Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why am I not enough?

I don't remember how it came up. But somehow i got the courage to mention the research I'd done on spanking. Maybe i mis-judged her voice through the phone, but I thought my mom sounded receptive, almost interested.
I talked about the bible. And she even agreed that God never mandated spanking. I felt affirmed, hopeful that just maybe she would listen. Maybe i could save my baby sisters and brothers. Maybe they would just stop.
I shared my research in detail. Science suggests that ALL spanking is dangerous. There is no "right way" to spank. Even the bible is against it.
I told her about the sexual effects of spanking. About how even the gentlest of spankings can lead to permanent sexual damage and confusion. Children can  Subconsciously link sexual feelings with violence and degradation.

"That's not accurate. Children can link those things even if they're not spanked"
"Because of our culture! The media!"

I pressed on. I risked it. I told her about me. About how even normal everyday spankings, the ones that never left a bruise, were terrible for me. My feelings of self hatred were birthed on the floor in the bathroom, waiting for mom to come with the spanking spoon. How my earliest experiences with my sexuality revolved around pain, around violence, around shame. It was hard for me to say, SO hard, but i just kept thinking of my sister: So much like me. Too much like me....

"The bible teaches us gentleness. And respect. It is a basic human right to NOT be hit."

She became immediately defensive.

"Oh so you think I'm a violent parent? You're saying i don't respect my kids?"

"I know you only did what you thought was right, but now I'm giving you new information. Every person in America has the right to not be hit except children. If children are people too, i think they should have the same rights"

She told me this was just a knee jerk reaction.

"Just because your dad messed up a few times your freaking out and going in the exact opposite direction. Everybody does this. You'll understand someday when you're a parent"

"Mom, I've done the research. That just doesn't make sense"

"Well you've obviously been brainwashed"


My heart was sinking. Fast.
She rambled on, using all the old HSLDA rhetoric I've heard so many times. I know that argument backwards. I've changed my mind because now I've finally seen the rest of the facts. I've seen how i am affected. I only said something because i cant stand the thought of my siblings having to feel the way that i feel.

"You're obviously having issues, Sarah. I think you need to take this to God"

I was crying now. Desperate for her to hear me, begging her to not shut down on me.

"I have mom. I have! Listen to me please. I understand if you don't believe the research. Interpret the bible however you want to, but can you please just ignore all that  for a moment and HEAR me? I am your daughter and spanking HURT me. So why wont you just stop?!"

I was sobbing, shaking, pleading.

"Why is that not enough?"

In the silence that followed, I let my heart believe that she had heard me. That a 25-year-old mistake could not be stronger than my mother's love. I had bared my soul. I had begged her. She had no choice but to listen, right?

Wrong. She spoke again. Bitter. Angry. Sarcastic.

"Well I'm so sorry I ruined your life, Sarah. Obviously we just hate you right? is that what you wanted to hear me say?"

She continued, but i could no longer speak. Choked by tears, I whispered that i had to go and hung up the phone. My heart is still breaking at this fresh memory.

I am your daughter and you hurt me. Even if you never hit me, just making me stand, bent over your knee, would have been too much. Even if i didn't have any evidence, I am LIVING proof that your method didn't work. So why don't you just stop? Why is my word, my pain, my HEART, still not enough for you?

(By the way, this all took place just last night. I am still reeling from the shock. I am so disappointed, I don't even know what to say)


  1. oh my goodness.
    heart is breaking.
    thank you for writing this, THIS conversation which is echoed a thousand times in my memory and the memory of others...thank you for being a voice. hold the little girl you. listen to her. let her cry.

    i'm so sorry for your pain.

  2. Oh my.

    You are in my prayers and I'm so sorry you have experienced any of this.

  3. ((((hugs)))) I'm so sorry this happened to you!!

  4. Oh, I'm so, so sorry. There aren't words for this. Knowing you tried doesn't really mean much in the short term, I know.
    Maybe tomorrow, or next week, you can take comfort in the knowledge that your struggle IS helping many other children. Like mine. And maybe in a few years, you will find that the seeds took root in spite of her reaction. And if not, it is in God's hands after all.

  5. I can't believe you tried. You have guts! So many other girls wouldn't have tried. Also, I am so sorry. You bared your soul and she stomped on it. I am so sorry it happened like that. Keep your spirit up, though, and remember that you are brave!

  6. Girl, you are SO BRAVE! I have yet to have this talk with my parents because they have responded similarly to other, much smaller issues. Pat yourself on the back, eat a BIG bowl of ice cream & treat yourself to a pedicure because what you did took BIG balls. I don't know you but I am BEYOND proud of you!!! I'm completely in awe of your fearlessness & touched that you tried to help your younger siblings. Your mom isn't upset at YOU, she is TERRIFIED that you are RIGHT! She spoke those hurtful words to take the focus off her & her horrible treatment of you & instead made you feel bad to ease her own discomfort. Praying for you & again, my mouth just DROPPED when I read this post... you are seriously my hero right now! GO GIRL!!!

