“Mom, do you remember the time you broke my ribs?” Katie asked in a hard, steely voice… Her mother whirled around to her face. “What are you talking about?” she demanded.
“When I was six… I was learning to do a jump – it was a toe loop – and I fell and I didn’t want to get up, and you said I had to. And then when I said my ankle hurt, you got so mad you pulled me up off the ice and you threw me against the barricade of the rink. And you broke my ribs.”
… “It wasn’t that way!” Her mother’s voice was getting louder now and shrill. “I had to be strict with you. You were so lazy.”
Originally from: Steven Levenkron “The Luckiest Girl in the World”
The above vignette really touched a chord in me. It reminded me of the kind of relationship I had with my own. (I can’t even say the M word these days without feeling guilty and ashamed)
The familiar element that I recognised instantly was the viciousness of Katie’s mother. “got so mad you pulled me off the ice and you threw me against the barricade…”
She was like that when I disappointed her. Or failed her somehow. I could sense her rage, her hatred emanating from her. Literally. Sometimes words were merely words (you’re not worth loving), but there are some things, some emotions that a person cannot hide.
Even as an adult, I still wonder – did she have that right to react as she did?
I don’t deny that there were occasions when I did wrong, when I “inconvenienced” her unwittingly. Like the one time I was on the phone with a friend. I was probably 11 or 12. She was out running errands. I was still on the phone when she returned. She came barging into the house and started screaming at me. I hung up the phone and found out that she was at the post office trying to send a parcel to my brother (who lived away from home) and had forgotten to bring his address with her, so she had called home, hoping I could give it to her. And of course, we didn’t have any fancy call waiting and she kept getting engaged. She was so mad at me at having to drive all the way home. She said I could pack my bags and go live with my friend if I had so much to talk about even after school. Her screaming words may have washed over me. But the intensity of her emotion (hate) crushed me.
Since that incident, for the rest of the years I spent at home, I was afraid to call any of my friends.
There were so many other incidents. But I won’t rehash them. There isn’t any point in doing that. All I know is that back then all I felt was pain and shame and anger. I had this unchangeable notion that I was bad, that I was always wrong no matter what I did. I played the scapegoat, maybe I was even good at it. So who was in the wrong? Was I as much a sinner as she was? I don’t doubt it.
I wonder what she would remember of that incident today.