Maybe I should get a bumper sticker that says it, eh? Can you see it in the Costco parking lot? "MY KID IS AN HONOURS STUDENT" "MY SON IS A MARINE" "MY OTHER CAR IS THE BATMOBILE" and then, on my Ford Focus: "I DON'T BEAT MY CHILDREN".
I don't talk about it very often, and when I do, it's in the company of good, trusted friends and usually after a few healthy servings of liquor. It's not something one brags about, you see, but I think it's about time I boast:
I was beat up as a kid. A lot. Kicked, hit, slapped, punched a few times. Shoved, screamed at, embarrassed in front of friends and neighbors and sometimes complete strangers. It started when my mom married my stepfather, and continued until I was big enough and old enough and brave enough to fight back. The scars I bear are all in my head, I was lucky enough to never need stitches or a cast. The only doctors I needed then, and still need today, are the kind that try to mend broken minds.
My mind isn't completely broken, but I do have my own set of limps from the beatings I endured. If you look up "Symptoms of adults who were abused as children" you'll pretty much find my eHarmony profile:
"Hi! I'm Jenny. I'm a divorced mom of four with low self-esteem and severe trust issues. I like to eat and drink my feelings, and my feelings usually taste like inadequacy and panic. I don't like to be touched but OMG do I love dogs! If you're looking for a mate with strong family ties and great interpersonal skills, you might want to skip me. However, if you have always wanted to be with someone who can't remember most of her childhood, I'm your gal. Plus I make a great bowl of lentils AND I love action/adventure movies. BOOM."
I didn't even remember what had happened, literally had no memories of it, until I had a chat with a close friend after one of our high school reunions. She had been unable to attend and wanted the deets. As I filled her in on who looked fabulous, who got fat , who was bald, who left with whom, she chimed in: "I still can't believe you turned out okay, Jenny." I laughed, a confused and nervous laugh.."What are you talking about?" I asked her.
"I mean, the way you were beat up all the time. It was awful. I remember the couple of times it happened in front of me, and it scarred me, Jenny. I can't believe you're as normal as you are."
I pressed her for more details, and as they spilled out I felt so detached, almost like I was listening to her read aloud from a book. A book about a girl who army-crawled out of a room, trying to avoid the punches and the kicks of a madman. A girl who sought refuge under her bed, looking for big feet under the hem of her Laura Ashley comforter while she sobbed big silent sobs.
After we said our goodbyes and made promises to meet up for lunch or dinner, I sat on the edge of my unmade bed. The kids were at school and I was alone,save for my sweet dog Walter. I sat there, quietly, for what felt like days but in reality was more like ten minutes. I remember shaking myself out of my fugue and getting on with the tasks of the day: the laundry, the cleaning, the facebooking. On with my normal life.