My mother held some kind of wooden stick. I was 15 and had done the Wrong Thing again, which encapsulated all the definitions–including “I’m tired and you’re a teenager and I’m angry and I get to do this, I’m your mother.”
This should have clicked for me a long time ago–I’m way too old for this shit. I’d been far taller than my mother for several years. I could stop her, I could hurt her like I nearly did as a 7-year-old with a butcher’s knife outside the room where she was beating/torturing (“spanking”) my siblings. “I’m going to kill her,” my silly brain observed as innocently as a young child could.
My 7-year-old hand reached for the door knob. I remembered that my parents said the government would take us all away. I walked back to the kitchen and put the knife away.
Wait, I’m 15 again. Weird how we have the same thoughts at times.
“Bend over the bed.” Because I was far too strong and tall to bend over her lap. “I’m telling your father about this.”
I walked toward her, but instead of stopping by the bed, I grabbed her. Not affectionately.
We struggled. Or rather, she struggled. Quickly, I pulled her to her knees and wrenched her wrist until I could pull the implement away from her. She laughed nervously. I felt cold and strange and shameful. I floated. She never touched me again. Dad never knew because duh.
For the sake of many siblings, my mother started to change that day. She still thinks she believes torturing children is okay, but she never actually does it. My brother and sister-in-law do it to my nieces and nephews, but now I know how to fight–and I fight them about it. It’s rude to tell people how to raise their children–I just wish someone had been that rude on my behalf in the 1980s. I hope my nieces and nephews never need to learn.
The three things I despise hearing:
- “I got spanked and I turned out fine!” — idiot who equates very occasional butt pats with multiple daily brutal beatings.
- “Well I certainly don’t remember THAT ever happening!” — my mother and every abusive parent I’ve ever encountered (as told to me by their victims). EVERY SINGLE ONE.
- “But the Bible says…” The only thing Jesus summarized was anyone who harms a child deserves to die by drowning. Hold on, I’m gonna check my millstone collection.
You’d never know it today–I love my mom and dad. I just feel lucky. Good therapy, amazing friends, people who share my experience, and other family who stand with me in general… it all helps so much. You know who you are, because I call/text you when I’m drunk and free-falling through panic attacks. I realize my mother was deeply angry and frustrated that the lies of fundamentalist Christian culture weren’t working out. If your religion involves torturing or mutilating children, you deserve death and frustration. Shake it off; give it up.
I don’t believe in any god, but I don’t mind semi-quoting Jackson’s bastardization of Tolkien: “What grace is given me, let it pass to them. Let them be spared.”