I went absolutely limp. He looked down at me and said something like, "Come on Tommy, your mom's been looking everywhere for you." Suddenly, my mom came to the rescue and he apologized.
He said he thought I was his nephew, and he immediately left. Looking back, he was definitely a kidnapper who was trying to take me to his van or something. I distinctly remember the entire shop full of people stopping and staring, and later, the person working there allowed me to have a toy for free. I think it was his way of making me feel better, though I had no idea what had happened at the time.
When I was five, my dad would take me to the park on Sundays. Sometimes, he would then take me to this woman's house nearby. They would sit me in front of the TV and put on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before heading upstairs. It's only now that I'm older that I realize the sad truth. I never made the connection that they were having an affair because I didn't know what that was.
My mother eventually left him when I was older. I think about it now and again how oblivious I was.
I was in the basement of my friend's place with his dad and sister. Without warning and for no reason I can remember, his dad did the most despicable thing—he grabbed my friend and his sister by their necks, thrust them up into the air, and pinned them against the wall. I had no idea what to do. He let them go and I thought…maybe I should go home now. I don’t think I even told my parents when I got home.
When I was five or six years old, my mom used to never want to get out of bed and just kept saying she was sick. Finally, my stepdad took her to a hospital where she stayed for nearly a month. I thought it was so cool that her hospital let her do arts and crafts all the time. I remember telling her that I wished I could go to the hospital and draw all day.
She sat me down and told me that she hoped I would never get sick as she did, but that if I did, there'd be nothing wrong with needing help to get better, even if I had to go somewhere for a little while to do it. It wasn't until I was probably 12 or 13 and didn't want to get out of bed myself that it clicked. The truth was hard to swallow—the hospital she had gone to was a mental health hospital.
But because of her, I never feel ashamed about needing therapy when things get bad, or even just to maintain a healthy mindset.
My worst memory ever was my mom pouring hair gel on the sunburn on my back. I thought it was normal, and that it was supposed to help. I realized later that she had a disturbing motive— she literally tortured me on purpose. It made a thick film all over my back and every movement I made would pull all my skin, causing the worst pain ever.
My dad got laid off from a job and we started to struggle financially for a year or so. He woke up early every morning to make breakfast for us all before school and cleaned the house while doing side jobs just so we would never know we were struggling. Here's the kicker, though—apparently, he would always say he couldn’t get a job because he was always “overqualified.” Now that I'm older, I'm skeptical of that.
My worst memory is a conversation I had with my grandma when she was explaining to me she had a miscarriage after her last child. I was only nine years old, and I made an incredibly tactless comment—I said it was for the best because my mom, aunt, and uncle were troublemakers, so it was better for her. She got extremely mad with me and I was so confused at the time. I didn’t realize how messed up it actually was.
When I was a kid, I ended up in a chat room with someone who also claimed to also be a kid. He claimed to be 14 or 13 years old; I can't quite remember the exact age. Well, he gave me this phone number and told me that if his voice sounded really deep, it's just because he has a deep voice for his age.
While still in the chatroom, he also tried to find out where I lived. Thankfully, I didn't tell him even though I did know my address by heart at that point...I just didn't feel like telling him. I told him I'd give him a call in a few minutes, then I logged off and proceeded to grab the house phone to call the number.
I don't know if I entered the number wrong or what, but the voice I heard was incredibly strange—this automated message came up and asked if I wanted to accept some charges for the call. If there was one thing I knew, it was that if I had any money charged to the house, I would have gotten a good whooping, so I hung up on that call pretty quickly.
I never wanted to call another number that someone gave me online again. It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized he was an online predator, trying to find his way to a very young child.
A horrible memory of mine was when I walked in on my mom having an anxiety attack in her sleep. I think she was having a really bad dream. She had her eyes wide open and was crying, yet she didn't wake up when I nudged her. She took rattling breaths. After a few moments, my brother came in and she woke up.
We ended up rushing her to the hospital because she had a spinal procedure and was only two days out of the hospital. The truth of her condition was shocking—apparently, the operation had been botched earlier and the device that was put in her wasn't properly cleaned, so she contracted a very severe form of meningitis. If we waited to go until the morning, which is what she wanted to do when she woke up, she definitely would've passed.
