Home Is Where The Hurt Is: Mary’s Story, Part Two
HA notes: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Mary” is a pseudonym. The following series is an original non-fiction story that spans 33 pages of single-spaced sentences. It will be divided into 10 parts. The story begins during the author’s early childhood and goes up to the present. At each stage the author writes according to the age she is at.
Trigger warnings: various parts of this story contain descriptions of graphic, often sadistic, physical abuse of children, apologisms for religious abuse, deprivation of food, as well as references to rape.
Part Two: The End of Happiness
Tomorrow is my birthday and I will be eight years old!
I am so excited because Mom said that I can make my own birthday cake. I feel like such a big girl. Mom has been yelling at us a lot for the last few weeks but I know she won’t yell at me tomorrow because it’s my birthday!
I am so excited about tomorrow that I don’t pay attention to my mopping after supper. Now Mom is mad at me again because I missed so many spots. Why can’t I get it done right? I tell Mom I’m sorry and I’ll try harder next time. I hope this doesn’t mess up tomorrow. It’s finally bedtime and I know that the faster I go to sleep the faster tomorrow will come. So I am a good girl and don’t talk to Abby.
It’s my birthday! Mom says that, as soon as the kitchen is cleaned up from breakfast, I can start making my birthday cake. I am going to make a carrot cake. That is one of my favorites.
I get out all the ingredients from the recipe card and put them on the counter just like Mom does. Then I separate the dry ones and the wet ones like she said. I tried to be very careful to make sure I had each one right but somehow I got the flour and the baking soda mixed up on the card. I put in two cups of baking soda instead of two cups of flour. Mom came in just as I put the second cup of baking soda in and saw my mistake. She is yelling at me now and all I see is her angry face almost touching mine. She says that I’m stupid and lazy and can’t follow directions. She says that I just wasted a lot of ingredients and that she should never have let me bake anything.
I try not to cry but I don’t do a very good job and tears start flowing. She yells at me to shut up and get out of her kitchen. I run to my room as fast as I can to get away from Mom and grab Rita and curl up on my bed and keep sobbing. Why did she get so mad? I tried so hard. I guess I am stupid and shouldn’t be allowed to bake anything. Rita’s yarn hair is very wet with my tears now but I know she doesn’t mind and I know she loves me.
Mom just called me back in the kitchen. I don’t want to go but I know I better or she will get even madder. She is still very angry when I get back and says that I have to make my cake and that she is going to be standing over my shoulder to make sure I don’t do anything wrong. I am scared now because I know she is looking for me to do something wrong and now I don’t want to make my cake. She makes me get back on the chair so I can reach the counter and start measuring. It is so hard because I still can’t make myself stop crying and I know she is getting madder at me. She tells me that I’m a crybaby and to shut up. I really try but it is so hard!
I finally get everything done and the batter mixed and in the oven and she finally lets me go. I am angry but I am careful not to show it. Everything is ready for the party now and Mom is back to happy again. I pretend I’m not mad at her so that I will have a good birthday party. John and Abby say that the cake is very good and I am very proud of myself and I hope that next year Mom will let me make my own cake without her watching me again.
I forget that I’m mad at Mom because they gave me such a nice card and present and I tell them I love them. I do love them. They are my parents. I am happy as I go to bed and hope that maybe tomorrow I will start to be loved again by Mom and Dad. After all they had made such a sweet card and I knew they meant it.
It’s now almost my ninth birthday and I really don’t care. I have so many undone school assignments that I know I won’t have a good day. Mom says I’m lazy and stupid. Mmaybe I am, I don’t know and right now I don’t care. Every school assignment that she gives me I can’t do it right, so why should I bother? She has a clipboard hanging up on the kitchen wall that says Mary’s undone list. John and Abby have one too. I hate that clipboard! There are several pages on it. All of them are filled top to bottom with assignments that she says aren’t done. Most of them I already have done but she didn’t like the way that I did them or said I didn’t try and ripped them up for me to do over. I also have a whole bunch of chores that Mom says I haven’t finished. That means more trouble and more spankings.
I know it will not be a good birthday, so I pretend I don’t care. Inside I am so angry at Mom but I dare not show her.
Fear and shame grip me as soon as I wake up.
The bed and my pajamas are cold and wet again. I am terrified.
The last time I wet the bed only a couple of nights ago, Mom got so angry. I am a big girl. Why can’t I wake up when I need to go?
I shake Abby awake and tell her I’m so sorry because I know that she will have gotten wet too. We jump out of bed very fast and take the sheets off the bed and I take them into the laundry room for Mom to wash, then Abby and I run to the bathroom to get cleaned up as fast as we can. We run water in the tub and take a bath as fast as we can and get dressed to go clean up our room.
