Sunday, January 26, 2014

The scars of our memories.

When I was around 7 years old my father hit me on the head with a wire hanger. My "crime" was that I had scuffed the toes of my new school shoes. He checked them just before I was ready to head out the door to school and his reaction was rather extreme...if I say so myself. 

Grabbing the first thing available, one of those wire hangers that had a cardboard cylinder for a base, he smacked me on the head with it several times. He then kicked my butt, literally, and sent me out the door crying and with abusive words and threats ringing in my ears. Unknown to me, but I would shortly find out, was that he had actually managed to hit me hard enough that the wire had entered my skull...thus I was bleeding quite profusely as I stumbled shaking and crying down the street on the way to the bus stop.

 It was one of those moments where you don't realize you are injured until someone points it out to you. In this case, it was one of our neighbors that happened to be out in her yard and who quickly let me know something was wrong with me by her piercing screams and bug eyed look as she rushed towards me. 

She actually scared the cry right out of me as I saw her come rushing at me and I wanted to turn tail and run back to the house. Not often children see strangers come running at them while screaming and reaching out in such a way...but back home was the stuff of my nightmares...and so I stopped dead in the street and waited for whatever fate this screeching woman intended for me. 

It was then I realized I felt a very warm sensation oozing down my face and shoulder and I reached up to wipe it away only to come away with a hand drenched in blood. I stared at my red hand wondering just how it came to be covered in blood and couldn't think of one good reason. Suddenly the screaming woman went silent though her mouth still made the motions of screaming...only to be replaced with a very loud buzzing sound. Just before I went weak at the knees I was scooped up by someone I hadn't seen coming up behind me. My mother. 

Apparently my mother hadn't witnessed my father's early morning lessons on keeping my shoes unscuffed, but had heard me crying as I left the house and came to the door to see if I had left or not. It was then she noticed blood droplets in a haphazard line leading away from the door and towards the sidewalk. She told me her heart stopped in her chest when she saw that blood, assuming I had been taken by someone and injured in the process. She ran down to the  sidewalk just in time to hear the neighbor woman start screaming...and assumed the very worst.  

As she rushed me back to the house intending to take me to the hospital, not knowing how I was injured but seeing lots of blood, she was met with my stony faced father who quickly took charge of my "medical care". He refused to allow her to take me anywhere and insisted I be put in the shower so all the blood could be washed off. I remember him insisting my underwear stayed on which seemed rather odd when I thought about it years later. All the while he was washing off the blood he was on a long rant of how it was my fault and these were the consequences of disobeying his orders. I made not a peep in my own defense knowing it would do no good and also knowing it could make matters far worse. 

My father investigated my head to see what the injury was and declared there being no need to pay a fortune for the hospital when all I had was a pin sized hole in my skull from the end of the wire hanger. My mother did not fact she said very little. Something I took in stride at the time but would recall years later as being silent acceptance of my fate at his hands yet again. 

He kept me home from school that day and we never spoke of it again until I was grown and my mother came to visit me. She said that she didn't want me  to be hurt more than I was so she remained protect me. Considering what that man did to me over and over again for the next 10 years I find it hard to believe my safety was what motivated her that day...but who knows.  Possibly she had my short term safety more in mind back then.

I think about that particular moment of abuse more than lots of others because I have a scar on my head to constantly remind me. It started out as a small raised bump but over time it has grown bigger and gets scratched my hair brush quite often. My father is long gone but his mementos are still around keeping his memory alive. Yay me. 

Another memorable event that always comes back with unending clarity were when he forced me to stand in the corner with my sodden underwear pulled over my head. I was a horrible bed wetter as a child and it lasted until around the age of 9 I believe. My older sister absolutely hated sleeping with me as I generally soaked us both with my nocturnal offerings more often than not. I remember my father making it a point to come check the bed every morning and me laying there fully aware of what he was going to find yet again. 

No matter how hard I tried or what I did (using the bathroom before bed, not drinking anything for hours ahead of time) it never seemed to help much. I actually recall having dreams as a child of me getting up and using the bathroom, feeling that sense of  release when you have been holding it and then get to finally go as you sit down...only to wake up and realize it wasn't a dream. For the rest of the night I would lay there cold and shaking from both the wetness and fear. 

On those mornings he chose to come throw the covers back and pull me from the bed I knew what fate awaited me...hours with my face pressed into the corner with my own panties snug against my face. Of course it didn't end there. Once his particular brand of punishment was over I still had my older sister to contend with. She always found time to punch or pinch me while hissing in my ear about how disgusting I was and what a baby I was and did I need diapers again? 

For the life of me when I think about these episodes...I can't remember what my mother had to say about it or if she ever did anything for or against me other than once again change the sheets on the bed after letting it air outside for a few hours. To this day the smell of urine triggers memories of those mornings spent in the corner while everyone else went about their routine as if I were invisible and inconsequential. Good times.

Years later when my own youngest daughter had her own bed wetting years, I should have made the connection, one of many, but it just never clicked until hind sight gave me 20/20 vision about that and a lot of other clues as to what was going on. Another reason to feel such guilt about my blindness. 

When these memories, and so many others, suddenly intrude on a perfectly nice moment, I can't help but wonder what memories my own children have locked away that also cannot be forgotten and make for unwanted company now and again? In my own defense (if I even have the right to make one) I did not remain quiet from the moment I learned what he was doing. I know this does not mean anything against the painful memories my children suffer from when I was clueless but it at least lets them know that if I had known sooner...I would have stopped it sooner. 

Small solace but something I try and convince myself means something. 



Anonymous said...

Sharing these (your post) thoughts helps us flush out stagnated (viral) bad experiences...over thinking the same(negatively) harms our day today life....also forces us to DREAM BAD.
We all, including me, need to repeat what I said (helped a lot to me) in "my previous comment" on your previous post (A reoccurring dream has me head scratching...again.)

"So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief"
Qur'an 94:5

Susanne said...

I am so sorry for what you had to go through. No child - no human should suffer from such cruelty.

Posts like these make me wish I could hug Little Girl Coolred and make everything joyful for her.

Coolred38 said...

Anonymous...very true. Memories sometimes need to be exposed in order to take the bite out of them. It works for me anyhow. Thank you.

Susanne...sometimes I wish I could hug her too. You make me think of something to write along those lines...stay tuned. Thanks.

nicole said...

this broke my heart. i'm so sorry for what you've endured, coolred. i don't know how you've managed to stay strong for so long. all i can say is that you kick ass.

Coolred38 said...

Thank you, Nicole. As a child I'm not sure if it's being strong or just enduring. It's not like you have a choice.

Anonymous said...

Coolred, it's been a long time since I checked in here, but I've always enjoyed your writing. I'm very sorry that you had those experiences when you were young. Let me also say that you are very, very strong. And coming from a family who turned a blind eye, I can assure you that stopping the abuse when you knew what was happening really mattered. It meant something, it sure did.

Hope you and yours are well. Best wishes....

Anonymous said...

what a sad story. horrible for you. i hope you are happy in your life now. i read your blog in the begining along time ago, and you were here in the states. just wondering if your other kids went with you to bahrain and do you plan to live there now? also, sorry for the questions, but do you speak fluent arabic?

Coolred38 said...

Thanks for the kind comments. I am getting along quite well with the usual ups and downs.

Some of my kids are in Bahrain, by their choice, and some are in the states, also by their choice. And, sadly, I used to speak Arabic fluently by years of non use means I can understand it well enough still but can only speak it like a noob. I need to get that language muscle flexed and supple once again. Language needs to be used to be used well.