Saturday, July 16, 2011

Healing the Broken Bits

(There was an article being passed around on Facebook recently, about how children should behave and how parents let their kids run wild. this was also the day of the Casey Anthony verdict: and I don't know exactly why, but it brought back a memory, maybe the idea of children being inconvenient. Don't read this if you're prone to getting triggered, 'cause it ain't pretty.)

I don't remember what she was mad about. I had done something I wasn't supposed to do, again, and I would pay the price. She was so calm when she delivered her punishments: my father would get crazy angry, but her stern steady verdicts were somehow more terrifying.

She told me to put out my hand, flat on the table, so I did. I didn't know what was coming, maybe the flyswatter again, or maybe a slap or two without my hands to involuntarily interfere. But she smashed down on my fingers, hard, with nothing but her closed fist, powered by muscle that had pushed a wheelchair for decades. I started screaming. I couldn't stop. The shock of the pain was breathtaking: nothing else existed right then. She told me to calm down but I couldn't. She finally looked, and her lips pressed together in annoyance. She came back with emery boards and tape, and splinted my two broken fingers. I was quiet by then, shaking and breathing erratically: but I could still hear just fine. She told me that we couldn't run to the doctor for every little foolish thing I did, and told me how I would explain my injuries this time. I absorbed my cover story and nodded numbly. I knew that somehow this was my fault: and the anger that should have been settled into a sick leaden lump in my stomach. I believed everything she told me back then: that I was everything that was wrong in our family, that I was fat and graceless, that it was my job to take care of everyone. I don't believe now, but I remember how it felt. I wanted to earn her love with my silent acceptance of her abuse, by taking her place in ways I never should have so that she would be off the hook, by absorbing all the abuse for myself to protect my brother and sister: but I failed utterly. I wanted to keep them safe. I could not. Of course I couldn't, I was a kid, but I still feel the indescribable weight of my failure. I loved them all so much: and my brother loved me back. Without him, I don't know if I could have survived any of it.

The worst part of those moments was never the physical pain: it was the belief that life was horror, and the knowledge that I was utterly powerless to save any of us. I left home at 16. It has taken me years of wandering through the land of addiction to finally come to the other side and put the horror to bed. It does not control my life anymore, because I have the power today that I didn't have then. I no longer expect bad things to happen. I have discover a sense of outrage that was lost to me for so many years.

...but the weight of my past, the sorrow, the fact that I couldn't protect them, and most of all the hunger to be loved - these things persist. Healing is a slow and painful process. With every tear I shed, I get a little more free. With every memory I share, I am less ashamed. And with every bit of love that comes my way, I am healed. It feels like having my heart pried open with a crowbar: but I am finally learning how to let people love me. And I am grateful for every kind word, every gesture of affection, every little bit. I know how to treasure it. That is my silver lining: I never take it for granted. Not any of it.


  1. WOW SWEETHEART!!! It's a horrible thing to have to go through and I am so very sorry that you and your siblings had to go through that!! I unfortunately can relate in a big way and it still effects me in some ways today as well. I hope you know that I adore and love you girlfriend!! Thank you for sharing this!! XOXO :-) JamieLynn

  2. JamieLynn - I knew you would understand: in many ways, these experiences made us who we are, good and bad. I do love you, too, and thank you for reading it. <3

  3. "it was the belief that life was horror" -- that is a stunningly accurate description of a child's life who is in pain. i know it well. some become criminals or abusers after living their formative years being treated like inconvenient garbage. others, like yourself, try to make the world a little easier to navigate for souls who are having a difficult time. there is a reason you suffered so -- because not many others could take it, so it falls upon the shoulders of the strongest. xoxoxo

  4. If only I believed that all the horror was past.

    "When you become old, you find yourself auditioning for the role of a lifetime; then, after interminable rehearsals, you’re finally starring in a horror film—a talentless, irresponsible, and above all low-budget horror film, in which (as is the way with horror films) they’re saving the worst for last."

    -- Martin Amis,"The Pregnant Widow"