When I was child, I was abused by my father. When I did anything wrong, I was beaten with either a hand or belt. I was most scared of the thinner belts. They hurt the most. My father has a “funny” story that he used to tell when we would be sitting around the dinner table. It went something like this…
I was four or five and I had wandered around the block. This was wrong. I was not allowed to go past the house with the big white pillars and the small porch. This was a rule, but I had broken it. Perhaps I was chasing a butterfly, maybe I just wanted to openly defy the rule. I don’t remember why I broke this rule; I just remember that I did. As a cycled back around the corner, I saw my father’s angry eyes. His mouth was twisted and I knew that he was furious. I knew that I was caught.
“Don’t beat me, Daddy,” I cried as I put my hands across my behind to try and save myself from a subsequent beating. My father’s face changed as he glanced at the few neighbors who were watering their gardens are putting out their potted plants. He smiled and bent to the ground, supporting himself on one knee.
“It’s ok, baby,” he said soothingly. “I am not going to hurt you.” I smiled and ran into his arms. He hugged me as he carried me into the house. I buried my tear-stained face into his neck and sighed. I did not notice that we were walking back towards the house.
And this is the part my father always thought was most amusing, the part that he would chuckle while saying,
“So here she thinks she got me,” he would continue. “She thought she could manipulate me and embarrass me in front of the neighbors, but I showed her. When I got her inside, I spanked her so hard she didn’t even know what hit her, and I made sure she really knew I was serious because I really laid into her. She never did that again.”
And I didn’t do that again…throughout my life, I don’t think I ever did that again. How terribly did that scar me?
I find it difficult to trust men.
I believe all men lie to me or are going to hurt me if I give them an ounce of trust.
I fear men and the things they are capable of doing to me.
How does a person have an intimate relationship with a person of the opposite gender when this is just one “story” in a vast sea of abuse?
How long will it take me to walk away from these stories to find myself in the rubble of a broken childhood, a broken marriage, a broken life?
I know that dwelling on this past and sitting in these stories detract me from the present moment and feed my victim story, so I am trying to relinquish them to a time that is no longer here, but I do feel a sense of loss when I think about letting this story go. I do feel like this story shaped me, but at the same time I also feel like it is keeping me small. It is keeping me from freedom.
I am not that five year old girl holding her butt in front of her angry father. There are no large men lurking in the distance waiting to beat me for my wrongdoings, but I still act as if I am.
How do I let go? By writing it here in this sacred space? Maybe by telling the truth about my past, I can let each story go with a touch of the “publish” button, shedding each layer of skin one story at a time.
And perhaps I need to be reminded of the following:
“You have to be larger than thought to realize that however you interpret “your life” or someone else’s life or behavior, however you judge any situation, it is no more than a viewpoint, one of many total perspectives.” – Eckhart Tolle