(This post was originally published on my old blog: Enigma. I am re-posting it here to kick off the "Still Crying" project)
I couldn't stop crying. That was the problem. I was hot and cold all over, shaking and crying so hard i couldn't breathe. My skin was stinging, throbbing from the punishment that started almost an hour ago. My chest rose and fell in sharp jerky motions with each hickup, with each choking breath i tried to take. "control yourself" he said softly. His voice was sad, almost gentle. Almost.
He was so disappointed in me. I knew it, and now time was running out again. "Are you going to stop?" His grip tightened on my arm. Panic surged through my body, threatening more tears, I bit down on my lip. "God please make me stop! Help me control myself!" My mind screamed out to God, but nothing happened. No sense of calm. I should have expected this, God doesn't answer bad 6-year-olds. My little body shuddered and i started to sob again. Failure. Dad pulled me back over his knee and hit me three times with a wooden spoon. Pain blossomed up the back of my legs, my bottom. I cried. Loud. I was completely unable to control myself and i was dizzy from trying. Dad clamped his hand over my mouth. "silence" he hissed. Now he was frustrated as well as disappointed. What was wrong with me? Why was i too weak to just say "yes sir" and shut my mouth?
My foggy little mind understood why this was happening. I needed to learn to be silent when i was punished and Daddy was helping me. If i was allowed to be loud and mellow dramatic, the neighbors might get the wrong idea and tell the cops that we were being abused. The cops weren't Christians, and they wouldn't understand. They might get a judge to split up our family, and it would be all my fault. Daddy was just protecting our family. I mustered all my strength and stood very still. I sucked in as much air as i could, held my breath and waited. "are you going to control yourself now?" I nodded. Not too fast. "Do you understand why i had to spank you?" I'd forgotten actually, but I nodded anyway. I was running out of air. "Are you sorry?" I nodded again, waited. My vision began to go dark around the edges. I didn't dare draw a breath and ruin this long awaited silence. "Alright, come here" My father took me in his arms and I slowly let out my breath. It was over now. My body was still shaking but my lips were clamped shut. "What do you say Sarah?" he asked. Still no gentleness in his voice, but the anger was gone. I cautiously opened my mouth, terrified that my body would betray me again. I wiped the tears and snot away with the back of my hand and whispered: "Thank You"