I was watching the Simpsons last night and something in that episode triggered a long buried memory. In last night's episode, Bart was playing with Hot Wheels, and I was looking at the long plastic track which the car races on. We used to have that (it was yellow), and my mom would use that to beat my brother and I as punishment for whatever bad deeds we had committed. I remember we would try to hide them so she couldn't find it when she needed to vent her frustrations at us. It's funny how it was a toy, and yet I don't remember ever playing with it. I only remember it as an object that was used to beat me.
I got more beatings than my brother, of course. Sometimes my mom would even give my brother permission to beat me (he was older). As a kid, I never saw how twisted that was.
There was also the cane that you could buy at the local market. It was made of bamboo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cane#Disciplinary_and_coercive_implement) and I remember too clearly what it felt like being beaten by that. It wasn't as bad as the Hot Wheels track because the cane was thin and while the pain it inflicted was sharp and intense, the Hot Wheels track was thick and less flexible, so that it felt like being beaten by a wooden plank.
Isn't it funny how memories we thought we'd already buried long ago and walked away from, can somehow still claw its way back onto the surface and have that kind of force to rip out a beating heart? The Simpsons always makes me laugh - that's why I watch it, but last night it made me cry.
In therapy I've talked many times about the "silent treatment" my mom would impose on me. If she didn't like something I'd done, or if I displeased her, she would scream at me and express in more than one way why she hated me, and then ignore me for days on end, sometimes stretching out to weeks. I always felt that the silent treatment was more detrimental than any beatings she had ever given me. That's probably true – that’s why I remember the silent treatments more than I do the beatings.
But I couldn't even begin to measure and compare the depth of hurt and mental anguish that both types of punishment brought on me.
I’ve never said this out loud before – but my mother was a terrible mother. She raised me based on principles that were shockingly backwards and twisted (for example, she said she didn’t show me love because she didn’t want to “spoil” me). For a well educated woman who made the conscious decision to have two children, she was grossly unqualified and unprepared.
There’s so much more I could say. So much more emotion could escape onto the surface and break me. I am not going to let it.