Friday, July 20, 2012

Still Crying: Survivor's Guilt

This post is from Mrs. Searching of Following On To Know. This one is particularly poinient for those of us who are big brothers or sisters. Thank you Mrs. Searching!

I am not going to tell my own spanking story, because for me personally, it wasn't the spankings that really hurt. It was the whole "evil childhood" mentality that went along with it, leaving me a perpetual child, incapable of making necessary decisions or standing up for myself for many years after I was legally "grown up."

When I remember spankings, I remember my 3rd brother. I remember standing outside my parents' bedroom door, enraged at the length of his punishment, my heart ripped in two by the wails and desperate pleas for forgiveness, and the unrelenting blows of my mom's forsythia switch. To this day he has masses of tiny splinters permanently imbedded in his thighs. I would try to mentally will it to stop, the rage building until I wasn't sure whether I was trying harder to muster the courage to run in and disable her by any means necessary, or to stop myself from doing so.

I had nightmares about those whippings. They were a big part of the reason I left home. I was afraid I would attack my mother. I don't know why she picked on him. A personality thing, no doubt. He was always in trouble. After I had been gone a while, the nightmares subsided. But whenever I am angry with her for something, they come back. They aren't always about spankings, but they are always about harsh, unreasonable, and unforgiving acts from her. I wake up frightened and angry, and feeling guilty for no reason.

And my brother still suffers. I see it in his borderline violent, intolerant behavior towards anyone who crosses him in even the most minor way. He cannot disagree peaceably with someone. His backlash against this distorted upbringing has been to reject the matriarchal structure of our family for the equally damaging patriarchal one that is more popular; I presume because it puts him in charge, thus making him feel safer. I pray that changes. He is still young. I don't want him to pass that damage on; but it's not really a subject I can broach with him. These endless punishments prevented me from building a relationship with him, because I felt so guilty for being unable to protect him. I just hope that love will triumph in the end.

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  1. This post spoke to me for sure! My parents dont even spank anymore, but i still find myself having dreams about them, and worrying about them all the time.. It's so hard to be an older sibling and have no power to help the little ones. Thanks for writing this! ((hugs))

  2. Wow, I can't even begin to understand how you must have felt. I'm glad you are in a better place now and I hope that even if you can't talk about this with your brother, you can be there for him if he needs you or if he decides he needs to change or for your nieces and/or nephews if he ends up reproducing your mother's choice of "discipline". the typical joke that parents should get a license before having kids doesn't seem so absurd after reading things like this...