I don’t remember the first time my daddy hit me. In fact, I don’t remember much of my life before age 6 and some of the events between 6 and 10 are a bit spotty memory wise.
I remember falling down and busting my lip around age 3. I still remember the feel of my swollen lip on my tongue.
I remember that we moved from Clarendon Avenue when I was around the age of 6. I don’t know why we moved.
I remember crying to go to school with my brothers. I was the youngest. Maybe I remember crying but maybe I only remember being told I cried. I was barely preschool age but, since I could read, I was allowed to go to school with them and, as a result, I constantly skipped grades and ended up an 11 year old in a class of 16 year olds. To say I didn’t fit in was an understatement.
I remember my father being late to pick me up from school one day. Maybe it was the same school I cried to go to. I don’t remember where my brothers were. It was raining and I had to pee so I did by standing in the rain and allowing the rain to wash away the evidence. Maybe it was that day, maybe it was on another rainy day that Wayne M pulled my panties down and touched me and I cried. He showed me his penis. He was older, much older. I remember telling my father. I remember my father’s anger. In the small town, he knew people, and as a cop he knew even more people. Wayne got a talking to and so did his parents. I find it interesting that I remember Wayne’s name.
I remember humming the tune to “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” and getting backhanded by my father because he had told me several times to stop it and I had not but merely lowered my humming voice then changed to breathing the tune. We were in a car and I was sitting in the middle of the back seat. Had I leaned back into the seat instead of breathing on him I think I could have gotten away with that one. We didn’t celebrate Christmas.
I remember the first time I saw snow. 1981. We were living on Garrison Boulevard in Baltimore with my grandparents. I thought it was the most beautiful sight: little tufts of cotton drifting down. I stood at the window in awe. I lost my reverence when I had to slosh through snow to the bus stop and later when I had to scrape it off my car and shovel it from driveways. I now live in Arizona and today it is the middle of the last week of the year with the promise of 69 degrees. Snow is overrated.
I don’t remember the first time my daddy hit me but I remember the last. It was on a Sunday. We were living in America then, my parents, my second brother, and I. Due to circumstances we had to move from Garrison Boulevard. A family in the same religion we belonged to invited us to temporarily live with them while we looked for another home. I remember their kindness although I don’t remember their name. I remember their daughter Monique who was in like with my brother Carl.
What I remember about that day was that we had gone, as a family, to a religious service. After the service, in front of the house we lived in, still in the car, my father held a forced family meeting. Blah, blah, blah. That is all I remember from his speech. I do not remember the reason he turned around and smacked me across my face. Maybe I mouthed off. I am Aries. As was he. As was my mother. But my brand of Aries has had me defiant for most of my life, refusing to be intimidated.
When he hit me, in a flash I understood something neither my mother nor my brother understood: I understood that we were now in America and we were guests in the home of someone my father looked up to, someone who would not have approved of my father’s form of discipline. I knew, without knowing how, that my father could no longer hurt me as he had in Jamaica.
So, without warning or premeditation, I hit him back.
I hit him from my power position in the back seat directly behind him. I hit him again and again while I yelled and cried. I scratched him with my nails, slapped him and hit him with closed fist as the years of the emotional and physical pain of being “disciplined” with belts, electrical cords, fists, and open palms came roaring back. I fought like a hellcat, but maybe that was all in my mind. I don’t remember if I drew blood.
I remember the shocked silence in the car afterwards. I felt my brother’s fear and my mother’s anxiety. My mother shrank as small as she could in an attempt to meld with the passenger door. My brother, all 6’ 3” of him, hunkered down beside me in the back seat. I could only see my father’s head and right shoulder.
In a quiet voice, brilliantly controlled for a man who had just gotten his ass handed to him by his little girl, my father told me that I could not live with them anymore, that I had to move in with my brother.
That was fine with me.
Fear is an immense motivator and a great controller. My father ruled us in fear for all of our young lives. On that day something let me know that I no longer needed to be afraid of my father, that all the years of being cowed by him, cringing in his presence, making myself as small as possible, and being quiet, were over. That something also let me know that I could now stand up in my own strength and let my light shine brilliantly. It has taken over 30 years to know and own this as, even though I stood up to my father as a teenager, I still carried the energy of deferring to a man especially one in seeming authority.
It has been an interesting journey but I would not change a thing. JK – I would listen to my intuition more as it tried to steer me away from dead end relationships with controlling men. But, having hit that wall so many times, I am now an expert in men, or, at least, men like my father. I can easily spot a controller, a man with low self-esteem, low self worth, with money issues, sexual imbalance, disrespect for women, trust issues…. I could go on. Sometimes all it takes is eye contact.
I am now able to see the relationships of others, not as a man and woman (insert whatever sex you want here) getting together but as issues coming together for a resolution. I have the ability look beyond the drama and the words and read between the lines and accusations to the core issues that are calling for balance. I clearly see how I played out my own daddy (core) issues with the men I dated and married. My father was a bully but without him I could not have had all this personal front row training.
I can feel my father’s presence as I write this. That sentence about getting his ass handed to him was his suggestion. That man has a great sense of humor. I am grateful to him for that and also grateful to him for showing me some ways in which a fearful man can act towards his children and his spouse. These lessons cannot be learned from a book.
Months after I beat up my father, my brother got shot and went to jail then prison and I had to move back in with my parents who then had their own place. But that is another story altogether.
Courtni ~ The Soul Muse