I was 10 or 11 at a church camp that had kids from multiple different churches. I had a crush on this girl whom I knew from previous camps and everyone knew that I liked her. She was the daughter of the camp nurse who is part of a well-connected family within the denomination, which to a kid means nothing...I just really liked this girl. She had no interest in me.
I don’t know who allowed this to happen, but it's very, very, messed up. Anyway, there was this “competition” where you write a letter to your crush and whoever wins gets a “date” with them. I had a chaperone help me, and they read mine in front of the whole camp of around 400 kids. I ended up winning.
I don’t remember if any other poems were even read. They took me to the stage along with the girl. I sat next to her and she slid far away from me, understandably. Here’s what really got to me...That evening, I was so excited. I tried to look my best and that’s when things got really bad. My “friends” all took me to the cafeteria.
They were wearing handmade security shirts and were armed with super soakers. They made me put on a shirt that said something shameful written on it. Then, I got anxious during the walk. When I got there, it was a candlelit table. The girl was not amused and everyone was staring. I sat down and then said something to the girl.
That's when I got squirted by my “friends.” Everyone laughed and I just lost it. I ran back to my bunk and started bawling. Looking back, it seemed like a whole plot to shame me into not expressing my feelings for a girl. Now that I’m a father, I would be furious if this happened to my child. Needless to say, religion is no longer a part of my life and this is a big reason why.
I once saw a girl standing on the wrong side of the barrier, holding onto the railing while my family drove over a bridge. There were also some people on the path talking to her. I thought nothing of it and just wondered how she was going to get back on the right side. I used to hang onto the railing and walk on the wrong side of a path at school that wasn't too high off the ground.
So, I just thought she was mucking around in a more extreme adult level way, chatting to her friends. Then the reality of the situation hit me. As an adult, I don't remember what the outcome was. There’s been petitions to raise the height of the safety barriers on that bridge to reduce the number of times this occurs, but unfortunately, nothing has been done.
When I was four or five years old and my sister was eight or nine, we were playing in the yard in front of our house when suddenly, a hooded motorcyclist stopped in front of the driveway and didn't move for a while. He just stood there. Moments later, he made a shocking move—he took out a firearm and pointed it at us. I ran for cover, but my sister stayed in the yard and kept jumping rope because she didn't want to show him she was scared.
I was so scared for her. Fortunately, the motorcyclist drove on again. The interesting thing is that my sister and I both forgot about it for a few years after that, and we both thought it was just a dream, until at some point I told her about it. To my surprise, I found out that she could remember it too–and it actually happened.
This feels strange to think about to this day because I still believe it to be true, but nobody else in my family does. I had only just started walking and I remember throwing a teddy bear back and forth with my grandmother, who was pretty ill at the time. I could never catch it because I lacked hand-eye coordination, so she would throw it a little short, and I kept throwing short as well because I wasn't very strong.
I had just started practicing walking, but couldn't fully walk yet. Whenever I would throw the bear way off course, I would get up to try and walk to it, but I kept stumbling, so she would always go and get it for us. Now, my grandmother passed when I was about a few months old, so everyone in my family swore this never happened.
They said that even if I somehow remembered something from that early of an age, there is no way it happened because by the time I started to walk, my grandma was too ill to walk herself. But the creepy part about all this? I vividly remember my aunt taking a picture of us on our really old film camera while we were playing with that bear, but I could never physically find the photograph.
I hadn't gone back to my home country for a few years, but I went back to visit when I was 11. We were going through old albums and it was there. My aunt swears she never took that picture. Everyone in my family I've asked swears they never took it either. The picture is me and my grandmother sitting across the living room floor, with that same teddy bear, both of us looking at the camera with her holding the bear out as if she was about to throw it.
My aunt, or whoever took the photo, caught us by surprise, so we both looked at the camera. It wasn't on my mind as we were leaving, so I didn't think to take it back. I wish I did. I was maybe a one-year-old in the photo and did not look like I could walk at all, so I'm not surprised my grandma didn't even let me try. The memory is so clear in my head and to have everyone tell me it didn't happen is just off-putting.
My brother managed to get his head stuck in the scrollwork of an iron or wood banister at a hotel, and in the ensuing panic, I wandered off to this wonderful place where there was a table full of cookies and candy. As I was eating the cookies and the candy and whatever I could find, some really angry adult yelled at me, picked me up, and carried me out of the amazing room filled with sweets.
