He popped into our lives like a bee sting on the foot while running barefoot in the park: sudden, unexpected, and painful.
His name was Richard, but Mum said to call him “Dad.”
I was only 5 at the time.
My first memories of him consist of me yelling, “You’re not me Dad,” over and over. Maybe this defiance started the beatings; I don’t remember.
Most of the times I got in trouble for being “cheeky.” I never really figured out what that meant. I do recall, however, one time that I was whipped for causing Coventry to lose by making too much noise in the room next to the television.
I distinctly remember him grinding his teeth like he had eaten some bad fish every time he dug into me. He said I screamed like a poofter. I didn’t know what a poofter was at the time. I screamed anything I thought he wanted me to say,”I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.” Even though I didn’t always know what I was sorry for or what “it” was.
Mum used to just stand there with her arms crossed, all emotions drained from her icy face. My younger sister, Christine, never got hit, but she would run to her room crying every time she heard my cries.
Every Sunday, Mum would make us dress in our Sunday bests and go to church. She wanted us to look normal, as if nothing was wrong. What a bloody joke that was.
I hated church. Maybe it was because every time I got belted, Richard would yell, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” He said that the Bible instructed him to do these beatings.
My teachers at primary school must have thought I was extremely clumsy because every time they asked me about a bruise, I would tell them that I tripped or bumped into something when I wasn’t looking.
My aunts and uncles, however, knew the truth, but they never intervened. Maybe they allowed the abuse because it was sanctioned by God.
In Uni, my ex-girlfriend said that I had some serious anger issues, but I will never do this to my own children. Never.
If it were up to me, I would burn this picture. I would burn everything about him down.
“Memories fade, but the scars still linger”–Tears for Fears
What events in your childhood shaped who you are today? How? Please share.
Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or empathizing.
This post is in response to the DP Weekly Writing Challenge: “This week’s challenge couldn’t be simpler: tell a story based on this picture.”
I was physically abused as a child. For years, I struggled with anger issues, resentment, and a lack of empathy from this abuse. Yet today, I can honestly say that I am grateful for my step-father because he revealed to me the power of forgiveness. This abuse also opened the door to my exploration into empathy. As a father of two boys today, I am blessed to have learned these lessons so I can raise my sons not just without corporal punishment, but also with empathy and forgiveness.
It is like a teenage driver’s first accident or DUI that makes them realize how precious and fragile the gift of life is. It changes not only their driving habits, but also their whole world view. For me, my physical abuse has been one of my most powerful everyday gurus.
- Spare the Rod (roshpinaproject.com)
- Why Do Good, Decent, Smart And Usually Sensitive People Spank Children? (archemdis.com)