I don’t make it back to our room before Mom is yelling for me to get in her room. I hate her room and am scared to go in because I know that she knows. She yells at me that I’m a big baby and that I’m lazy. She screams at me that I’m causing her more laundry and that from now on, if I wet my bed then I have to wash everything I messed up. I am crying now and I don’t understand why Mom is so angry. I want to wake up when I need to go but I just can’t. She is still yelling at me and I try to listen just so she will finish and let me go, but she keeps going. She says that if this doesn’t stop, then she is going to tell everybody at church what a baby I am.
Now I am really terrified. She finally finishes but I know I am in trouble. We only have an hour to finish all of our chores and she yelled at me for almost 20 minutes after I had already used up about 15 minutes to get the dirty clothes in the laundry room and get cleaned up. I now only have about 25 minutes to clean the two downstairs bathrooms, empty the dishwasher from last night, vacuum all three bedrooms and the living room, and fold laundry. I know I am doomed.
I work as fast as I can but it is no use, I am only able to get the dishwasher empty and clean one bathroom before the timer goes off. Mom yells at all of us to get to the kitchen and we trip over each other to get in there as fast as we can. She goes down the list starting with John. His chores are not signed off neither are mine nor Abby’s. She yells for us all to line up outside her door for our spankings. John goes first and we listen outside as the belt hits him over and over again. I try to count them so I know how many I’m going to get but I’m so scared that I loose count.
I’m next. I don’t seem to be moving fast enough for her so she grabs me by the hair and drags me to the side of her bed. I try not to scream as she yells at me to pull my pants down. She starts spanking and I start counting to try to pay attention to something besides the pain. I don’t want to scream and I try not to make a sound but tears are running down my face by the time she reaches spanking number fifty.
She finally stops and yells at me to get out of her sight. I pull up my pants as fast as I can and get out of her room. I run into my room across the hall and grab Rita to hug her and cry into her while Mom gives Abby hers. I am counting Abby’s so that I can put Rita down and run into the living room before Mom comes out of her room so I don’t get caught and Mom doesn’t take Rita away from me again.
She took Rita from me a while ago for two weeks and I just got her back. I can’t lose her again.
As soon as the rounds of spankings are over, she yells at all of us to go into the living room for a family meeting. We all know what that means and it means we are going to have a miserable day. Of course what is different than all the others? Even if they don’t start out like today did, they are all miserable.
We have now been sitting on the sofa for about two hours while Mom has been lecturing and lecturing and sometimes reading parts of Proverbs. Because she had been yelling at me first thing this morning, we missed family devotions so she decides that now is a good time to have them while she is lecturing. She finds the Proverbs about the foolish and lazy person and about the wicked. She tells us that it is in the Bible that the foolish man needs to be punished until his wickedness is driven out of him. She says that we are the wicked and foolish people that God is talking about us in those chapters. She tells us that she cannot let rebellion go unpunished because she is God’s representative to us. If we rebel against her than we are rebelling against God.
She says that God gives people the authorities in their lives and that she was ours, therefore we are supposed to obey her without grumbling or complaining and especially without question. Then she starts down the same thing that I have heard almost every day for as long as I can remember. She says that she is in a war against us and that God is on her side in that war. She says that she will not lose the war and we will be judged by God for not obeying her. She says that she will keep fighting till she dies, we die, or we are finally broken of our will. Then she turns to Deuteronomy and reads some in there and tells us that, if we would only obey her, then there would be so many blessings. We would be happy as a family and God would not be angry with us.
I listen to her ramble for a little while and then I just start tuning her out. I listen just enough so that if she asks me a question, I will be able to answer it. I tell myself that she is wrong. I do try to get my chores and school work done.
Right now I am getting angrier and angrier because I am watching the clock and I know how long we have been sitting here. We have already long since missed breakfast and now we are only an hour away from lunch time and she is still talking. I know this means that we will miss lunch, too, because we have to have half of our school assignments done and signed off before we are allowed to eat lunch. I can’t remember the last time I had breakfast and this is the third day in a row that I have missed lunch.
Last night I only was able to have one of Mom’s five-minute, one helping meals.
I am so hungry right now that even if I wanted to listen to Mom I would have a hard time. Mom is still very angry and is making herself angrier as she is talking. She tells us that in the Old Testament rebellious children were stoned to death and that’s what we deserve. Now she is doing her fake crying and asking why we are all out to get her and to make her life miserable. She asks us why we can’t be good children like all the children in the home school group. She’s too tired to keep going so now she throws us all outside until Dad gets home to “deal with us” because she says we are out of control.
We are not allowed to take anything outside with us even our school work and we are not allowed to leave the back porch. I know this means that we will either miss supper too or only get a five-minute meal. It’s so hot out here and I am so thirsty but I know better than to ask for water. When we get thrown outside, Mom says that we lose all the privileges of living in the house.
I hear Dad’s car pull into the driveway and am not sure whether or not to be scared or relieved. Dad comes in the house and goes straight back to his room. We can hear him and Mom talking through their bathroom window next to the deck. Mom is talking very mean and is yelling.
We know that means things are about to get worse.
To be continued.