I was about three or four years old. Now that I'm older, I think I know exactly what that magical place was—I think I crashed a wedding or a bar mitzvah's dessert table while my brother was being extracted from the banister. It was amazing, but my parents claim it never happened.
My most messed-up memory happened at Disney World. We were standing in some sort of line getting tickets, and I was distracted by something on the ground. Later on, when I looked up, I was shocked—my parents and family were gone. I decided that would be a good time to go the opposite way and look for them. I ended up with some park worker finding me. He ended up using the loudspeaker to call my parents.
A guy tried to abduct our neighbor's baby over a $20 debt. We lived in navy housing in Charleston, South Carolina when I was a kid and this was in the '80s. We were at the neighbor's house, and he owed someone else in the neighborhood $20. While we were all in the living room, we were suddenly startled by a bone-chilling sound—we heard glass shattering from the baby room.
The baby cried and everyone rushed down, but the guy was gone before we got there. The guy apparently tried to pry open a locked window with a putty blade and he put pressure on the frame, causing the glass to shatter. The dude left the putty blade and the note he'd written on the window sill when he took off. The baby was fine. I heard the grown-ups talk about knowing exactly who it was.
I also remember them deciding not to call the law enforcement officers and to go deal with it in person.
When I was around seven years old, I would see my father kiss random women, not my mother, passionately upon my first time meeting them. That was bad enough, but then I realized a disturbing truth—this happened a lot. Since I was used to thinking that kissing passionately was just like a normal kiss on the cheek as a greeting, I didn’t think anything of it.
When my father spotted me while he was kissing some woman, he came up to me and gave me $20, just for standing there. I realized what he was really doing a few years later and I was immensely disappointed.
I was maybe six years old or so. One day close to Halloween, someone had been chased by law enforcement officers and crashed into the house a few doors down from mine. The whole street was blocked off. We weren't allowed inside our house at first. Glass and blood were everywhere, and the aftermath was absolutely jaw-dropping—The driver had ditched the car and had run into the woods nearby, and the person on the passenger side had passed on impact with the house.
The neighborhood was filled with row homes, so they were pretty much pure stone. I had seen them, but it didn't click until my brother told me that what I was looking at, was in fact, the person's body. Helicopters were all over next to my house the whole night, searching for the driver, and I had nightmares for a week straight. I remember nothing else, except that when I'd play on the street after that, you could still find bits and pieces of the car and glass.
My worst memories stem from the fact that my parents go through about two of the biggest sized bottles of 80-proof booze a week and they justified it by saying that they have no other way to have fun on their days off. They always told me that they spent money on booze because they weren't like normal people who go out once a week.
One time, my uncle asked me to make him a drink because I told him that my mom showed me how to make them. So, I proceeded to make the drink for my uncle like I would make my mom's, with half 80-proof booze and half cranberry in an eight-ounce cup. I gave it to my uncle, and his reaction was priceless. He then looked at me in disgust and said, "Sheesh kid, what the heck are you trying to do to me?"
At that very moment, I was 17 years old and I realized my parents were heavy drinkers.
When I was nine years old, there was supposed to be a book fair in my school. As I left the toilet to return to class, I peered into the main hall and saw a man clutching the end of the table, leaning on it as if desperately trying to stop himself from going down. He looked right at me with a pained expression and sort of spluttered something.
I had only paused a beat to see this, and quickly got back to class and said to my friend, “There’s some guy who's really hurt in there,” and my friend brushed it off. I sat there trying hard to figure out what I’d just seen. Probably 10 minutes passed, and a teacher burst in from the hall, trembling in fear. She said we needed an ambulance. All the assistants and remaining teachers kept the kids away from the scene.
The ambulance comes, and the book fair is canceled. The following week, we had an assembly where it was announced the fair wouldn’t go ahead as the lovely man who arranged it had passed. There was a little talk about what passing is, and it doesn’t always happen when we are in bed. For some reason, I took the events to be separate...that a new book fair had been arranged but the lead man had come to school to meet the head and passed.
It was probably 10 years later when it popped into my memory. I connected the dots. He’d clearly been having a heart attack, he had probably spluttered for me to go and get help, and no help came until someone else came along. All he’d seen was a kid pause and stare at him, then scarper off.
I think he passed right there by that table. It left me with the thought, “Would he have survived if they had gotten to him sooner?” I still think about it often, over 20 years later.
