Like our father, but not as often, Mommy Hyde slapped me across the mouth when she didn’t like what I said or how I said it, and did so into my teen years.
But when I was a very little girl, she also sometimes hit me with a belt on my bare rear end–sometimes, the buckle end. And sometimes, she hit me with her mother’s beautiful metal hairbrush–even the stiff boar bristle side. I can tell you that it hurts a lot and turns your bottom very pink.
I used to pretend these hurt more than they did so that she wouldn’t swing harder. I thought that was smart.
I was afraid of the belt–not so much of the hairbrush–but given a choice (As if! Good one, Babe! 🙂 ), I would have taken any hits to the bottom from objects if it would have ended the hits to my mouth from my parents’ fore- and backhands.
One time, mom sent Meg flying across the kitchen: WHACK! into the corner of the counter with her head. I could tell that scared her. (I don’t think she was scared because she was worried for Meg–she was scared she’d be in trouble.) Another time, my brother Paul was too fast for her. He ducked, and her speeding hand connected with the wall behind him. She screamed out and started crying.
It was the first time I had ever seen her cry. I was shaken. But more than that, I was ecstatic! SHE had gotten hurt! SHE, instead of Paul! How great was THAT!! I had to fight to hide the happiness and not jump up cheering.
My male parent, Warren, came running to comfort her. Neither one gave any of us a glance, or felt any shame that Mommy Hyde had been swinging so hard at a small child that when she missed it caused serious hurt to her wrist.
It turned out her wrist was sprained, poor thing. She had to wear a brace.
No guilt over “What if it had instead been little Paul’s neck?”
Mommy Hyde added her own twist to rinsing the mouth out with soap. With the water running, she stoppered the pink bathroom sink and held my face down under the water while she rubbed the soap against my teeth, forcing me to breathe in soapy water through my mouth and nose.
I still remember how very scared I was. I thought I was going to drown. I inhaled a lot of soapy water, and came up coughing and crying when she finally let me up.
When my bedsheets became bloody from my nighttime scratching in my sleep due to my allergic eczema, she made me carry them down to the basement laundry tub in the mornings and hand-scrub them in cold water using Lava soap (rough with ground-up pumice stone) to get the blood out—thus guaranteeing increased irritation of the skin on my hands, thus guaranteeing worse nights of eczema and scratching to come. I often bled fresh blood even while I was scrubbing away.
Mom, this was truly sick, sick behavior. Do you know how this made me feel? Let me tell you. I felt sad, and very small and helpless, and hopeless.
While I was scrubbing, standing on a chair, my hands would hurt and sting from the sores where new blood was coming out, and I would be crying, because I was sad, but also because I was mad at myself for scratching in my sleep and not being able to stop.
What a terrible thing to do to a young child.
Part 4 of a 7-part series that will be posted daily. Following that, the focus will shift away from my mommy issues.
Hateful Mommmy Hyde–Part 5