  7. She lashed out like that because something in her recognized the truth of your words and she was not ready to face and accept that.

    But that does not excuse the hurt she did you, either last night or when you were a child. Your hurt is valid. I hope this blogging outlet is helpful for you in dealing with that.

    I think that, thanks to your bravery in putting yourself out there, it will be harder for her to spank your siblings.

  8. Good for you Sarah. It is healing for you to say even if she does not want to hear it. Please don't buy responsiblity for changing them, as hard as that is. It's a burden to much to bear. Speak the truth yes, but don't count on results.

    "Well I'm so sorry I ruined your life, Sarah. Obviously we just hate you right? is that what you wanted to hear me say?"

    No Mom, we just want you to acknowledge the pain. And at least think about re-evaluating your actions.

    "Even if i didn't have any evidence, I am LIVING proof that your method didn't work. So why don't you just stop? Why is my word, my pain, my HEART, still not enough for you?"

    I have asked this so many times. It hurts so much to know that I don't matter to them in that way.

  9. (((Sarah))) I don't have adequate words right now, but I admire you so very much and send lots of love to you. Thank you for speaking up. You are making a difference, and not just in your own family. <3

  10. Good for you for finding the bravery to speak up and to choose careful words.

    I disagree with your mother, but I understand why she did what she did (not that it makes her words "right," but I can see where she came from). You challenged her parenting, and she became defensive because she saw a kernel of truth at the heart of what you said.

    I just read your "quivering girl" post as well. My husband was raised in a family that attended and lived the lifestyle of a particularly insulated (and now all but defunct) church, and it has affected his life to this day. He struggles with things that are so normal to those in the mainstream, like birthdays. Like eating certain foods. Like "worldly" people.

    I feel for your struggle in that respect because I see my husband having a similar struggle. Good luck.

  11. I was directed here from Dulce de Leche - I just wanted to say what a brave thing you have tried to do for your younger siblings.

    I know my mom has pretty selective memory about such things, and the one time I tried to talk to my dad about how much his violence affected to me it was pretty much ignored. For now, I can only do better with my own daughter.

    But it is amazing to me that even before you've become a parent you've come to this conclusion (I always believed I would spank my children because it was what I knew - that was before I had one, of course).

    Hopefully, though your mom was angry and sarcastic to you, she will take the opportunity to think about your words and have them take effect in her life...

    In the meantime, praying comfort for you...

  12. You ARE enough! So sorry your Mom couldn't be who you needed her to be and acknowledge your pain with at least an "I'm Sorry". Hopefully one day still she may. Regardless, YOU ARE certainly ENOUGH. Congratulations on speaking up for yourself, for defending the little girl who was hurt! Comfort your heart, and know you are making a difference.

  13. What a brave thing you did. I went through a similar thing a few years ago with my parents. My Mom wanted me to write my Dad a letter of encouragement while he was doing the Walk to Emmaus. I told her that I just couldn't, because he had abused me as a child and never even admitted it, much less apologized, and that I suffer from it still. She told me that I needed to forgive him and move on - she couldn't hear me say that I had forgiven, I just needed an acknowledgement from them about what happened. They wouldn't talk to me for months. I've never brought it up again even though it haunts me, because I feel as though the same thing will happen again. I will keep you in my prayers, I hope you'll pray for me too! I pray every day that I will never hurt my daughter the way I was hurt growing up...

  14. Some may never see the light. But be comforted that you are supported by those who do. Rest in that and wipe away your tears when you're finished grieving.

  15. I can relate to you on some level, although my issue isn't with spanking. As far as sexual relationships and past events, my mom never really told me anything while growing up. It has resulted in confusion, blame (on my part, but not by her), shame and feelings of complete inadequacy. Those are, for the most part, things that I have to work out on my own - because while I realize that what my mother did (or didn't) tell me wasn't right and my ultimate goal is to realize that the Lord has put me through this for a reason. The end result, then, should be grace and forgiveness of what she has done to you, no matter how hard it may be to accept, but I think it will make you feel better. I could go back and hash out the "why didn't you do this" and "why didn't you do that?" with my mom, but it wouldn't change anything and only cause her to feel accused and attacked, and that's not what we as Christians are supposed to do (even if we feel attacked). It's the same way with witnessing to others about the faith: getting in their personal space and being in their face, so to speak, about things is not going to change their minds, and we need to be prepared for them to get upset and angry. Blaming is not how you will feel resolution; approach her with love and understanding but gentle correction and maybe you will see some changes.

    I haven't read your blog until now (someone posted a link of FB) but I plan to, because your journey thus far sounds very much like mine.

