Monday, August 22, 2016
If typing in the wrong URL for the login page isn’t a sign that I haven’t been posting enough, I don’t know what is. As is usual, there are things I think about writing but to actually type the words, that seems like an insurmountable task…
But enough of that. Let’s write about something that has been rattling around in my head for a couple of weeks. A coworker and I were on the topic of childhoods and discipline and I decided I would share an anecdote with her. Despite the fact that I come off as being a sharer (and an oversharer, I’ve been told) I do hesitate to say some things. Talking about the way that I was disciplined growing up, or, giving actual details, that’s something I reserve for people with whom I feel comfortable. This particular moment happened when I was 9 or 10 and I had gotten into trouble over something. As I walked away from my mother I muttered “bitch” under my breath. I hadn’t meant for that to be overheard but overhear it she did. Before I knew it, I had been spun around and a hand was traveling across my face. The smack was hard enough that it cut open an eyelid. And here’s the part that’s been bugging me since I told this story a few weeks ago.
I couldn’t, you see, remember which eyelid was cut. I have a scar on an eyelid but it’s so small that it’s hard to see or feel now. I remember feeling embarrassed, as if I was making more of the moment than I needed to because the scar wasn’t big enough to locate without doing some close inspection.
The absurdity of that feeling, however, didn’t hit me until a few days later. And it reminded me of how normalized abuse is in my life, or the history of it, anyways. Thankfully I’ve been able to structure my life so that I’m long past that but the emotional scars are still there. At some point, a few days after the conversation, I found myself laughing at myself. “Oh, Patricia,” I thought, “really? You’re embarrassed about the fact that your scar wasn’t bigger? How about feeling something about the fact that you have any scar at all?”
That’s the insidious thing about abuse, the invisible thing that people just don’t understand unless they’ve lived through something similar. The scars heal, they may even look like they’ve disappeared, but the emotional impact of abuse, there’s no way to fully grasp that because often the person doing the surviving, the living, the moving on has no clue about how deep the chasms go. You think you’ve got a grasp on things and then a small moment of embarrassment reminds you of how sad, painful, and ludicrous your existence was at times.