i’ve been thinking about this post for nearly two weeks, turning it around in my mind, examining it all.
i read something about quiverful families on facebook, an article about how women and children are expected to behave, with cheerful obedience at all times.
They quoted books, titles and names i recognized as the only reading i ever saw my mother accomplish. She had tapes she played in the car as well, with the very same people who recommended beating a child until they fully submit.
i read the comments, many from women who escaped from this life. One mother wrote that she thought this is what she had to do to save her children. My mother, however, was looking for a way to justify what she was already doing to me. She didn’t beat me out of love. i think what she felt for me was often disgust and pity. Pity because i just never saw it coming, what she really was, underneath her beautiful china doll mask.
A lightbulb went off in my mind while i was reading.
No wonder i thought. No wonder she used those books to feel justified at beating me, even more so because while i was obedient, i was so emotionally shut down that i was not cheerful.
She was so heavily invested in the idea that i had destroyed her life by my birth that any punishment seemed reasonable. Because what could be “enough” when someone destroyed your life? And that was her perspective.
What really got my attention as well was “blanket training.” I was shocked to discover that i had done this with my children as well, except for that i arranged toys around the perimeter of the blanket and sat down with them to show them how to use the toys they went to. My mother had taught me as a child to not let babies off of the blanket, that no matter how much i cleaned, it was too dirty and that i needed to “teach them to obey young.” i was horrified when she told me i should be slapping their hand when they got off the blanket and i couldn’t do it. i just would sit there with my stomach in knots, rearranging them on the blanket and trying to keep them happy about it.
i realized that in my adult life, in my power exchange relationships, i have responded to blanket training. To this day, after a beating i don’t move until i’m told to. It doesn’t matter what kind of beating, for pleasure or punishment. Muscle memory is an interesting thing. i will also stay in whatever area is designated as “my spot” if i’m not cleaning. No wonder i was so upset when the playpen got taken away as my safe space. i wondered why i had such a childish reaction to it.
i also thought about the “therapy” offered by the different religion shopping my mother did, to justify herself and to remind us often that we children were “demonic.” It’s because i was so shut down emotionally that i wasn’t cheerful. i was quiet, withdrawn, passive, and a damn hard worker. i exceeded expectations. i still do, despite the level of pain i live in or what i have to do to accomplish everything that must be done. i don’t complain. i don’t ask for a lot. i keep my head down and work.
With my inner child muted, i seem frustrated more often. i am so focused on “getting it right” and figuring out how to earn some love that i look frustrated.
Frustrated doesn’t look cheerful.
And non cheerful obedience signals disobedience. It did as a child and adult. It might now as well.
The more i struggle for understanding, the more i appear to be frustrated, the more it might seem like i’m not obeying.
The thing i ask for is consistency, because i want to understand and because i don’t necessarily want to live shut down emotionally. The frustration is interpreted, i think, as something else by Sir Raven. We both end up dissatisfied. Resentful. Angry. But only one of us has to never show these things, and not have a way to vent them out. That is what play, sex, and discipline do for me. It lets the steam out of the pressure cooker (quite possibly for both of us?).
Last night, she made it plain that she would be punishing me consistently, from now on.
i am struggling for steady ground, to feel claimed totally, to experience total surrender again.
i suppose we both are. Perhaps this is a start.