I learned how to make scrambled eggs at six years old. But here's the kicker—the guy who taught me was the same guy who sold my mom and stepdad substances. I thought he was a friend since that's how he was introduced to me. My siblings and I were hungry, and I am the oldest. My brothers were five, three, and one, and I was trying to make scrambled eggs for us. He showed me how. It's all sorts of messed up, but at least he kept a six-year-old from getting badly burned and he helped me feed my siblings.
We ended up okay-ish. My grandpa helped us. I didn't realize how messed up that was until I was much older.
My parents, who co-owned a campground with my grandfather, took three-year-old me and my one-year-old brother on a road trip in the middle of the night. They called it an adventure. I didn't know until I was an adult that my mom and grandfather had gotten into an argument the day before and that she had come up with a brilliant plan for revenge—she planned to abandon a fully operational campground in the middle of the night without telling anyone.
No one in the family knew where we were and my grandfather had to get my aunt's help to take over the business. How mom got my dad to go along with this, I don't know. We ended up living in a camper for two years like nomads, picking oranges with immigrants in Florida, and working odd jobs until somehow my mom filed a lawsuit for their half of the campground investment.
They bought some property with that money in the middle of nowhere. It was another year before we saw any of the family. They still talk about my mom doing this 45 years later.
We were at some kind of resort. One day, instead of heading down to the sand, my mom and I stayed near the lobby in some kind of kid's playroom for the day. Suddenly, alarms started going off and we rushed outside. I felt my mom's arm tug me as we began to run through the lobby. I dropped one of my drawings and bent down to pick it up.
When I looked back up, I froze with fear—I saw ocean water rushing up toward my heels, I survived the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and what I was most concerned about was a picture I drew with crayons.
I was around eight years old and we lived in this mountain town about five miles from the border of Mexico. My best friend and I would take turns staying at each other’s house. Most of the time, I would stay at his place for longer periods of time because my dad was a truck driver and my mom worked two jobs “in town.” San Diego was about an hour away.
One night, my friend's dad came in and told us he wanted to take us night driving so we could see the stars and do some off-roading. As I got older, I realized the timing was weird. It was like two or three in the morning. I mean, a lot of it was weird. Well, we got in their awesome '66 Mustang and drove for about 30 minutes. Then, his dad turned off the headlights and slowed to a crawl.
He said we wouldn’t be able to see the stars with the lights on, even though we could. All of a sudden, we heard what sounded like a plane, but we couldn’t see anything. He started driving through this field a little faster. Off-road time! Well, weird off-road time. We would slide around, then stop. His dad would pick something up, and then go back to sliding around.
This happened about 10 times. Years later, I looked my friend up online and found his sister. I sent her an email and she called me. We caught up and she filled me in on some disturbing details—my friend's dad had been executed in a substance raid a couple of years after we had moved. They were collecting packages of narcotics in a field and the border patrol had been waiting to catch them.
His dad tried to get away and drove off of a cliff. After that, I started remembering things like running through their house and stumbling across them trying to heat up a vase. I remember cut-up straws all over the place when we would clean up. It broke my heart to hear about what happened because there were so many things I just didn’t understand.
There was an old couple who lived on the other side of my backyard fence. They had grandkids who were a bit older than me or younger than me, so we weren't friends. When I was three or four years old, I met a kid who was visiting them, across the fence. He told me they were his grandparents and I would talk with him through the fence every day.
It was awkward; we would mostly just sit there and play with our own toys in silence or just look at each other for hours. A lot like the two kids in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. His name was Brian and every time I played with him, his grandfather would give me a weird look. We moved cities shortly after and years later, I brought it up with my brothers and my mom. Here's the weird part—they don't remember the neighbors having a grandkid my age.
They remember the older kids and the younger ones, but not anyone my age. They don't remember me ever playing with anyone out there, they don't remember anything about it at all. It still freaks me out to think about that.
One time when I was about eight years old, we were at a relative's cabin and I went to tell my dad it was lunchtime. I saw him standing stock-still in the river. I called out to him and he just slowly motioned for me to be quiet. I watched him standing there, looking into the water for maybe a full minute. Then, he made his mind-blowing next move—he lurched into the water and snatched up an enormous carp.
I just watched my dad hold onto this giant, glistening carp for several seconds before he threw it back into the river and wade out of the river as if nothing happened. He didn't say anything about it when we got back to the cabin and we've never talked about it. I could ask him about it now, I suppose, but there's something magical or surreal about the fact that it was never spoken of again.
