My brother and I used to try to kill each other on a regular basis. My mother decided it might be a good idea to put a stop to it, and she came up with unique ways of doing so. The least drastic punishment she came up with was to force my brother and me to hug for five minutes. That one was always a fun one. We would whisper exactly how we were going to murder each other as soon as the time was right.
I used to bite my brother in retaliation for punching, kicking, or trying to suffocate me. He would run to my mom and tell her I’d bit him. She would force me to stretch out my arm, and she would bite it. Sometimes, it was hard enough to draw blood, but she knew how much pressure it took to break the skin, and tried not to go beyond that.
I eventually stopped biting, and I discovered my fingernails could be used as a weapon. My brother would start in with “torture little sister time,” and the second he turned his back I would dig my fingernails into him. This resulted in scenes that looked like something from a Freddy Kruger nightmare. My mother, being the problem solver she was, continuously clipped my fingernails short enough to make them bleed.
Eye for an eye punishment was my mom’s specialty. I know these punishments affected me, but I don’t know if the effect was good or bad.
Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, there wasn’t as much awareness about domestic violence as there is now. Back then, people thought what they did was discipline, not abuse. They repeated behaviors they witnessed when they were children. If a woman talks back, hit her. If your kids don’t behave, hit them. Throw in some anger issues and you get someone like my dad. He’s a good person, but his behavior wasn’t so good.
I don’t blame him for the past. I know what it’s like to make terrible mistakes, and I certainly know what it’s like to lose control of your emotions. Some may call me a fool for forgiving him, but there is nothing to even forgive. He became the person that his genetics and environment made him, and he did what he thought he was supposed to do.
If he thought what he did was wrong, he wouldn’t have done it. There was no glee in our fear and pain. He didn’t take pleasure in what he did. He did what he thought was best for all of us. Unfortunately for everyone, his thoughts were warped by his own traumas.
The screaming and boxing matches between my parents were too much for me. I was scared and sad all the time, and I had no means of escape. When I stumbled on a chance to end it, I took it.
“This stuff is poisonous, so go wash your hands,” my mother said, twisting the cap onto the bottle of nail polish remover.
I walked down the hallway and slowly entered the bathroom. I turned on the water, and pretended to wash my hands as I stared into the mirror. I said goodbye to my tiny reflection, and walked to my bedroom. I said long, tearful goodbyes my stuffed animals, and somberly knelt down in front of the window. I put my fingers in my mouth, and waited to die.
I was very upset when the poison failed to kill me. Taking more of it, or finding some other poison never crossed my tiny, little mind. Kindergartners just aren’t that smart.
I was regularly beaten with a thick leather belt as a child. I was slapped and kicked and scratched and punched and even bitten. I went hungry more times than I can count. I watched my father punch and slap and scream at my mother and my brother. He broke her things. He broke our things. He terrorized us. We escaped him, but we never escaped the damage he caused.