  16. Prayers abound for you, sweetheart. <3

  17. Hi, I just found your blog and read this experience you just had. I want to tell you that you're not alone, and many others can relate to your pain and are also living with it. I am so sorry and wish I could take it away for you.
    If it helps any...I saw the Dr. Phil show where the two sisters confronted their mother about the abuse they suffered at her hands and that she allowed to happen in their childhoods. After two hours of the women and Dr. Phil explaining to the mom exactly what she did and what they needed from her it became obvious that she wasn't going to 'get it'. Dr. Phil had her leave the stage and told the women pointedly; your mother isn't capable of seeing anything but her self. She is incapable of giving you what you need. He was very gentle with the mother and very supportive toward the women, acknowledging their grievance as valid.
    My mother will not acknowledge her behaviors that keep us broken and separated. Seeing that show helped me to understand, and let my mom go. I understand you are concerned for your sisters. I pray for Gods intervention and mercy.

    Much love in Christ,

  18. Rain, Rebecca, Anne, Pippi, Libby, Dulce, IC, Rachel: Thanks so much for your love, support, and prayers. :) You all strenghthen my heart! :)

    Charity, Your comment made me laugh and cry. :) Seriously thanks for the encouragement. Ur awesome!

    Young Mom: "No Mom, we just want you to acknowledge the pain. And at least think about re-evaluating your actions" Exactly. All i want is for you to hear me out, recognize that this is REAL. and let me send you some links. *sigh*

    Jenn: "Like eating certain foods. Like "worldly" people." SO TRUE. Parents like mine use God and Guilt to beat their children into "safety" and submission. It leaves us with fear for the rest of our lives.

    Kelly, nice to meet you! :) I am blessed to have a sister (Young Mom) who has been there for me to help me through this stuff, and my amazing husband has helped make sure i dont throw out the baby with the bathwater. its a journey, and its painful, but all this support helps SO much

    April: YES! its not about forgiving anymore. That's done. I'm not bitter, im not angry. I just need help to sweep away my doubts.

    Deranged: Welcome! I'm glad you find my story interesting. :) I have already forgiven my mother and father for everything. I still get a little emotional when it involves my little siblings. I practically raised them and not being able to help them anymore is extremely painful

    Dawn: So glad you found me! :) AWESOME story about the Dr Phil thing. its hard to believe that our parents will never change, but its also freeing in a way to understand that. Thanks for all the love! :)

  19. You know, I think the others are right that your mom lashed out because she was afraid you might be right. I think of that sometimes with my parents, too. By leaving like I did, believing different things like I did, etc, I was a huge challenge to their entire belief system. So of course they responded like they did! They were kind of freaked out! It also makes it really hard for them to reassess everything, though, because they have built their entire lives on these lies.

  20. How heartbreaking for you. It hurts when we don't feel heard, and it hurts when we know other children are being damaged. I take solace in the fact that all we need to do is plant the seed of an idea, or nuture the seed and trust that God will do the rest. You've started a conversation with your mother that she may continue with another mother and finish in her heart with God later. In the meantime, take some time for yourself - replenish your spirit so you are strong again, you may need to have this conversation again one day xoxo

  21. It can be so hard to see others go through this. I have a close friend going through this right now. The power that parents hold over you even into adulthood is enormous. <3 Letting go doesn't mean you are weak, but rather it means their power cannot touch you. That is the only time you will find true peace and freedom, and find that you are indeed, enough.

  22. This gives me goosebumps. Almost like I'd be talking to my own mother...Thanks for posting...I understand your frustration and the hurt!

  23. I am at least a decade older than you... and it has only been in a the last few years that I have realized you can NOT reason with people like this. You just can't. I started discussions, fights, what have you, with my mother SO many times, hoping and praying THIS would be the time she would finally say... "You're right. My actions were wrong and hurtful. Please forgive me." I would forgive her, my heart would heal and we'd all live happily ever after.

    Not even close.

    Each and every time, the scar would be ripped open anew, with snarly words that either denied anything had happened, or else that she was right and what I was devastated about was something I deserved... Her pride, her need to be right, her need to flash her "Good Christian Mother" card at everyone would ALWAYS take precedence over me... I would never mean as much to her as her own image of herself does.

    I know what you want to have happen here... you're hoping THIS time will FINALLY be the time she says the right thing, does something motherly and nurturing, says the thing that will heal your heart... I regret to tell you, it won't happen. The sooner you accept that, the happier you will be. As long as you are trying to turn her into something she isn't, you will only give yourself more pain.

  24. I deeply regret not getting child and family services involved in my family's situation. There was no physical abuse ("spanking," beatings) after my sister left(her childhood/teen years were awful - she's still deeply affected) but my youngest brother was very neglected. He's getting on track with his education now, but it took A LOT of fighting and shaming of my parents to get them to assist him the way parents should.

    Please, be the adult in their lives and do for them what you wish someone had done for you - exhaust every opportunity to turn their lives around. Your siblings may say that they don't want you to - change is terrifying when your life is already so unstable. Just start by calling local family services and ask what your options are - you don't have to give identifying information at first if you don't want to, but I think you'll be reassured. The first step is never tearing families apart. They'll be put on notice and forced to change.

  25. I just read your Raised Quiverfull interview - very glad to hear your parents are no longer physically abusing your siblings.

    My advice still stands for young adults with underage siblings at home - please, please be their advocate. We have to lift as we climb.