This is one of my most vivid childhood memories. I just accepted it as true until recently when I gave it an extra mull over. I don’t know if it was a dream or what, honestly. There was a caterpillar on my tricycle and I remembered being told not to touch them as they can be poisonous. My parents were telling me to get onto my tricycle, but I was telling them no since there was a caterpillar on it.
My dad was asking me where the caterpillar was and I told him that it was near the handles. My parents kept telling me there was nothing there and made me get onto my tricycle despite my screaming. Then, my worst fears happened—the caterpillar crawled onto my hand and ate through the fleshy part between my fingers and my thumb on my left hand.
This obviously didn't happen the way I thought it did when I was a kid, but until I really thought about it, I would just remember that bite as where the worm ate through, each time I looked at my hand. If I wasn't screaming beforehand, I was definitely screaming after. I remember my parents not being able to see it and telling me nothing happened, but eventually, I got my dad to put some TCP on it.
When I was little, I was at a lakeside restaurant with my dad. He was inside hanging out with the owners at the bar while I played out on the deck. I had found a hook on the floor and one of the patrons gave me enough fishing line to reach the water below us. Out in the distance, there were these people partying on a really nice boat.
It was two men and three women all in swimming attire. I heard somebody on the deck near me say that whoever was driving the boat had no idea what they were doing. Anyway, I was just walking around with my fishhook when suddenly, I witnessed a shocking scene—the boat exploded into a huge ball of fire. I could feel the heat hit my face. I heard the women screaming and I saw people jumping out.
My dad took me inside. When I was allowed to come back out, there was a tugboat pushing the boat to shore and a bunch of fire trucks was on the grass. It was still a big fire and they were struggling to put it out. Nobody ever really explained to me what happened. We didn't talk about it. I was so little, I thought it was like a cartoon where everyone just jumped out after the boom and was okay.
But now, as an adult, I'm pretty sure it was worse than I thought.
When I was in preschool, I was about to head to class when I saw my neighbor smacking the back of her baby harshly with a whip. The baby just sat on the dirty concrete ground with no clothes and only a diaper. The baby cried non-stop, and I just stared at her as she did it. I did not know how to react to it at all. The woman saw me too.
She glared at me, but it was a split-second and she acted like I was not there watching her harm her baby. Eventually, my aunt came out of our house. I was waiting for her at our front gate while she got my things for school. As we walked away, I asked my aunt why that woman was doing that to her baby. My aunt's response was so messed up—she told me just to pay no mind at all, and focus on our own business.
It is still such a vivid memory for me until now. I don't even know what happened to that baby anymore since they were a big family and I do not know who is who when I occasionally see them outside.
I have this one memory that haunts me. I most likely had just turned two years old, and my family and I were at my grandparent's backyard pool. My mom was in the shallow end of the pool with my older brother, and he was clinging to her, too afraid to dip even a toe into the water. My dad was on the patio on the side of the shallow end with my Bumpa and Nana.
They were chatting about one thing or another. I remember thinking my mom looked a little annoyed that my brother was being unreasonably afraid of the water, so my two-year-old mind decided I would show my brother how it was done. That was a big mistake. I got out of the pool and ran down to the deep end. I took off my water wings and life jacket then proclaimed proudly to my family about some random nonsense before jumping in.
The next part of my memory takes a very different tone. I just remember how serene and peaceful it was...to essentially be drowning. Everything was quiet and calm. To this day, I haven't ever experienced anything similar to it. The next thing I knew, I saw my dad and Bumpa plunge into the pool fully clothed swimming towards me.
I don't know who got to me first to pull me out, and I don't remember anything after that. I asked my parents and grandparents about this and they essentially changed the topic on me, so I have a suspicion it is true. It just sticks out as an extremely vivid memory from my childhood.
I grew up in an extremist religious group that many consider a cult. I tend to agree, but it’s less culty in other areas. It was very bad where I grew up. I grew up in their school system and went to church every week. They were very focused on extreme doomsday scenarios. When we were very little, elementary school-aged, they began teaching us the most horrible things—they'd tell us that we would be the next Holocaust victims and that the world governments would essentially begin hunting us down.
