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After the Assault: What I Now Know About Repressed Trauma

The small park down the street from my childhood home: friends and I spent many evenings there as teenagers. We’d watch movies on each other’s MP3 players and eat from a bag of microwave popcorn while owls hooted from the trees above.

Twigs lightly poked against our backs. Fallen leaves graced skin. Crickets hummed in the darkness. The stars shone bright through the branches of the redwoods.

Eight years later at a park in Montevideo, Uruguay, darkness again surrounded me. Leaves and twigs once more made contact with my skin. This time, though, I couldn’t hear the crickets or notice the stars. Details of nature were dimmed out, replaced by the internal clamor of a rapidly beating heart and shock flooding through me.

By day, Parque Rodo bustled with life. Later that year I would ride paddle boats there with my girlfriend of the time. I would feed crumbles of tortas fritas to the ducks alongside my Uruguayan housemate, while he shared with me his dream to become a dancer in New York City. I would do yoga on the grass with fellow English teacher friends. It would become a place of positive memories.

That night, though, it was anything but.


One week earlier, I’d moved to Montevideo to teach English and become fluent in Spanish.

My first week passed by in a whir of exploratory activity. I traversed cobblestone streets past colorful houses resembling Turkish delights; past pick-up soccer games in the middle of some roads; past teenagers walking large groups of varied species of dogs.

I learned Spanish tongue-twisters from native Uruguayans while drinking mate on the shores of the Rio de la Plata. I sand-boarded for the first time and became accustomed to answering the question “De donde sos?” (“Where are you from?”) in

liking man Parke

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