The True Nature of Home

March 2, 2009

I get these quotes in email. They are enjoyable to read and are usually thought provoking. Some of them really speak to me. They hit me right in the center of my own life. Sometimes, they stir up great sadness. The following is one of those.

This is the true nature of home – it is the place of peace; the shelter, not only from injury, but from all terror, doubt and division.

— John Ruskin

What a home that describes…and how far from my growing up home it is.

Place of peace? I have some scattered  memories prior to the 7th grade, but not a whole lot…not like from the 7th grade on…the grade where my father rejected me as his lover and made me become my younger sister’s trainer. I was 12. She was four. (Four seems to be significant in our family line as it was the year my youngest turned four that my parents managed to move into my home.)

I don’t really remember when I started to feel uncomfortable in my home. I have had flash backs of as far back as infancy. They started out third person, but seem to be shifting more into the first person. I already had a first person toddler flash of memory. It seemed to be of my mother being raped on her bed (or some bed) whilst I stood in my crib and saw. I have never figured out if it was done by my father…or by someone else.

Shelter? Hardly. I was incested in my home. I was subjected to cruel “discipline”. Since this is a discussion about the home, I won’t even go into the things that happened outside of that physical place.

I remember little to nothing of discipline when I was younger, although I do recall being spanked by my father a couple of times.  I do not know why, but I remember being afraid of being spanked. From what I remember of them, they were controlled, with his hand, and “short”. I only remember being spanked by him once or twice. That does not mean that it did not happen more than that, just that I don’t remember it, along with all the other things that are still buried deep inside. Could I have simply been afraid of his size and the fact that it would hurt? He would bend me over his knee and, if I recall correctly, spanked either my bare bottom or my underwear covered bottom. I really don’t remember very well. It is like I have this flash of being spanked. Ironically, it is a third person memory. Most of my scattered early memories are…with only a couple of exceptions. That tells me something right there. For so many memories to be third person, especially when it is simply a spanking, something had to be horribly wrong.

My mother, on the other hand, was different. I do not remember any of her earlier discipline. What I do remember starts  in the 8th or 9th grade. Then I was “disciplined” with metal hangers and the narrowest belts my father had. I was “disciplined” until my mother’s anger was spent. If I cried out or asked her to stop, her fury would be kindled as she would wield whatever was in her hand even harder and longer whilst telling me to be quiet. I do not recall the when or the how of that stopping. I just know that it did. I also do not know what I did that warranted such fury from her.

By at least the time of high school, I would pray every night for God (Yahweh I call Him now) to please take me home to heaven…to please let me die before morning. On Saturday’s, I would stay in bed as late as I could get away with it, unless I had somewhere to go. When I did have someplace to go, I stayed away as long as I reasonably could. I would pretend to be someone else…or somewhere else…even when I was of high school age.

In my home, there was injury of soul and spirit…of emotions and mind. Although there may not have been visible physical injury…no broken bones…no black eyes…the damage in heart and soul was definitely there. Who knows what I still have buried deep within? Yahweh knows. Someone in the system knows.

“Free from terror, doubt and division.” Not in our family! I was terrified…a lot. Between the horror movies my parents insisted on taking me to that caused me no end of fear…fear that lasted into adulthood…to the simple horror of living in the family. Thing is…I was not conscious of what was happening. The few things I do remember about growing up…I was not conscious of my parents being so scary. I think I transferred the fear onto other things…like aliens and monsters in the night. I think, too, that others did a great job of holding the fear and scariness inside where it could not touch “me”.

Doubt? I don’t remember ever really being able to be sure what would upset my mother and what would not. In the 6th grade (or maybe the 5th), she told me that, if the men in the white coats came to take her away, it would be my fault. I guess I was too naughty or uncooperative? I don’t remember the reason she gave specifically, but I do remember the message…loud and clear…more than once. I don’t particularly remember trying to buck her. I remember trying to be an obedient child. Obviously, I was not perfect…no child is. I just know that I was made responsible for her sanity…for her happiness.

Division? I have every reason to believe that my mother knew about my father and I. Was that a cause for hatred? Or disdain? Or??? I don’t know.  Again…I am not sure about much regarding my growing up. I just know that, somewhere along the line, the child that was my mother’s pride and joy became less than that. Somehow, I seemed to have fallen out of favor. Although, in actuality, the idea that I was even really in favor came from my mother. It was a bit of a shock to suddenly realize as an adult that all my early childhood memories were really just photographs from the family album augmented by stories my mother told me. Actual moving memories? Next to none.

What a home we had. I am not sure I would call it a home, actually. It was a trailer, an apartment, a house, a building, a dwelling. I can call it those things…but a home? Nah…I don’t see it as a home.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

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