They told us we’d witness our families being slaughtered because of our religious practices and would be driven into the wilderness to live off the land. We read all kinds of Holocaust books very early in our lives. While I think it’s very important that we remember history, we learned about this stuff at a very inappropriate age. Then, we were brainwashed into believing that was what awaited us and our families.
It honestly went way deeper, but that’s just an idea. I was born into this belief system and didn’t escape until I was about 18. I’m still unpacking a lot of this stuff. The terror they instilled in us kids back then still lingers. It was normal. That’s what we truly believed. It wasn’t until much later in life that I started realizing how messed up and insane their fear tactics were.
My worst memory is when my neighbor's dog ambushed my dog. I must've been 10 when this happened. I was home alone and I heard my dog yelping outside. I went to see what was wrong and I found the neighbor's dog on top of mine. I freaked out and called animal control. The neighbor’s dog had gotten into our yard before, so we knew the number.
Animal control stopped by and started asking questions. The lady point-blank asked me how the other dog was hurting my dog. Being 10 and not knowing any better, I leaned over my dog from behind and told her “Like this, but Cooper, the other dog, was growing." The animal control lady nodded, wrote some stuff down, and drove away. Looking back, I realize I had just embarrassed myself big time—those dogs were clearly getting it on.
But I was 10, and Dandy, my dog, was 14 at the time. I was so scared that she was hurt.
I had a weird memory from my childhood about my mom beating some old lady with a bat, like a small one from a baseball stadium. A man came up to her and she picked up a big blade that must have come from the old lady. She cursed a threat at him, but I don’t remember what she said. She NEVER curses. The man then threw over the keys to her car. I recognized them because they had a He-Man keychain, which was the prized possession that I gave her for Mother’s Day.
I asked her about this when I was 15 years old because I dream about it on occasion. It turns out, the whole situation was much darker than I initially thought—My grandparents on my dad’s side had tried to abduct me. I was missing from my other grandma's yard, so she drove to their house on suspicion that I was there. When she was searching for me, my grandfather had gotten her keys to trap her there.
I had managed to get to the car on my own before my mom realized I was even there. The windows were always open on her Gremlin, so I likely climbed up. I was yelling out of the window that I was ready to go. Apparently, I wasn’t even two yet. They still try to contact me via Facebook on occasion. I just block whatever account they send it with. I always send the same message to them because they are staunch Catholics.
“God is punishing you for your sins. He doesn’t forgive you, and neither do we.” I am an atheist. Maybe I should tell them that just to really get at them?
On a day out with my dad when I was little, I was playing in the park with a girl the same age as me. I didn’t know her, but she was on her own. We left after an hour or so, leaving the girl on her own. Again, my dad asked her where her parents were. Later on that night, there was a big story on the news that gave me chills—it was about a girl who had been abducted, and all my family members kept asking me questions about this little girl.
It went right over my head at the time, being about five years old. 40 years later, I still think about her.
Our neighbor came home after his wife had called a plumber for a pipe break in the basement. The husband accused the wife of having an affair even though the plumber was just standing there trying to shut off the water, which was already ankle-deep in the basement. The husband's next move was bone-chilling—he got a firearm and went after the plumber, and then went after the wife.
Their six kids ran over to our house screaming that their dad was aiming at them. My mom let them in and called for law enforcement officers. I was six years old and their youngest child was a friend of mine. My mom gave her my Big Bird slippers because she was barefoot from running from the house. At the time, all I could think was that I would never get those slippers back.
Looking back on it, that was the most awful thing for my mom, worrying that the dad would come looking for the kids. My dad was at work and only arrived after the law enforcement officers had gotten there. The neighbor executed his wife, the plumber, and himself. I never saw the kids again, and I was right about my slippers.
I was maybe nine years old, and my 40-year-old sports coach was one of my best friends. He took me on trips, bought me presents, and made me captain of the team, even though I was probably the worst player! He always treated me really well. Then, all of a sudden, he just left town. There was no word of goodbye. I was always really sad and felt like I lost a real mentor.
Even when I became an adult, I didn't even think anything of it and wondered why he vanished. People would whisper rumors about him, but I knew that he was a great guy. A couple of years ago, a friend showed me a website. I was shocked at what I saw—my sports coach's face was on it, and it said that he had been charged with offences against children. The charges dated back to a couple of years when he spent lots of time with me. It was only then that I accepted that our 'friendship' would have probably 'evolved' at some stage. I was so oblivious.
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