It's late on a night during Holy Week. I'm alone and I'm trembling because I have seen into my heart of darkness and it's brought everything back.... I was spanked and spanked and spanked and I turned out OK, didn't I? Look how successful I am! Look at these works of my hands, taste this fruit and tell me it's not sweet.
I watched Zero Dark Thirty and I didn't flinch. Not once. I understand torture, see. I know when it's necessary and I know how to do it. I sat there and watched it and suddenly, I saw something else: I saw my heart of darkness. I could do that. Oh, God. I could do that.
I know how to flip the switch inside my icy heart and simply turn off the empathy so that their cries don't touch me. This is how I was trained.
When my firstborn baby was six months old, I started spanking her. I packed a layer of ice around my heart and I went very, very calm. I even smiled. I spanked her calmly and systematically without a hint of anger. I wasn't out of control. I got results. She was so very, very obedient. A model toddler. I broke her. Just like I'd been broken.
This is my heart of darkness: I know how to break children.
Because I was broken this way.
I was spanked and I turned out OK, didn't I? I follow God with all my heart and I was raised up in the way I should go and I have not departed from it. Yes, yes. Such good, holy fruit.
But I am broken, see. They broke me with wooden spoons and paddles and kitchen spatulas.
After the church fell apart, I thought surely they'd see the light and apologize for spanking me from infancy. I waited for years. But nothing.
And one day, I finally broke. One day I said goodbye.
When you set out to break a child, other things get broken, too. You don't get to decide which things get broken. You might spank your child to save their soul from Hell but all the good intentions only pave the way to it.
There came a moment when I stopped spanking my children. This story is in my book. It didn't stop all at once. But there was A Moment. A moment that changed me, a moment that made me realize I was on the same road paved by good, holy intentions. The same road to breaking a child.
I stopped. I stopped. Dear God, it took far too long but I finally did stop. And my children were spared. Most of them don't remember a thing.
So, yes. I turned out ok, didn't I? I still smile and laugh and live responsibly. I am a good citizen! A loving wife! A dutiful mother! You would never know that for years I cut myself. That I still equate pain with love. That I still believe I'm not good enough. I still have nightmares and struggle terribly with anxiety and dark waves of depression.
You would never know that a broken will=broken relationships.
But yes. I was spanked as a child and I turned out OK, didn't I? DIDN'T I?
No. I turned out "ok" IN SPITE of being spanked.
At least I no longer have a heart of stone. At least now I have a heart of flesh. And now I weep with those who weep.
Were you spanked as a child? Was your will broken, too? Were you spanked to "save your soul from Hell"?Comments will be moderated to protect safety of shared stories. This comment box is for sharing, not debating. Anonymous comments accepted.
UPDATE, 3/29/13: my most sincere thanks to those of you who have shared your stories with us. Your bravery, vulnerability and honesty inspire me. Due to the busy holiday weekend, I am unable to further moderate comments so I am closing the thread. As always, my email is available if you would like to send a private message. Much love, EE. Happy Easter.