Although I have some pretty nasty abuse stories, one of the most painful memories from childhood was when I was across the street playing at a friend’s house and I called home to ask if I could stay a little bit later. My father answered the phone and gave me permission but I guess he neglected to tell my mother. When I came home my mother slapped me across the face so hard that my glasses flew across the room and hit the wall. I remember the look of rage on her face, how dare I be late! I was so shocked that she had just hauled off and whacked me with all her might when I wasn’t actually late. She did not give me one second to explain, I don’t remember words, just her fury. I remember my father actually looking shocked which surprised me since he never seemed to show any emotion or get involved in what my mother was doing with me, however the more that I think about it, I am not sure he knew about her temper when it came to us kids.
I remember him telling her that I had called him and he had given me permission to stay the extra half hour. The worst part of it was that then the whole event was between my parents and it wasn’t about me anymore. They argued about it. No one apologized to me; my mother wouldn’t even look at me. No comfort for me. I was just left standing there, crying and shocked and later feeling guilty that I dared to feel sorry for myself.
My mother gave me the strap plenty of times in her raging fits of anger, but none of those beatings hurt like that slap that I didn’t deserve. Even though I got lots of corporal punishment, I never questioned whether or not it was justified; I always knew it could come at any time but this time was different because I knew for sure that I didn’t deserve it.
Note on that story: If I had actually been late, I would not have thought a thing about being hit like that; so if I was late, would she have been justified?
There is only one other time that I recall feeling this kind of hurt and emotional pain. It was when I was in grade one and I asked to go to the bathroom and the teacher said no. I asked again, and she said no. The third time she said no, I couldn’t hold it anymore and ended up peeing my pants. One of the kids yelled out to the teacher. “Miss Frost, Darlene is peeing her pants”. Everyone stared at me, I thought I would die. Then I was excused to go to the washroom where eventually the teacher and a bunch of kids stood outside the bathroom stall door trying to coax me to come back out, and the teacher saying “you should have told me it was urgent”. The class big mouth was echoing her every word, “You should have told her it was urgent”, I remember thinking that “urgent” was such a big word for a 6 year old to be using. That statement however, indicated that it was MY fault. I had to take a taxi home. (my mother made me go back to school that afternoon)
I just realized the other day what these two events have in common and although they always seemed like minor events in my life, that they stuck with me and seemed more terrible than some of the others. These two stories, which I consider to be among the most painful of my childhood, were the only two times that I thought I didn’t deserve to be treated that way. These were two times that no one had convinced me that I had done something wrong. Even though the teacher made insinuated that it was my fault, I knew that I had asked three times. Most of the other things that happened to me in my life I was not so sure of where I was innocent.
I didn’t deserve ANY of the abuse that happened to me of course, but these were the only two times that I was sure of it. Realizing this helped me to realize how often I was convinced that everything was my own fault.
Chopping holes in the fog,