Thursday, May 14, 2009

TMI #7

The winter of "84 was the last one I spent on the family farm.
As it turns out I leapt from the frying pan straight into the fire-but that is a story for another day.
We had moved up from the old ramshackle farmhouse into a larger, more modern house yes, but a trailer none the less.
It was situated in a yard that had been carved out of a pasture(newly fenced by us-post holes dug, wire fencing stretched and stapled and gates hung largely by we kids) and was- in my memory-an acre at least though possibly two, all of which we kids mowed with a cranky push mower.
We had a laundry room fully equipped though we had to hang clothes on the line that stretched across the back of the yard within reaching distance of the fence we had built to separate our yard from the pasture behind the house.
We didn't compost, but kitchen scraps and grease were to be dumped over the fence- and my decision to ignore that rule resulted in the worst beating of my life. It was a very cold afternoon-winter still-and it was, I thought, too freezing cold to make the four minute walk to the fence row and back again.

Ahhhh.

I underestimated my father's temper and ability to discern my transgression that day.

To my regret.

Understand that this was not the first time my father had employed his own special dialect of corporal punishment(which I do believe has a place-a carefully thought out, extremely controlled place to be sure-in the lexicon of discipline) and as a group we children had an unspoken agreement to hold the cries and tears as long as possible-to refuse to cater to his need to break our spirit as well as our body.

I think I need another drink to finish this story-hold on a sec..

Within moments of my transgression-the pouring of perhaps a third of a cup of grease as far over the side of the porch as I could stretch(I know, as an adult, that what I did was unwise from a pest and smell point of view-I don't argue that at all)-my father had dragged me outside, whipped off his heavy leather belt and then proceeded to swing that hard strap up and down my backside from kidneys to knees, over and over again in a vain attempt to get me to cry out.

My legs gave out before my tongue did as I danced to the song that belt whistled on its way to strike my flesh.

How do I end this tale.

With my father's apparent remorse as he took us all out to eat that night for Chinese which was my favorite?

With my pain and discomfort as I tried to sit in that hard pleather booth-knowing that every bite I took had been purchased with my blood?

With the embarrassment and strange glee I felt whipping down my pants and showing the school counselor and secretary the reason I refused to dress out for P.E. that day and hearing their collective gasps as they viewed the 2 inch wide welts colored in dark black scabs and livid blues, those fresh violent flowers that bloomed over my lower back and legs?

Do I end it with the feeling of hope that I had? That at last the pain was out in the open and would perhaps end?

Do I end it with my feelings of betrayal and despair, which were all that were left when my siblings denied the abuse we endured?

Or do I thank my father for teaching me that it is possible to survive the pain and betrayal of those we love and who love us and for giving me the strength to do so?

Because I have learned more about pain since I left my father's house than even he could ever have dreamed of.

And I have more than survived.

I thrive.

16 comments:

Maureen said...

I can only imagine the scars of living in your childhood home. I witnessed more than I wanted to, your father was the only person I have ever truly feared in my life. The summer of '84 will be forever etched in my memory. Do you remember the whole watermelon incident? I do. I remember how tense family meals were, how strict chores were to be followed and how fragile those eggshells seemed to be when he was home. I saw L get a beating that would have made a grown man cry and not utter one sound. I witnessed first hand that day the agreement made to not let him see the pain he bore.

You ARE a survivor, I admire your strength and your ability to be standing here today: a Loving mother, a loving spouse, a loving cousin. To be able to endure such anger and hate and come out the other side with such love is amazing. All of you kids, the wonder of how you all came through is inspiring. Thanks for sharing such a painful, small glimpse into your past. I love you!

Brook said...

Maureen-MoMo, cuz, love-the summer after that winter was the last for all of us. There is more to the story than I can tell.
I love you.

The CEO said...

I want you to know that I read the post. Discretion and self control keeps me from commenting on the abuse you suffered because of my own history and my fear of not saying anything constructive. I don't see any value to spewing venom or nastiness. I am sorry you have seen even worse pain since then. Here's hoping for a better future!

ginstonic said...

I must echo CEO's comments.
And I am so so sorry.
I love you, MOM

Brook said...

CEO-our past shapes who we become but we each of us have the responsibility to make our own choices and be the best person we can be. I don't live in or dwell often on the past. I use it as a tool-a reminder of what happens when self control is lost and anger wins over sense. I don't spew venom or harbor it in my heart. My past has given me the strength to survive the heartaches I've suffered as an adult and I am thankful for that.

Mom-I love you. I do wonder sometimes what would have been different if the judge hadn't been bought and you had gotten custody of us or if I hadn't fallen asleep in the car.
I do know that here we are and I happen to like this place. Hugs and kisses Mommy!

Nej said...

My mom spanked....man was she a good spanker. Bare hand...sllllaaaapppppp. Across the top of the back of my thighs. Ouch. Wooden spoon when bare hand no longer worked.

I distinctly remember when the spankings lost their effectiveness. I remember laughing and laughing. The harder she spanked, the harder I laughed.

(I deserved the spanking, but that's beside the point.)

From that point on, it was a good slap across the face. (Again, always deserved.) And rarely a mark left.

In high school, I slapped her back.

And that's when the slapping stopped.

It, in no way, compares to your story...but it's what you story made me remember.

I have no doubt you are one of the strongest women I know.

Brook said...

Nej-we all have stories-the good the bad and the ugly-the only differences are the details. I am strong-but it is the same strength that flows through all of us-what keeps us getting up in the morning and smiling through the day. I really think it's love, simple pure and true.

Nej said...

Very well put.

The CEO said...

Would y'all please call me Monty. Thank you.

Amy said...

Hi Monty...:)

ginstonic said...

Hi, Monty.
Yes, Brook, we certainly have one of the best mom/duaghter relationships I know of. Who knows where another path may have brought us. Good to be here. Love ya

Nej said...

Yo Monty! :-)

Spellbound said...

I want you to read the piece I just sent off to The Sun magazine. Mine was different because I was the only one beaten and since it was my mother she wasn't strong enough to leave really bad bruises. It was the same because I developed the survival skill of being one tough cookie. Love you.

Brook said...

Monty! Ok already. See you tomorrow.

Amy and Nej- call him Monty already!

Mom-yep exactly

Spellbound-I would love to read your article.

Life On Edge. said...

You are beautiful.

Maybe it is a little perverted of me to see more beauty in the wild flower that grows in the crack of the concrete than in the rose from the garden... but I do.

I have a few scars too. I am a little beautiful too. But I never had scars to show in the open and I wish I would have.

Brook said...

LOE-Beauty Among the Ruins-I like it(are you going to write a poem?)

The scars we can't see hurt just as much in their making.

You are beautiful-have no doubt of that.

I'd rather be a wildflower than a hot house rose.